voices of women in law // voix des femmes en droit


By Megan Lindy
Managing Editor of Contours

The idea of intersectional feminist legal writing often seems antithetical. In contrast to a politics that attends to specificity of experience grounded in social location, the law is overtly concerned with categories, aiming to systematize and generalize disputes and the people they affect. In law school, our primary pedagogical tool is case law, a form of writing which creates a unified record of what has happened, authenticated by a judge’s ruling. Legal logic is inherently conservative in that its development is self-referential; jurists justify legal evolution by looking to the past. This is particularly problematic when the law has historically been a tool of the elite, easily and often weaponized in service of patriarchal, racist, heterosexist, imperialist, ableist, and capitalist systems of oppression. For a multitude of reasons, we are encouraged to ask “what is the law?” rather than “why is the law the way it is? Whose interests does it serve for it to exist as it currently does?” However, it is precisely because intersectional feminism sits in tension with traditional legal contexts that it is all the more pressing to create space for a politics built on solidarity across difference, a politics that allows for complementary and conflicting realities from a multiplicity of voices.

The stories you are about to read contest the law’s conservatism and fracture legal narratives. Intersectional feminism centers lived experiences and in so doing, decenters the voices that monopolize jurisprudence and legal reasoning. Our contributors speak to their own lives, their own histories, and the overlapping and intersecting identities that inform their experiences within this faculty and beyond. They speak on a wide range of themes: mental health and trauma, activism, motherhood and abortion, the politics of language, and gendered classroom dynamics to name a few. Their texts range from poetry and artwork to personal reflections and academic articles, showcasing our peers’ ability to express their creativity and intellectual curiosity. They create space for us to reflect upon the diversity within our own community and invite us to meaningfully engage with their writing as part of a feminist legal discourse. Contours not only serves as a platform for women and non-binary individuals, but also as a repository of knowledge that resists the assumption that legislation, case law, and doctrine are the only valid sources of legal learning. This in and of itself is a radical political act that has the power to push this faculty and the legal profession as a whole to be more inclusive, progressive, and aspirational.

I want to thank each and every contributor for taking the time, energy, and emotional labour to share their knowledge and experience with us. Contours could never exist without the incredible women and non-binary individuals who contribute to the ongoing debates and conversations that happen across these pages. I hope you enjoy reading, learning from, and reflecting on these texts as much as I have.

Thank you for supporting Contours and welcome to Volume VII.

Contours is made possible by funding from the McGill Law Students’ Association / L’Association des étudiant-e-s en droit de McGill. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part without permission from the authors.

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