Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: September 25, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952637 | Print ISBN: 9780761923879 | Online ISBN: 9781412952637| Publisher:Sage Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Frances P. Bernat
Through most of recorded history, law socially and culturally has constrained women. Legal principles have supported the exclusion of women from sociopolitical processes based on nature's biological differentiation between the sexes. In addition, some legal principles, like coverture, gave total control over married women's property and earnings to their husbands and promoted the patriarchal domination of males over females. Legal challenges to the view that women are biologically inferior (both physically and intellectually) have occurred during various historical periods when women fought for equal rights. Mary Wollstonecraft's 1792 book, A Vindication of the Rights of Women , was one of the earliest writings to advocate for women's legal rights and full participation in society. Stemming from the women's movement in the nineteenth century, women gained the right to vote in the United States with passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. The original thinking was that if women could gain ...