Advertisement

Liverpool Law Review

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 63–82 | Cite as

Exploring Justitia Through Éowyn and Niobe: On Gender, Race and the Legal

  • Patrícia BrancoEmail author
Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Lady Justice Law Gender Race Legal profession 

Notes

Acknowledgements

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.

References

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. Burgess-Proctor, Amanda. 2006. Intersections of race, class, gender, and crime: future directions for feminist criminology. Feminist Criminology 1: 27–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Capers, Bennett. 2006. On justitia, race, gender, and blindness. Michigan Journal of Race and Law 12: 1–31.Google Scholar
  5. Capers, Bennett. 2012. Blind justice. Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities 24 (1): 179–189.Google Scholar
  6. Chesney-Lind, Meda, and Lisa Pasko (eds.). 2013. Girls, women, and crime. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  7. 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
  8. de Ville, Jacques. 2011. Mythology and the images of justice. Law and Literature 23 (3): 324–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. Duarte, M., P. Fernando, C. Gomes, and A. Oliveira. 2014. The feminization of the judiciary in Portugal: dilemmas and paradoxes. Utrecht Law Review 10 (1): 29–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 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.
  14. Gillis, Stacy. 2005. The matrix trilogy. London: Wallflower Press.Google Scholar
  15. Goodrich, Peter. 2014. Legal emblems and the art of law. Obiter Depicta as the vision of Governance. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Goodrich, Peter. 1995. Oedipus lex. Psychoanalysis history law. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  17. 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
  18. 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.
  19. Kay, Fiona, and Elizabeth Gorman. 2008. Women in the legal profession. Annual Review of Law and Social Science 4: 299–332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 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
  21. Kord, Susanne, and Elisabeth Krimmer. 2011. Contemporary hollywood masculinities. Gender, genre, and politics. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kuliscioff, Anna. 2011. Il Monopolio dell’Uomo. Aprilia: Ortica Editrice.Google Scholar
  23. 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
  24. Lee, Rebecca K. 2012. Justice for all? Vanderbilt Law Review En Banc 65: 217–229.Google Scholar
  25. 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
  26. 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
  27. Lochak, Danièle. 2011. Dualité de sexe et dualité de genre dans les normes juridiques. Jurisprudence. Révue Critique. Université de Savoie: Lextenso Éditions.Google Scholar
  28. Machado, Helena. 2007. Moralizar para identificar. Cenários da investigação judicial de paternidade. Afrontamento: Porto.Google Scholar
  29. 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.
  30. McLaughlin, Megan. 1990. The woman warrior: Gender, warfare and society in medieval Europe. Women’s Studies 17: 193–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mulcahy, Linda. 2013. Imagining alternative visions of Justice: An exploration of the controversy surrounding Stirling Lee’s depictions of Justitia in nineteenth-century Liverpool. Law, Culture and the Humanities 9 (2): 311–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Nettel, Ana Laura. 2005. The power of image and the image of power: The case of Law. Word and Image 21 (2): 136–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 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
  34. Resnik, Judith, and Dennis Curtis. 2011. Representing Justice: Invention, Controversy, and rights in city-states and democratic courtrooms. Yale: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  35. 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
  36. Rhode, Deborah L. 2001. The unfinished agenda. Women and the legal profession. Chicago: American Bar Association.Google Scholar
  37. Robert, Christian-Nils. 1993. La Justice. Vertu, Courtisane et Bourreau. Geneva: Georg Editeur SA.Google Scholar
  38. Roberts, Heather. 2014. Telling a history of Australian women judges through courts’ ceremonial archives. Australian Feminist Law Journal 40 (1): 147–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Scutt, Jocelynne. 1991. The incredible woman: A recurring character in criminal law. Women’s Studies International Forum 15 (4): 441–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Seigfried, Karl E. 2013. Tolkien’s heathen feminist. http://www.norsemyth.org/2013/02/tolkiens-heathen-feminist-part-one.html. Accessed 08 September 2016.
  41. Shaw, Julia J.A. 2010. Against Myths and traditions that emasculatewomen: Language, literature, law and female empowerment. Liverpool Law Review 31: 29–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Shklar, Judith. 1990. The faces of injustice. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Sprague, Aileen. 2011. Women and the law: the symbolism and the reality. Roger Williams University Law Review 16 (2): 260–277.Google Scholar
  44. Tacchi, Francesca. 2009. Eva Togata. Donne e professioni giuridiche in Italia dall’Unità a oggi. UTET Libreria: Turin.Google Scholar
  45. Thornton, Margaret. 1998. Authority and corporeality: the conundrum for women in law. Feminist Legal Studies 6 (2): 147–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 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.
  47. Warner, Marina. 1985. Monuments and maidens: The allegory of the female form. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  48. 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
  49. 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.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro de Estudos SociaisUniversidade de CoimbraCoimbraPortugal

Personalised recommendations