Exploring Justitia Through Éowyn and Niobe: On Gender, Race and the Legal
The image of Lady Justice, a white woman, sometimes appearing with her eyes veiled and other times unveiled, at times bearing scales and/or a sword in her hands, still is a common and popular feature of legal culture in many parts of the world. This is an image of justice that is found everywhere, from courthouses to cartoons. However, one may ask: “Who is this woman?”; Is she really a worthy representative of justice?; Or even a commendable representative of women? Thus, in this article, it is proposed to question the image of Lady Justice and the interpretations that have been associated with it, as well as the standards of conduct required of, and imposed upon, women both inside and outside the legal profession. The article will consider a range of arguments related to such questions, particularly on the issues of gender and race, by using two female characters: Éowyn (from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings) and Niobe (from the Wachowskis’s The Matrix). The two characters are women who have some significance in both plots. Through them, I will establish some similarities and differences with Justitia, namely the need to be disguised as men or embrace male attitudes (a similar process concerning women in the legal profession, for example); the use of weapons (specifically, the sword, and, hence, the necessary analysis of women as law breakers, in contradiction to the image of Justitia); and finally some key issues relating to the representation of women of colour.
KeywordsLady Justice Law Gender Race Legal profession
I would like to thank the suggestions made by Richard Mohr, Sabine N. Meyer, Morag J. Grant and Maria José Carvalho to an earlier version of this paper. I would also like to thank the valuable comments made by the two anonymous reviewers.
- Borrillo, Daniel. 2011. Le sexe et le droit de la logique binaire des genres et la matrice hétérosexuelle de la loi. Jurisprudence. Révue Critique. Université de Savoie: Lextenso Éditions.Google Scholar
- Branco, Patrícia. 2016. Courthouses as spaces of recognition, functionality and access to Law and Justice: A Portuguese reflection. Oñati Socio Legal Series 6 (3): 426–441.Google Scholar
- Capers, Bennett. 2006. On justitia, race, gender, and blindness. Michigan Journal of Race and Law 12: 1–31.Google Scholar
- Capers, Bennett. 2012. Blind justice. Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities 24 (1): 179–189.Google Scholar
- Chesney-Lind, Meda, and Lisa Pasko (eds.). 2013. Girls, women, and crime. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- Corcos, Christine. 2003. “We Don’t WANT Advantages”: The woman lawyer and her quest for power in popular culture. Syracuse Law Review 53: 1225–1271.Google Scholar
- Dowd, Nancy E. 2013. Asking the man question: Masculinities analysis and feminist theory. In Exploring masculinities. Feminist legal theory reflections, ed. Martha Albertson Fineman, and Michael Thomson, 9–16. Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
- Downs, Jack M. 2014. Radiant and terrible: Tolkien’s Heroic women as correctives to the romance and epic traditions. In A quest of her own: Essays on the female hero in modern fantasy, ed. Lori M. Campbell, 55–75. Jefferson: McFarland & Company.Google Scholar
- Duarte, Madalena, Ana Oliveira, and Paula Fernando. 2016. Gender and judging in Portugal: Opinions and perceptions. Oñati Socio-Legal Series 6 (3): 454–476.Google Scholar
- Easteal, Patricia. 1991. Women and crime: Premenstrual issues. Trends and issues in crime and criminal justice 31. http://aic.gov.au/media_library/publications/tandi_pdf/tandi031.pdf. Accessed 08 September 2016.
- Gillis, Stacy. 2005. The matrix trilogy. London: Wallflower Press.Google Scholar
- Goodrich, Peter. 2014. Legal emblems and the art of law. Obiter Depicta as the vision of Governance. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Goodrich, Peter. 1995. Oedipus lex. Psychoanalysis history law. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Heilbrun, Carolyn, and Judith Resnik. 1997. Convergences: Law, literature and feminism. In Beyond Portia: Women, law, and literature in the United States, ed. Joan St. Jacqueline, and Annette Bennington McElhiney, 11–52. Boston: Northeastern University Press.Google Scholar
- Jeffrey, Karima K. 2014. Mother of a new world? Stereotypical representations of black women in three postapocalyptic films. Journal of Feminist Scholarship 6: 1–12. http://www.jfsonline.org/issue6/pdfs/JFS_Issue6.pdf. Accessed 08 September 2016.
- Keitner, Chimène I. 2002. Victim or vamp? Images of violent women in the criminal justice system. Columbia Journal of Gender and Law 11 (1): 38–87.Google Scholar
- Kuliscioff, Anna. 2011. Il Monopolio dell’Uomo. Aprilia: Ortica Editrice.Google Scholar
- La Torre, Miguel. 2009. Beyond machismo: A Cuban case story. In Men and masculinities in christianity and judaism: A critical reader, ed. Björn Krondorfer, 444–459. London: SCM Press.Google Scholar
- Lee, Rebecca K. 2012. Justice for all? Vanderbilt Law Review En Banc 65: 217–229.Google Scholar
- Levit, Nancy, and Robert R. Verchick. 2006. Marriage and family. In Feminist legal theory. A primer, ed. Nancy Levit, and Robert R. Verchick, 163–173. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
- Lipp, Martina. 2004. Welcome to the sexual spectacle: The female heroes of the Franchise. In Jacking into the matrix franchise. Cultural reception and interpretation, ed. Mathew Kapell, and William G. Doty, 14–31. New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
- Lochak, Danièle. 2011. Dualité de sexe et dualité de genre dans les normes juridiques. Jurisprudence. Révue Critique. Université de Savoie: Lextenso Éditions.Google Scholar
- Machado, Helena. 2007. Moralizar para identificar. Cenários da investigação judicial de paternidade. Afrontamento: Porto.Google Scholar
- Marness, Kevin. 1995. Taming the Wild Shieldmaiden: A Feminist Analysis of Tolkien’s “Heroinism” in The Lord of the Rings. http://www.academia.edu/363083/Taming_the_Wild_Shieldmaiden_A_Feminist_Analysis_of_Tolkiens_Heroinism_in_The_Lord_of_the_Rings. Accessed 08 September 2016.
- Pedroso, João, Paula Casaleiro, and Patrícia Branco. 2014. A (des)igualdade de género nos tribunais de família e menores: um estudo de sentenças de regulação das responsabilidade parentais em Portugal. Estudos de Sociologia 19 (36): 81–100.Google Scholar
- Resnik, Judith, and Dennis Curtis. 2011. Representing Justice: Invention, Controversy, and rights in city-states and democratic courtrooms. Yale: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
- Resnik, Judith. 2002. Reconstructing equality: Of Justice, Justitia, and the gender of jurisdiction. Yale Journal of Law and Feminism 14 (2): 393–418.Google Scholar
- Rhode, Deborah L. 2001. The unfinished agenda. Women and the legal profession. Chicago: American Bar Association.Google Scholar
- Robert, Christian-Nils. 1993. La Justice. Vertu, Courtisane et Bourreau. Geneva: Georg Editeur SA.Google Scholar
- Seigfried, Karl E. 2013. Tolkien’s heathen feminist. http://www.norsemyth.org/2013/02/tolkiens-heathen-feminist-part-one.html. Accessed 08 September 2016.
- Shklar, Judith. 1990. The faces of injustice. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
- Sprague, Aileen. 2011. Women and the law: the symbolism and the reality. Roger Williams University Law Review 16 (2): 260–277.Google Scholar
- Tacchi, Francesca. 2009. Eva Togata. Donne e professioni giuridiche in Italia dall’Unità a oggi. UTET Libreria: Turin.Google Scholar
- União de Mulheres Alternativa e Resposta [UMAR]. 2015. Observatório de Mulheres Assassinadas da UMAR. Dados 2014. http://www.umarfeminismos.org/images/stories/oma/2014/OMA_2014_Relat%C3%B3rio_Anual.pdf. Accessed 05 September 2016.
- Warner, Marina. 1985. Monuments and maidens: The allegory of the female form. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Watt, Gary. 2012. Law suits: Clothing as the image of Law. In Visualizing law and authority: Essays on legal aesthetics, ed. Leif Dahlberg, 23–50. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.Google Scholar
- Woodard, Hannah. 2010. The Shieldmaiden of Rohan. Inklings Forever 7. https://library.taylor.edu/dotAsset/0eba8a01-2afc-44c8-ae9b-ecac8045a282.pdf. Accessed 08 September 2016.