Whatever Next? Women's Rights in Sáenz de Heredia's Los derechos de la mujer (1962)
This article examines José Luis Sáenz de Heredia's film Los derechos de la mujer (1962), which raises questions about empowering women within the legal arena and mediates historical and cultural anxieties that circulated in more general terms after the legal changes of 1958 and 1961. It looks at this relatively early representation of filmic female lawyers, produced at a time when women were entering a traditionally male sphere and access to the legal profession itself was one of the main issues. It is theoretically informed by Cynthia Lucia's book entitled Framing Female Lawyers which examines female lawyers as catalysts of patriarchal crisis and argues that cultural representations of the female lawyer as a figure with access to the law most often entails that she herself will be interrogated and put on trial. Finally, it asks to what degree this early example of female lawyer films constructs the subjectivity of its female protagonist in the way that law constructs its female subjects at the time, namely as eternas menores with limited legal capacities who consequently activate their own mechanisms of containment. The film challenges, yet ultimately restores, patriarchal power through the action of the female lawyer; in that sense both law and the female lawyer are instruments of a male-dominated world.
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