INTRODUCTION

Mary Joe Frug

GERALD FRUG*

M

ary Joe was murdered on April 4, 1991, a block and a half from
our home in Cambridge. After such a horrifying event there is no
such thing as “closure.” The murder left a permanent wound, one
that our children and I had to learn to live with. That process takes a very
long time. It is still ongoing. In the years immediately following Mary Joe’s
death, helping the children through this process was my primary activity
and concern. How could it not be?
Yet there was more to do than that. At the time of her death, Mary Joe
was on her first leave of absence from the New England School of Law (as
it was then called). She had been teaching at New England for ten years.
She loved teaching her students. Truly loved it. Still, she needed time to
write. Her devotion to teaching and mentoring students left her little time
for that. As a result, her leave of absence—she had a fellowship at
Radcliffe’s Bunting Institute for the Spring semester—was a wonderful
opportunity for her. Now, at last, she could complete the many articles she
had in draft and get them published.
Mary Joe did much of her writing at home. Our computer there would
automatically date every document January 1, 1980, unless the writer
specified another date. Mary Joe never bothered specifying another date.
So, when she was killed, I undertook the job of going through her writings,
trying to determine which draft was the most recent draft. This was not
pure guess work. We regularly discussed both her writing and mine, so I
was pretty much up to date. Still, it was not easy. But it was important. She
had so many promising articles in draft. They needed to be published so
that others could benefit from her work. And it was not just her articles
that needed to be published. Over the course of the many years that she
taught the subject, Mary Joe had put together teaching materials on
“Women and the Law.” To be publishable—to be a casebook, in other

* Louis D. Brandeis Professor of Law, Harvard Law School.

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words, not just mimeographed materials—these materials needed to be
edited too.
I set myself the task of getting the articles and the casebook published.
I came up with rules I would follow to do this job. I was determined not to
rewrite anything. I wanted to publish her work as she wrote it, even in its
unfinished state (one article ended with an incomplete sentence). Yes, I
corrected typos and similar glitches. But no new material was added, and
no parts of the work were cut. I still believe that this approach was correct.
But it had its downside. Mary Joe herself would have rewritten the
articles—and she would have re-thought the teaching materials—before
publishing them. Should I try to polish her unfinished work in some way
so that it would be closer to the form that I imagined she would have
preferred? The answer to this question, I decided, was “no.”
The results of this work were six articles and a casebook:
(1) Sexual Equality and Sexual Difference in American Law;1
(2) Difference, Community, and Sexual Politics: A Comment on
Regina Austin’s Black Women, Sisterhood, and the
Difference/Deviance Divide;2
(3) Rescuing Impossibility Doctrine: A Postmodern Feminist
Analysis of Contract Law;3
(4) Law and Postmodernism: The Politics of a Marriage;4
(5) Progressive Feminist Scholarship: Can We Claim “A
Different Voice”?;5
(6) A Postmodern Feminist Legal Manifesto (An Unfinished
Draft);6 and
(7) WOMEN AND THE LAW.7

1 Mary Joe Frug, Sexual Equality and Sexual Difference in American Law, 26 NEW ENG. L. REV.
665 (1992).
2

Mary Joe Frug, Difference, Community, and Sexual Politics: A Comment on Regina Austin’s
Black Women, Sisterhood, and the Difference/Deviance Divide, 26 NEW ENG. L. REV. 889
(1992).
3 Mary Joe Frug, Rescuing Impossibility Doctrine: A Postmodern Feminist Analysis of Contract
Law, 140 U. PA. L. REV. 1029 (1992).
4 Mary Joe Frug, Law and Postmodernism: The Politics of a Marriage, 62 U. COLO. L. REV. 483
(1991).
5

Mary Joe Frug, Progressive Feminist Scholarship: Can We Claim “A Different Voice”?, 15
HARV. WOMEN’S L.J. 37 (1992).
6 Mary Joe Frug, A Postmodern Feminist Legal Manifesto (An Unfinished Draft), 105 HARV. L.
REV. 1045 (1992).
7

MARY JOE FRUG, WOMEN AND THE LAW (1st ed. 1992).

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The culmination of this project was Mary Joe’s book, published by
Routledge in 1992, entitled Postmodern Legal Feminism.8 This book collected
and organized the articles just listed, and also included an earlier article
Mary Joe had published in the 1980s: Re-Reading Contracts: A Feminist
Analysis of a Contracts Casebook.9 The book was by no means a complete
compendium of her work. Most importantly, it left out a major article—
Securing Job Equality for Women: Labor Market Hostility to Working
Mothers10—an article that discussed a topic as vital now as it was then. The
book, in short, required my editorial judgment—not just about what to
include and exclude but about how to organize the articles into a book.
There seemed no way out of this responsibility. The book was designed to
be—has turned out to be—the most important way most people access her
work.
No institution has contributed more to the task of keeping Mary Joe’s
memory and the value of her work alive than New England Law. The New
England Law Review published in full the memorial service held four days
after her death in Harvard’s Memorial Church.11That publication contains
many wonderful tributes, none more eloquent and moving than that
delivered by our son Stephen, then 20 years old.12 Given in a church packed
to capacity so soon after her death, Stephen’s remarks left no one
untouched. The New England Law Review also published two symposia on
May Joe’s work—one in the volume with the memorial service and one
later.13 In total, these two symposia included work by eighteen
distinguished scholars. (The symposia also included the first two articles,
listed above, by Mary Joe.) Ten years after her death, the New England Law
Review published Regina Austin’s and Elizabeth Schneider’s reflections on
Mary Joe’s Postmodern Feminist Legal Manifesto,14 along with work presented
at a conference held in Mary Joe’s memory on March 31, 2001. And, now,
25 years after her death, it is publishing this fine Symposium.

8

MARY JOE FRUG, POSTMODERN LEGAL FEMINISM (1992) [hereinafter POSTMODERN LEGAL
FEMINISM].
9 Mary Joe Frug, Re-reading Contracts: A Feminist Analysis of a Contracts Casebook, 34 AM. U.
L. REV. 1065 (1985).
10 Mary Joe Frug, Securing Job Equality for Women: Labor Market Hostility to Working Mothers,
59 B. U. L. Rev. 55 (1979).
11

Memorial Service for Mary Joe Frug, 26 NEW ENG. L. REV. 639 (1992).
Id. at 656−58.
13 Symposium, For Mary Joe Frug: A Symposium on Feminist Critical Legal Studies and
Postmodernism (pts. 1 & 2), 26 NEW ENG. L. REV. 639, 26 NEW ENG. L. REV. 1173 (1992).
12

14

Regina Austin & Elizabeth M. Schneider, Mary Joe Frug’s Postmodern Feminist Legal
Manifesto Ten Years Later: Reflections on the State of Feminism Today, 36 NEW ENG. L. REV. 1
(2001).

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There have been many other articles inspired by Mary Joe’s work,
some commenting on and others extending Mary Joe’s contribution to legal
scholarship. They are too numerous for me to catalogue here. But one
member of the New England Law faculty deserves special mention for her
dedication to Mary Joe’s memory: Associate Dean Judi Greenberg. Judi
wrote the introduction to Mary Joe’s book, Postmodern Legal Feminism,15
and, together with Martha Minow and Dorothy Roberts, edited a second
edition of Mary Joe’s casebook. (The casebook is now in its fourth
edition.)16 Judi was Mary Joe’s close friend, and her contributions have
meant a lot to me and to Mary Joe’s and my children. It is also important to
us, however, that much of the work inspired by Mary Joe has been done by
people who never met her and have relied entirely on her published work.
This group includes the editors of this Symposium. Indeed, while some of
the articles included here are written by Mary Joe’s friends (Martha Minow
and Joe Singer), one is by a scholar who knows her only from her writing
(Laura Rosenbury). It is also noteworthy that the articles in this
Symposium cite different parts of Mary Joe’s work, both work published
before her death and posthumously. This kind of overlap—citations to
work published before and after her death, tributes by friends and those
who came to law teaching after her death—demonstrates that Mary Joe’s
legacy is not just a memory but a guide to the future. Our children, Stephen
and Emily, and I are grateful that her work, as well as her memory, lives
on. In the fullness of time, our grandchildren, Charlie, Maddie, and Joseph,
will be grateful too.

15
16

POSTMODERN LEGAL FEMINISM, supra note 8, at ix.
LIBBY S. ADLER ET AL., MARY JOE FRUG’S WOMEN AND THE LAW (4th ed. 2008).