Teaching Law

Monday, 27 August 2012

A Husband's Sacrificial Love and the Law

Sacrificial love: Just for husbands?*

My last post here concerned the change to wedding vows in the Sydney diocese of the Anglican Church.  Under the change, women can now 'submit' to their husbands, rather than obey. This is appropriate, apparently, because:
The husband's love is one of sacrificial love, and to submit to that kind of love is not oppressive, but is actually a joy and a great freedom.
Since this story, an Anglican minister from the Sydney diocese has released a paper upholding 'male headship [as] part of God's good ordering of all society - not just His Church' and suggesting that Christian women in leadership roles should only take such roles if they are prepared to adopt an appropriately masculine leadership style.

While both of these stories represent a view of women that holds no sway in the context of contemporary Australian life, they provide an excellent opportunity to re-evaluate the law and its assumptions.  Despite anti-discrimination legislation and other measures to uphold the status of women - not as submissive to 'male headship', but as autonomous legal actors in their own right - the law remains imbued with presumptions originating in these dated paternalistic Christian beliefs.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Why 'Submitting' is a Dangerous Development

The Anglican church in the diocese of Sydney is changing the wording of its marriage service to provide, optionally for couples who choose it, for the wife to submit to the husband.  This replaces the old vow for the woman to ‘obey’ – made optional in the Anglican rite in 1928.  
It is not my place to critique religious rites so long as they occur within a church context between consenting adults.  However the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) provides that those who are recognised ministers of religion of a recognised denomination, are empowered to solemnise marriages under the Act.
Because marriage is an institution of law, ministers of religion are in my view effectively agents of the state in terms of solemnisation of marriage.  It is concerning therefore that wives may undertake to submit to husbands in a legal process, even one that occurs within a church.  This is so for two reasons.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

What's so hard about consensual sex?

In my guest post today on Amicae Curiae, I pose this question in response to the apparent global putsch to twist the meaning of 'rape'. Find the post here.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Women in Queensland. Back to the Future.

Mummy belongs in the kitchen.
The public and private lives of women have come under scrutiny in Queensland in the last couple of months, including in a series of statements by LNP parliamentarians and advisers.  What is the status of women in Queensland in mid 2012, a few months after the swearing in of the Newman government?