Does gender affect the way justices come to decisions? 

Expert Answers
lcrasp eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Absolutely. Gender causes many different results in the area of justice. Two main examples are in the case of divorce, and in the case of rape.

During divorce cases, it is quite common for the mother to gain custody of the children by default. This is because society sees the mother as the primary caregiver of children. Traditional roles in the family include the father as the wagearner and provider, and the mother as caregiver and nurturer. The court system in the U.S. has followed along with these gender norms in most child custody cases, awarding custody to the mother and visitation to the father in most instances. For many years, it was very rare to see a father gain full custody of his children. While this standard is changing, and we do see fathers gaining full custody more frequently now, it is still the default for the mother to gain full custody of the children.

In the case of rape, gender and societal norms play a huge role in the prosecution of accused rapists. The lawyer for the accused rapist (the defendent) will often make the case that the woman who was raped was "asking for it," because she wore revealing clothing, because she drank too much, or because she was out late at night. They make these arguments because of our societal expectations of the female gender. We expect women to be modest, thus, we view women who wear revealing clothing as slutty or loose. We expect women to be responsible and more subdued, thus we view women who drink too much as irresponsible and reckless. We expect women to be more cautious, thus we view women who are out late at night as irresponsible. These are all typical gender stereotypes that are often used in during the prosecution of accused rapists. Quite often, judges are influenced by these arguments and stereotypes, as are juries, and accused rapists may be found innocent of the charges as a result.