Saturday, May 06, 2006

icky, but interesting: Father-daughter balls, coverture, and the double standard

the incestuous overtones aside, father-daughter balls are interesting. i think hugo's comment about old english law and 'coverture' is particularly apt, because it puts the 'father owns daughter' idea front and center, despite the sweetness and light of having daughters dance with their dads.

let's be clear; i think dads should spend a lot more time with their children. i don't think teenagers should be sexually active.

but, personally, if my dad had told me we were going to some funky 'pseudo-prom' together and dance to some christian rock-lite, i would have gagged. WHO wants to be in a clinch with their dad?? when they're in junior high or high school?? totally icky. (it's weird enough there's that whole 'first dance' thing at weddings.)

but why the focus on daughters and not sons? why no mother-son proms or balls? daughters are precious, but so are sons. right?
any policy, activity or ideology that focuses solely on controlling the behavior of girls and women and not boys or men makes my anti-authoritarian hackles rise with suspicion.

anyway, the post is good and the discussion is especially good - which is why i like reading hugo. his community is really sorta cool. (except when all the MRM-ers get on it. they blow.)

Hugo Schwyzer: Father-daughter balls, coverture, and the double standard

about coverture, and the language of covering, in case you were curious:

In English and American law, coverture refers to women's legal status after marriage: legally, upon marriage, the husband and wife were treated as one entity (and not in that swoony, romantic soulmate way, either). In essence, the wife's separate legal existence disappeared as far as property rights were concerned.

Under coverture, wives could not control their own property unless specific provisions were made before marriage, they could not file lawsuits or be sued separately, nor could they execute contracts. The husband could use, sell or dispose of her property (again, unless prior provisions were made) without her permission.
(Almost as if she didn't exist!!)

Sir William Blackstone, in 1765, said this about coverture and the legal rights of married women, in Commentaries on the Laws of England:

"By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law: that is, the very
being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at
least incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband
: under whose
wing, protection, and cover, she performs every thing; and is therefore called
... a feme-covert...." [emphasis mine]

um, yeah. so by borrowing heavily on this language which legally served to erase women's individual. legal rights to property (which also gave access to other public rights), this father-daughter purity movement ideologically and symbolically erases the person at the center of all this purity and family unity - the daughter.

what do we call an institutionalized web of social practices that deliberately eliminate women from visibility? patriarchy!


Mike said...

Interesting stuff... very interesting.

Verlch said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ding said...

Now you're going to say something anti-semitic here?


Anonymous said...

While I don't disagree, what would be interesting to me is *how* this patriarchy came to be. What did it evolve from? What processes set it in motion? How did it effect so many countries across the globe?

ding said...

well, trying to think back to my feminist theory and epistemology - it all goes back to Plato and his privileging of logos.

logos becomes synonymous with Masculine and becomes the privileged ideological value in western culture, used to define other cultural institutions - the School, the Church, the Hospital, the Government - and used still to create the discourses around these institutions, as well as the discourses of Art and Science.

we lay it all at Plato's door.