Some more ‘woman’ law suggestions

Since it appears Republicans in the Iowa Statehouse have run the gamut of nationally-promoted bills restricting the ability of women to be productive and healthy members of society, here are some suggestions for the remainder of the session.


The Bible, in the book of Numbers, details a process by which men can know if women have engaged in illicit affairs.

The man should bring the woman to a member of the clergy, and that clergyman should have her consume “the tenth part of an ephah of barley meal.” Afterward, the clergyman creates a mixture holy water and dust from the floor, forces the woman to swear she has not cheated and then makes her drink.

If the woman is lying, “her belly shall swell and her thigh shall fall away.” No such repercussions are evident in truthful women.

Seems like a handy and straightforward process for those needing to find more ways to whittle the judiciary budget.

A woman sits on a bus stop bench east of the Statehouse in Des Moines in January 1983.
A woman sits on a bus stop bench east of the Statehouse in Des Moines in January 1983. (File Photo)


Alternatively, during the 18th and 19th centuries, women from poorer British families were sat upon chairs in the town square when they displeased their husbands. The husbands could then commence an auction and sell their wives to the highest bidder.

Not only another courtroom diversion program, this process could launch a new wave of male entrepreneurs.


In medieval Germany, couples who couldn’t get along were encouraged to enter locked public arenas and beat each other to death. Local communities spent weeks preparing for these public death matches, which drew spectators from miles away.

The man was armed with a club while the woman was given a sack of rocks. To make the event more equal, the woman could move freely in the space while the man would stand about waist deep in a pit, with one hand tied behind his back. (Yes, now you know from where that phrase stems.)

If the couple didn’t progress the match to its expected conclusion, whomever was determined to be the loser would be executed. Since participants were generally from less affluent families, a similar Iowa option could help reduce expenses related to Medicaid modernization. As a bonus prize, the matches could be spun as support for performance art.


Historically, women were not permitted to leave marriages. Men, of course, have nearly always been allowed to swim this legal channel. While it is true that suicide rates among women plummeted 20 percent once they were allowed to initiate divorce, it’s hard to imagine lawmakers who choose to ignore women’s deaths from botched abortions before legalization letting this statistic get in the way of the state’s inherent interest in protecting marriage.

I’ll offer a few more ideas following my period of isolation in the Red Tent.

This column by Lynda Waddington originally published in The Gazette on April 8, 2017. Photo credit: File Photo/The Gazette