Liberal Feminist Jurisprudence: Foundational, Enduring, Adaptive
OXFORD HANDBOOK OF FEMINISM AND THE LAW IN THE UNITED STATES (Martha Chamallas, Deborah L. Brake, and Verna L. Williams, editors, Oxford University Press, 2022 Forthcoming)
29 Pages Posted: 28 May 2021
Date Written: 2021
Liberal feminism remains a significant strand of feminist jurisprudence in the U.S. Rooted in 19th and 20th century liberal and feminist political theory and women’s rights advocacy, it emphasizes autonomy, dignity, and equality. Liberal feminism’s focus remains to challenge unjust gender-based restrictions based on assumptions about men’s and women’s proper spheres and roles. Second wave liberal legal feminism, evident in Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s constitutional litigation, challenged pervasive sex-based discrimination in law and social institutions and shifted the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Equal Protection Clause to a more skeptical review of gender-based classifications. Liberal feminists have developed robust conceptions of autonomy, liberty, privacy, and governmental obligations to promote gender equality, including in the family. Addressing internal feminist critiques, liberal feminism shows the capacity to evolve. Maintaining its focus on disrupting traditionally-conceived gender roles and fostering meaningful autonomy, it adopts more complex, nuanced discourse about sex, gender, and the gender binary and embraces new demands for inclusion and equality.
Keywords: Liberalism, Liberal Feminism, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Pauli Murray, Title VII, Equal Protection Clause, second wave feminism, Susan Moller Okin, anti-stereotyping, John Rawls, autonomy, privacy, Anita Allen
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation