Anger Over Christian Ideals


The story that a man had a legal wife to beat
his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb
up until 30 years ago certainly belongs in
urban folklore -- or else in Feminazi mythology.

Christine Hoff Sommers totally explodes this
myth in her "Who Stole Feminism?"
Despite tons of shit thrown at her by
the feminist orthodoxy, nobody has yet
refuted her refutation by quoting a single
American (or English) law giving a
man such a right. The feminists simply
invented this myth out of whole cloth,
in accord with their usual Big Lie technique.

The April 1995 issue of Backlash
lists this rule of thumb myth as
one so thoroughly refuted that not
even the craziest Feminists repeat
it anymore.



Subject: Re: Anger Over Christian Ideals
From: (Angus Johnston)

In article <> writes:

> The feminists simply
> invented this myth out of whole cloth,
> in accord with their usual Big Lie technique.

Don't own Sommers' book, and don't have any specific data on the rule
of thumb, but I'd like to respond to the core assertion of this post
--- that the concept that husbands have had the legal right to beat
their wives in the US is a "feminist myth."

The tradition in American law of granting husbands nearly absolute
control over their wives is a long and sordid one, and vestiges of it
persist today. Indeed, no fewer than 39 states preserved a marital
exemption to the crime of rape as of 1988. It was legal for husbands to
beat their wives for much of American history --- the assertion that
the "rule of thumb" etymology is synthetic does nothing to change that.

Angus Johnston
City University of New York Graduate Center
Department of History


Subject: Re: Anger Over Christian Ideals
From: (Malcolm Farmer)

As recounted above, there is no such *law*. So whatever
feminists were quoting this as a law are plain wrong.
This story stems from an 18th century ruling by a judge about the
thumb thickness. It was never actually law, though, and I think
it would be misguided for feminists to quote this ruling, as it
was widely ridiculed at the time: there is, after all, a fine
tradition in England of ludicrous remarks by magistrates that
continues to this day.

There was actually a satirical cartoon published at the time,
poking fun at this ruling. I've seen a reproduction of that
cartoon, which is how I read about the court case. (I think I
have it at home, most likely either in a book of Hogarth prints,
or T.H. White's _The_Age_of_scandal_ I'll try to look up the
exact reference tonight.)

And remember: this was a time when parents and teachers were
perfectly entitled to beat children (even to death, as happened
at Harrow school in the early 19th century), masters to beat
apprentices, and anyone to beat animals: so this judges ruling
could be interpreted as *liberal* by the standards of the day, in
that it set a limit on how large a stick could be used for a


Subject: Re: Anger Over Christian Ideals
From: (Malcolm Farmer)

England in the age of Hogarth, Derek Jarrett, Yale University
press (ca. 1986, p113 of my copy):

"In the autumn [1782] another batch of prints on the subject of
marriage appeared, inspired this time by Judge Buller's
declaration that it was perfectly legal for a man to beat his
wife as long as he used a stick which was not thicker than his
thumb. The print shops had scarcely managed to sell off their
stocks of pictures of the Hampshire colonel as pandar [a
court case earlier that year] before they were swamped with
portrayals of the high court judge as peddler, hawking bundles of
regulation-sized rods to enthusiastic husbands"

And on the page opposite is a reproduction of one of the
cartoons, entitled "Mr. Justice Thumb in the Act of Flagellation"

So even if there's no law, the story wasn't a total invention,
and Christine Hoff Summers should have done a bit more fact

Malcolm "What they need is a damn good thrashing" Farmer


Subject: Re: Anger Over Christian Ideals
From: (Lou Duchez)

> Christine Hoff Sommers totally explodes this
> myth in her "Who Stole Feminism?"

Right here, you've damaged your credibility. CHS has demonstrated
over and over that her command of the facts is, well, about as
good as Rush's. Perhaps that's why they get along.

Here's an example. She was recently quoting the death rate as a
result of anorexia as about .06% among anorexics. What she was
doing was counting death certificates that say "Cause of Death:
Anorexia" ... which is like concluding that cigarettes are
perfectly safe because death certificates say "Lung Cancer", not
"Smoking". (Another Rush assertion: that cigarettes are not proven
to cause cancer or emphysema.)

So when it comes to reliable sources, you will really have to
do better than CHS.

To be fair, I don't have any evidence on hand that wife-beating was
legal until 30 years ago. But wife RAPING was undeniably legal until
pretty recently (in some places, it still is, in a de facto sense).


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