Law and the Quest for Gender Equality

Law and the Quest for Gender Equality

Authored by: Margaret Thornton orcid

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Description

As law was a means of legitimating the subordination of women and their exclusion from the public sphere for centuries, it cannot be expected to become a source of equality instantaneously without resistance from benchmark men, that is, those who are white, heterosexual, able-bodied and middle class. Equality, furthermore, was attainable only in the public sphere, whereas the private sphere was marked as a site of inequality; a wife, children and servants could never be the equals of the master. Despite ambivalence about the role of law and its contradictions, women and Others nevertheless felt that they had no alternative but to look to law as a means of liberation.

This skewed patriarchal heritage has continued to impede the quest for equality by women and Others and is the subtext of this collection of essays. It informs not only gender relations in the private sphere, as illustrated by domestic violence and sexual assault, but also the status of women in the public sphere. Despite the fact that women have entered the paid workforce, including the professions in large numbers, they are still expected to assume responsibility for the preponderance of society’s caring. The essays show how maternal and caring roles, which are still largely viewed as belonging to an unregulated private sphere, continue to be invoked to detract from the authority of the feminine in the public sphere. The promise of anti-discrimination legislation in overcoming the heritage of the past is also shown to be somewhat hollow.

Details

ISBN (print):
9781760465490
ISBN (online):
9781760465506
Imprint:
ANU Press
DOI:
http://doi.org/10.22459/LQGE.2022
Series:
Global Thinkers Series
Disciplines:
Law; Social Sciences: Gender Studies
Countries:
Australia

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