This Is What Happens When Only Men Create Laws to Serve and "Protect" Women
When only men create laws for women they may be completely devoid of context and can even perpetuate discrimination and oppression.
Unfortunately, this problem can be traced back to the very beginnings of the U.S.
Here are the effects of three eyebrow-raising laws that were passed in the U.S. that aim to serve and protect women:
1. In 1769, married women lost their citizenship rights and did not officially get them back until 1979
At the time of the American Revolution, a women's place in society was at the side of her husband. She ceased to have rights to property, labor, political status, or even her own body. In 1979, all laws that permitted a husband to have the ultimate say in household property decisions were repealed.
2. Marital rape was O.K.
Common law followed rules established by English jurist, Sir Matthew Hale, who in 1736, wrote that a married woman "hath given up herself in this kind to her husband, which she cannot retract." It wasn't until 1993 that marital rape was declared illegal in all 50 states, but holes still exist in state laws.
3. Pregnant women lost the right to work or collect unemployment insurance
By 1970, 35 states had laws saying pregnant women couldn't collect unemployment insurance and thousands of pregnant teachers had to take maternity leave without being compensated, or to stop teaching in the middle of their pregnancy. The practice wasn't outlawed until the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed in 1978.
Still today the problem continues when men create laws that inhibit rather than serve women. Last week a group of male lawmakers in Utah voted to keep the tampon tax in their state. In an interview with YouTube star Ingrid Nilsen, President Barack Obama was surprised to find out pads, tampons, and menstrual products are taxed as luxury goods in more than 40 states. "I don't know anyone that has a period that thinks it’s a luxury," Nilsen said while posing her question at the 2:59 minute mark.
"I have no idea why states would tax these as luxury items, I suspect it was because men were making the laws when those taxes were passed," the President said pointing out the items were pressed with state not federal taxes.
When it comes time to ensure the protection of the most vulnerable women a broken system is in place. In January, an Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw was sentenced with 263 years in prison for raping and sexually assaulting 13 African-American women in low-income neighborhoods.
But the case brought attention to a yearlong Associated Press investigation finding about 1,000 police officers who lost their licenses for sexual offenses over a six-year period. Today, the National Decertification Index, the database used to keep track of officers who lost their license, does not mandate all states to report sexual offenses committed by police officers enabling these problem officers to jump from job to job.
There's still so much work to do to protect & affirm the lives of Black women. But today still means a lot. #DanielHoltzclaw
— black magic woman (@jananamirah) January 21, 2016
And in just a month, the Supreme Court will make a landmark decision about abortion, deciding whether a Texas law placing restrictions on abortion providers in the name of safety places a burden on pregnant women. This decision could result in the closure of the majority of abortion clinics in Texas.
We hope state lawmakers can take a note from history and end the cycle of creating laws without understanding and ensuring protection for the very people they attempt to serve.
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