Petticoat government (1933)

Historian Robert St. Estephe is dedicated to uncovering the forgotten past of marginalizing men. The following commentary and newspaper articles compiled by Mr. St. Estephe recount the story of a young immigrant man sentenced to life in debtor’s prison – being locked up for failing to meet his young wife’s demands for money for herself and the relatives she brought over from the Old Country to be supported by her bricklayer husband. Of particular interest is the use of the phrase ‘petticoat government’ and ‘petticoat justice’ in two of the newspaper articles below. – PW

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While the above poster advertises a classic movie from the 1940’s, its theme was based on a very real social malady spanning the length of the 20th century. It was the alimony racket that inspired the first organized resistance in the United States to government-sponsored misandry. The first of many anti-alimony organizations was formed in New York City on 1927. (Robert Ecob: Early MHRA). Newspapers regularly recount horror stories of men whose lives were ruined by women who demanded to be supported by ex-husbands and, research has revealed, wives enjoyed the power to demand an ex-husband’s incarceration at will when he could not afford to pay up– even when the former wife had no need for the funds (The Alimony War of 1935). To give one real-life example, in 1933 a young Italian immigrant, a humble bricklayer by the name of Umberto Politano, became the poster boy of the New York anti-alimony activists with his story of a de facto “life sentence” to jail for failing to live up to his briefly-wedded wife’s demand that he support her and the Italian relatives she imported.

Umberto was only a poor laborer who could not even speak the tongue of his new homeland when he was thrown into alimony jail, but he did possess common sense. Logic was the weapon he used to eventually defeat the law ruling and the institutionalized female privilege of the chivalric American culture to at least gain his freedom after two and a half years in jail – his punishment for not paying the alimony which his jailing prevented him from being able to pay.

The words of Justice Bonygne and the commentary on this case and the alimony racket in general as described by famous magazine writer Ruth Seinfel,* dating from 1933, have a familiar ring to them — as if they were written 80 years later by the typical men’s human rights supporter.

***

FULL TEXT (Newspaper article 1 of 4): New York, March 2, 1933 – Umberto Politano, a bricklayer, war veteran and, by right of jail seniority, president of the Brooklyn Alimony Club, was freed from confinement with the tart observation of Supreme Court Justice Bonynge, “this carries the supposed rights of women to absurd, not to say unconstitutional lengths.”

For two years and seven months. Politano has been inmate of Brooklyn Alimony Jail, failing to pay $12 a week to his wife, Mary Politano, who sued him for separation in October, 1927 – a suit that never has been tried. Repeated contempt orders have renewed his term and Justice Bonynge’s decision was rendered in the face of a recommendation by a special master which the court set aside.

~ Wife in Contempt. ~

“Even a lowly alimony prisoner has constitutional rights,” said Justice Bonynge, and he quoted the constitutional guarantee: “Cruel and unusual punishment shall not be inflicted.”

Criminal contempt, Justice Bonynge pointed out is more grave than civil contempt, and yet, even in flagrant cases punishment is limited by statute to a jail sentence of 30 days and a fine of $250.

“However, let a waspish woman pluck the sleeves of the judicial gown, or nudge the elbow concealed therein, and this temperate restraint immediately cast aside and the delinquent spouse faces the possibility of unending imprisonment through successive adjudication of contempt.”

~ Husbands Have Been Patient. ~

“Through the ages man has yielded authority in the home to the opposite sex and accepted the consequences with humility. With a bland of humor, resignation and affection, the relationship has come to be known as petticoat government.”

“While the institution has functioned reasonably well, there are those who doubt the expediency of its extension into a form of petticoat justice.”

Concluding his opinion, Justice Bonynge wrote:

“If an evil-doer invades my court room and reviles me or my ancestors or my country, with indecent or blasphemous utterances, a penalty of 30 days in the straight-jacket of my righteous wrath is incurred. Can I truthfully say that through poverty or misfortune this defendant, who shouldered arms when the need was great, who omits to pay alimony to a vindictive and relentless wife has offered my court an affront more than thirtyfold greater?”

“The answer being obvious, the defendant is ordered released from imprisonment forthwith.”

[“Even Patient Husbands Have Rights Says Court – In Jail 31 Months for Not Paying Alimony, Jurist Denounces Waspish Women,” The Reading Eagle (Pa.), Mar. 2, 1933, p. 7; spelling “thirtyfold” in original]

***

PetticoatFULL TEXT (Newspaper article 2 of 4): Umberto Politano, the long-suffering martyr to our alimony system is free at last after two years and seven months of languishing in Raymond Street jail, Supreme Court Justice Paul Boynynge set him free the other day, and I am told that the Justice’s decision will set a precedent for future common sense and mercy in dealing with men who are without funds to meet their ex-wives’ demands.

But his Honor did more than set a precedent. He wrote an opinion which not only ex-wives but women who have no thought of Reno might do well to ponder. In pointing out that “even a lowly alimony prisoner has constitutional rights,” Justice Bonygne had some crisp things to say about “petticoat government” and “waspish wives.”

“Let a waspish woman pluck the sleeve of the judicial gown or nudge the elbow concealed therein,” his Honor meditated, “and … restraint is immediately cast aside and the delinquent spouse faces the possibility of unending imprisonment through successive adjudication of contempt. This carries the supposed rights of woman to absurd, not to say unconstitutional, lengths.”

And so he set Mr. Politano, who has been called the “alimony lifer,” free. I should like to be able to say fine words about the triumph of justice, but I am too much humiliated by the outrage that has been perpetrated so long in the name of justice, and by members of my sex.

I suppose it was necessary for the unfortunate Mr. Politano to lie in jail more than two years ago and a half so that bills might at last be brought before the Legislature at Albany to curb the dreadful power of vindictive women. But what I should like to see is an administration of justice which would throttle what Justice Bonynge calls petticoat at its source.

~ A Morning in Family Court ~

I remember with the keenest delight a morning I spent sitting beside Magistrate Jonah B. Goldstein in the Family Court. Domestic disagreements of all sorts were laid before his Honor, some tragic and some that made it hard for your reporter to maintain a dignity befitting a guest of the court. When a young woman stepped up to the bar and began to tell a story of nonpayment of alimony I pricked up my ears. Now, I thought bitterly, I would see a man sent to jail.

Magistrate Goldstein has thick black brows and he can look very stern. He now looked very stern, indeed, as he leaned toward the woman before him.

“Madame,” he asked, “are you in good health?”

The woman said she was in good health, and indeed she was blooming with it.”

“I understand that you have no children?” his Honor asked further.

No, she had no children. his honor leaned back on the bench.

“Madame, you have no children and you are in good health,” he said. “Yet you ask this man to contribute so much per week to your support. Do you keep house for him? Do you cook his dinner? Do you look after his clothes, darn his socks, mend his shirts, do his washing? Do you provide him with companionship? No, you do none of these things.

The young woman opened her mouth to speak and closed it again. A few minutes later she emerged from the court to seek a living for herself. The alimony judgment had been set aside.

And that is what I mean by justice.

[Ruth Seinfel, “’Petticoat Justice’ – Some Sharp Words Emerge from the Supreme Court in the Case of Mr. Politano, Alimony Lifer,” New York Evening Post (N.Y.), Mar. 6, 1933, p. 13; The word “system” has been inserted in the place of a word that is illegible in the photographic digital source from this article has been transcribed.] Ruth Seinfel was a regular contributor to Collier’s magazine, the leading magazine of investigative journalism of its time. Wikipedia notes that “as a result of chief editor Peter Collier’s pioneering investigative journalism, Collier’s Weekly established a reputation as a proponent of social reform.”

***

bonygne-judge

FULL TEXT (Newspaper article 3 of 4): The court of appeals today granted authority to Umberto Politano, of Brooklyn, to renew his suit for $50,000 against Sheriff James A. McQuade, of Kings County, who was accused of illegally confining Politano in jail for failure to pay alimony.

Politano was sent to jail on July 29, 1930, for three months for failure to pay alimony. Subsequently he was accused of neglecting to pay during his imprisonment. His sentence was stretched to nine months. Politano contended he should have been released on April 29, 1931, but instead was held until March 1, 1933.

Sheriff McQuade argued that Politano was held because he failed to give security for future alimony payments as ordered in his complaint and that the facts were insufficient to support an action. The Applelate Division ruled that there was cause for action because no time limit had been set for Politano to comply in posting bond. Politano’s wife obtained a separation order and an allowance of $12 a week alimony in 1921 and he was $216 in arrears when he was jailed.

[“’Alimony Lifer’ Gets Right to Sue McQuade,” New York Tribune (N.Y.), Dec. 7, 1933, p. 17]

***

FULL TEXT (Newspaper article 4 of 3): New York, Feb. 4 – Umberto Politano, president of the Alimony Club of Brooklyn, who is known as the “alimony lifer” because of the time he has served, moved today to recover damages for excessive imprisonment.

Justice Mitchell May, of the Supreme Court, Brooklyn, gave Mr. Politano permission to sue the Fidelity & Deposit company of Maryland, which provided $60,000 in bonds for the two Sheriffs who held Politano in the Raymond street jail, Brooklyn, for a total of two years and seven months. The Sheriffs were Aaron L. Jacoby, whose term expired December 31, 1931, and Sheriff James A. McQuade, who died May 5, 1935. Mr. Politano originally sought to sue the Sheriffs on the ground that they kept him in jail twenty-two months illegally. Mr. Politano contended that he could be held only three months on each of the three alimony orders served on him.

Justice May told that Mr. Jacoby’s liability extended only until his term expired and that Mr. Politano should have instituted suit within a year of that expiration. He added that Mr. McQuade’s death had absolved him personally of responsibility, but that it did not absolve the bonding company. The bond issued for each Sheriff was for $30,000.

[“Alimony Lifer” Allowed To Sue Surety Firm Here – Brooklyn Man Given Right To Bring Action Against Fidelity And Deposit Company On Bonds Of Sheriffs For Excessive Imprisonment,” The Sun (Baltimore, Md.), Feb. 25, 1937, p. 26]

 

Article source: http://www.avoiceformen.com/series/unknown-history-of-misandry/an-alimony-slaves-bricks-of-logic/

What is gynarchy?

screen-shot-2012-05-08-at-6-33-50-pm

While ‘gynarchy’ is a relatively unused term, most by now would have heard of gynocentrism, a versatile term applied to literally anything we consider female dominated, from cultural institutions to gender relations – one that has proven a useful addition to the lexicon.

Gynarchy more specifically than gynocentrism refers to government by and for female interests, including any establishment of laws and bureaucracies that benefit women. As you will see below it has also been described in earlier times as “petticoat government” and is synonymous with what is commonly referred to today as “feminist governance.”

Gynarchy has a long literary application and isn’t a neologism requiring introduction into the language. To get a taste of its value let’s look at some of the historical uses of gynarchy (and its variants gunarchy, gunarchie, gynæcocracy, ginæcocratie, gynecocracy, gynocracy) starting in the 16th century:

1577: The gunarchie of Queene Cordeilla. [Holinshed Chron. I. 13/2]
1660: That in Gynarchy the wife is not subject, but superior to her husband [R. Coke Power & Subj.]
1737: Gynæcocracy is feminine rule; petticoat government [Universal English Dictionary]
1755: Gynæcocracy: petticoat government; female power [Dictionary English Language]
1758: I have always some hopes of a change under a Gunarchy; where whim and humour commonly prevail. [Chesterfield Letter. (1792) IV. cccl. 159]
1763: Denotes the government of women, or a state where women are capable of supreme command. Such are Britain and Spain. [Dictionary Of Arts & Sciences]
1816: In the fishing villages on the Firths of Forth and Tay‥the government is gynecocracy. [Scott Antiq. xxvi. Note]
1838: [Under gynocracy] women enjoy a greater influence… Mr. Hoskins says they seem to lord it over their husbands, and all mercantile transactions are confided to their hands. [Gentl. Magazine]
1886: That social gynæcocracy for which France is famous. [Temple Bar LXXVIII. 509]
1890: So will you best help to maintain‥the true gynarchy [Blackw. Mag. CXLVII. 264/2]

 

Note the hierarchy of gender alluded to in the year 1660 which claims that under gynarchy the wife is not subject to, but superior to her husband, or the 1838 mention of wives being superior to husbands, indicating that gynarchy requires servitude and inferiority of men toward women. These examples indicate that males, over the centuries, have been trained to serve the gynarchy with chivalrous servitude that reinforces the superiority of individual women. We see this chivalrous reinforcement of the gynarchy from the Middle Ages through to the time of Ernst B. Bax and continuing forward to today’s “feminist governance”. Evidence of the latter is all around us; in female-serving male politicians (the vast majority), government funding and entitlement programs, education, and in popular woman-elevating culture. It is helpful to have a word standing for the individual and collective female governance that we can unsheath at quick notice – and this word gynarchy serves us well.

Matriarchy (rule by moms) is an inaccurate term for political hegemony enjoyed by the female sex (because not all females are moms), and similarly patriarchy is an inaccurate term when applied to all males (because not all males are dads) – not that accuracy ever worried feminists who continue to refer to patriarchy when andrarchy would be far more descriptive of their imaginary construct. However unlike the mythic patriarchy that lacks evidentiary backing, historical gynarchy is supported by a mountain of empirical evidence. If we define gynarchy as government by or for women’s interests the evidence shows that most of today’s social institutions are thoroughly gynarchic.

Modern dictionaries usually define gynarchy as a political system governed by women or a woman. For a more complete understanding it’s important to recognise that “the political system” women govern may actually be staffed by male servants called prime ministers, presidents, or politicians who work on behalf of the ruling female gender.1 In her book What’s Right With Feminism Cassandra Langer gives a concise definition that accounts for the proxy role of male leaders: “Gynarchy refers to government by women, or women-centered government.”

References:

[1] Gynarchy by proxy; see also Alison Tieman’s YouTube video When Slaves Ruled which explains this dynamic incisively

See also:

Queen in red costume against dark background

Gynarchy today: an example

The dreaded patriarchy, we’ve had the story drilled into our pliable minds for decades, ad nauseam. But what about the gynarchy, is it yet time to consider the unspeakable? To give a recent account of the matter, a self-described “tall blonde psychologist” named Sharon Lawson sends out the following call to consolidate the power of the gynarchy:

Gynarchy-For-The-Masses

How refreshing to see a feminist admission that our perpetual gynarchy has come of age. We might appreciate too the way Sharon uses miniscule font for ‘men’ to emphasise how the gynarchy thinks. Sharon has written other gems of feminine wisdom on her blog including the following astute distillation called 10 Reasons why Women are Superior:

“While women have traditionally been oppressed, this does not make us weaker, in fact, as history progresses forward it makes us – and I realize this is a bit insensitive – but still, it needs to be said: the superior sex. Here’s why:

1. For a man, peeing is a messy and inconvenient affair. Urine splashing outside of the bowl? Eugh! Animals. Women never splash because we have the good sense to sit down on the seat. Uh, hello? They invented toilet seats for a reasons, guys.

2. We get to experience the awesome power of growing life within our own bodies. The beauty, the understanding and appreciation of life this gives us is unparalleled. Moreover, the experience of childbirth makes women more in tune with all of life.

3. Sexual dimorphism is becoming less and less of a thing as humans advance, and this will eventually put the performance of traditionally male tricks of brute force and superficial showmanship at a disadvantage. Evolution is about grace, intelligence, and compassion now.

4. Heteronormative males miss out on the fun and pleasure that is makeup application and dressing up in cute skirts, dresses and heels. Sure, we get to wear jeans and sneakers and cool casual clothes, but we have the option of a whole extra wardrobe section – and we get to cover up our pimples and highlight our cheekbones.

5. Our sexuality is oft considered a beautiful mystery. Everyone expects boys to begin whacking off as soon as their little curly hairs begin to sprout down south, but girls have an allure, a mystique that we can use as a special tool to our advantage pretty much forever.

6. Politicizing academia is the highest calling of education. You go spend your time doing math puzzles or reading Moby Dick, while we change the world.

7. Woman are wanted, craved, lusted after. Men drop dollars just to get a woman to take off her top in front of him. Men, listen up: I’ll pay you to keep that shirt on your bloated chest, you gross beast.

8. Men have too much testosterone and conditioned to be violent by society. That’s perhaps why they are, statistically speaking, more criminally violent than women. Oh, and boobs > balls.

9. While women have historically been opressed, this actually makes us more powerful in the long run because we have a more nuanced and reealsitc understanding of the world, power, and everything.

10. Men are keys. Women are locks. Are you kidding me? Women, at least this woman, is smart enough to know human sexuality can’t be reduced to a simple and stupid metaphor. Or even a silly article like this.”

So there you have a modern example of a woman, feminist and psychologist – smart, insightful, and ready to help men understand how to value themselves should they have any problems like, er, wanting to kill themselves due to cultural misandry. The 10 commandments of gynocracy are sure to provide a boon to the helping profession Ms. Lawson has just spent years at university preparing to enter, and clearly she has been listening closely in class. For those of you who are interested in receiving counselling from Sharon she happens to be a self-employed psychologist working out of Montana; just be sure to practice how to genuflect on arrival to her sessions.

The following piece, also from Sharon’s blog, and is called “New World Order”

9/06/2013

The new world order
_Women_of_History_Dominating_Males__1
This came from another blog, another post…. borrowed because it contains the truth as I, and others, see it.

In the decades ahead we will see our culture change in ways that will reflect a new balance of power vis a vis gender. Women will cease to fear men and will, instead, begin to rule over them. The current binary concept of gender will break into four groupings.

First, we will see the rise of strong, powerful, confident women who see it as their duty and obligation to rule over the other gender groups.

Second, men who are inadequately feminized by mothers and wives will be viewed as less desirable by most women. Men who are by choice or forced to be feminized will be desirable to most women.

Third, successfully feminized men will become economically and socially extremely valuable to women. They will be called “gendered males”.

The dominant female class will ensure the ongoing submissiveness of these males. Male beauty will be linked to slender physique, lack of body hair, small penis size and demure, sweet mannerisms.

Gendered male fashion will emphasize somewhat restrictive garments made of more delicate materials. Clothing will be designed to enhance feminine traits and movements – walking, sitting, etc. – and to be varied – sweet, casual, comfy and, of course, sexual.

The fourth group will be called super gendered males. They will be cherished by a small percentage of the female population above all feminized men. They will be husbands of wives who serve full time as the keeper of the home, children, pets, and all things domestic.

They will not work. The key trait of super gendered males: they will have had Gender Reassignment Surgery. In the farther distant future, wives will allow their super gendered males to date ONLY Alpha males – those chosen to do what men have done in the past.

dominatrixThe wives will allow this for the opportunity to meet and, if desired, have sex with these Alpha males. The “super gendered male wives” will be happy and support their wives in having sexual pleasure with Alpha males.

Gender differences in this new society will be more fluid. Submissive females and aggressive males will cease to be desirable. Each gendered male group will serve the new dominant females.

Traditional roles will survive but will become a smaller proportion of the population. Alpha males will still exist, have special roles and be a rather small percentage of the population. Most women will not want to have children with Alpha males. These males will serve at the “pleasure of women”.

It will become normal for women to lead, dominate, command and oversee the gendered males’ work. Gendered males will be considered sexy and highly desirable by a significant proportion of the female population. Clothes, style and grooming will reinforce their sexiness and desirability.

They will wear a new kind of makeup that masks non-feminine traits. Men’s sperm will be collected when they are young and stored. The sperm will be available for use when a wife marries her gendered male. It will become routine later in time to perform oriechtomy on males after their sperm has been harvested. Afterward, al gendered males will enter a permanent hormone treatment program.

Finally, society will become much more peaceful, satisfied and happier than today’s society. Less testosterone plus new genders and roles will ensure it.

So, how does the lovely Sharon feel about this “New World Order” she envisions?

Here we go!

“I think this all makes sense to so many people that society will continue to evolve to this. Things will be much nicer with less strife and conflicts.”

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Make no mistake, women all the way from Christine de Pizan and her City of Ladies to feminists like Sharon Lawson have participated to varying degrees in the construction of the current gynarchy. If we can do one thing to raise awareness of this ‘unspeakable’ tradition it will be to point a finger and call “The Gynarchy” by its proper name.

See also:
petticoat cover single

Forsooth! Save Me Oh Gallant Knight…..

Not A Feminist

 

Forsooth, save me oh gallant knight from the perils and pitfalls of beastly marauders and ruffians, for I am but a weak and fragile maiden of delicate sensibilities and shall swoon in despair if my most trifling fancy is not granted forthwith.

Yawn!

I’ve been wondering why all our modern day “ladies” and gallant “knights” don’t just revert back to the rather flowery language of the golden age of chivalry and be done with it.  After all, according to the best “minds” of modern 21st century “experts” on male female relationships, all women are ladies of delicate sensibilities, and all men gallant knights who live to serve fair ladies, or at least should be.

Oh wait – I forgot – women are empowered, independent and self actualised autonomous beings, except when they’re not – and all men are bastards – except men who play along with the contradictory…

View original post 1,186 more words

Book synopsis: The Age of the Bachelor

The following book synopsis, The Age of the Bachelor, by Howard Chudacoff details a historical scenario like that presently gaining traction under the heading MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way).

k6561Howard Chudacoff describes a special and fascinating world: the urban bachelor life that took shape in the late nineteenth century, when a significant population of single men migrated to American cities. Rejecting the restraints and dependence of the nineteenth-century family, bachelors found sustenance and camaraderie in the boarding houses, saloons, pool halls, cafes, clubs, and other institutions that arose in response to their increasing numbers. Chudacoff recalls a lifestyle that had a profound impact on society, evoking fear, disdain, repugnance, and at the same time a sense of romance, excitement, and freedom.

http://press.princeton.edu/titles/6561.html

MGTOW movement of 1898

In the 1890’s a proposed ‘tax on bachelors’ caused the very first MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way) and Men’s Rights group to form.1 At that time a group of bachelors banded together in response to the tax and to fight for their freedom from gynocentric slavery. They can also be considered the first Men’s Rights group to fight against patently misandric laws.

Background
01-Charlotte-Smith-1896In 1896 a Mrs. Charlotte Smith, feminist activist and President of the Women’s Rescue League, spearheaded an anti-bachelor campaign based on her concerns about the increasing numbers of women who could not find husbands — a surprising development considering men outnumbered women in the United States then by 1.5 million.2 Her solution to the “problem” was to denigrate, malign, and ultimately punish bachelors in order to pressure them into marrying any women unlucky enough to remain unwed. Mr’s Smith’s malignment of bachelors began with attacks on public servants and officials, saying that bachelors have always been failures, and that bachelor politicians, especially, were “narrow minded, selfish, egotistical, and cowardly.” She further claimed that, “It’s about time to organize antibachelor clubs in this state. It should be the purpose of every young woman to look up the record of each and every man who is looking for votes and, should his moral character be such would make him unfit for office, then his shortcoming should be the point of attack by the antibachelor women of Massachusetts. There are 47,000 girls between the ages of 20 and 29 years in this state who cannot find husbands… [and] the bachelor politicians, they do not dare discuss the social evil question.”3 She states:

“No man can be a good, honorable and upright citizen who has
not entered into the holy bonds of wedlock” [Charlotte Smith]4

 

The Chipley banner, 25 Sept. 1897

The Chipley banner, 25 Sept. 1897


Part of her remedy was to have bachelors excluded from employment in prominent public sector positions. Her second punishment proposed a universal bachelor tax of $10 per year be applied,5 amounting to between 1-4 weeks of the average wage, with the proceeds to provide living standards for ‘unmarried maidens’ orphans and the poor. In 1911, Mrs. Smith was still spruiking the tax on bachelors, claiming statistics showed that 60% of eligible men in Massachusetts never married, especially men of “small means” because “in order to be popular at the club now it is necessary for a man to have one or two automobiles a yacht, and two or three mistresses, but no marriage.”6

Many proponents of the tax believed that it would encourage marriage and thereby reduce the state’s burden to care for those who did not financially support themselves. Perhaps most importantly Mrs. Smith felt that the tax would lower the number of men “who go around making love to young girls.”6

The bachelor band of 1898

The bachelor tax proposed by Smith was by no means the first. In 1827 a “highly numerous and respectable” group of men met in a New York City hotel to organize a protest against a bill before the New York legislature that replaced a current tax on dogs with one on bachelors. The bill, they claimed, was “onerous and in direct violation of the great charter of their liberties.”7 In 1854, in Connecticut a legislator argued in the House of Representatives against a proposed bill to tax bachelors: such a bill was unnecessary, he claimed, because “There was a tax laid already upon a goose, and any man who had lived 25 years without being married could be taxed under that section.”8 These two bills were not unique, as bachelor taxes have existed around the globe and throughout the millennia, dating back at least to ancient Greece and Rome.9

The culmination of attacks on both the finances and character of bachelors resulted (in 1898) in the formation of a small resistance group in Atlanta Georgia, known variously as the Bachelor Band, The Bachelor League, or famously the ‘Anti-Bardell Bachelor Band.’ The latter takes its name from the case of Bardell vs Pickwick in Charles Dickins 1836 classic novel The Pickwick Papers in which the character Mr. Pickwick is forced to defend himself against a corrupt lawsuit brought by his landlady, Mrs. Bardell, who is suing him for breach of promise, and which ultimately results in his incarceration at Fleet Prison for his stubborn refusal to pay the compensation to her. Thus ‘Anti-Bardell’ in the title refers to men’s struggle against corruption, greed and bigotry, with the bachelor band publicly claiming that “One of its main objects is the suppression of Mrs. Bardell’s large army of female followers today.”10

The Bachelor Band undertook political activism on behalf of men’s rights, including articles in numerous mainstream newspapers, letters to politicians, and public petitions to raise both awareness and support for men against misandric laws and practices. In response to Mrs. Smith’s campaign for what she termed “compulsory marriage,” the Bachelor Band held an emergency meeting chaired by Al Mather, a prominant real-estate dealer. At the meeting a member cried out, “We are pledged to celibacy, and we must remain true to our resolve!” Another member, Henry Miller stated “It is an outrage to attempt a tax on bachelors. The next thing, I suppose, will be to put tags on us or make us get out licenses as is now requires for dogs.”11 The meeting then moved into a secret session where the proposed bachelor tax was discussed, with attendees concluding that is was not the tax per-se that was the problem, but the spirit of the thing. The members, one and all, declared the tax was an attempt to place bachelors under a ban, and by doing so force them into matrimony. With all members of the same opinion a resolution was passed as follows:

“We hereby ask and request that the Senator and the Assemblymen from this district, namely Mr. Daly, Allen, and marshal exert themselves to the best of their ability and means to defeat the bill now before the Legislature to tax bachelors; and it is further resolved that the Secretary be authorized to forward a copy of the above resolution to each of the gentlemen mentioned, and further to notify the proposer of the bill, Assemblyman Weller, and the governor of our action.”11

Another group, the Hoboken Bachelor Club, discussed the merits of drafting a petition protesting against the bill and circulating it for signatures. As can be seen from the political action taken, the assault on men was not going to be taken lying down, with the bachelors forming a resistance movement headed by Lawyer John A. Hynds who not only resisted pressure to marry but challenged the bachelor tax and the cultural misandry that accompanied it. According to one media account the bachelor group was still active four years after the date of the above controversy, making it a successful long-term organisation.12

One of the more humorous, but effective examples of the group’s media activism was this piece in the New York World:

BACHELOR’S LEAGUE AGAINST THE FAIR

John A. Hynds - (Chief Officer of Bachelor Band)

John A. Hynds –
(Chief Officer of Bachelor Band)

Twelve bachelors have formed a league against marriage under the name of the “Anti-Bardell Bachelor Band,” a name which recalls the woes of Mr. Pickwick, of immortal fame. The motto of the club is Solomon’s proverb: “It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than with a brawling woman in a wide house.” The objects of the club are to oppose matrimony, to fight for the liberty of man, to encourage the manufacture of all such devices as bachelor buttons and to check the movement inaugurated by Mrs. Charlotte Smith “and other disgruntled females” to require bachelors to wed.

Any member who marries will be fined $1000. The club will attend the “funeral” in a body dressed in black, wearing long, mournful faces, with an abundant supply of crepe. In addition to this they will emit groans during the whole ceremony. When the fine is paid the member shall be declared legally dead.

Another offense is “getting the mitten.” If a member is “mittened” by a widow or old maid the fine is doubled. Among other offenses are calling a woman “sweetheart,” “dearest,” “sugar lump,” “dovie,” “tootsie-wootsie,” “honey,” “lamb” or any such kindred nonsensical, absurd and disgraceful terms, and “walking with the female in the moonlight, speaking of the stars or the weather, quoting poetry –original or otherwise- riding through a tunnel in a car when any female occupies a contiguous seat, getting down on his knees before or at the side of a woman, carrying a girl’s picture in his watch, hat or pocketbook, staying later than 12 o’clock at night, sending cologne, cinnamon drops or other kinds of perfumed liquids or shopping in a dry-goods store with any one of the fair sex.”

The chief officers of the club are: John A. Hynds, chief marble heart; E. C. Brown, junior marble heart; Mark J. McCord, freezer; J. D. Allen, iceberg.

Mr. E. C. Brown, the junior marble heart, was tried recently on the charge of deserting the Atlanta charmers and visiting a Marietta widow and sending the widow flowers and candles. He was forbidden to visit Marietta for two months and fined twenty-four theatre tickets.13

* * *

Penalties against bachelors as enticements to marry are seen as far back as classical Roman times and, as with Eliza and Mariana who in 1707 AD proposed harsh penalties for unwed men, women are the most passionate advocates of bachelor punishments.

The Anti-Bardell Bachelor Band represents possibly the earliest MGTOW and MHRA group we know of, with men fighting for the basic right to determine their own lives and liberty, including the right to not marry. The stacked deck against men is not new, nor is an organized reaction to it. The only thing these poor chaps needed was the internet, and a mind for rebellion. With this in mind let’s make sure we milk the internet for all we can squeeze out of it… it’s our best chance yet.

 
 
Notes

[1] Specifically, the earliest MGTOW and Men’s Rights groups currently known by this author. If an earlier MGTOW or MR group is brought to my attention this page will be updated accordingly.
[2] The Crusade Against Bachelors, The Norfolk Virginian. (Norfolk, Va.), 02 Sept. 1897.
[3] Antibachelor Clubs: Mr’s Charlotte Smith Starts New Political Crusade, Rock Island Argus. (Rock Island, Ill.), 28 Aug. 1897
[4] No offices for Bachelors, Kansas City StarThursday, August 19, 1897, Kansas City, Kansas
[5] Massachusetts Bachelors Taxed $10 a Year, The Salt Lake herald. (Salt Lake City [Utah), 01 March 1898
[6] Tax on Bachelors, Boston Globe, Feb.15, 1911, 1. (Smith was also campaigning against women riding bicycles, which she considered immoral).
[7] Editorial, Connecticut Courant, February 5, 1827
[8] Connecticut Legislature, Senate, House of Representatives, Hartford Courant, June 26, 1854
[9] Taxing Bachelors in America: 1895-1939, by Marjorie E. Kornhauser
[10] Evening star, February 15, 1898, Page 13, Image 13
[11] Bachelor Tax Feb 12 1898 New York World
[12] The Times 19 January 1902 › Page 4, “Allison Mather, former president of the Hoboken Bachelors’ Club, and who for many years was proud of the distinction or being a confirmed woman hater, is suing for divorce. When he married last year the members of the club went into mourning.”
[13] New York World, 1898 [Note: “mittened” or “getting the mitten” is an old-time New England expression, meaning to have your offer of marriage rejected by your “best girl,” and has an origin in the customs of the earlier days. Two hundred years ago, gloves were unknown in the country towns, and mittens were knitted and worn in all families. If a young man, going home from singing school with the girl of his choice, was holding her mittened hand to keep it from getting cold, and took that opportunity to urge his suit, if the offer proved acceptable, the hand would remain; if taken by surprise, an effort to withdraw the hand would leave the mitten. So the suitor would “get the mitten, but would not get the hand.”

Maternal Preference in 19th Century American Law

MaternalPreference19thcentury
(Illustration from Little Red Cloak by Harriet Burn McKeever. Ca. 1866.)

When it was not rejected outright (as many courts did from the beginning), the supposed “paramount right of the father” to the custody of his children was subject to six major exceptions: (1) children born out of wedlock; (2) young children; (3) weak, disabled or unhealthy children; (4) daughters; (5) older male children who expressed a preference to live with their mothers; and (6) cases where the father was guilty of marital or moral misconduct, concepts which courts defined very broadly in cases where a father sought custody of a child. Except when a court determined a mother to be an unfit parent, there were not many situations to which a “paramount right of fathers to custody” actually applied. The exceptions nearly swallowed the rule, in those few states where such a rule was ever actually applied at all.

What this meant was that, in practice, the courts of every state – those that had openly rejected the “fathers’ rights” doctrine from the beginning, and those that had given it lip service while effectively nullifying it through the application of broad exceptions – decided custody on the basis of the best interests of the child, with a strong presumption that maternal custody was in a child’s best interests.[1]

The maternal preference was based on strongly held beliefs about the natural superiority of women and the inferiority of men, as a class, with respect to child-rearing functions. For example, the Illinois Supreme Court, in 1849, issued this sweeping generalization:

The mother, from her natural endowments, her position in society, and her constant association with [children], can give them that care, attention and advice so indispensable to their welfare, which a father, if the same children were left to his supervision, would be compelled in a great degree to confide to strangers.[2]

Although the maternal preference was more ardently and eloquently expressed in cases involving younger children, it manifested itself in the rules courts applied to the custody of older children, too. For example, the near-absolute rights of mothers to custody of children born out of wedlock, and of daughters, and of weak, disabled or unhealthy children, applied to cases involving children of any age.

Maternal unfitness

The custody rights of parents were never absolute. A mother, like a father, could be denied custody if a judge determined that she was unfit to be a parent.[3] The kinds of things that a court would accept as evidence of a mother’s unfitness varied considerably from what would suffice for a father, though. In general, it may be said that the grounds for declaring a mother unfit were more limited than what would suffice to declare a father unfit. And over the course of the century, this double standard became increasingly pronounced.

One clear example of the double standard was the child support obligation. Women were not expected to be the breadwinners for a family,[4] so a mother’s inability to support her children financially normally was not held to be grounds for denying her custody of her children. By contrast, courts readily denied custody to fathers – and awarded custody to the other parent, or even to a third party — on the basis that the father either could not or did not adequately provide for his children financially.

Another clear example of the double standard was marital infidelity. Courts often treated a father’s commission of adultery as grounds for denying him custody of a child but, as we have seen, a mother’s commission of adultery did not necessarily preclude an award of custody to her, especially if the child in question was young.

Moreover, regardless of the age of the child, a mother’s commission of adultery was not a bar to custody if there was evidence that she had undergone a moral reformation. And courts typically would infer a woman’s complete moral reformation simply from her termination of an adulterous relationship.

Victorian mores were such that women were seen as innocent and asexual. Therefore, any demonstration of an interest in sex, or of a lack of moral virtue, on a woman’s part was thought to be merely a temporary fall from the pedestal. The fall was assumed to have happened as a result of being pushed by a man. Accordingly, if a married woman simply renounced her interest in the man who had led her astray, then she was entitled to immediately reclaim her position on the pedestal, and all order was restored to the Victorian world.[5] Men rarely were afforded such beneficent dispensation. There was an underlying current of opinion that men who strayed from their marital obligations did so of their own free will, and were virtually assured of doing it again: Once a scoundrel, always a scoundrel, it seemed.

The principal grounds upon which a mother might be deemed to be unfit to parent in nineteenth century America were habitual drunkenness (though this did not always prevent a court from awarding her custody of a child of tender years);[6] mental illness; and severe child abuse.[7]


 

Notes:

[1] See Commonwealth ex rel. d’Hauteville v. Sears 279 (Phila., Pa. Ct. of General Sessions 1840) (concluding, on the basis of a review of early American custody cases, that “[t]he common law of the United States is in favour of the mother’s custody”)

[2] Miner v. Miner, 11 Ill. 43, 50 (1849)

[3] See generally American Bar Association, Guide to Marriage, Divorce, & Families 172 (2006) (observing that “[b]y the mid-1800’s, most states had come to exhibit a strong preference for the mothers in issues of custody.”) Since the maternal preference was the guidestar for custody decisions throughout most of the twentieth century, it will be explored in more depth when this blog makes it into the twentieth century.

[4] The law imposed support obligations exclusively on men, not on women. It is sometimes thought that this was an aspect of the coverture doctrine, the idea being that the person who has all the rights should also have all the responsibilities. The support obligation was exclusively male, however, even when coverture was not applicable. For example, support obligations continued to be imposed exclusively on males even after the marital unity had been dissolved by a divorce. Gilley v. Gilley, 9 A. 623 (Me. 1887); Logan v. Murray, 6 Serg. & Rawl. 175 (Pa. 1820); Campbell v. Campbell, 37 Wis. 206 (1875) (holding that a divorce may terminate a husband’s right to custody but it does not terminate his obligation to support his wife and children.) see generally Epaphroditus Peck, The Law of Persons or Domestic Relations 253-60, 278 (1913).

[5] Of course, if she refused to abandon her paramour, then the court would have no basis for a finding of moral reformation, and most likely would proceed to find her unfit to parent.

[6] See, e.g., Brandon v. Brandon, 14 Kan. 264 (1875)

[7] American Bar Association, supra note 3.

■ The above article reprinted with permission from author and copyright holder Tom James.