chapter
6 Pages

DEVELOPING A STRATEGIC ENGAGEMENT WITH LAW

I have argued elsewhere'' that a feminist engagement with law should not be limited to a critique of revelation (that is, an examination of the many ways in which law has been brought to bear in constructing particular images of, and roles for, women, and disciplining them in relation to these images and roles), but that it is a necessary function of feminist work continually to seek strategic responses to law which will enhance the position of women. Further, such work enables us to continue to seek, explore and construct images of potential, that is, potential futures, which are not riven by a gendered division more favourable to one sex than the other.? All of our engagements with law within these terms are necessarily contingent. It would be wrong, however, to ground this notion of contingency in an explanation which emphasises the limitations and constraints of having to engage with, and through, the legal tools immediately available to us. Nor should we limit ourselves by the argument that we have no finalised programme for the future, no blueprint of the potential we might claim to be working towards. Such an approach is fundamentally wrong: it presumes that it is both possible and desirable to design/achieve a blueprint which can then be utilised as the standard by which all incursions are to be judged and through which all strategies are to be planned. In other words, get the theory (or the political programme) right first and then, only then, begin to engage. Anything less is seen as dangerous skirmishing with no long term objective, no co-ordinated plan, no clear direction. In these terms, the best approach for an academic working with law is simply to continue to be involved in a ground clearing exercise, either the ground clearing of continuing to reveal the perfidy of law in all its many manifestations, or the ground clearing of absenting oneself from the mires of legal doctrine and taking to the heady heights of legal theory. Above the clouds the air is clear, the sun warm, and from this lofty vantage point one sends down a promise that, when the horizons become visible and the terrain mapped, then we will know what it is all about and can take the risk of returning to the mire of the lower lands, because we will have the security of the map and compass of direction.