On the evening of Feb. 20th, Dean Martha Minow moderated a discussion between Professors
Janet Halley and Laura Rosenbury about the current relevance of feminist legal theories in front
of a packed room of about 100 students.
The professors discussed the ways that feminist legal theories have evolved and the roles they
have played in shaping the experience of men and women in both the classroom and in legal
practice. The conversation veered from ruminations on whether the law, which depends on
categories, and queer theory, which fundamentally opposes them, could ever be reconciled to
critiques of whether labeling certain viewpoints as explicitly feminist could do more harm than
Students enjoyed a lively discussion that included examples of how far the culture at the law
school has come. In one telling example, Professor Rosenbury’s described her experience
protesting in front of the Harvard Law Review house 20 years ago as an undergraduate student
after the HLR published a parody of a piece written by feminist legal scholar Mary Joe Frug on
the one year anniversary of her death. Just a few years later, Professor Rosenbury recalled, she
was sitting in that house herself as an editor on the HLR.
The professors also threw out zingers that drew big laughs, including Professor Halley’s
observation that rancor within critical legal studies could have positive repercussions. “Schism is
always an option,” she noted. “That’s why we have Protestantism.”
Thanks to our co-sponsors, JLG, ACS and Lambda for helping spread the word and get people
excited about such an illuminating event!