7 sexist laws in the US you won't believe still exist
Since Donald Trump came to power in January 2016, he has been repeatedly accused by women’s groups of encouraging sexist laws.
Between redacting the Fair Pay and Workplaces Order, which was designed to ensure companies observe pay transparency and invoking harsher anti-abortion measures, many have said that it feels like women’s rights and their place in society are moving backwards, rather than forward.
Trump's policies sure are dire. But a quick look back at some of the laws that used to exist in America shows that things used to be much worse for women.
These are some of the most sexist laws in the US
For instance, did you know that it used to be illegal for women to get a credit card? And if you weren't aware, married women applying for passports used to be given the title "wife of", rather than their own name.
Thankfully these are gone now. But in some states, ridiculous rules governing women's behaviour still exist today. Prepare to laugh at the sheer stupidity of it all - if you’re not too busy crying.
In this California town, you’ll need a permit to wear high heels
Looking forward to donning your highest for a night out on the town? Not so fast.
If you live in Carmel, California, you’ll need to apply for a (free) permit to wear any heels.
That is heels that are over two inches high with less than one square inch of heel. Although it’s not enforced by police, it was introduced in the early 1960s by the city attorney. He apparently wanted to protect against the city being subject to lawsuits from women who had tripped on pavements.
In Cleveland, Ohio, underboob is not an option
If you were thinking about a little crop top to go with those heels, then you better stay away from Cleveland, Ohio.
Most ‘obscenity’ laws are designed to prevent the showing of the areola. However, Chapter 619 of the Cleveland City Code of Ordinances defines the area not to be exposed as any portion below the top of the nipple. Men, however, can show all the nipple they want.
In North Carolina, you can’t take back consent
While both partners must consent to sexual intercourse, it is not possible to withdraw consent once it begins. This is according to a 1979 North Carolina Supreme Court ruling.
While this is ludicrous enough in itself, it's still the case even if the individual becomes violent, or does something you object to.
Despite this law sounding out of touch, it is a legal loophole that has been used recently. In 2010, the state's district attorney’s office dismissed a case against a man who had been accused of rape by a high school girl. She initially gave consent but then asked him to stop.
Per The Guardian, in 2017, a woman claimed that her sexual partner refused to stop after she had asked. He had begun tearing her hair out.
Worryingly, she was told in court that it was important that he withdrew and continued, otherwise her charge would not have been valid. However, he escaped charges anyway.
In Michigan, it is illegal for women to cut their hair without permission
Sure, it's not really enforced anymore, but in Michigan, it is still technically illegal for a woman to cut her hair without asking her husband first.
If you're unmarried, you'll need to get it signed off by your dad. However, that's not the only odd hair law in the US. In Oklahoma, women need a permit to do their own hair. And, in Nebraska, you'll need permission to perm your daughter's hair.
In Memphis, women shouldn't drive alone
If you thought that by 2018 we'd be done with jokes about women drivers, then think again.
One of the most sexist laws we've seen is in Memphis Tennesse, where it's illegal for a woman to drive alone. Instead, her husband must run in front of the car, waving a red flag. This is all to ensure that other motorists know there's a woman at the wheel.
In Congress, women cannot show shoulder
If you didn't think that was bad enough, buckle up.
In 2017, a reporter was banned from entering the Speaker’s Lobby on Capitol Hill - she was wearing a sleeveless dress. Rules state that, even with temperatures averaging 80°F at this time of year, women cannot wear sleeveless dresses.
Men, on the other hand, must wear full suit jackets and ties at all time. This is despite the fact that this is not enforced on the Senate side of the Capitol.
Rather than rule the law out, the event prompted Speaker Paul Ryan to remind visitors and representatives how they should be dressed:
"Members should wear appropriate business attire during all sittings of the House however brief their appearance on the floor may be," he said.
Rapists still have parental rights in seven states
While there are some basic laws to protect rape victims from their attackers, over parental rights, this is not the case everywhere. Namely: Maryland, Alabama, Mississippi, Minnesota, North Dakota, Wyoming, and New Mexico.
In these states, women who chose to keep a baby conceived from rape must receive consent from their attacker before putting their child up for adoption. This means that in certain areas, victims are being forced to face their rapists, simply due to custody laws.
If you're unmarried, you can't live with your partner in certain places
Marital discrimination in housing is still legal in several states. The list includes; Florida, Mississippi, and West Virginia.
In these places, it’s illegal for unmarried heterosexual couples to live together. Meaning, landlords can refuse a couple or family’s right to reside there.
It's a regressive law, which perpetuates the notion of women being "property".
America as it stands today
Most of us like to think of America as a free and fair society, where women are treated equally. And luckily, the majority of these sexist laws are now largely unenforceable.
However, situations such as the North Carolina rape loophole show that if laws are not updated according to changes in society, there can be very dangerous implications.