chapter  2
17 Pages

Woman as the subject of (family) law

ByANÉL BOSHOFF

Family law, those rules defining and regulating the most intimate sphere of our lives, has traditionally occupied a unique and rather ambiguous position within the greater ideological system of the law. At least two aspects seemed to underlie our perception of family law. First, more than any other branch of the legal system, family law is perceived as belonging to the realm of the subjective, the personal and the concrete, somehow resisting the law’s pull towards the objective, the principled and the abstract. It has an unruly character, emotional, irrational and mundane, but somehow dangerous. The second aspect, obviously related to the first, is family law’s close connection with women or rather the female side of the gender dualism. Relating to the private sphere of the home and the family – the traditional domain of women – yet regulated by the legal rules of the state – men’s territory – it is seen as perching uncomfortably on the two chairs of the public and the private.