Legally Blonde

Powerful Essays
Jessica McClenahan
Professor Ronald Lee Morris
Law and Society 2360
22 September 2011

Learn the Law, Act the Law, Be the Law

Sandra Day O’ Connor once stated, “The power I exert on the court depends on the power of my arguments, not on my gender”. Lawyers are advocates of the law as well as advisors to their clients. Stereotypes are present in the law profession, and it is recognized as a man’s territory. Legally Blonde, a film directed by Robert Luketic, reveals the generalizations made about a blonde sorority girl pursuing a career in law. Sex does not determine the quality of a lawyer; their knowledge, performance and representation of the law reflects a lawyer’s potential. Gender discrimination exists in a lawyer’s world, and women are the victims. Women are affected in the legal career and academic world because of workplace expectations of masculinity and bias among male employers. People perceive information in ways that conform to their stereotypes. Gary Blasi presents two exercises that help display how people think about gender and career: First, “try to imagine, in sequence, a baseball player, a trial lawyer, a figure skater, and a U.S. Supreme Court justice - without a specific gender or race. . . .” Did you succeed? Next, “try to imagine a carpenter. When you have that image settled in your mind, describe the color of her hair.” Did you pause or do a double take? The purpose of these mental tasks is to prove that the mind views careers as gender specific. Legally Blonde outlines the idea that women and men are divided as lawyers. Reese Witherspoon plays the role as an overly feminine woman attending Harvard Law School. James Read acts as Witherspoon’s father and states, “Law school is for people who are boring, and ugly, and…serious. And you, Button, are none of those things.” Stereotypes are presented early on in the film. Professor Callahan, played by Victor Garber, sexually harasses Witherspoon while asking her how far she



Cited: Hensler, Deborah R. “Studying Gender Bias in the Courts: Stories and Statistics.” Stanford Law Review 45 (1993): 2187-2193 Levinson, Justin D. and Danielle Young. "Implicit Gender Bias in the Legal Profession: An Empirical Study." Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy 18 (2010): 1-45

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