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)

Boston Univ. School of Law Research Paper No. 21-16

29 Pages Posted: 28 May 2021

See all articles by Linda C. McClain

Linda C. McClain

Boston University - School of Law

Brittany Hacker

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: 2021

Abstract

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

McClain, Linda C. and Hacker, Brittany, Liberal Feminist Jurisprudence: Foundational, Enduring, Adaptive (2021). 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) , Boston Univ. School of Law Research Paper No. 21-16, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3854104

Linda C. McClain (Contact Author)

Boston University - School of Law ( email )

765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

Brittany Hacker

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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