1 Yale J.L. & Feminism 101 (1989)
Love, Rage and Legal Theory

handle is hein.journals/yjfem1 and id is 111 raw text is: Love, Rage and Legal Theory

Robin Westt
Love and rage, I believe, motivate feminist work in law, both in advo-
cacy and in the academy. Love and rage not only move us to action, but
they also inform a feminist sense of justice and of morality. This emo-
tional root alone of feminist work in law renders it threatening and alien
to mainstream legal discourse. As a consequence, mainstream legal dis-
course constitutes a tremendously powerful censor of feminist feeling, as
well as substantive feminist views on law. The very presence, not to men-
tion the dominance, of mainstream legal discourse and the disciplines it
fosters oppress as they discipline the feelings that motivate and to some
degree even define feminist legal practice and theory.
The main purpose of this paper is simply to suggest that feminist law-
yers, judges and legal theorists feel, live with, internalize, respond to, ac-
cept, or rebel against the active oppression of these two feelings-love and
rage-constantly. More specifically, what I want to identify in this paper
are some of the ways that our developing feminist legal scholarship itself
evidences the existence of oppressive and disciplining forces which have
the effect and often the expressed intent of marginalizing the feelings that
motivate feminist legal work. My claim is that feminist legal scholarship
distinctively shows that we have unwittingly internalized as well as quite
consciously rebelled against, the dominant legal culture's condemnation of
the emotional root of our work. As I will show, both reactions are partial:
the same piece of feminist scholarship-indeed the same paragraph-often
evidences both internalization of the discipline and liberation from it at
the same time. But both responses evidence the dominance of an essen-
tially masculine view of the relation of affect to action, of emotion to rea-
son, of particular to universal, of context to principle, of nature to culture,
and of self to other, that is threatened to the core by the affective root and
motives of feminist legal work and by its substantive content. The result-
ing oppression and repression of feminist feeling can do a great deal of
psychic damage. Perhaps naming and identifying that damage may to
some degree militate against it.
t Visiting Professor, University of Chicago Law School, 1989; Professor, University of Maryland.
B.A., University of Maryland Baltimore Co.; J.D. University of Maryland; J.S.M. Stanford Law
School. This paper was first presented on a panel at the 1987 annual meeting of the Philosophy and
Literature Association. I would like to thank Judith Butler, Cass Sunstein, Richard Posner, Tom
Grey and Leslie Marden (Yale, 1990) for critical comments on an earlier draft.

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