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Reviewed by:
  • Gender, Sexualities and Law
  • Sahana Dharmapuri, Associate Fellow (bio)
Gender, Sexualities and Law, (Jackie Jones, Anna Grear, Rachel Anne Fenton, & Kim Stevenson eds., Oxon and New York: Routledge Press, 2011), 334 334 pages, ISBN 978-0-415-57439-6.

Editors Jones, Grear, Fenton, and Stevenson have pulled together this collection of articles for a generation of young women and men who might proclaim "I'm not a feminist, but," yet who are passionate about finding solutions to social justice problems today. Gender, Sexualities and the Law begins with the premise that the Law is gendered, and that equality is not a fact of life. The text examines the questions, "What does this mean for men and women?" and "How do women and men benefit (or not) from the law because of their different roles, status and needs?" Using a feminist lens, Gender. Sexualities and Law is a new option for instructors who want to introduce their students to current legal issues in contemporary terms.

Intended to primarily serve law students, this book is accessible to the lay reader interested in the intersection of gender and current legal topics. Topics include; human trafficking, LGBT rights, honor killings, and work-life balance in the legal profession. The articles also [End Page 312] cover more traditional feminist ground with an examination of new laws on reproductive rights. A few examples are: the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act passed in 1990 in the UK, as well as other laws on sexual violence in the US, the UK, and the EU, and an exploration of women as legal persons. The common thread is an examination of the law through a feminist lens. In each piece the authors examine the idea of how gender shapes legal concepts, asking about the location of women in the law and its structures, and probing into the role that gender plays in shaping laws, and the legal system itself.

Part I: Theory, law, and sex, provides an introduction to legal theory on the person, law, and sex. At the heart of this section is the relationship between legal theory and women's lived reality. The authors explore how women are perceived by the law, and how they experience it. Ngaire Naffine and Anna Grear examine the complexity of the legal concept of "persons" as they appear in the law and reveal how women find themselves not fully recognized as "legal persons" today. Rosemary Hunter's (De-)sexing the woman lawyer is sure to captivate the attention of any law student contemplating their future career as it examines gender and sex in the culture of the legal profession. Martha A. Fineman, a leading authority on feminist jurisprudence and the founder of the Vulnerability Project at Emory University, has made an excellent contribution illuminating her work on vulnerability and equality (Chapter 4). She presents the concept of vulnerability analysis as a "guarantee of true access to resources," which underscores that autonomy is a man-made concept and aspiration, not the natural condition of humanity.

Part II: Representations, law and sex, offers reflections on the representations of masculinities and femininities in the corporate world via the "invisible" sexuality of the judiciary, and in the depiction of women in the criminal-justice system. Alice Belcher's The Gendered Company (Chapter 7) examines the masculinity of corporate environments, and how this affects the social culture of corporate environments today. Leslie J. Moran admits that his study of the public sex of the judiciary through a study of judicial images is one that legal students might find bizarre (Chapter 6), but he also states clearly that this is an exploration of the individual and the institution. His use of "queer theory" is an interesting introduction to those new to the subject. In Chapter 8, Todd Brower explores how our beliefs about people or situations guide our interaction with those things in the context of same-sex sexual harassment. He examines cases arising under the sex-discrimination prohibitions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the US. He points out that atypical gender behavior can influence a court's interpretation of sex and gender. Brower finds that male plaintiffs who exhibit...


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pp. 312-316
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