Girls and the Getaway: Cars, Culture, and the Predicament of Gendered Space

53 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2006 Last revised: 2 Apr 2013


What is the legal significance of the social significance of things? How does the law comprehend, affect, reinforce, transform, and undermine the relations between persons and things? In this Essay I examine these questions by looking at connections between one particular thing - the automobile - and one particular group of persons - women. How is it that the automobile has come to serve women - as drivers, passengers, as purchasers - less well than men? After all, in some sense a car is a gender neutral machine seemingly capable of taking drivers of either sex equal distances. But how long after the first one was welded together did it shed any pretense of such neutrality? How did that transformation come about and what has law made of the results?

Keywords: property, gender, social significance, materialism, rape, suburbs, motherhood

Suggested Citation

Sanger, Carol, Girls and the Getaway: Cars, Culture, and the Predicament of Gendered Space. University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Vol. 144, p. 705, 1995, Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 06-131, Available at SSRN:

Carol Sanger (Contact Author)

Columbia Law School ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10025
United States
212-854-5478 (Phone)
212-854-7946 (Fax)

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