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Just the other day I had occasion to dine with a group of remarkable women of a certain age who had recently been featured by this newspaper as "Women Leaders in the Law: Blazing the trail for 35-plus years." Right there you knew, of course, that these were women who had stayed the course, who had early and often resisted the siren call of a more conventional path, and who collectively called to mind the rallying cry of an earlier time: "This is what a feminist looks like."

Having individually and together fought their way to the top of their respective fields at the height of the woman's movement, it was clear that this group was flummoxed by younger women's apparent repudiation of the feminist label. This despite the conviction that newer generations surely must be no less concerned than their forebears with issues of equality and liberation of the human spirit. Grappling with the feminist sobriquet is hardly a new phenomenon. Some years ago, Dame Rebecca West, for example, observed, "I ... have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is; I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute." But I fear that today's plainly erroneous yet oft-stated assumption that we now live in a post-feminist, post-racial society poses great peril to the women now coming up in the legal profession.


Originally printed in The Recorder. Posted with permission.