Volume 7, Issue 4
Two weeks ago, the Law School celebrated International Women’s Day and the 25th anniversary of publication of ‘The Hidden Gender of Law’. The LSS Women’s Portfolio presented a talk by the authors of the book, which is a feminist legal perspective on the law.
Reg Graycar, an emeritus professor at the University of Sydney, and Jenny Morgan, a professor at Melbourne Law School, spoke engagingly about the themes of the book and reflected on the process of writing it together.
Graycar and Morgan explained their unorthodox decision to structure the book around issues that affect women, rather than the traditional divisions of law. This allowed the reader to easily access the diverse areas of law that impacted that issue.
They spoke about themes of the book; the meaning of equality, the public private divide in law and the epistemological challenge—described by Professor Morgan as ‘How does the law know what it claims to know about women?’
Professors Morgan and Graycar reflected warmly on the process of writing the book together. However, there were also the challenges of collaboration before the age of the internet; posting floppy disks from Melbourne to Sydney, using a laptop the size of a fruit box (one between the two of them) and keeping track of who had the ‘mistress copy’ of the chapter.
A second edition of ‘The Hidden Gender of Law’ was published in 2002. The authors spoke about the difference writing on the topic over a decade later. Aside from technological advancement being a huge relief, there was a huge increase in the volume of feminist theory.
Concepts such as intersectionality had entered the feminist theory discourse and there was more engagement with other ‘outsider jurisprudence’ and issues facing minorities.
The event was well attended; not only every seat but also most of the floor was occupied. More than a few first edition copies of the book were proudly brandished by attendees, many of whom were colleagues or former students of professor Graycar and Morgan - reflecting the lasting impression their teaching and writing has made.
Kalia Laycock-Walsh is a second-year JD student