COVERTURE & CHATTEL
Did you know America allowed women to be treated as chattel? It is not a misspelling. The concept of coverture was inherited from English common law and was alive and well during the 1800’s. When a woman married everything was her husbands. Her life, voice, freedom, property, possessions.
The very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage or at least incorporated and consolidated into that of her husband, under whose wing, protection and cover she performs everything
A woman was legally considered to be chattel; a possession of her husband. Women had NO legal identity. When a woman married, all her possessions became the husbands. A wife had the same status as a piece of equipment or the family cow. For the full article from Harvard Business School and more reading: http://www.library.hbs.edu
Seems to me this is a close cousin of slavery; involuntary subjection to another, complete ownership and control by others. Many marriages were arranged. Nothing voluntary about that.
War & Economics
What does that have to do with it? Funny thing. As men went off to war women managed the property. Contracts needed to be signed. Real Estate was bought and sold. So what? Women were granted limited bits and pieces of authority to enable market economics to continue. Mind you, this move was driven by solely by economics and had nothing to do with justice.
Finding Their Voice
Women started coming together and began petitioning the legislature for “rights”. The door to Pandora’s box was open. Out from under the oppressive “wing” and into the open.
Photo courtesy of government archives. www.loc.gov/pictures
All that is ancient history, isn’t it? Today, married women enjoy the same rights, freedom, and voice of their husbands, right? Hmmm
Points to Ponder
- Is there a link between the past and present?
- Is verbal and physical abuse a carryover mindset?
- Is disparity of compensation, title, and status connected?
- Is the ‘glass ceiling’ tied to command and control?