Bars, Breasts, Babies: Justice L'Heureux-Dube and the Boundaries of Belonging
Johnson, Rebecca, ADDING FEMINISM TO LAW: THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF MADAME JUSTICE L'HEUREUX-DUBE, Elizabeth Sheehy, ed., pp. 143-161, Toronto: Irwin Law, 2004
19 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2004
This piece, written in honor of retired Candian Supreme Court Justice Claire L'Heureux-Dube, explores the relationships between liquor licensing regulations, critical geography, and the social construction of space and corporeality. Using "the pub" and "the body of the nursing mother", I consider liquor licensing regimes which are explicitly aimed at the protection of children, allowing children into licensed restaurants, but excluding them from licensed pubs. The effects of such regimes, while multiple, result in the construction of a very specific (and exclusionary) kind of socio-legal space. While the gendered dimensions of this space are generally seen as of little consequence, I suggest that they do raise important questions about the meaning of equality, citizenship, and human rights. Inattention to the political character of social spaces (including the public house) can perpetuate segregation in our society, even in the absence of any animus. Law and social theory might well look different were the body at the centre of its theorizing to be less "the firmly boundaried able-bodied autonomous rights holder" than "the leaky woman". If we use the body of the breastfeeding mother (and the nursing child) to think about the complicated forms of exclusion from certain social spaces, a different horizon stretches before us, one which raises new ways of thinking about exclusion in general. It is useful to consider what it might mean for our discussions of equality, citizenship and human rights to take seriously the embodiment of the breastfeeding mother, and her location in physical space.
Keywords: Gender, liquor licensing regulations, children, human rights, law and geography, legal theory
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