This is a guest post from Gabrielle Blackburn of the Scottish Feminist Judgements Podcast.
The first episode of the Scottish Feminist Judgments Podcast launched on Thursday 20th of August, and new episodes come out every other Thursday, available on all the usual podcast streaming platforms.
The podcast is based on the legal research project of the same name and is directed at lay-people, as an accessible way to engage with law and think about its opportunities and limitations from a feminist perspective.
While the content of the podcast focuses on the Scottish legal system, the ideas and challenges discussed are widely applicable to all legal systems, as well as all endeavours that pertain to social justice and equity.
At its core, the podcast is an exploration of how supposedly neutral and unbiased systems – like the Scottish legal system – can in fact be profoundly rooted in and perpetuating oppressive norms (in this case, patriarchal norms).
By exploring this system through a feminist lens, we unveil different ways in which we can shake this patriarchal standpoint and move towards a system that is more equitable and just.
The injustices presented in these stories feels familiar. So does the frustration at the glaring unfairness that had to be explained and reasoned at great length before being heard. The poise and professionalism with which the feminist judges dismantle the notion of neutrality feels like a beautiful demonstration of what a feminist analysis is capable of. It illustrates an alternative – one where women’s lived experience is taken into account.
The podcast delves into 3 of the feminist judgements from the book, to explore different facets of the issue:
- Episode 1 covers the impact of history and cultural legacies on our present-day legal system, through a case involving femicide.
- Episode 2 discusses the impact of silencing women’s stories and lived experiences in court. This is discussed through a case involving domestic abuse.
- Episode 3 touches on how, even when law has the potential to be egalitarian, the way it is applied can hinder that potential. Here, we look at a financial provision on divorce case, and focus on the valuation of unpaid work.
Stay up to date
Episode 1 launched on 20th August, Episode 2 launched on 3rd September, and Episode 3 will be released on Thursday 17th September. Find them here.
How the Feminist Judgements Projects work
Feminist Judgements Projects originated in Canada, and iterations have been done around the world. The idea is to get legal practitioners and academics to re-write old legal judgements from a feminist perspective.
The only rule is: in your re-writing, you can only use tools that would have been at your disposal at the time of the original judgement. This means you could only use laws, evidence, and social understandings of the world that could have been accessed by the original judge and jury.
After that, all they had to do was to re-visit these cases through a feminist lens and see where this would take them.
Sometimes, it led them to re-write the judgement’s reasoning and arguments. Sometimes, this also led them to a completely different verdict. Every time, though, it shone a light on how legal systems, far from being neutral, are deeply rooted in patriarchal norms.