ArticlesVolume 12, Number 3 (2003)

Form, Function, and Feminist Law Journals


An inquiry into the function of feminist law journals needs to ask first: functions for whom? The answer must, it seems to me, vary depending upon whose perspective we take.

Let me single out for special emphasis the role of feminist journals for feminist law students. Journals provide one way to find like-minded souls and to infuse legal education with a perspective that many students find a ppallingly absent in classroom offerings. This m agnet-like function strikes m e a s equally (if not m ore) important than anything else feminist law journals might do. I confess to being somewhat autobiographical here. As a law student in the early 1980s, the time I spent as an articles editor on the Harvard Women’s Law Journal was among the richest parts of my law school experience. Through that journal work, I saw some tangible evidence of what it might actually mean to be a feminist lawyer-an idea that seemed to me, as a student, distinctly more abstract than concrete. But more importantly, I worked with a terrific group of women, several of whom today remain close friends and fellow travelers. We sometimes debated contentious issues about the feminist debate over pornography (a very hot topic at the time), the links between gender and race, the role of lesbians in the feminist legal movement, and other questions. I recall some passionate discussions engendered, so to speak, by several editors simultaneously taking an intensive January term Sex Discrimination class taught by the formidable Catharine MacKinnon. That class was as rich and provocative as anything I t ook i n 1 aw school, but the discussions among W omen’s Law Journal staff members that spilled over into j ournal meetings added new dimensions and may have been where I, as a law student, most actively engaged the questions about equality that had brought me to law school in the first place.