Research Handbook on Feminist Jurisprudence
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Research Handbook on Feminist Jurisprudence

Edited by Robin West and Cynthia G. Bowman

The Research Handbook on Feminist Jurisprudence surveys feminist theoretical understandings of law, including liberal and radical feminism, as well as socialist, relational, intersectional, post-modern, and pro-sex and queer feminist legal theories.
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Chapter 8: Feminism, sexuality and the law

Nan D. Hunter

Abstract

This chapter analyzes feminist theories regarding sexuality as they have shaped and been shaped by the field of law. Multiple schools of feminist thought have developed since the 1970s, including those founded on principles of liberal equality norms, the centrality of male/female difference, sexual freedom and intersectionality. Each developed in tandem with politics on the ground. Especially with regard to sexual harassment claims and the definition of consent, the praxis of lawyering has both incorporated central feminist arguments and occluded much of the theoretical contestation and critique underlying their construction. How to define and analyze the relationship between sexuality and gender remains in dispute, all the more so as many scholars have endorsed the premise that feminism alone is inadequate to the task and that an independent theory of sexuality is necessary. The energy of transgender activism and the #MeToo insurgency promises that this will remain a vibrant field.

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