The Law: Up from Coverture

"Equal justice under law," says the famous motto carved into the marble of the United States Supreme Court Building. Those words, according to a number of feminists and to thoughtful legal experts as well, have hardly applied to the American woman.

The legal precedents for discrimination against women date back to the beginnings of Western law itself.* In the classic era of Athens, women fitted approximately the same category as slaves. Early Roman law candidly referred to the "perpetual tutelage of women" and considered them to be under the manus (hand) of their fathers...

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