Super strange anti-woman laws that somehow still exist
An archaic law is a lot like that dress gathering dust in the back of your closet: it’s still technically in circulation but everyone knows it’s never going to see the light of day again. And just like that dress tells you something about who you were back when you still thought it was cute, old laws in the U.S. tell us a lot about moral attitudes in the country that were once commonplace enough to be endorsed by a state legislature.
The website DumbLaws.com tracks the most bizarre laws that are reportedly still on the books and, unsurprisingly, a lot of these old laws regulate the way women dress or behave. Back in the day, women weren’t just expected to be prim and proper, they were legally required to behave like perfect ladies. It’s unlikely that any of these anti-woman laws will ever be enforced again but here are 15 of the weirdest ones for old time’s sake:
1. In Virginia, it’s illegal to tickle women. If you hate being tickled as much as I do, you’re already looking up real estate prices in Richmond. Otherwise you might want to steer clear of Virginia. The state may be for lovers but it’s not for ticklers.
2. If you’re in California, and you want to take a late-night trip through the In-N-Out drive-through, make sure you’re not wearing your grandma’s old house coat as pajamas. It’s still illegal for women in California to drive while wearing a house coat.
3. Pack an air horn the next time you visit Logan, Utah so you can censor yourself. The city still prohibits women from swearing.
4. If you’re on a crowded bus in Seattle with your boyfriend (or any other man) and there’s only one seat left, don’t sit on his lap or you could end up in jail for six months. The only way to escape prison? Put a pillow down on his lap first.
5. Lay off the maple syrup! A woman in Vermont must obtain permission from her spouse before wearing “false teeth,” so you’ll want to hang onto your original set of chompers as long as you can.
6. If you live in Schulter, Oklahoma, you might want to cancel that ladies’ strip poker night. In Schulter, it’s illegal for women to gamble “in the nude, in lingerie, or while wearing a towel.”
7. Throw out your curling iron and hide your scissors! Several states place odd restrictions on the circumstances under which you can cut or style your hair. In Michigan, you need your husband’s permission before cutting your hair, but move to Oklahoma and you can style your own hair all you want, as long as you have a state license, of course. Nebraskan women also need a state license to give perms to their own daughters. But of these states would be better places to live than Wisconsin where it’s still illegal to cut a woman’s hair, period.
8. In Tucson, Arizona, women still can’t wear pants. But given how hot it gets in Tucson, this law might be a blessing in disguise.
9. In a handful of American cities like Memphis, Tennessee or Waynesboro, Virginia, it’s illegal for a woman to drive unless her husband runs in front of the car while “waving a red flag.” For their part, Waynesboro city officials say this law is no longer on the books. But all husbands should probably do this anyway, just for our amusement.
10. If you’re single in Dyersburg, Tennessee, you have to do things the old-fashioned way because it’s illegal to call a man to ask him out on a date. Just fold your hands in your poodle skirt and wait patiently next to that rotary phone. Danny will ask you to go roller skating one day.
11. Several states and municipalities limit the number of women who can live in one house together so that the state can try to prevent the formation of brothels. In University City, Missouri, the maximum number of women who can live together is three. In Ohio, it’s five. Tennessee bumps it all the way up to eight, while Pennsylvania generously allows you to live with 15 of your female friends. All of these laws are totally unjust but they’re probably still a good idea when it comes to getting enough shower time.
12. In Montana, it’s illegal for unmarried women to fish alone because everyone knows the only thing you should be fishing for in Montana is a gentleman to wife you up and take you home to his ranch where you can cook the fish he catches instead.
13. In Carmel, California, women technically cannot wear high heels unless they have a permit from city hall. According to Carmel’s tourism website, the ordinance was enacted in the 1920s to curb off lawsuits from women who tripped over tree roots in the pavement.
14. If you’ve ever seen photos from the Kentucky Derby, you know the state takes its hats seriously. So seriously, in fact, that women in Owensboro, Kentucky need their husband’s permission prior to buying a hat.
15. And I’ve saved the strangest one of all for last. In Oxford Ohio, a woman cannot “strip off her clothing while standing in front of a man’s picture.” If you’ve got a poster of a hunky guy in your room — no shame — just cover him up before you change.