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lecture feb 6-Marriage and Divorce lecture outline.doc SOSC 1350

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York University
Social Science
SOSC 1880
Anna Pratt

MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE (PARTS 1 AND 2) A mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. —Tenneva Jordan 1. The Family as Socially Constructed **Chun reading  neoliberalism  Present day : -marriage is very diff: women no longer property of men + legalization of same-sex marriage o These are positive developments  Many marriages are not equitable institutions  Although same-sex marriage has been legalized, not everyone is entirely equitable to queer families  Marriage has change dramatically over the 20 century a. societal standards for a “good mother” vis-a-vis a “good father” -mothering and fathering  equivalent terms -what is associated w/ mothering and fathering is very DIFFERENT “good mother”, “unfit mother”… very common terms to evaluate women who are mothers How is a “good father” represented?? Usually “unfit mother” is refered to WOMEN…. Whats associated with a father  “fathering a child “ is the sperm process… Much more focus is put on MOTHERING than fathering b. the ideology of (white, middle-class, heterosexual) motherhood o This ideology is timeless and universal o Many societies view child rearing s a responsibility of everyone o When women’s labour is required outside of the home, mothering tends to me de-emphasized o But when it is not required, it tends to be over-emphasized o Ideology of mothering  comes from late 1800 conceptions o Due to economic changes… has been very hard for families to survive on only 1 income - so usually you see both parents working outside the home o Very idealized idea of motherhood… ONLY by actually getting pregnant, giving birth to a child, and raising the child that a woman can achieve her full destiny… so EQUATES women with MOTHERS … preference to biological mothers  A loving, kind, selfless mother = GOOD  This selfless mother: A mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. —Tenneva Jordan  EX… Vinny “my mom is a real Italian mother” “Mother as a keeper of hearth and heart” o Ideology does not understand the stuff women do as WORK • Sometimes understood as the “labour of love” o This ideology suggests that women who do not have children are UN-NATURAL and SELFISH • Characterizations of women who do not want children = criminalized o Men who don’t want kids are neither un-natural or selfish o Mothering takes place in heterosexual families • Much more common for a violent father to receive custody of child rather than a lesbian woman o Babysitting one of the first jobs for adolescent girls o Limitations of this ideology: • Mothers get blamed for a whole host of social problems • Mothers are held responsible for any disorder that child may develop: aggression, learning problems • Employed mothers get faulted for not spending enough time with their children • Studies show that generally children who have mothers who work outside of the house are benefited: advanced socialization skills, more independence , evaluate competence of women  Esp. daughters… sons are more likely to not have stereotypical gender roles • This ideology is RACIST, CLASSIST  Only children of certain types of women are viewed as good  Persistently both in Canadian society + law, there have been a rhetoric that the poor have too many children and that working class and racialized women are bad mothers • Many of these women are being sterilized meanwhile middle class women are encouraged to have lots of children • NO EQUIVALENT for this ideology for men • This ideology has found its way through court decisions, and policy and continues to find its way into the law TODAY 2. Marriage and Property a. Blackstone on coverture  Commentaries on the law in England -much more influential in Canada and in the US Why??? Bc we’ve adopted british common law  Talks about coverture -english common law restricted opportunities to MARRIED women  evolved in the late 1500s, late middle ages -under this doctrine, husband considered lord of the manor… and husband and wife considered one person, and that person was the MAN  Husband has right to give his wife the power of correction o Domestic violence was legal as long as it concerned a husband who chastised or corrected his wife  The wife isn’t a person, shes PROPERTY b. Engels on marriage turning women into property  World historic defeat of the female sex = property o Institution of marriage is ultimately about property o For Engels, marriage turns women into property  Sees marriage as a capitalist exchange  Women exchanged b/n men • Traditional Christian ceremony: You see the ownership transferring from the father to the husband • Engels saw women being traded, exchanged • The wife is very similar to the prostitute or sex worker o Sex worker is exchanged from her pimp and her John o For Engels, the woman is exchanged b/n the father and the husband  If you look at british and Canadian law at the time Engels was writing, Engels starts to sound pretty reasonable c. the “unity doctrine” in Canadian law  the legal understanding of marriage that in Canada we received  updated version of coverture –husband and wife upon marriage become one person, wo woman looses legal personhood o extension of her husband, and has same legal status as an infant or person institutionalized for sickness  incapable of taking care of herself  Married women could not own property o Land, furniture, money, clothes, livestock all belonged to the husband o Left women vulnerable  At this time, Canada courts sonsistently upheld the absolute right of fathers to legal control of their children • The unity doctrine allowed men to divorce, leave wife without anything, they would still have legal control of the children February 13, 2013 3. Early Industrial Capitalism and Marriage/Divorce Law  With the industrial revolution, the unity doctrine became a huge problem  Started in 1880s.. Many people moved to cities to work in factories  The Feminization of Poverty Became increasingly visible within urban centres  a. Ontario Married Women’s Property Act (1884) b. Ontario Deserted Wives’ Maintenance Act (1888)  Introduced for the very first time a legal obligation on husbands and fathers to support their dependence after marital separation  After world war 1, there was a legislation that passed similar laws…. Financial obligation for UNMARRIED couples  Married women’s property acts o Separate property regimes o Women didn’t lose rights for any property that they acquired while they were married o Both wives and husbands had the right to acquire property and dispose of it before or DURING marriage….  If relationship failed…each partner kep what was his/hers c. Federal Marriage and Divorce Act (1925) i. first legislative act under federal government’s new jurisdiction over marriage and divorce (obtained with Confederation in 1867) ii. prior to this, divorce was difficult (if not impossible) to obtain in most provinces • Prior
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