"... legal theory
or (masculinist)
jurisprudence is
nothing but an
ideology of male
supremacy. "

With some significant exceptions, law shares with most disciplines a male image. Given the centrality of law in creating and enforcing societal norms, this has had ramifications far beyond the walls of the law school. For the law has been the means by which women have been excluded from the marketplace and by which the separate spheres have been reinforced. The men who made the law and interpreted it also decided to deny those powers to women. When women first received permission to study and practice law (as in fact they had to do), almost nothing changed; there was little, if any, questioning of the law's precepts, its methodology, its application, its exclusionary bent (2).

Today, however, the feminist challenge has extended to the substantive foundations of law: "doctrinally, feminist legal scholars have concluded legal theory or (masculinist) jurisprudence is basically nothing but an ideology of male supremacy; when the subject matter of legal doctrine is women, that doctrine is about the uses that men make (or would like to make) of women" (3). We are unveiling the oppression, and we are seeking to end it.

The challenge began with language and the insistence of a female presence in legislation, in casebooks, in articles and in the classroom. This was an important first step. Apart from forcing the recognition of women, it graphically revealed that it was not enough to substitute "woman" for "man" or to assume the two could be treated as interchangeable. To insist on a recognition of women was to reveal how malist the legal world is.

We thus began to establish our existence in that world, a preliminary step to redefining it. This allowed us to raise our own claims, demanding to know why matters of such fundamental consequence to women as, for example, rape, were always seen from the point of view of men; demanding to know why cases involving women always depicted them as weak or as foolish. It took courage to make these claims.

The sexist attitude and conduct exhibited in classrooms by (male) professors have been a great disincentive to women's speaking out. These attitudes range from ignoring women (referring to the class as "gentlemen" or not calling on women to speak), ridicule (through sexist jokes, demeaning hypothetical or snide comments to women who try to raise their concerns), to overt sexual harassment, including usage of sexual imagery and sexual advances. Women who raise feminist concerns are often told that these are not "legal" and have no place to the classroom. Even professors not exhibiting these behaviors might well allow derogatory comments about women by male students to pass without comment.

But we do not have to resort to the complications of law to understand what it is like for women, how inhospitable and humiliating an environment the law school can be. When I was at Osgoode Hall Law School, about 1981 or so, the women's caucus decided that the law school had to be more responsive to the realities of women's lives. For example, there were not tampax dispensers in the washrooms. One of our number went to see the Associate Dean of Students about this; his explanation was that the dispensers were often broken into and the money stolen and, therefore, the school did not want to use them. He generously offered to arrange that menstrual pads be kept at the reception desk so women could ask for them there on occasions when "normal habits slip."

As a result of such unsympathetic response to this and other issues, women began to gather outside the classroom, forming in many if not all law schools a Feminist Caucus or Caucus of Women and Law. A corresponding development occurred in the curriculum. Despairing of the ability of the traditional courses and of male professors to respond to their claims, women began to call for women's studies courses in law.

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