- This article explores the complicated relationship between the duty to retreat in self defense law and violence against women. It first provides an overview of self-defense law in the United States, with particular emphasis on the duty to retreat, before discussing the feminists’ position regarding self-defense law in the context of battered women who; kill abusers, along with the so-called “no-retreat” rules. It then traces the history of noretreat in U.S. law and argues that it is a complex doctrine, both liberationist and discriminatory. It also examines the tension in feminist theorizing on retreat by focusing on recent stand-your-ground controversies. The article concludes by proposing distributional analysis as a framework for feminists and other theorists to resolve the persistent tensions between the duty to retreat and gender justice.