'We Just Looked at Them as Ordinary People Like We Were:' The Legal Gaze and Women's Bodies
62 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2016 Last revised: 25 Apr 2017
Date Written: September 7, 2016
This article analyzes the struggles of two female musicians who were caught in the criminal justice system because they revealed their bodies. Using archival research and personal interviews, I tell the story of punk rocker Wendy O. Williams’ 1981-1984 obscenity and police brutality court battles. I also relay the life of Lorien Bourne, a disabled and lesbian rock-n-roller who was charged with disorderly conduct in Bowling Green, Ohio in 2006. I examine how legal actors, including courts and jurors, viewed Williams and Bourne using classed, ableist, sexist, and homophobic optics. In so doing, I extend my previous work on legal “gazes,” or what I have called the legal practice of “peering.” I end the article by looking to the women’s art and lives as correctives to oppressive manners of legal seeing.
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