Don’t Fence Me In: Reproductive Freedom and Women Workers

For centuries under common law, a daughter or a wife was the property of the family father or husband or, upon his death, the closest relative with a penis. Whatever was theirs was his, but most importantly the family patriarch oversaw her most valuable asset: her womb. In earliest medical thought, a womb was fertile ground in need of guarding and fences to make property rights clearer, and she to be plowed and planted with seed, quite literally semen.

We thought such laws and cultural metaphors were behind us. But now the cowboys of Texas have put a bounty on women’s wombs. The stakes are women’s civil rights as citizens, surely, but also financial ones.

Empty Home for the Holidays: Mothers Who Can’t See Their Children Blame Broken Family Court System

More than 58,000 children are ordered into unsupervised contact with physically or sexually abusive parents after divorce every year.

The double whammy? Domestic abuse survivors, unlike accused criminals, don’t get a free attorney and there’s no organization to fund women to level the legal playing field in high conflict divorce cases. So, some men clearly use the courts as a weapon to drain women of resources, causing them to lose savings, jobs and in some cases their children. 

“I didn’t want to leave but I couldn’t afford to stay after spending my last cent on my court battle. I hope to reduce my expenses, pay off legal debts and continue to fight for my children.”

California Law Eliminates Spousal Rape Exemption—But “Patriarchy Still Dies Hard”

Up to 14 percent of married women experience marital rape. Last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill mostly eliminating an antiquated distinction in California law between “spousal rape” and rape, which has for years resulted in more lenient penalties for perpetrators who rape their spouses.

“The first question a rape victim is asked should not be whether or not they are married.”

From the Vault: “Click! The Housewife’s Moment of Truth” (Spring 1972)

In honor of Women’s History Month and to pay tribute to five decades of reporting, rebelling and truth-telling, Ms. is launching a new series: From the Vault. Tune in every #ThrowbackThursday for some of our favorite feminist classics from the last 50 years of Ms.

“The women looked at each other, and click! The shock of recognition… One little click turns on a thousand others. … In the end, we are all housewives, the natural people to turn to when there is something unpleasant, inconvenient or inconclusive to be done.”

Better Start Opening Your Husband’s Mail, Ladies

Economic Impact Payments (EIP) to American families started rolling out at the end of December, but there’s a big surprise in store for eligible tax-paying women who file jointly with a male spouse: your check will likely be addressed to your husband only.

For most women in straight couples, this invisibility isn’t new or surprising. As humans, as citizens, as tax payers, and as bread winners, we’re used to being regarded as someone else’s appendage.