REDRESS FOR SUCCESS: Using the Law to Enforce Your Rights as a Woman by Dana Shilling

REDRESS FOR SUCCESS: Using the Law to Enforce Your Rights as a Woman

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There's a certain initial appeal in Shilling's flip, ironic, all-knowing style, but in the end it's a monologue you could do without. Harvard Law grad Shilling says she wanted to write a feminist guide to the law that would not talk down to the reader, and hers doesn't; still, it's hard to imagine the reader she had in mind. Employment discrimination is treated exhaustively (though not always systematically), but the muddy explanation of its baroque procedural aspects won't be of use to anyone, lawyer or lay person. Each chapter (sexual harassment, non-employment discrimination, self-defense and domestic violence, rape and a variety of health-related issues) starts off with a supposedly relevant vignette to which the author never returns. The extensive notes are printed at the back of the book without corresponding references in the text (to avoid ""clutter"")--making them hard to track down for even the most dedicated reader. And the ""Road to the Court House"" (procedure) and ""Smoking Gun"" (evidence) sections that end each chapter are often sketchy at best. The book's faults range from inaccuracies (the Common Law is not ""unwritten law,"" it's a system based on the precedential opinions of judges rather than on statutes; if an intermediate state court rules one way, and a higher court rules differently on the same case or issue, the state doesn't have ""two answers"" to the problem--the higher court's opinion is the law, unless a subsequent case can be distinguished), to failure to clarify new and complex issues affecting women (the sections on self. defense and on fetal protection on the job--where Shilling appears to ignore the legitimate interest a woman may have in protecting her unborn child from teratogenic factors in the workplace--are especially unhelpful), to downright callousness. Concerning anti-abortion motivated requirements that women seeking to abort be ""counseled"" about fetal development, for instance, Shilling volunteers helpfully'. ""the effect may be to gross them out so much that they demand immediate abortions."" For the general legal issues that may have a special impact on women, Every Woman's Legal Guide (Burnett, Ed., Doubleday 1983) is a better place to start; although Shilling's ramblings might be used to introduce the state of the law on a particular issue, before going on to a more specialized (and better) source. A sophomoric attempt, and one that promises more than it delivers.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1985
Publisher: Viking