ArticlesVolume 12, Number 3 (2003)

Why a Duck? Are Feminist Legal Journals an Endangered Species, and If So, Are They Worth Saving?


“Why a duck?” you may be thinking when this symposium asks “Why a Feminist Law Journal?” The answer is not quite as absurd as you may think (and the dialogue may indicate). The development needs viaducts (and horses as well as Fords) because no one method of transportation works best in all situations. Similarly, legal scholarship needs feminist law reviews because a variety of journals can best transport ideas to people. Nevertheless, the symposium’s invitational letter asked whether feminist legal journals h ave become “a v ictim o f t heir own s uccess” and whether “they [have] outlived their usefulness?” These questions imply two facts. First, that feminist legal scholarship is no longer marginal; second, that its marginal status is (or was) the raison d’etre for the existence of feminist journals.2 Both “facts” do not hold up under scrutiny. In other words,┬ámarginalization may be a reason for the existence of feminist journals, but it is not the only one. Even if it were however, that justification would still exist because feminist scholarship has not yet been fully accepted into the mainstream of legal scholarship. Indeed, the simple act of asking questions indicates feminist legal scholarship’s continuing marginal status.

Let us start with the second question first and assume for the moment that feminist law journals have been successful. Success in this context presumably means that these journals have established (or helped to establish) feminist legal scholarship as a full member of the legal scholarship family with access to publishing in general law reviews equal to that available to other types of legal scholarship.3 In other words, assume that it is no harder to publish feminist legal scholarship in prestigious general journals than it is to publish, for example, articles on criminal law. Why would success in these terms lead to the second question: have feminist journals outlived their usefulness?