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In the 21st century, human rights are as present as they are endangered. Specifically, sex/gender equality rights are contested, or actively abridged, which is to be understood as an attack on women and on people who do not fit a ‘normal’ pattern of gender relations. Yet in addition, these are attacks on democratic constitutionalism itself. The article argues that to properly understand the recent contestations of human rights, one must distinguish between critique and attack, and revisit the very form and content of human rights, to deal with law’s ambivalence, such as ‘legal colonialism’, and also take into account critical understandings such as feminist jurisprudence, including an intersectional account of gendered inequalities, with a focus on the gendered ontology of law. We need to defend human rights against attacks, but make sure to defend the right version, namely a substantive notion of equality, in conjunction with dignity and liberty, in a triangle of fundamental human rights as prerequisite for democracy.


This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 (BY-NC-ND) which means that the text may be used for non-commercial purposes, provided credit is given to the author. For details go to Copyright 2022. Baer, Susanne. "Gendered Normativities: The Role and Rule of Law" In Global Contestations of Gender Rights edited by Alexandra Scheele, Julia Roth and Heidemarie Winkel, 115-134. Bielefeld: Bielefeld University Press, 2022.