It has been fifteen years since the Ninth Circuit decided to utilize the reasonable woman standard in sexual harassment cases, and the Supreme Court has yet to comment on its legitimacy or the split in federal circuits. In Legal Feminism, Ann Scales promotes a feminist way of understanding law that takes history, suffering, and context seriously. Among other things, she identifies philosophical liberalism as a limiting rhetoric that hides structures of privilege behind a pretense of neutrality. Consequently, Scales prescribes eschewing neutrality to overcome the historic equation of rationality with maleness, and to expose the colossal privilege that allows those in power to believe they are acting neutrally. Neutrality and its pretense are at the heart of the ongoing debate over the use of the “reasonable woman” instead of the “reasonable person” to satisfy the objective prong of Title VII hostile work environment claims. This Book Review examines the evolution of the reasonable woman and explores her successes and failures in fifteen years of jurisprudence.
The Reasonable Woman: Has She Made a Difference?,
B.C. Third World L.J.