Gender Matters: Teaching a Reasonable Woman Standard in Personal Injury Law
10 Pages Posted: 21 May 2007
In my first-year torts class, I ask my students to consider what tort law might look like if it treated a defendant's or plaintiff's gender as relevant to jury assessment of due care. What, that is, would it mean for the law to talk about reasonable women as well as men? This short article discusses some supplemental materials I use to teach this gender issue.
Perhaps the most interesting point that emerges is that where care is synonymous with skill, and women are thought to be less skilled than man, a reasonable woman standard might allow women to escape liability more easily than men. But often, care is actually caution. In that situation, far from privileging women's position or perspective, a "reasonable woman" standard, notwithstanding its rhetorical appeal, frequently enforces as well as reflects a masculine vision of female dependence and fragility.
Keywords: torts, feminism, gender, reasonable man, reasonable woman
JEL Classification: K13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation