Monday, November 1, 2010

Are Prisons Obsolete? quotes

Am plowing my way through Angela Davis's book Are Prisons Obsolete? and found two quotes that struck me, in addition to the overall amazing writing and research.

"It should also be pointed out that punishment has not been without its gendered dimensions...In seventeenth-century Britian, women whose husbands identified them as quarrelsome and unaccepting of male dominance were punished by means of a gossip's bridle, or "branks," a headpiece with a chain attached and an iron bit that was introduced into the woman's mouth. Although the branking of women was often linked to a public parade, this contraption was sometimes hooked to a wal of the house, where the punished woman remained until her husband decided to release her."

Warms the cockles of my heart.

"...Convicts punished by imprisonment in emergent penitentiary systems were primarily male. This reflected the deeply gender-biased structure of legal, political and economic rights. Since women were largely denied public status as rights-bearing individuals, they could not be easily punished by the deprivation of such rights through imprisonment. This was especially true of married women, who had no standing before the law. According to English common law, marriage resulted in a state of "civil death," as symbolized by the wife's assumption of the husband's name."

And people wondered why I kept my name when I got married

This is the first Angela Davis book I've read and I'm really enjoying her writing style.


  1. Isn't this like back in the day stuff? This doesn't apply to current times.

  2. Yeah, she was referencing it as punishment that women endured in the 18th and 19th centuries, as she is discussing the history of punishment in the book.

    I just found the quotes interesting because I still get crap for not changing my name and I was pointing to history as one of the reasons not to do so since when women got married, they literally became their husband's property. Obvi, it's not as extreme now, but it's still assumed that the wife takes the husband's name.