The authors have collated a formidable array of primary and secondary material that exposes the gendered nature of traditional legal theory and the boundaries and barriers imposed by this traditional approach to the law. This book is an attempt to break down these barriers.
This book is an excellent starting point for students, academics and practitioners alike. The text is well written. The message is confronting for the establishment and is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. The reader is not given one particular point of view, rather they are left to make up their own mind. A must read for those students, academics and practitioners not afraid to challenge their beliefs and assumptions.
Melanie Jose. Ethos (ACT Law Society), Dec 2004
Graycar and Morgan pose fundamental questions as to the impact of the law on women and their participation in society. They are questions to which every lawyer should attempt an answer. Many of the questions do not permit a single correct answer, but an understanding of the problems posed by Graycar and Morgan is a most important step along the road to equal justice for women and, ultimately, to equal justice for all.
Justice Mary Gaudron, High Court of Australia, from the Foreword
This innovative book starts from the premise that women’s lives are central to the operation of law and that legal categories and legal doctrines have been developed in such a way that women have been disadvantaged. While the book’s authors are Australian and it draws extensively on Australian examples, it has much to say to anyone seeking to use the law to pursue equality and eradicate disadvantage, in Canada and elsewhere. The Hidden Gender of Law makes a wonderful contribution to reconceptualising law in the twenty-first century.
The Hon Madame Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé, Supreme Court of Canada
In this challenging but very interesting book … the level of scholarship and analysis on the part of Graycar and Morgan is very high. Their method is to identify the issue, then review and explain the differences between those on opposites sides of the debate as well as the differences between those who are essentially on the same side but still hold significantly different views. The authors then raise questions of their own for the reader to think about. Their intention is not necessarily to have the reader answer the question and solve the problem, but rather to realise the nature of the problem and think about possible solutions.I mention some topics which caught my attention in particular:
- Gender (in)equality – Is reverse discrimination fair? At what stage does it become unfair?
- Who gets what in the post-separation assets split;
- The common law’s labelling of domestic work in the home as non-economic and its consequent failure to compensate injured female plaintiffs for their inability to work in the home by an award of damages for economic loss (as distinct from damages for ‘loss of amenity of life’);
- The ongoing debate as to the measure of damages in the undiagnosed pregnancy or wrongful birth cases;
- The notion of foetal rights;
- An exploration and analysis of the rules of evidence and how they affect the course of cross-examination in rape and sexual assault trials; and
- Whether tort law or discrimination law works better for victims of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Overall verdict: the challenge of this book is well worthwhile; strongly recommended.
Balance (Law Society NT), August 2002
Regina Graycar and Jenny Morgan’s second edition shows that the law today continues to hide a plethora of gender issues. … The contents are an easy-to-use look-up guide covering sub-topics as diverse as women’s unpaid work, nervous shock, abortion, breast implant surgery, child custody, violence against women and pornography. It is a helpful guide for academics, lawyers and students.Each topic is discussed within the context of current Australian statistics and attitudes. … For each topic, one-to-three page excerpts from cases are provided followed by a ‘notes’ section which provides further information and case references. This section also includes a summary of related theoretical arguments, and poses questions for debate and discussion. Academic theories are often analysed …
For the academically inclined, the introductory chapters provide a summary of recurring theoretical themes such as the public/private dichotomy, gender (in)equality and methodologies and epistemologies.
The final chapter looks at the ways in which people have attempted to engage with the law to bring about progress and equality.
Law Institute Jnl (Vic), September 2002
This is a good book. For anyone with questions about feminism, or about law, or the seductive power of rhetoric and doctrine, this book has value. The reader who approaches this book with questions, will finish it with still more questions: better questions, harder questions. As a place to start, it offers a rigorous introduction. For readers already experienced in the literature or practices of law, the book offers a space for critical reflection. …The second edition is an almost entirely new text having been revised, updated and re-written. It maintains the structure of the first edition often reflecting changes that have made this new edition necessary.
Sydney Law Review, Vol 24, 2002
… I am using your new edition to teach Women and the Law at Auckland next year. It is really excellent. Thanks so much for writing such a nuanced, complex and thoughtful overview.
Julia Tolmie, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Auckland, 2003
This is a great work, accessible and exciting. The new edition is fabulous and I look forward to using it in class.
Mary Heath, Flinders University of SA, 2003