The Common Law Inside the Female Body


Chancellor Day Hall NCDH 202, 3644 rue Peel, Montreal, QC, H3A 1W9, CA

We welcome Subotnick Professor of Law Anita Bernstein, Brooklyn School of Law, for a Margot E. Halpenny Memorial Lecture, which is part of the Annie Macdonald Langstaff series.


“Saying No to What We Don’t Want” opens The Common Law Inside the Female Body, a book in progress. Anita Bernstein does not disagree with critics who say that the common law is conservative, elitist, hard to look up and pin down, under-interested in distributive justice, and over-interested in protecting property. Nor will she deny that for centuries the common law oppressed wives. And yet this venerable, backward-looking, tradition-minded jurisprudence is a powerful force against the subordination of women. “Saying No to What We Don’t Want” shows how thoroughly the common law stands up for individuals, possessors of female bodies included, whenever they object to an interference.

The speaker

Professor Bernstein is an authority on tort law and feminist jurisprudence, as well as professional responsibility and products liability. Her previous books are on torts, products liability, and whether marriage as a legal category ought to be abolished. Bernstein has been recognized as one of the most highly cited scholars in the field of Torts and Products Liability.

Margot E. Halpenny Memorial Lecture

Margot E. Halpenny, BA'72, LLB'76, was a member of the Ontario Bar and spent the last ten years of her career working for Noranda as legal counsel. After her passing, donations poured in from friends in her honour. Her family felt that these donations would be properly directed to McGill's Law Faculty, given Margot’s educational background and the family’s strong affiliation with McGill. The Margot E. Halpenny Memorial Lecture honours her memory.

This talk is organized in collaboration with the Paul-André Crépeau Centre for Private and Comparative Law.

A request for accreditation for 1.5 hours of continuing legal education for jurists has been made to a recognized provider.