Seminar, History of Women, Gender and Sexuality, Hybrid Event

The Marriage Defense

Author: Marcia Zug, University of South Carolina
Comment: Phyllis Thompson, Harvard University

Thursday, December 15, 2022, 5:00PM - 6:15PM

This is a hybrid event. The in-person reception will begin at 4:30 pm. 

Some people marry for love, others marry to avoid prison. This paper explores the latter. There is a long history of men and women marrying to evade criminal prosecution and, in the past, this connection was often beneficial. The marriage defense protected couples from the prying eyes of the state and helped discourage the seduction and abandonment of women. Unfortunately, by shielding the married from prosecution, the marriage defense also protected abuse. Today, prosecutions for crimes like fornication and seduction are rare yet, the marriage defense lives on in the judicial reluctance to treat non-marital and marital crimes with equal concern. Understanding the history of the marriage defense helps explain this disparity and, also, why it must end.

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Hybrid Event

The seminar will begin at 5:00 PM. 

Masks are now required inside the MHS building. Learn more about our COVID-19 protocols.


The virtual seminar begins at 5:00 PM and will be hosted on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive a confirmation message with attendance information.