Women and the Law, law that addresses the way in which legal ideology and practice affect women. Although the laws may reflect particular assumptions about people’s lives that are considered normal, they may be at odds with the experience and reality of most women’s lives. For example, social security provisions require availability for full-time employment, thus ignoring the reality that many women have the burden of primary care responsibilities within the family.
Women and the law is an all-embracing area of study given that its starting point is the experience of women’s lives. Increasingly, feminists have recognized that racial and cultural differences mean that women’s experience is often fragmented and not universal. The value of the study of women and the law is to analyse the way in which the law makes assumptions about women’s lives and how these can work in practice to disadvantage women. Particular areas of English law are examined below to provide an illustration of a legal system in operation.