The history of the law’s treatment of working women is largely a history of the law’s treatment of women’s bodies. Overwhelmingly created by male judges, that jurisprudence considers women from a remove—their physicality, their reproductive capacity, their stature, their sexuality—eclipsing meaningful consideration of their lived experience, on or off the job. As vividly illustrated by so many of the alternative rulings contained in Feminist Judgments, that erasure resulted in Supreme Court decisions that—even when they came out the “right” way, that is, in favor of the female litigant—squandered opportunities for advancing sex equality.
The tantalizing notion of “what might have been” is much of the pleasure in reading this collection, of course. But the book’s overarching thought experiment also offers invaluable lessons to today’s practitioners, myself included, who must tell clients’ stories. Long before we get the opportunity to tell those stories to juries—itself an increasingly rare occurrence—we must tell those stories to judges who themselves may be years, even decades, away from “real” jobs, and who have remained isolated from the realities of working women’s lives.
Feminist Judgments and Women's Rights at Work,
Notre Dame L. Rev. Online
Available at: https://scholarship.law.nd.edu/ndlr_online/vol94/iss1/2