Separable but Equal? How Title VII Preserves Sex and Race Lines.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper argues that contemporary antidiscrimination theory lacks the conceptual framework to provide adequate protection to those who defy classification without simultaneously effacing their transgressive performance of racial and sexual identities. Antidiscrimination law's understanding of identity had been appropriate for the first stages of the civil rights movement, but it now require revision and refinement to respond to new questions. The contemporary challenge for Title VII is to recognize that many legal subjects are discriminated not because of their race or sex per se, but because the ways in which they perform their racial or sexual identity. While many plaintiffs are discriminated precisely because their identity defies the lines that divide between the sexes or the races, success in a discrimination claim is intertwined with the price of being typologized by the judicial gaze as being of a clear-cut identity category. Thus, antidiscrimination discourse serves, albeit unwittingly, to reify and sustain prevailing typologies of identity. My research is motivated by a concern about the classifying power of law. I seek to highlight the ways in which the law serves and legitimates our political, social, and cultural "will to know," and to challenge the covert—yet powerful—legal apparatus of classifying identities. ..PAT.-Unpublished Manuscript
Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2008


  • RACE awareness
  • GENDER identity
  • ANTI-discrimination laws
  • CIVIL rights movements
  • PSYCHOLOGICAL typologies


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