ArticlesVolume 12, Number 3 (2003)

Why a Feminist Law Journal? Introduction to the Issue


The Columbia Journal of Gender and Law (JGL) editorial board formed in 1989, and we produced our first issue in 1991. But fourteen years after our conception, we found ourselves wondering, “Why a Feminist Law Journal?”-questioning both whether we are a feminist journal, and whether there should be feminist journals. We invited members of the legal academy to help us scrutinize the role of journals like ours by asking the following questions: Is our purpose still relevant? Considering how theory and practice look today, is a journal focused on the intersection b etween law and gender, women, or feminism still a useful forum? Do we have clear goals? Are journals devoted to gender or women even feminist? What does “feminist” mean, and is that a worthy mission?

The answers came pouring in from legal scholars across the nation. The participants at our April 4, 2003, symposium and the contributors to this special issue offer a dizzying array of opinions about whether we and our sister journals at schools around the country continue to provide a valuable academic space. They question the relationship between feminism and journals focusing on women or gender. They examine the interplay between students who produce law journals and authors who publish in them, highlighting how our power to select and edit articles may dramatically affect professors’ quests for tenured positions, while also contributing to our own education as feminists and lawyers. They contemplate the varied needs not only of our diverse audience of students, scholars, and practitioners, but also of the diverse women and men who can benefit concretely from feminist legal analysis.