The Legal Position of Women in the United States
In the history of the legal position of women in this country, the self sacrificing quality in woman's nature seems to have been one of the determining factors. The movement for improving her legal status has, apparently, been essentially an altruistic one and exhibited strength principally in so far as it was felt to promise aid to others than those directly concerned. The movement has been, it seems, a refutation of the theory that "All the law in the world has been obtained by strife," that "every principle of law which obtains had first to be wrung by force from those who denied it; and every legal right - the legal rights of the whole nation as well as those of individuals - supposes a continual readiness to assert it and defend it."Whatever weight there may be in these theories, the history of this country would seem to indicate that woman's status is dependent upon her varying power to gain sustenance for herself and her dependents directly from nature and society, - as against it indirectly, through the intervention of some male member of her family or community. In the past, women have done the unpaid labor of the country. Today, approximately one out of every five women is engaged in paid labor. Their changed legal status is, it would seem, the reflection of this change in their economic status.