In Search of the Reasonable Woman: Anti-Discrimination Rhetoric in the United States

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This article emerged from my participation in a Symposium addressing global perspectives on the topic, "Anti-Discrimination Discourse and Practices," sponsored by The Jean Monnet Chair of European Law at Cagliari University, Sardinia. The article examines the rhetorical development of the "reasonable woman" standard of hostile work environment sexual harassment under Title VII. I argue that the rhetorical framing of the standard has unnecessarily limited its impact, perhaps to the point of undermining its potential to radically revise our understanding of gender discrimination. I suggest how the rhetorical power of the standard might be recovered.