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Femininity, sexuality and identity in law.

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNChapter

Publication date1996
Host publicationWomen, Power and Resistance
EditorsTess Cosslett, Alison Easton, Penny Summerfield
Place of PublicationBuckingham
PublisherOpen University Press
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)0 335 19390 0
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This chapter will introduce some of the legal issues affecting women as subjects of law and the legal process. It will explore how 'feminity', 'gender' and 'sexuality' are constructed by law. These concepts are both social and legal cobstructs. There are two consequences of this; the first is that as constructs, they are not fixed and immuntable. Social and legal concepts of what is feminine for example, are not static; they differ from generation to generation, from culture to culture, and within these confines they change and evolve. The second consequence is that, despite these rather obvious statements, English legal culture appears insistent in its belief that there is something fixed and immutable about these concepts. In this respect, legal culture is essentialist in its approach to women as legal subjects. In other words, law seeks the fundamental 'essence'of woman, the 'perfect' woman against whom all other women must be compared to and measured.