Perhaps it is best to begin with the positive. From virtually any perspective, liberal and conservative feminists in the twentieth century have improved the quality of life for many women in a number of noteworthy ways. They have helped win the right to vote, to own property, to make contracts, to serve on juries, to use contraceptives.
They have succeeded in asserting the need for enhanced economic opportunities: equal pay for equal work, maternity leave, flex-time for mothers. They have made significant advancements against both domestic battery and sexual harassment in the workplace. As a consequence of all these efforts, there are more women now than ever before in professional schools, city halls, state houses, and courts.
Such well-deserved victories, however, have been achieved at the cost of a goodly number of Pyrrhic ones, not the least of which have been wholesale changes in the language and literature of the law-most of it force-fed to the silent majority of women everywhere and to a lesser extent the hapless readers of law reviews. Good people of both sexes have been stampeded into corners of stilted parlance and tortured logic by self-appointed thought police. Big Sister has imposed herself on us all; nowadays she throws no pots and burns no bras but brandishes instead a sacred and unabridgeable Lexicon of Political Correctness.
In a nutshell, the attention of reasonable men and women everywhere must be earned-and can be, if the case is made with more measured moderation and less hysterical rhetoric-with more good writing, instead of writing that is impossible to understand, and with more good ideas, instead of ideas that are impossible to implement.
As the next generation of enlightened sisters might well have already begun to advise the current feminist legal scholars: Lighten up. Let us understand you. Get a life.
Feminism Awry: Excesses in the Pursuit of Rights and Trifles, 42 J. Legal Educ. 1 (1992)