Document Type

Article

Publication Title

Harvard Law Review

Publication Date

1971

Abstract

Most people would probably agree that many sex-distinguishing statutes should be eliminated. There are, for example, some statutes whose only apparent purpose is to raise ancient chivalric notions to the level of state protection; in some jurisdictions it is a criminal offense for a male to use obscene language in the presence of a female, but not an offense for a female to do so in the presence of a male. Other statutes may simply codify a double standard as to the relative freedom of males and females to depart from conventional morals; in some jurisdictions, for example, a statutory defense is available to the husband who murders his wife's paramour but not to the wife who kills her husband's mistress. Still other sex distinctions are vestiges of the old common law doctrine of coverture, which treated husband and wife as a single legal entity; thus, a married woman's domicile, with all its legal ramifications, is generally determined by her husband's, even though they may live miles apart.'

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