Mary Joe Frug

Mary Joe Frug

Mary Joe Frug (1941–1991) was a professor at New England School of Law from 1981 to 1991. She is considered a forerunner of legal postmodern feminist theory, and was a renowned postmodernist and feminist legal scholar. Much of her work was collected in the posthumously-published book Postmodern Legal Feminism. She authored the casebook Women and the Law.

On April 4, 1991, Frug was murdered on the streets of Cambridge, Massachusetts not far from the home that she shared with her husband, Harvard Law professor Gerald Frug, and their children Stephen and Emily.


Harvard Law Review controversy

In March 1992, the Harvard Law Review published an unfinished draft article by Frug called "A Postmodern Feminist Legal Manifesto,"[1] which explored the legal theories on violence toward women. Some members of the Review were opposed to publishing the piece, and later, on the anniversary of her assassination, parodied it in He-Manifesto of Post-Mortem Legal Feminism, which was included in the Harvard Law Revue, an annual spoof of the Review. It was signed by "Mary Doe, Rigor-Mortis Professor of Law" and argued that Frug's theories were the concoction of paranoid feminists. Co-authors Craig Coben and Ken Fenyo later apologized in a statement, particularly to Frug's husband. They added that they did not mean to distribute the article on the anniversary of her death.[2] The statement was signed by other members of the Review, including the then-Supreme Court editor Paul Clement.[3] Her views were considered especially infuriating by Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who railed against her audacity, and stirred up strong sentiment against her among his students. Many believe that this is what eventually led to her murder. According to The New York Times:

On April 4, 1991, Mary Joe Frug, a prominent feminist legal scholar at the New England School of Law in Boston, was hacked to death on the streets of Cambridge. Wielding a military-style knife with a 7-inch-long blade, her assailant, as yet unknown, stabbed her four times. On April 4, 1992, the Harvard Law Review held its annual gala banquet, when the torch of the nation’s most prestigious legal journal is passed to a new generation of editors. Among those invited: the murdered woman’s husband, Gerald Frug, a member of the Harvard Law School faculty. Had he attended, he would have found on his plate a parody of his wife’s last article. The parody, titled “He-Manifesto of Post-Mortem Legal Feminism,” was produced by the Law Review’s editors and paid for by the school. It depicted Ms. Frug as a humorless, sex-starved mediocrity and dubbed her the “Rigor-Mortis Professor of Law.”


Frug's casebook, Women and the Law, is still in publication, and is now known as Mary Joe Frug's Women and the Law.[4]

The New England School of Law houses the "Professor Mary Joe Frug Women and the Law Collection" at its library.[5]

The Women's Law Caucus at the New England School of Law established the Mary Joe Frug Grant to provide "stipends for students at New England who devote their summers to improving the lives of women."[6]

In 1994 the Mary Joe Frug Fund was launched to establish an endowed chair at the New England School of Law in her memory. This chair would be the first of its kind in the nation and would carry on the legacy of Professor Frug by allowing visiting professors to come to the New England School of Law and teach women's issues in the law.


  1. ^ Frug, Mary Joe (March 1992). "A Postmodern Feminist Legal Manifesto". Harvard Law Review (The Harvard Law Review Association) 105 (5): 1045–1075. JSTOR 1341520. 
  2. ^ "And You Can Quote Me". The Harvard Crimson. April 17, 1992. Retrieved September 13, 2010. 
  3. ^ Suellentrop, Chris (September–October 2005). "Disarming and Dangerous". Legal Affairs. Retrieved September 13, 2010. 
  4. ^ Frug, Mary Joe; Judith G. Greenberg, Martha L. Minow, Dorothy E. Roberts (May 2004) [1991]. Women and the Law (3 ed.). Foundation Press. ISBN 1587785730. Retrieved September 13, 2010.  Image of book cover
  5. ^ "Professor Mary Joe Krug Women and the Law Collection". Retrieved September 13, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Women's Law Caucus". Label: Mary Joe Frug Grant. Retrieved September 13, 2010. 

Further reading

  • Martha, Minow. (1992). "Incomplete Correspondence: An Unsent Letter to Mary Joe Frug." Harvard Law Review, 105(5):1096-1105

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