Canadian Feminist Perspectives on Law

Faculty Author Type

Emeritus Faculty [Susan B. Boyd]

Published In

Journal of Law and Society

Document Type


Publication Date



Feminist jurisprudence


This paper provides an overview of Canadian feminist literature on law, starting with a brief chronology of the development of the scholarship from the time of the Report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women (1970). The authors break the literature down into the five substantive areas most often written about: criminal law, family law, income redistribution, employment law, and legal education/legal profession. They also examine the major theoretical frameworks that feminists use: liberal (rule equality) feminism; result-equality/integrative feminism; radical feminism; and socialist feminism. In addition to providing an extensive bibliography of existing Canadian feminist legal scholarship, the authors identify significant themes and characteristics of the literature and illustrate how feminist scholarship can be differentiated from non-feminist scholarship. The authors conclude that Canadian feminist scholarship on law is gaining rapidly in abundance, depth, and diversity. They also conclude that it is innovative in developing feminist theoretical perspectives that recognize the significance of law and theories of equality that acknowledge women's specificities. Feminists writing on law are urged to utilize theoretical perspectives to a greater degree in order to facilitate the development of short term and long term strategies, and to explain apparent contradictions in the ways in that the legal system affects women.