Society & Culture

Dowering Our Daughters

The world lacks drinking games relating to women’s studies, so here’s a suggestion: If you can get a women’s studies stalwart to say the word coverture before the conversation’s second minute elapses, throw one back for the 21st Amendment.  Then you’ll be comfortable as you receive a wealth of information about women under English Common Law.  The 1848 Seneca Falls Convention declared that coverture, a common-law concept that had crossed the Atlantic in the Colonial Era, “made [a woman], if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead” by legally categorizing husband and wife as one person.  The angry ladies of first-wave feminism helped get women out from under their husbands’ pesky feathers for good.  What it all means is that when your teenager drops her phone on the locker-room floor, you won’t be allowed to buy her a new one simply by virtue of being her mother if her father (your husband, by the way) has the account in his name.  Why would the name you share have any weight beyond sentiment?

But you know how old habits are.  Reboots of coverture are all over our legal system, which is why gay people needed marriage, rather than just a buddy system.  Spousal privilege, probate law, and health-care directives all run on remnants of the idea that marriage has more to it than two plastic guys making out on top of a white cake. ...

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