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21 Women's Rts. L. Rep. 57 (1999-2000)
Book Review

handle is hein.journals/worts21 and id is 65 raw text is: BOOK REVIEW
The Gender Line: Men, Women, and
the Law By Nancy Levit*
Christina G. Ramirez**

INTRODUCTION
The feminist movement should be renamed
the feminist standstill, according to Nancy
Levit's book The Gender Line: Men, Women,
and the Law.' Feminists' failure to reach out far
enough and embrace the issues facing men has
caused the movement's progress to stall.' The
stereotypes and oppression that women face
and must overcome are intertwined with the
stereotypes and oppression that men face.3 An
example of this is the exclusion of men from
care-giving roles and child care, while ironically,
family and child care responsibilities are impor-
tant factors in the oppression of women.4
Put simply, what it means to be a woman is
defined as the opposite of whatever society and
the legal system define as masculine. These
definitions dictate the acceptable behavior and
characteristics of the sexes. The feminist move-
ment will not be able to make important ad-
*Nancy Levit teaches Constitutional Law, Criminal Law,
Gender and Justice, Jurisprudence, and Tort Law at the
University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.
**J.D. Candidate, Rutgers University School of Law -
Newark, 2000; B.S., Political Science and Administration of
Justice, Rutgers University, 1997.
1. See NANCY LEVIT, THE GENDER LINE: MEN, WOMEN,
AND THE LAW (1998) New York Press $35.00 [hereinafter
THE GENDER LINE]. The book is an adaptation of her article
that appeared in the University of California at Los Angeles
Law Review. See Nancy Levit, Feminism for Men: Legal Ide-
ology and the Construction of Maleness, 43 UCLA L. REV.
1037 (1996) [hereinafter Levit, Feminism for Men].
2. See THE GENDER LINE, supra note 1, at 14.
3. See id. at 13.
4. See id.

vances because of the exclusion of men and the
failure to recognize the universal harms of gen-
der-role stereotyping to men. As courts con-
tinue to define masculinity in case law, any pro-
gress made by feminists in overcoming sexism is
worthless. By defining masculinity, courts sepa-
rate the sexes, and indirectly highlight inaccu-
rate, scientifically-based gender differences.5
I. CREATING THE GENDER LINE
Biological beliefs in so-called physical and
psychological differences,6 of gender, the me-
dia, stereotypes, and the general paraphernalia
of life7 define what it means to be male or fe-
male.8 Courts have defined the image of mas-
culinity by focusing on what they conceive to be
the real and immutable differences between
men and women, such as the belief that aggres-
sion in men is biologically based, due to testos-
terone levels.9 In Michael M. v. Superior Court
5. See id. at 64. The law legitimizes society's assumption
that because traditional gender stereotypes are based on sci-
entific differences, women and men must assume different
roles in life. See id. at 32-34.
6. Biological beliefs in physical and psychological differ-
ences come in a variety of forms. Some examples are that
women are more suited to be nurturing and men are more
aggressive and wired to be risktakers because of their higher
levels of testosterone. See id. at 20. However, society forgets
to consider that girls are generally given more child care re-
sponsibilities and boys are pushed to be more socially and
physically active at an early age. See id. at 21.
7. The general paraphernalia of life includes such things as
shampoo, deodorant, clothing and books. See id. at 13.
8. See id. at 32-34.
9. See id. at 107-08.

[Women's Rights Law Reporter, Volume 21, Number 1, FaIl/Winter 1999]
© 1999 by Women's Rights Law Reporter, Rutgers-The State University
0085-8269/80/0908

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