being derived from a male perspective, therefore the basic question that arises is whether the assumption that law is neutral and can provide a fair hearing to all parties is justified. As a result, several feminist theories have been advanced – most notably, the equality theories, standpoint theories, ethics of care and postmodernism, all of which are examined below. These theories raise the question of whether existing universal standards and practices are indeed universal or whether in a social and legal context, long established norms conditioned from a male perspective need re-examination. While the goal of feminist jurisprudence remains the acquisition of equality for women on par with women, can this equality be achieved in the eyes of the law by gender neutral methods of analysis? As highlighted below, through an examination of the theories, it may be noted that it appears that sex is not an issue that can be so dismissed.
This is the basic principle underlying the question of equal rights before the law for both men and women. Jurisprudence has remained a traditional male bastion with existing legal theories conditioned upon the premise of the “individual” as the philosophical basis for the legal system. Hence, earlier struggles for equal rights by women were centered upon proving to the higher authorities that women deserved equal treatment, but this was still on the basis that they were individuals. Feminist jurisprudence questions whether the “individual” as conceived in law is itself relevant?
For example, MacLaughlin points out that the liberal perspectives of law as a fair and just system that protects is rights of all individuals is based upon treating all persons indiscriminately – but how can such a universal standard be defined in the context of differing constituencies and differing conceptions?3 While she upholds the feminist view that the rights of women as individuals must be upheld, she does not view this as being exclusive