If you’re a member of the American public who still has faith in the legislating power of the people on Capitol Hill, then you’re in the vast minority (and, by the way, you might not care about sexist laws in America). According to a May 2017 Gallup poll, 74% of Americans don’t approve of the work being done by Congress.
In short, the members of Congress really stink at their job – the passage and enforcement of laws. You don’t even have to look very far to find mountains of proof that legislators at every level of government are sort of stupid; take a look at the bizarre state laws that get passed if you're feeling doubtful.
In addition to its general ineffectualness, only one in five members of Congress is female. So, Congress is especially terrible at representing and protecting the interests of women from all walks of life. From arcane marriage laws to laws against women’s rights to legislation governing daily life, laws against women's rights are everywhere. You might be amazed by the crazy things that women could get harassed, victimized, or even arrested for since the beginning of the United States, some of which still linger and impact people to this very day. If you're a woman, however, you might be intimately familiar with some of this insanity.
In 2010, a football player raped a young high school girl who, in turn, tried to report him. Unfortunately, a decades-old law prevented her from having her rapist tried.
In a 1979 NC Supreme Court ruling, State vs. Way, North Carolinian legal minds determined that a woman didn't have the right to change her mind once she’d already said yes. As a result, the judge in the case dropped the charges and concluded that no crime had taken place. Although attorneys continue to submit bills amending State vs. Way to the Senate, none have made it off the NC Senate floor.
For several decades, women could be dismissed from juries based solely on their gender. The Supreme Court actually issued a ruling in 1879, which allowed states to exclude women on the basis of a “defect of sex."
In fact, as late as 1961, the Supreme Court unanimously decided that it was totally fine to exempt women from jury duty. Not only did women's duties as wives and mothers need to come first in the eyes of the Court, but women also needed shielding from the gory details of the cases. Oh, and women were naturally too sympathetic to criminals to do a good job on a jury. The Supreme Court said:
“We cannot say that it is constitutionally impermissible for a State, acting in pursuit of the general welfare, to conclude that a woman should be relieved from the civic duty of jury service unless she herself determines that such service is consistent with her own special responsibilities.”
“Special responsibilities” included being a wife and mother.
In 1973, it was absolutely legal to ask any woman who applied for a credit card a number of insulting questions that essentially amounted to: will you eventually be able to enlist a man to help you pay this bill? Some banks actually required divorcees and widows to bring a guy along when they were applying for a credit card. Then, in 1974, Congress passed the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which made such practices illegal.
That doesn't mean that everything is fair, though. As of 2012, women were paying half a point more interest on their credit cards than men, a seemingly negligible number that can amount to hundreds of dollars over the life of a given card.
Okay, so everyone knows that abortion was a criminal act in several parts of the United States until the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed those women who wanted one the right to a healthy abortion. What you might not know is that there are still several parts of the country that have found ways to skirt Roe v. Wade in an attempt to actively persecute women forced to have self-induced abortions.
In the time since Roe v. Wade, at least two dozen women have been prosecuted for self-induced abortions. Since 2009, a legal team devoted to the issue has represented eight women who were “investigated, charged, or prosecuted for trying to end pregnancies.” Several of these women have been charged with capital crimes like homicide.