The Trouble with Rape: Gender Matters and Legal `Transformations'

Feminist Legal Studies 7 (3):275-297 (1999)

This paper sets out to read how gender is produced in changes to the law of rape introduced in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 and in critical academic discussions reflecting on these changes. It utilises the work of Judith Butler in order to form an understanding of how the gendered subject is produced in rape law and in academic discussions about rape law. Through Butler's idea of gender performativity,it contends that neither the statute nor the critique of the legal changes produce any radical `transformation' in rape law. In neither instance does the law or its critique challenge the normative understanding of gender as the cultural formation of `sex'. Rather, both discourses sustain and maintain what Butler calls ``heterosexual hegemony''. As the final section or the postscript of the paper suggests, there are moments in judgements when the identified subject exceeds the marking and exposes the limits of the hegemonic logic. This exposition can serve as an opening in which, as Butler argues, the politics of resistance can create the possibility of an embodied justice.
Keywords Law   Ethics   Law Theory/Law Philosophy   European Law/Public International Law   Interdisciplinary Studies   Social Issues
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1009297603439
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