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De Tocqueville once remarked on the unusual tendency of Americans to give political and social controversies a legal cast. This observation, made more than a century and a half ago, remains true today, perhaps more so than ever, and is confirmed by the peculiar American engagement with feminism. Feminism is the set of beliefs and ideas that belong to the broad social and political movement to achieve greater equality for women. As its governing ideology, feminism gives shape and direction to the women's movement and, of course, is shaped by it. Women seek equality in all spheres of life and use a broad array of strategies to achieve that goal. Feminism does not belong to the law alone. Still, the law has figured prominently in the fight for women's equality, both as a domain to be reformed and as an instrument of reform. As a result, feminism has become of special concern to the legal community.
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