Talk:Wife selling (English custom)/Archive 2

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Archive 1 Archive 2 Archive 3 Archive 4

What The "ſ": An Attempt to Reaſſeſs the ſucceſſleſſneſs of our Conſenſus

For the sake of clarity, I'd like to summarize the arguments for and against.

Arguments for modernizing long s in quotations (Fut. Perf., Rsl12, Peter Isotalo, Hans Adler, Pablo X, Goosclap Sinclair, Nev1):

  • Wikipedia's Manual of Style implies that disused glyphs like "ſ" should be modernized where the glyph wouldn't be used in a modern text.
  • almost universal modern practice to modernize in texts geared towards both academic and general audiences
  • Style guides were found that state that long "s"es should almost always be silently modernized. No style guides were found that suggested that long "s"es should be kept. (NOTE: These were not British guides, but no British guides were found, must less a guide with anything to say on the issue.) --see below.
  • Readability suffers.
  • Inconsistency within the article. One quote box has long s, the other renders an even older text without long s because it's based on a modern edition.
  • It's a slippery slope -- next thing we know we will be discussing use of black letter, ligatures, illuminated initials, length of dashes, background colour, position of line breaks and whether we must write "sil-ly" because there was a line break in the source.

Arguments against modernizing long s in quotations (Parrot of Doom, Colonel Warden, Richerman, Malleus Fatuorum):

  • Adds to charm
  • People who read Wikipedia are smart enough to understand the long "s", and those that don't know what the long "s" is may learn something by seeing it.
  • By quoting things exactly as they appear, there can be no room for confusion.
  • It's a slippery slope -- after modernizing the s, people might want to change spelling and capitalization as well.
  • The article got through the "Featured Article" process without attracting any comments about the long "s"

Dismissed Issues

  • Editorial consistency suffers (it was noted that the requirement for consistency does not apply to quoteboxes) (This was noted but it makes no sense. Hans Adler 17:59, 23 April 2010 (UTC))
  • Wikipedia's guidelines don't say that you MUST modernize the long s, only that you MAY. (Explanation in ampersand section of MOS suggests the word "may" was used to express the existence of contingencies, rather than merely permission to change as desired.)
  • If the modernized s is to be used, a source should be found where the "s"es have been modified. (A source was found and cited.)
  • No one has complained about the long "s" being illegible. (At least a couple of editors (Moby-Dick3000, GooscapSinclair) have expressed their opinion that the long "s" is confusing.)
  • Exact quoting is especially appropriate for this article since it was the featured article on April Fool's (It was noted this this was a reason to do things correctly, not a reason to be eccentric.)

If this list is in error (particularly, if I've misplaced items into the "Dismissed Issues" bin), please correct.--Rsl12 (talk) 17:27, 23 April 2010 (UTC)

For good measure, a British style guide: --Rsl12 (talk) 18:38, 23 April 2010 (UTC)


re: "Arguments against modernising"

  1. charm is subjective
  2. there is no way of knowing how 'smart' (and more importantly, how aware of archaic typography) our readers are
  3. this is not quoting things "as they appear". A scan of the relevant article would do that. Using html and a web browser all that appears is a faked attempt to display text as it once appeared when printed in ink on paper. However the computer used to view the article, the browser, the system fonts and the personal preferences of the reader will alter the way that the reader sees it
  4. non sequitur
  5. and? Featured Articles are not necessarily perfect and should not be thought to be inviolable.

  pablohablo. 19:40, 23 April 2010 (UTC)

As long as this discussion is being kept open, the article should be kept in the state it was before it started. As such, even though I am weakly against the use of the long s, I have reverted Glooscap Sinclair and Hans Adler. If the edit war continues, the article will again be protected. While I'm here, can we strike the slippery slope arguments? They just sound silly; let's focus on the issue at hand rather than scaremonger about what could happen if we change one article. Nev1 (talk) 21:12, 23 April 2010 (UTC)
The true issue has nothing to do with the long s. It's wp:civility and wp:ownership. Both of which PoD and his supporters are having trouble with. You, as a former admin, should be able to see this. BarkingPumpkin1981 (talk) 21:30, 23 April 2010 (UTC)
I think BarkingPumpkin you should think carefully before you continue to make such accusations. If you really place faith in the veracity of your argument, then I suggest you take the issue further, perhaps to WP:ANI. Otherwise, I'd shut up before someone who cares more than I do about your opinion takes notice. I have my opinion on this issue, it hasn't changed, and engaging in personal attacks along with the others here will do nothing to further your argument. Parrot of Doom 22:15, 23 April 2010 (UTC)
My interest is in this article. If people want to make prats of themselves by entrenching themselves so firmly in their position over something so trivial, that's their prerogative. When it spills over into a pointless edit war, that is unacceptable. That's what I see. You on the other hand have had little to contribute to this discussion, obfuscating the long s issue by insisting this is all about civility and ownership. If that is going to be the limit of you're contribution, I ask you to find something better to do while the rest of us discuss the article. Nev1 (talk) 21:39, 23 April 2010 (UTC)
I believe my comments sum up the situation nicely. The fact that you don't agree, Nev1, doesn't detract from their validity. I shall continue to comment here as I see fit even if it irritates you. BarkingPumpkin1981 (talk) 21:46, 23 April 2010 (UTC)
I agree about the slippery slope arguments being silly. Hopefully no one objects to me deleting them.
What I'm tempted to do, however, is move this issue to the MOS talk page. So far, no one has pointed out any particular traits of this quotation or this topic that would make them candidates for special treatment. Leaving aside the editorial consistency argument, everyone seems to be arguing the bigger question of, "should the long "s" be modernized in general"? Any objections to moving the conversation? (For that matter, does anyone know how such a move would be performed?) --Rsl12 (talk) 21:33, 23 April 2010 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Yes, I object to moving (or copying) this conversation. WT:MOS is already rather crowded. I have just started a new discussion there, giving a minimum of information from my POV.

And I don't think that my slippery slope argument is silly. Wikipedia's rules tend to get stricter and stricter all the time. If we now allow long s, and one of the arguments for it is that it's somehow more precise in a quotation, then we can easily get an entire group of people who advocate that we must always copy this obsolete glyph when it appears in a source, causing massive disruption. Hans Adler 21:43, 23 April 2010 (UTC)
It is silly as what we are doing here is trying to resolve the situation for an individual article, not the whole of Wikipedia. If anyone tried to use this situation as a precedent either way, it would just lead to restarting the debate. Nev1 (talk) 21:51, 23 April 2010 (UTC)
If there's nothing else we agree on, I'm hoping everyone agrees that the MOS says, 100% unambiguously, that:
  • Spelling and capitalization should not be changed when quoting; and
  • Hyphens, typefaces, and dash lengths in quotations should be modified as appropriate.
And while I think the MOS is clear on the issue of long "s", I'd even go so far as to say that the MOS could be clearer on the issue. The word "may" was an unfortunate choice--it leaves things potentially ambiguous. If the MOS had followed the wording of any of the style guides I quoted above, it would have been much better.--Rsl12 (talk) 21:56, 23 April 2010 (UTC)
Also: I agree that moving the conversation wholecloth would be too much. Hans Adler's new thread on the MOS talk is along the lines of what I was thinking. --Rsl12 (talk) 22:08, 23 April 2010 (UTC)
I have lost interest in this discussion as it's not getting anywhere, however, before I abandon it completely I would like to say a word or two about the accusations made by Barking Pumpkin. I am one of PoD's "supporters" but if you could point to any of my comments that breach WP:civility I would be very interested to see them. Secondly, as I haven't made any contributions to this article I can hardly be guilty of wp:ownership. The first time saw the article was the day before it appeared on the main page, and at that time I found a couple of references for it which I posted above - but I don't think any of them were actually used. The only reason I got involved with the discussion about the long s was that, as a member of the Greater Manchester wikiproject, I have worked with PoD and Malleus on a number of articles and I have great respect for their abilities. What really annoys me is when someone puts weeks of hard work into an article, taking it from creation to FA, and then someone else comes along and starts telling them what they don't like about it and making silly little style changes just because they can. The funny thing is that these people - who have probably never even created an article, let alone been through the trauma of getting one up to FA standard - then start shouting about "ownership". Well, I can assure you that, if you ever try taking an article through the FA process, you will certainly want to protect your hard work from being changed just to suit somebody else's taste. Richerman (talk) 23:34, 23 April 2010 (UTC)
If you can find any eccentricities of a magnitude similar to gratuitous preservation of long s, you are welcome to remove them from pigeon photographer – before I take it to FAC or afterwards, it simply doesn't matter. Some things are simply wrong and need to be fixed when they are noticed by someone who knows they are wrong. In this case the issue was noticed and brought up here by Fut. Perf., a professional linguist. The fact that you have (presumably) never seen any modern edition of a text that uses long s, in spite of the fact that plenty of authors who are still immensely popular were originally printed with long s, should really tell you that something went wrong here.
The best way to keep one's face after making a blunder is to simply accept the fact, learn and move on. Pretending it was right only makes everything worse. And it gets even worse if you have "friends" who support you uncritically and don't understand what they are doing. Hans Adler 23:44, 23 April 2010 (UTC)
The fact that I disagree with you doesn't mean I've "made a blunder" thanks very much and I really don't think that the long s got in there by mistake - it was a deliberate decision made by the person who added the quote. It's merely a matter of style, and if something had "gone wrong" as you put it, I'm sure it would have been picked up in the FA review. I certainly don't support anyone uncritically and I can assure you that PoD, Malleus and myself have often made changes to each others work. Anyway, we will just have to agree to disagree because, as I said, I've lost interest in this discussion so this is my last word on the matter. Richerman (talk) 00:24, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
Your logic is flawed Hans. "Eccentric" isn't the same as "wrong", and the opinion of a "professional linguist" is irrelevant when discussing whether or not the long s is consistent with our manual of style. I really couldn't care less either way, but I am very seriously beginning to wonder what the real agenda is behind this incessant nonsense. Get the MoS changed, and the article will have to be changed to meet the FA criteria. It's as simple as that. Malleus Fatuorum 01:33, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
The flawed logic is on your side. The MOS doesn't have to state that we don't ape old sources by using long s any more than it has to state that we don't spell all politicians' names backwards and don't make all numbers bold. I can understand that the first of these ideas has a certain appeal (definitely more than the other two), but the fact that nobody else does it even though there would be plenty of chances to do so is reason enough for us not to do it either. Using long s in the 21st century is so eccentric that it isn't a matter of style but, in the context of a collaborative encyclopedia, just plain wrong. The only reason we still have to discuss this here is a well known cognitive bias. The editors who brought this article through FA apparently missed the fact that long s is perfectly normal for 18th century sources but never seen in modern edition, and that this indicates that normalization is a standard procedure that needs to be applied. That can easily happen and is no reason to be ashamed. But at some point you need to stop the irrational escalation. Hans Adler 02:44, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
Hans, you have an opinion, but don't deceive yourself into believing that you're "right". And, if you can, please stop personalising this discussion. Malleus Fatuorum 05:14, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
I agree--no one here has disputed the fact that the practice of modernizing the long s is nearly universal for texts addressed to the general public and for academic publications. Universal not merely through custom, but formally recognized by every single style guide I found that addressed the issue outright. Given that fact, I feel the burden of proving that this article warrants a special exception should have been on the side arguing against what was mainstream. But never mind, we'll get this fixed and move on. It seems like such a waste of time when the ultimate end is so obvious. --Rsl12 (talk) 04:49, 24 April 2010 (UTC)

Comment - This discussion should be taking place at WT:MOS because it concerns a stylistic issue that could affect hundreds of articles. There is now a section at that talkpage devoted to it. See also my vote in the above RfC, though. Thanks --Jubileeclipman 17:47, 24 April 2010 (UTC)

Michael Everson's view

I was asked by someone to comment, since I like Unicode characters a lot, and have indeed added various long esses to the standard. My view is that long esses should be used where relevant to the content only, and it is hard to think of many instances in which it is relevant. Should the citation of the preamble to the US Declaration of Independence have the long s? It's in the original. No? I for one think No. Then the long s should not be used generally in citations in Wikipedia articles. It doesn't add information and interferes with reading even when people say it does not. I pronounce Congreſs as [ˈkɔŋɡɹɛfs] even though I know better. This probably does belong at MOS. -- Evertype· 17:37, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

English Standardisation

The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.

This article doesnt seem to be in American English. It needs changing to meet the standard wikipedia and international standard of American English. Otherwise its confusing for foreign readers. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:48, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia is international and does not standardise on American English, especially not for non-American historical usage -- Boing! said Zebedee 22:53, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
Why should an article on a British topic be written in American English (see WP:ENGVAR)? Americans are not the only people who use Wikipedia. The differences between the two are not that great, I'm sure you'll get over the confusion. Nev1 (talk) 22:54, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

It should be written in american english, as this has become the international standard and is what most of the world understands. The reason its the international standrard is because hollywood movies are shown through out the world. Whereas not many people understand british english. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:56, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

But where does that leave me? I'm British and I don't understand a single word of American English. Rothorpe (talk) 22:59, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
We need to try and find a translator, as I can't understand a word of what is saying. Malleus Fatuorum 23:06, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
Well, if you think Americans are justified in dictating English to the country that invented the language and gave Shakespeare to the world, and where people know how to spell and use punctuation and capitalization, feel free to start a discussion to overturn the Wikipedia style standards at Wikipedia:ENGVAR#National_varieties_of_English. Best of luck :-) -- Boing! said Zebedee 23:10, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
I wouldn't waste too much time on this berk troll. This is the person insisting that the article be deleted now that April Fool's Day is now over. PS shouldn't it be "capitalisation"? :p Brits use the s. Yanks use the zee. I still think that is due to a typo when someone, somewhere hit "e" instead of "d" --Fred the Oyster (talk) 23:19, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
PS shouldn't it be "capitalisation"? - I was being considerately international ;-) -- Boing! said Zebedee 23:40, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
Fair enough as he/she/it was decent enough to use the UK variant of standardisation. What he, she or it doesn't understand is that American English (a contradiction in terms if ever I heard one) is as a result of semi-literate people incorrectly spelling the usual English words. Hardly a reason for the world to use American English as standard. Incidentally, British English is the International standard, after all the world has only known there was a US for about 250 years.Their idea of historical is something older than 30 years. --Fred the Oyster (talk) 23:47, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
Oh, I don't really agree with that. The English language is a living and growing thing which develops in different ways in different parts of the world. British English, American English, Indian English, SE Asian English, Australian English, and all the rest are equally valid in my view - I just strongly object when someone claims that their own version is the only correct one. -- Boing! said Zebedee 23:57, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
Ordinarily I would agree, but in any variant of English "English" means pertaining to England and as you say, languages are ever evolving, so at which point does it cease to be English? Incidentally, historically speaking, American English did come about by semi-literate people starting to have to convert speech into writing, as such they did it phonetically. This is of course how a lot of English words came about. Though I'm still not sure how tyre became tire but remains the same as tire (exhausted), or how pavement became sidewalk and road became pavement. I just put that down to whacky-baccy ;) --Fred the Oyster (talk) 00:12, 3 April 2010 (UTC)
I'm still not sure how [...] pavement became sidewalk - Too tired to look for a reference now, but I have heard that "sidewalk" was original and that "pavement" came from French sometime later. Not sure if that's true, but many American words are apparently closer to earlier English than are current British ones. -- Boing! said Zebedee 00:35, 3 April 2010 (UTC)
True. "Gotten" is a good example of that. Not uncommon in England once, but you'd look twice at anyone who said that today. Malleus Fatuorum 00:40, 3 April 2010 (UTC)
Yes, that is a good example. I'm British, but I like "gotten", as it seems more regular and in keeping with "forgotten", "begotten", etc -- Boing! said Zebedee 00:55, 3 April 2010 (UTC)
  • This user is a rather pathetic troll. Just look at his contributions. I suggest we do what should be done to all trolls; let him flounder in his boredom. Parrot of Doom 23:21, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

Ive started a discussion on the english styles page regarding standardisation of wikipedia. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:24, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

I hate to ignore my own advice but you haven't made a good start, considering your spelling of "standardisation". Parrot of Doom 23:27, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
What I really find funny is that this pillock's I{ geolocates to Australia :)--Fred the Oyster (talk) 23:32, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
Hmm, sorry, but we have to deduct marks for the following:
  • "Ive" should be "I've" (It's a contraction of "I have")
  • "english" should be "English" (It's a proper noun)
  • "wikipedia" should be "Wikipedia" (Another proper noun)
Still, only 3 errors in a 13-word sentence - probably not too bad for the kind of American person who thinks they can teach the world English :-) -- Boing! said Zebedee 23:40, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

This debate needs to stop right here. Wikipedians have been through this debate a gazillion times before - and some very strong rules have emerged from that. The rules have stood the test of time and are very unlikely to change in the future.

  • Articles predominantly about one particular part of the English-speaking world are written in that dialect.
  • Articles that are not predominantly local to one region are continued in the dialect that the article was first written (or greatly expanded) in.
  • Try to use region-independent language where you can.

That's the rule - and it means that British English is required for this article and Australians, Americans, South Africans and others have to try to adapt - or at least not complain when British English speakers "fix" their spelling, word use and grammar to match common British English conventions.

If you don't like those rules and wish to contest them...Well, good luck with that! You are the gazillion-and-one'th person to attempt it! Please take your arguments to the discussion page for our manual of style - but only after you've read: Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style#National_varieties_of_English. SteveBaker (talk) 02:51, 3 April 2010 (UTC)

Totally agree with the chap above. Besides who really cares if the article is in American English or 'British' English (whatever that is) anyway Cls14 (talk) 22:27, 3 April 2010 (UTC)
"'British' English (whatever that is) anyway" - shame on thee! Parrot of Doom 22:31, 3 April 2010 (UTC)
He does have a point though, because British English is actually just English. Everything else is the derivative hence the need for the qualifier. --Fred the Oyster (talk) 22:34, 3 April 2010 (UTC)
That's a very good point. From now on I will only refer to British English as English. That should confuse a few :) Parrot of Doom 22:35, 3 April 2010 (UTC)

It appears that the original poster is a troll, but I would like to comment on this: "Fair enough as he/she/it was decent enough to use the UK variant of standardisation. What he, she or it doesn't understand is that American English (a contradiction in terms if ever I heard one) is as a result of semi-literate people incorrectly spelling the usual English words." — I find this comment a little bit ironic. I use the 's' spelling, but arguably this is the "semi-literate" form because the 'z' spelling is the original and etymologically correct spelling that was previously used in Britain.

Although the 's' is now the most common and perfectly acceptable British spelling, the Oxford English Dictionary actually advocates using the 'z' spelling—when it is etymologically correct—over the 's' spelling. The thing is, Americans apply the 'z' to words it should not be applied to, as well. Therefore, perhaps both varieties are "wrong". Languages change, and therefore arguing over which variety of English is more correct than the other is ridiculous; if you want to speak English properly, speak Anglo-Saxon. – Hayden120 (talk) 12:52, 4 April 2010 (UTC)

As far as I can tell, the only words that must have -ize in British English are the monosyllables prize (as opposed to prise), size and seize. [1] Rothorpe (talk) 13:42, 4 April 2010 (UTC)
For en-GB, yes. Not for en-GB-oed, though. For example, en-GB-oed says 'globalization'. Contrary to popular belief, this is the original spelling. The Americans did not invent it. Hayden120 (talk) 13:47, 4 April 2010 (UTC)

I changed it to the new European Union English standard. However the cluebot keeps reverting my change. (talk) 08:58, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

There's always one in every class... who doesn't know top from bottom, or German from English. --Fred the Oyster (talk) 09:06, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

So, how do we propose standardisation as per the new EU standard for English? I got sent an email outlining the guide, and the changes that will take place in the next few years. (talk) 10:03, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

We don't. Now disappear back under your bridge, there's a good troll. --Fred the Oyster (talk) 10:38, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
I say we translate the entire article into Cockney slang and let everyone fend for themselves. --WPaulB (talk) 15:26, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
  • This is something bigger than this talk page discussion. It's about a British subject-- British English rules. Though, gov'nor, Cockney might be a'right. Ich bin kein East ender Dlohcierekim 20:26, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

Reminder of discussion at WT:MOS

Since this article's protection will soon expire, let me remind everybody that there is a discussion on the use of long s at WT:MOS#Long s in quotations from primary sources. There is currently a clear consensus that long s should not be used in the absence of very particular reasons that are not present in this case. (The remaining question is only whether MOS should mention this universal practice or remain quiet about it.) I hope that anyone who does not like this will take part in the discussion on the MOS talk page and push for a change there, rather than here. Hans Adler 12:16, 30 April 2010 (UTC)

  • I suggest that you think about whether your quick response made sense. If you then wish to withdraw it, you may remove mine as well. Hans Adler 13:24, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
  • It seems like a perfectly reasonable reminder to me Colonel; the way forwards is clearly for the MoS to offer guidance on the matter, as this is an FA and it must therefore conform to the MoS. The discussion is clearly wider than just this one article, and nobody wants to see the silly edit warring over the long s resume here. I certainly don't anyway. Malleus Fatuorum 13:32, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
  • WT:MOS is the logical place for this discussion to take place, accusations of forum-shopping are ridiculous.   pablohablo. 14:17, 30 April 2010 (UTC)

Pre-1753 marriage law

The following from the current article:

Until the passing of the Marriage Act of 1753, a formal ceremony of marriage before a clergyman was not a legal requirement in England, and marriages were unregistered. All that was required was for both parties to agree to the union, so long as each had reached the legal age of consent,[8] which was 12 for girls and 14 for boys

contradicts the article on the 1753 Clandestine Marriages Act

The common but mistaken assumption that a simple exchange of consent would suffice is based on later, erroneous readings of ecclesiastical case law: such an exchange created a binding contract to marry rather than a legal marriage.[4]

I'm a complete laymen though so I don't feel comfortable changing either article, although the current article does use an Edwardian source. (talk) 15:58, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

Hmmm. it isn't just Bryce (the "Edwardian source") who says that an exchange of consent was all that was required, many others do as well. Here's a paper from the spring 1999 edition of Law and History Review, for instance, saying exactly the same thing:

The only thing necessary for a legal marriage was the free consent of both parties, as long as they were of age (twelve for girls, fourteen for boys), were not within the forbidden degrees of kinship, and were free of any other marriage. Neither the consent of parents nor the presence of witnesses were required. A marriage could be established by verba de praesenti, that is, the statement of consent by both parties, or by verba de futuro, a promise of marriage in the future, followed by sexual intercourse. Because such things happened in private, various types of evidence came to be accepted in disputed marriage cases, such as letters in which the man wrote, or referred, to the woman as his wife, "habit and repute" (that is, the couple cohabited and were considered by their neighbors and relations to be husband and wife), and so forth.

If you read Probert's paper (cited in the Marriage Act of 1753 article) that an exchange of consent was insufficient for a marriage then I think you'll see that it's not really saying anything different from what's quoted above, and is not quite stated as strongly as it is in the Marriage Act. There was quite simply a practical legal difficulty in proving that an exchange of consent, if it happened in private, had ever happened at all. The issue isn't that it wasn't sufficient to establish a marriage, but that it might become necessary one day to prove that the exchange of consent had taken place, perhaps in the case of a separation, or death of one of the partners. By and large though, in a time when most had no property to leave to their descendants anyway, it probably didn't make much difference to the majority of people. So, in summary, the Marriage Act article is wrong to say that an exchange of consent wasn't sufficient to create a contract of marriage. What it ought to say is that an exchange of consent wasn't sufficient to prove the existence of a contract of marriage, unless it could be shown that the exchange had in fact taken place, or there were reasonable grounds for believing that it had. Malleus Fatuorum 17:53, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

French print?

I'm helping out with some copyediting of the Swedish translation of this article (currently an FA over at, and I came across a slight ambiguity concerning this image. The Commons description has been edited to say that it's an English caricature while the original claims it's French. Is there any reason we should doubt Vaessens French description?

Peter Isotalo 16:06, 16 August 2010 (UTC)

I'm pretty certain that it's a French print caricaturing this English custom, so no reason to doubt Vaessens French description as far as I'm concerned. Malleus Fatuorum 16:18, 16 August 2010 (UTC)

Wife selling in China

Wife selling has a long history in China. Shouldn't the scope of this article be expanded to include more than just the English custom? Kaldari (talk) 19:28, 21 February 2011 (UTC)

If you want to write an article on Wife selling in China then please feel free to do so, but this article is about the custom that originated in 17th-century England. When you've written your article we can rename this one to something like Wife selling in England. Malleus Fatuorum 19:31, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
Done: Wife selling in China. Kaldari (talk) 21:16, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
Well, I tried moving the article, but was reverted. Would someone else like to handle it? As this article also discussed wife selling in Ireland and America, I think the best title would be Wife selling (English custom). Kaldari (talk) 21:28, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
Is there consensus here to move the article? Nev1 (talk) 21:31, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
I don't see any reason why the move would be controversial. The article was originally located at Wife selling (English custom) but the disambiguation was removed since no other wife selling article existed at the time. Kaldari (talk) 21:34, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
Right, Wife selling (English custom would seem to be the optimum title then now another article has been created. I'll take care of that; sorry for the confusion, I did not have wife selling in China on my watchlist so was not aware disambiguation was now required. Nev1 (talk) 21:39, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
IIRC right back when PoD and I started to expand the article there was some discussion about what it should be called, as we never intended it to cover more than the English custom and its spread to the colonies. We agreed that in the event an article on wife selling elsewhere were ever written then this one may need to be renamed, but the names of all the articles ought to be consistent I think. In other words, if this article is renamed Wife selling (English custom) then Wife selling in China should be renamed Wife selling (Chinese custom). Malleus Fatuorum 21:40, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
Indeed that discussion is the first topic in the archive linked at the top of this page. Parrot of Doom 21:43, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
Done: Wife selling (Chinese custom). Kaldari (talk) 21:45, 21 February 2011 (UTC)

Sources for expansion

Here are some sources that might be considered for expanding the article.

The following book has some details not covered in the article, including a discussion of the patriarchal nature of the practice, and its origins in misogyny, and states that women protested it as "a threat and insult to their sex"; it also mentions that Smithfield market, where London sales took place, was a cattle market, and largely the preserve of men (unlike Covent Garden or Billingsgate, where tough marketwomen and fishwives might have given the man a hard time):

Here is a source that mentions that Thompson, widely cited in the article, was frequently attacked over his interpretation of wife selling; this controversy itself might be a noteworthy point to cover:

Just to be clear - the source mentions that Thompson was 'mugged' in the US in the 1970s when on a lecture circuit. All that proves is the audience did not, or would not, understand his points. It's not really necessary to add to this article. Truthkeeper88 (talk) 21:26, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
Might be interesting for Thompson's article, but as you say, not for this one. Malleus Fatuorum 21:56, 25 February 2011 (UTC)

A brief critique of Menefee is included here:

--JN466 01:55, 23 February 2011 (UTC)

A 1777 Treatise (written by a woman) which I find hilarious. Sorry, I guess I have a bad sense of humor or forgot to take political correctness lessons.[2]. Truthkeeper88 (talk) 20:57, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
As the editor who added the details to the Thompson reference objects, I object to the constant American-bashing by editors on this page pages around Wikipedia. (KW, updated 18:00, 1 March 2011 (UTC))
What "American-bashing"? Malleus Fatuorum 21:56, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
Two counts: First, on Wikipedia:Wikispeak, another leaf from your your talk page, which I followed here. :-) (18:00, 1 March 2011 (UTC)) I apologize for my imprecision.
Second—and more insidious ;) —agents provocateurs impersonating Americans! ;-)  Kiefer.Wolfowitz  (Discussion) 00:12, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
The American-bashing is a minor irritant in comparison to the POV-pushing by people who seem not to have read the article and apparently are unaware of English marriage law, despite Malleus's patient explanations (plural, friends). Malleus is correct about the impossibility of getting a divorce in any mainstream and even Protestant church. When John Milton first argued that divorce should be granted to persons suffering miserable marriages, he was viciously attacked and received only negligible defense. Adultery was essentially the only legal justification for receiving a divorce. (Perhaps an impoverished, rural, patrilocal marriage with no property held by a wife was worse, in many cases.)
Pardon us if we don't roll over and wag our tails because you brandish a "critique" by Carol Pateman (who suggested that men increased their demand for blowjobs because of a desire to silence womens' voices ...) or cite a structuralist critique of gendered spaces. What historical errors did Thompson commit, according to this "critique"?  Kiefer.Wolfowitz  (Discussion) 21:13, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
Pateman did mention the law of criminal conversation, which the article didn't, so I've cited her for that. Malleus Fatuorum 21:54, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
Caveat lector: It's been 20 years since I looked at that. The BJ reference may have been her article in Civil Society and the State, edited by John Keane. One of these Pateman texts had a good discussion of Robert Filmer's Patriarcha.  Kiefer.Wolfowitz  (Discussion) 00:12, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
The 1777 book looks interesting, although I don't know how good an authority it is, in terms of acceptance by legal historians now or lawyers and judges of the time. But while it may not be a source on sexism (I haven't read most of it), it hints at sexism when it turns out that the wife was to be sold to the highest bidder, thus denying her a choice of who her next husband would be, while the next husband did choose his new wife with his bid to the prior husband being the highest. It also appears that the practice was not quasi-illegal but flat-out illegal; for example, she by law lacked the power to consent (id., p. 53), so consent to divorce would have been legally meaningless, unless the legal divorce procedure did recognize a wife's ability to consent. Nick Levinson (talk) 04:55, 26 February 2011 (UTC) (Corrected tense, added "now", and changed "of" to "to" in "power to consent": 05:06, 26 February 2011 (UTC)) (My last edit was also the adding of the parenthetical clause. 05:16, 26 February 2011 (UTC))

Wife selling Not Category:Sexism??

Going nowhere fast, time to move on

While the Sexism article needs beefing up to explicitly include force marriage, wife selling, trafficking in women, etc., the section Sexism#Legal_status makes it clear women had few rights in that period. Please explain why wife selling isn't sexist. Therefore Category:Sexism is appropriate. CarolMooreDC (talk) 17:10, 21 February 2011 (UTC)

To equate wife selling with trafficking in women is to fundamentally misunderstand the idea that for almost everyone in that period divorce was a practical impossibility. Women were almost never impressed into the arrangement, and not infrequently initiated it. The English law of coverture (is that also sexist in your view?) meant that a man became responsible for his wife upon marriage, to the extent that the two became a single legal entity. To many, both men and women, it therefore seemed quite natural to dissolve an unhappy marriage by going through some public form of separation, which is all that wife selling was in the overwhelming majority of cases. Indeed the agreement of the woman was almost invariably required. It seems a strange custom to us now, and it even seemed strange to the middle and upper-classes of the later 19th century, who increasingly tried to stamp it out, but for many it was preferable to remaining in an unhappy marriage.
TBH though I really don't care much about categories anyway, so if you want to flaunt your evident misunderstanding of the legal and social history of 17th and 18th-century England then go ahead. As a general point I'll simply say that your shrill insistence that sexism only applies to females does your general crusade no favours whatsoever. Sexism applies just as much to men as it does to women. Should Hanged, drawn and quartered be tagged as sexist because that form of execution was only applied to men, for instance? Malleus Fatuorum 17:30, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
Do sources say women liked it? The fact it was the wife and not the husband who was being sold to get around the law shows it was sexist. And it's not like the woman had a choice in who she was sold to. And that women "rescued" other women being sold shows women didn't like it. CarolMooreDC (talk) 17:32, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
You could always try reading the article you know: "There were very few reported sales of husbands, and from a modern perspective, selling a wife like a chattel is degrading, even when considered as a form of divorce. Nevertheless, most contemporary reports stress the women's independence and vitality: "The women are described as 'fine-looking', 'buxom', 'of good appearance', 'a comely-looking country girl', or as 'enjoying the fun and frolic heartily'". To put it as simply as I can, the law of coverture made it inevitable that it would more normally be the woman who was sold rather than the man, but there were cases of husbands being sold. That's no more sexist than observing that the law similarly made it inevitable that more men were hanged, drawn and quartered than women. Wife selling was a straightforward response to the legal framework in place at that time, nothing sexist about it at all. Malleus Fatuorum 17:39, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
You'll also see if you take the trouble to read the article that women usually did have to agree to the sale, and to whom they were sold. Indeed the evidence suggests that the purchaser was very often the wife's lover, and the transaction was arranged in advance. Not in every case of course, but almost certainly the majority of cases. Malleus Fatuorum 17:42, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
If women largely agreed to it, that belongs in the lead - with a reference, which is as far as most people get. It certainly didn't stand out in a quick skim. Nevertheless, it still was a result of a sexist legal system and therefore is inherently sexist. Just like selling Jews was inherently antisemitic when done within the structure of an antisemtic legal system. (Ever read the book THE SLAVE by Isaac Bashevis Singer?) CarolMooreDC (talk) 17:50, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
Rather than "a quick skim" I suggest that you take the time to actually read the article. The very first sentence says "The English custom of wife selling was a way of ending an unsatisfactory marriage by mutual agreement". How much clearer do you want it to be? And citations are unnecessary in the lead, as everything there is cited elsewhere in the article. Did the Jews have to agree to their sale? No. But in the vast majority of cases the wifes did. Malleus Fatuorum 17:54, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
Wife-selling was sexist even if it was an alternative to another sexist and classist practice, because, generally, the proceeds went to the selling husband and not to her, it was not a sale only of services which could presumably be withdrawn by the service provider and so it was a sale very much like a sale of property if distinguishable at all, her consent was not a legal requirement when the procedure itself was illegal even if widely practiced, her extralegal consent could probably be forced by way of beatings and near-starvation and the man was better positioned to execute either tactic than she was to him, and if she objected to a price being too low as undervaluing her full worth her opinion need not matter or might even push the price down (I recall reading of a husband selling at a deliberately low price to make a point). However, I didn't see any of that in the article. Therefore, a better approach might be to properly source a critique like this one, especially if contemporary sourcing exists, and add it to the article, then to add the Sexism category. On the other hand, I think the Sexism category, like some others, probably should not be Wikipedia categories, for reasons I stated in my category discussion post of 2-21-11 4:20a UTC. Nick Levinson (talk) 19:13, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
You seem to be entering a realm of fiction and imagination. There is very little, if any, evidence that wives were commonly coerced into a sale by either "beatings on near-starvation", quite the reverse, and in fact there are recorded cases in which the wife effectively bought herself by providing her purchaser with the money to buy her. The transaction was simply a way of publicly transferring the legal responsibility for the wife from one man to another; as has been made very clear repeatedly the law at that time considered a husband and wife to be a single legal entity. Whether or not that's sexist is a matter of interpretation rather than fact. I'd argue that it's no more sexist than the law that only allowed men and not women to be hanged, drawn and quartered. Some prominent legal experts argued that the law of coverture was in fact more beneficial to women than it was to men, so even if sexist it was not necesarily anti-feminist.
The bottom line I guess is that I think this sexism category is rather silly, very biased, and entirely unhelpful. Malleus Fatuorum 19:27, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps what would be helpful, however, would be some effort to increase the diversity of viewpoints presented in the article. There are several sources on wife selling that portray the practice as degrading and inhumane (Hill for example), yet the article seems at pains to whitewash the custom as a quaint and harmless affair. As both viewpoints are presented in reliable source, both should be reflected in the text. Kaldari (talk) 19:32, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
"However, I didn't see any of that in the article. Therefore, a better approach might be to properly source a critique like this one, especially if contemporary sourcing exists, and add it to the article, then to add the Sexism category." - so in other words, instead of reading the reliable sources and writing an article based on those sources, you want to find something that matches with your preconceptions of this practice, and insert that material in order to push a point of view. No thanks. Parrot of Doom 19:33, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
Hear, hear! All I've seen so far is desperate attempts to force a particular contemporary interpretation onto what was aparently at one time a relatively common practice among certain sections of the population. There is no "whitewashing" going on here, just an unbiased account of what the sources (of which there are really only two authorative ones) actually say. Malleus Fatuorum 19:36, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
China and England can be covered in one article, and without writing a separate article first. Topics in Wikipedia should generally be international in scope unless there's a good reason otherwise. We, of course, appreciate the contribution of the research on England.
No Wikipedia policy is against knowing a subject before editing Wikiperdia, since that would bar most experts, professors, students, et al. from editing. We often edit because something already known is needed and missing.
Some distinctions above were skipped in Malleus Fatuorum's last post and there were U.S. slaves (Black, Southern, and pre-Civil War) who paid money for their own freedom but they were exceptional. It's true that the couple in England was treated legally as one entity, whether that's sexist is an interpretation, and many wives may have relatively benefited, but the reason they were so designated is that he was usually legally responsible for her otherwise-unlawful conduct, an assignment of responsibility that is itself sexist, and the interpretation as sexist is probably sourceable. Phenomena other than wife-selling may justify wife-selling and if the former are sexist then the latter may also be in a consequential sense, and wife-selling is sexist even if desirable in comparison to the other options prevailing in the society. So, given a timely interest in a bottom line, if the sexism category is preserved in Wikipedia, then sourcing the critique of wife-selling as sexist and adding it to the article would justify the category.
Nick Levinson (talk) 20:42, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
If you want to write an article on the history of wife selling in China (or India, or anywhere else) then why not try writing one and see just how little overlap there is with this article? Malleus Fatuorum 20:51, 21 February 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Since it's not obvious to some that this practice came out of the broader category of sexism/patriarchy/misogny, perhaps the article needs beefing up in that regard with WP:RS that make the point; perhaps there are some that have been ignored overlooked??. Will read and think about more. CarolMooreDC (talk) 20:45, 21 February 2011 (UTC)

It's not even obvious to me that this practice came out of the broader category of "sexism/patriarchy/misogny", as it quite clearly came out of the need for some kind of legal separation in a time before divorce was a practical proposition. That it was an alternative to divorce (which makes it very different to the experience in other parts of the world such as China), does not make it in any way sexist, just a choice that some couples made. Malleus Fatuorum 20:56, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
PS. I do not take kindly to your suggestion that some sources have been ignored in an attempt to paint a particular picture. Every effort was taken to present as neutral a picture as possible, consistent with the sources. You on the other hand are looking for sources to support your pre-conceived notions, which hardly a neutral position to be adopting. Malleus Fatuorum 21:01, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
Reading sources before reading Wikipedia does not constitute approaching Wikipedia with pre-conceived notions in violation of any policy or guideline. She and I are each allowed to have knowledge beforehand and we're required to be neutral only in what we produce in our editing, not in what we think beforehand. If the Chinese and Indian customs have nothing to do with sexism or combat it, that's great, but I'm dubious, given the histories of footbinding and bride-burning. Whether wives benefited from being sold does not disprove the customs being sexist, just as a prison offering a delightful desert with dinner does not make prison a nice place to live. Sources do have to be dug up, since women used to be denied most access to printing presses and the custom had largely disappeared when media began to be opened up, given that media tend to concentrate on current complaints rather than historical ones. I don't know if anyone intentionally ignored any source. But she can probably find a few of them in a few hours, whenever she has the time. Nick Levinson (talk) 23:25, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
Nobody has suggested that it does. What was suggested was that" someone" ought to try and look for sources that support User talk:Carolmooredc's preconceived notions about the custom, and that the editors of this article had wilfully chosen to ignore any such sources, implicitly because they have a sexist agenda. That's a fish of a quite different colour. Quite frankly this recent crusade by your project is going to provoke a lot more problems than it can ever hope to solve. Malleus Fatuorum 23:29, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
[Edit conflict on Update so finished after Truthkeeper comment}
So far I have discovered these possibly over looked references supporting current view this was a sexist or patriarchal practice. Category:Sexism obviously needs supplementing with Category:Patriarchy or Category:Patriarchal practices or maybe Category:Male dominance or something for the many laws/customs/practices (among other things) that would not exist in a free and equal society, past, present or future.
I include the latter because I would have before the discussion of whether to break up the two articles, but I was away from home. Anyway, I think the future will produce more such analysis, perhaps enough for its own little section. CarolMooreDC (talk) 03:41, 22 February 2011 (UTC)
I would very strongly oppose adding a little section here about China, given the title of this page. Also, I think that WP:OWN in respect to FA writers applies here and needs to be respected. Truthkeeper88 (talk) 03:49, 22 February 2011 (UTC)

A couple of things need to be said here: first, this is a Featured Article and as such has been through a review. I suspect it was even read by women. As a matter of fact, though my gender should mean absolutely nothing, I read the page before its promotion, but didn't have time to post comments. I would have supported the nomination, so that's moot. As an FA, it's just not right to blindly search for sources and try to shove them in. The sources you've listed above are about literary symbolism - or that's what the title seems to suggest. Then you are suggesting "tying together" something - which would be WP:Synth. Malleus and Parrot of Doom are good editors and good researchers. I have no doubt at all if they found secondary sources indicating, clear, unambiguously, that the practice was sexist, then they would have added. In the meantime, I think this article should be left as it is. Truthkeeper88 (talk) 03:09, 22 February 2011 (UTC)

In case I wasn't clear enough, my listing of sources was not to say these are the best or the only - or that I intend to work them into the article, only to point out they were overlooked, just as the patriarchal/sexist nature of English law was over looked; the problem was not just divorce laws that affected men and women equally. As for Featured articles: without more research than most editors are willing to do, a year later one does not know offhand if an article has been totally changed, gutted etc. and b) people don't own article and new WP:RS material and reworking of old material according to better sources is always appropriate. I'm not likely to do it right now, but in the future someone may be. Otherwise, I'm now unwatching this page. CarolMooreDC (talk) 13:10, 22 February 2011 (UTC)
One does in fact know whether an article has been changed, gutted or whatever for two very simple reasons: the FAC version is linked at the top of this discussion page, and people watch and tend FA articles. This page is about an extremely focused topic - and a quick scan of the sources shows me that the main editors adhered to sources, not surprising given the consistent quality of their work. Truthkeeper88 (talk) 21:15, 22 February 2011 (UTC)
You are persistently confusing English jurisprudence with this pseudo-legal custom. If you want to try and make a case that, for instance, the law of coverture was patriarchical, then do so there, not here. Malleus Fatuorum 16:23, 22 February 2011 (UTC)
Maybe I should find sources that say that midwifery is almost exclusively the domain of women, add those to that article, and then categorise it as sexist. And then I can create man-midwifery, and similarly claim that that practice was sexist also. Parrot of Doom 18:11, 22 February 2011 (UTC)

The debate as to whether the practice of wife-selling was "sexist" (a term coined in the 20th century) is an interesting one, but almost entirely irrelevant to adding the category "sexism" to the article. Categories which apply editorial labels are no more appropriate here than in the article on marriage, which was (per coverture) and perhaps still is, a discriminatory practice. Geometry guy 02:11, 23 February 2011 (UTC)

No, the concept was to refer to wife-selling as sexist, not coverture as sexist, although both are and should be so described. It is expected that, in a Wikipedia article, a subject will be criticized, and the sexism of the article's subject is likely sourceable, so the criticism should be stated. If your point is that it is up to someone proposing to include the criticism to do the research and writing, that is legitimate. But it is not necessary or appropriate to state wife-selling's sexism only in the patriarchy article and one being the law and the other being unlawful or quasi-unlawful (I think unlawful) is not important to where the criticism is to be stated: it's on this subject, so it would be in this article.
What's done in articles on midwifery and man-midwifery (which I hadn't heard of) is largely irrelevant and the comment about them suggests a misunderstanding of the locus of sexism.
Categories such as Sexism being a part of Wikipedia is being debated elsewhere, and I oppose the categories. However, the discussion here assumes the categories will stand. In that case, they should be used when appropriate, along with all appropriate categories.
An editor commented earlier somewhere about not caring about categories. If so, fine for that editor; but all articles should be categorized, says Wikipedia, so at least one of us has to do it.
Nick Levinson (talk) 10:04, 23 February 2011 (UTC)
I am aware of the discussion of the categories and agree that, if kept, "they should be used when appropriate". However, that is not here, because this article is not about Sexism (abstract noun, coined 20th century). Nor is it about public houses, halters, cattle markets or judges. If someone can source substantial commentary that the wife selling custom discussed in this article plays or has played a significant role in discourse on sexism (not only vice versa) then I will revise my opinion. Geometry guy 10:26, 23 February 2011 (UTC)
Unless I misunderstand you, your last point would be met even with modern criticism that English wife-selling was sexist (I'm not clear what you mean by "vice versa"). When the word sexism was invented is irrelevant; the word being a noun and abstract is irrelevant; the whole or majority of the article not being about sexism, public houses, halters, cattle markets, or judges is irrelevant. Good sourcing is even easier to find after help from two editors (CarolMooreDC's post of 2-22-11 3:41a UTC and JN466's post) and I recall using one of those books a couple of years ago or so. I may delay a little while getting to this for unrelated reasons, and will probably delay the categorizing until the CfD is resolved. If you have a view on the CfD, consider posting there.
Nick Levinson (talk) 04:40, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
Hmmm... your comment may support your own and SandyGeorgia's contention that these categories should be deleted because editors will not apply them with appropriate constraint or good judgment. As an exercise, distinguish between the following: (1) "significant/substantial" vs. "mentioned/tangential"; (2) Category:Sexism vs. Category:Sexist practices (note that one of them, like Category:Sexists, is red); (3) "Discussion of sexism makes substantial reference to wife-selling" vs. "Discussion of wife-selling makes substantial reference to sexism". If you do not distinguish between these issues, which are very important for categorization (and I have bright students who struggle to make similar distinctions), then what hope is there for the encyclopedia as a whole to use bias categories wisely? Geometry guy 21:44, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
PS. I posted at the CfD nearly two days ago. I make a habit of spending more time reading than writing on Wikipedia. I recommend this practice to all.
You did post there; I saw it shortly after my post here but time had passed so I didn't correct my invitation here and perhaps I should have.
I don't recommend spending more time reading Wikipedia than writing for it unless you write very little. I haven't assessed my time division, but I read more than enough to assure being within policies; and I write when I have something to write about. Another major purpose for reading more of Wikipedia is to learn subjects, but I agree with the thinking that says Wikipedia is a good starting point but not a good finishing point, and, while I help improve the latter, I use many sources, including print, radio, and electronic, for finishing points. Wikipedia can also be read to research Wikipedia itself, but relatively few people will find that productive. I suspect many editors are in the same boat: they know some subjects better than Wikipedia content offers, so they improve Wikipedia.
On your distinctions: (1) It is legitimate to categorize according to something that is hardly mentioned in the article, such as Category:People From a Certain Birthplace. That's not true for all categories; one would not categorize as an engineer someone who once assembled two Lego parts. Rules or advice applicable to a particular category can probably be stated at the top of a category page. (2) The practices category is obviously the narrower and somewhat less judgmental one. If the CfD results in the wider categories being deleted and narrower ones are implemented, that's fine. (3) They're not hard to distinguish but what matters is whether the article on wife-selling refers to sexism; the other case would be important if the article was on sexism and the category was Category:Wife-Selling (viz., all about wife-selling), but it's not. I checked the standards on categorizing and found nothing against categorizing according to a criticism stated in an article, and criticisms are encouraged to be brief in Wikipedia, so the main focus in an article is on what the article is mainly about, in this case, wife-selling. That means that we may categorize wife-selling as sexist because of a briefly-mentioned criticism of wife-selling as sexist, as long as the properly-referenced discourse on wife-selling as sexist, stated outside of Wikipedia, is nontrivial. It is relevant that feminist discourse is mostly modern because historically women were less likely to be literate, less likely to get published, and when published less likely to be published saying what men didn't want published, since the printing presses and distribution channels mostly belonged to men. Discourse at any given time is more likely to be about what is of the highest priority to its participants at that time, and that is likely to be what is contemporary; discoursing on the past is not without utility but if you are drowning discussing how you got there is normally delayed until after you start drying off. So discourse on wife-selling as sexist is necessarily relatively limited but the wife-selling in question is no less sexist for that and no less categorizable for that.
Nick Levinson (talk) 02:20, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
That is just about as complete a load of guff as I've ever seen. A practice may perhaps be legitimately labelled as "sexist" if that was its intention at the time of its introduction, but not otherwise. I am sick and tired of having to repeatedly point out that wife selling was a pseudo-legal alternative to divorce; there is absolutely nothing sexist about that. Malleus Fatuorum 02:53, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
Happy to assist. A practice not intended as sexist may inherit sexism. For example, wife-selling may have been a good solution to a problem created by a surrounding social structure that was sexist, and may thereby inherit sexism. French is a sexist language because it insists on assigning sexual genders to nouns without nonhistorical justification (to my knowledge) but people in France still speak it, thereby perpetuating sexism, even though many have no practicable alternative. I don't doubt that many dedicated feminists, including radical ones, in France speak French. (English has its built-in sexism, too; French is simply the clearer case.)
Further, a practice that is continued, even if it was not sexist at its beginning, may become sexist because the surrounding social structure changes.
And whose intention is being analyzed matters. Wife-selling might have been intended one way by wives and another way by husbands. An analogy: Rape may be well-intentioned by a rapist who only wants to ensure the survival of a community by ensuring babies are born but still is wrong despite the niceness of his intention and despite her intention to the contrary, even if she'd like to have babies, because she might like choice and then his displacement of her choice in favor of his choice is sexist despite his fabulous intention for their community.
And I'm glad to save you from having to repeat yourself: Wife-selling being an alternative to divorce was not disputed by me or, I think, anyone else, so you needn't repeat your claim on that point. I think it's been accepted. Whether it was quasi-legal is moot, already discussed, and the quibble is not pending to a significant degree (I would say of questionable legality or fully illegal but we'd agree it probably wasn't fully lawful most of the time), so that should be satisfactory. But we may wonder why the virtual unavailability of lawful divorce shouldn't lead us to acknowledge its consequence as sexist.
If only the larger and earlier cause can be sexist because nothing consequential can be, then only one man in the history of planet Earth could have been sexist. He's dead. That would make sexism insoluble. The temporally-related phenomenon that we live with today and that can possibly be solved we usually call sexism. The New Shorter Oxford Dictionary ([4th] ed.) defines sexism in the present tense, not the past. So Oxford editors apparently thought sexism still exists.
Nick Levinson (talk) 05:47, 25 February 2011 (UTC) (Corrected four grammatical errors: 06:00, 25 February 2011 (UTC))
tl;dr - sorry Nick but telling me that French is sexist because it has gender specific articles isn't at all germane here. I will look for a secondary source that explicitly tells us that the practice was sexist. In the absence of such a source, it's simply pushing POV. Truthkeeper88 (talk) 20:35, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
If I understand correctly (please correct me if I'm mistaken): French language deserves to be in Category:Sexism? And the writers of this article are comparable to rapists who, despite the niceness of their intentions, only consider the benefits accrued to members of their own gender? --RSLxii 22:24, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps even more so German language, which considers girls to be neuter. Malleus Fatuorum 23:08, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
In reply to Nick, lawful divorce was available, but only to the very wealthy. That's an economic problem, not a sexist one. Malleus Fatuorum 23:13, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
Please read Malleus Fatuorum's brief comment first; I replied to that.
The French example responds to the claim that sexism has to be intentional at the beginning of a phenomenon or it doesn't exist. I don't know about the German point, so I'm not commenting on that. Whether French is categorizable into Sexism may be a good justification for deleting the category, per the CfD I've already supported. But French is sexist even if it wasn't intended to be when first developed. The view to the contrary about timing is in error.
Where did anyone see anything about writers of the article being compared to rapists? Not in my post. Rapists benefiting only their own gender was not in my post, either. They do benefit their own gender but in this case I argued that even, in some sense, benefiting the other gender makes it no less rape and no less sexist.
A notion that sexism has to be intended is defied by sexists who seek to benefit women, if their sense of benefit is not shared by the women in question. For example, consigning women to the kitchen on the ground that all women are happier in the kitchen is sexist.
The divorce barrier as economic was already conditionally in my posting: "Wife-selling was sexist even if it was an alternative to another sexist and classist practice": 2-21-11 7:13p UTC. And when something is available only to the wealthy, historically that has usually meant that it was available mainly to men, usually meaning that if he didn't agree she couldn't get the divorce even if he could afford it. Thus, the divorce option was structured as both classist and sexist. And the divorce system of the time being sexist does not exempt the wife-selling alternative from being sexist: both can be, and were.
Thank you for researching. No POV concern applies; I did not propose adding without sourcing. I hope to research when I have time for it.
Nick Levinson (talk) 04:47, 26 February 2011 (UTC)

(←) When a simple question/exercise leads to three mini-essays, that's a pretty sure sign that something is amiss. Perhaps "distinguish between may and should" would have been a better starting point. For example, consider the following argument:

Every step in this argument is flawed, but I've written it in a way that exposes one clear logical flaw that is easily missed: "may" implies "should", or "permissible" implies "desirable". This step leads immediately to the logical contradiction "the category should contain X and the category should not contain X". Concluding from this contradiction that the category should be deleted is completely daft; it also follows that the category should not be deleted, that black is white, and that true=false. Of course this is not the exact argument made above, because it is three lines instead of three mini-essays, but surely the derivation of anything remotely resembling a logical contradiction should lead one to look for flaws in the arguments resulting in the contradiction before drawing other conclusions.

And the above mini-essays, being so grounded in feminist discourse, do miss the point quite spectacularly.

  • "It is legitimate to categorize according to something that is hardly mentioned in the article... That's not true for all categories": legitimate does not imply desirable, and whether it is desirable or not does not depend only on the category.
  • "The practices category is obviously the narrower and somewhat less judgmental one. If the CfD results in the wider categories being deleted and narrower ones are implemented, that's fine." Which is more judgmental: "this article is related to sexism" or "this article is about a sexist practice"? Category:Sexists was not deleted because it was too specialized and its contents should be upmerged into Category:Sexism. It was deleted and should remain deleted because it applies an unattributed editorial label, contrary to WP:NPOV. Category:Sexist practices would do the same, and should not be created for that reason.

The whole point is that bias categories should not be used to label articles in this way. This is only an argument for deletion of Category:Sexism and other bias categories if editors are too (perhaps willfully) stupid to understand the distinctions.

Unfortunately, when editors have an agenda, however well-intentioned, logic gets thrown out of the window, and arguments may be twisted to achieve the desired conclusion. This thread is riddled with logical non-sequiturs and a failure to understand what categorization is for. It was started by an editor who asked, elsewhere, "Is getting this sort of thing in [Category:Sexism] (and other related appropriate categories, whatever they may be) something that is better addressed/fought on Wikipedia:WikiProject Feminism, or here [WikiProject Women's History], or both??"[3].

The entire content of a Wikipedia article is governed by WP:NPOV, including the use of categories, and I encourage all editors to challenge arguments grounded in other points of view ("FPOV" in this case) even if they are sympathetic (as I am here) to those points of view. Geometry guy 22:20, 26 February 2011 (UTC)

Before we go too far on a tangent, I generally have been replying to what is in the topic and intend to stay within that scope. I'm also going to make one concession, a point no one has raised.
An editor had said that the categorization in some circumstances would be absolutely wrong and I replied that it may be applied, without saying at that point that it should be. The confusion between may and should is merely one you ascribe. It isn't present in my post; likewise for permissible and desirable. Part of my discussion was in response to your exercise (2-25-11 2:20a UTC); there wasn't confusion there and in real-world application there isn't. My support for deleting the category that you ascribe to being a conclusion from an internal contradiction is not from any internal contradiction of mine.
The guideline on how many appropriate categories to assign is this: "Each article should be placed in all of the most specific categories to which it logically belongs." The word "all" means that while the article may fit other categories if it also fits the Sexism category or a subcategory of it then it goes there, too.
But here's my concession: The relevant category is not Sexism but the subcategory Misogyny, just as most phenomena that are sexist are more specifically misogynist. However, if sourcing is to the effect that wife-selling was also misandrous, then either both Misogyny and Misandry apply or Sexism applies, and, by the guideline, the latter would apply.
When I've assigned a category to anything, as I recall, I've never judged whether the category should exist. I saw whether Wikipedia had the category and, if it fit, applied it. I would do the same for Category:Sexism (absent its subcategories), Category:Sexist Practices, and Category:Writers. Whether it is an appropriate category for the article to be in is what an individual editor judges, and should. Whether it is an appropriate category for Wikipedia to offer is what Wikipedia judges, and should. If Wikipedia offers all these categories, including those I oppose, fine; and I'll assign them accordingly. If a category has restrictions on how to assign, e.g., if Category:Humanity is to be assigned only to articles about humanity in general and not to every article about a human, fine. If it is to be assigned to every human, fine. Category-specific rules are to be stated somewhere visible to assigning editors, like on the top of the category page, so we'll implement them, although admittedly I don't often read category pages, not expecting to find rules on most of them, and thus might err in overassigning against a rule. But that's not at issue here.
"Category:Sexists ... was deleted and should remain deleted because it applies an unattributed editorial label," Do I need to repeat that I'm not planning to categorize in the absence of sourced material, i.e., attribution? "[U]nattributed editorial label" links to WP:LABEL, which is about "[c]ontentious labels" (implicitly including sexist) that are inadequately sourced. No, I'm not planning to categorize in the absence of sourced material. "Contentious[ness]" is typically used in Wikipedia in reference to biographies of living people (BLP). To my knowledge, wife-selling in the English custom is done by no one living today. WP:LABEL gives examples for organizations, individuals, and sexual practices, and the last are practiced only by individuals and, in a manner of speaking, organizations. English customary wife-selling is none of these. While WP:LABEL wants stronger sourcing for contentious labels for organizations, individuals, and sexual practices, for this article we need only attribution or sourcing appropriate to the custom.
If Category:Sexism survives its CfD and has no restrictions on its assignment other than restrictions for all categories, it will be applicable to a great many impersonal subjects. The same is true of Category:Ageism, which (if I'm correct on the following technology) perhaps could be applied to articles about cell phone models with small keyboards that older people, who more often than younger people have arthritis in their hands and fingers, would have difficulty using. The problem of article overpopulation is one on which we agree. And if the problem remains because the CfD is decided in favor of category retention, we may see another problem: when a category is assigned to several hundred articles, while only 200 are listed per page, we should assume most readers usually don't click through the category's multiple pages (just as they usually don't with Google results pages) and the category will lose utility, which would be just as true with a category like Category:Oceans if there were many more than seven. We'd need to create subcategories, and I have no proposal to that end for Sexism or Misogyny. This point, too, is a point against these categories. The forum for getting rid of the defective categories is at the CfD, not here.
I wouldn't ascribe the issue to editors' "stupid[ity]", unless you mean all of the editors collectively (91,000 or so, I gather). If Wikipedia creates and retains Category:Nice with no particular restrictions and it gets populated by every article (over 3.5 million), including by you and me, that's not your or my problem, since evidently the community would have wanted that category populated that way. That won't happen with Nice. If it happens with Sexism, we agree there'd be a problem. That's why there's a CfD. The other editor's comment (your link "[2]") (apart from the Misogyny distinction) is justified if the category's existence without particular rules is justified. It doesn't have particular rules even now. We agree the category's existence is not justified. That's a matter for a CfD decision.
Please recall that an editor wrote in this topic, "A practice may perhaps be legitimately labelled as 'sexist' if that was its intention at the time of its introduction, but not otherwise." That's true only if Category:Sexism has that definition. It does not. Since (to my knowledge) the editor's definition is not in an authoritative dictionary at sexism, it is erroneous. I replied to show the error. In response, I received TLDR from another editor. You say there are errors of logic in this topic; I agree but we don't entirely agree on where they are. A practice can become sexist over time and it can be sexist regardless of its intention (putting aside an argument that a practice doesn't have an intention, since its proponents may). Whose intent is about wives' intentions vs. husbands' intentions. And if one husband found a nonsexist way of selling his wife, that's great, but it's fundamentally misogynist (thus sexist) in most cases regardless of the beginning intent.
I assume no one disagrees that feminism can be neutrally present in Wikipedia. Categorizing as misogyny can be neutral. There's no proposal to do so nonneutrally. The tentative charge that there is such a plan is rejected absent something you can point to.
This topic is exhibiting another problem: the making of charges that are contradicted by what precedes them, such as on categorizing without attribution and somewhat exemplifying with sloppy writing as if mine. I guess the goal is to make pre-emptive strikes. The problem seems to be shared by more than one editor, e.g., on rape. Please focus on actual problems or offer advice in the conditional form of "if you were thinking of doing such-and-such then ...." Then I can skip what doesn't apply.
I look forward to the pending research's results. Nick Levinson (talk) 03:16, 27 February 2011 (UTC) (Corrected by adding "many", "today", and brackets: 03:37, 27 February 2011 (UTC)) (Corrected by moving the brackets with their nowiki elements: 03:49, 27 February 2011 (UTC))
The pending search has been unfruitful, but will continue to look as I have time. I noted your comment re tl;dr and would simply like to say that in fact I'm fairly busy, like to spend my wiki-time building content and simply haven't the time to read these mini-essays. I will say that I find the attitude that editors label a post tl;dr because they don't have an acceptable explanation a bit patronizing. I'm sorry that I was dismissive of your post and apologize for being a mere woman without the ability to present a cogent counterargument, but frankly I think GeometryGuy is articulating policy quite well. I'm bowing out here. TK88 (talk) 17:01, 27 February 2011 (UTC)

(ec←) Please try to make your points more concisely, Nick. You have already made the point that a practice may be considered sexist by some (or indeed many) even if it was not intended to be sexist (e.g. at the time). I don't dispute that, and I'm glad in turn that you are learning something from this discussion :).

You are still completely missing the point, however. "Attribution", as in WP:LABEL, means "in-text attribution". Consider the following sentences:

  • Wife-selling is a form of misogyny.[1][2]
  • Wife-selling has been described as "misogyny" by modern scholars.[1][2]
  • According to feminist political theorist Carole Pateman, wife-selling involved inherent misogyny.[1][2]

Each of these tells a slightly different story, despite all of them being (hypothetically) reliably sourced. However, the first is qualitatively different because it is stated in the neutral editorial voice of the article: it is telling the reader that wife-selling is misogyny. We don't do that with labels, because it is almost always contrary to NPOV. It is also counterproductive: you win over no minds by telling them what to think. An article which begins "Wife-selling was the sexist English practice..." will not be read by anyone who is hostile to political correctness (Holocaust denial once began in such a fashion). The beauty of NPOV is that we show, don't tell, and let the reader decide: many readers, on reaching "After parading his wife with a halter around her neck..." will already be shocked.

Thanks for quoting the first of the "particular considerations" at Wikipedia:Categorization. Note the crucial word "logically": "Each article should be placed in all of the most specific categories to which it logically belongs." You are not being asked to categorize articles according to someone's opinion, be it your own or the opinion of a reliable source.

There is plenty of guidance on how to interpret "logically" here. For example WP:OVERCAT begins "not every verifiable fact (or the intersection of two or more such facts) in an article requires an associated category." Note the use of the word "fact" here, reflecting the point that categories are not for opinions. Categories which imply an opinion or a subjective inclusion criterion should be deleted. The only defense of Category:Sexism is that one can imagine objective/factual usages.

Now you may say that in practice editors do put articles into categories inappropriately. However, this is a wiki, so other editors can revert them if the categorization is contentious, as happened here. If this leads to an edit war, then community discussion is needed to resolve the matter, and possibly further guidance will be created on using the category, or the category even deleted. On this last point, at least, we may be in agreement! :) Geometry guy 16:36, 27 February 2011 (UTC)

PS. I don't consider Category:Misogyny to be a step in the right direction, as it implies hatred, whereas "sexism" may be referring to suppression, superiority or subjugation. I think the case for deleting the misogyny/misandry categories is stronger for that reason. However, this is a tangent. Geometry guy 17:13, 27 February 2011 (UTC)

It beggars belief that such lengthy discussions can arise over the inclusion of an article in a particular category. If people spent more time writing articles than doing the above, perhaps abortions like this wouldn't exist. Parrot of Doom 17:40, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
I appreciate the criticism of what hasn't been written yet, although I think the concern is premature. I have not proposed to edit nonneutrally. Often a statement in a Wikipedia article is nonneutral but balanced to achieve neutrality; for example, criticism sections are for that purpose. I have not, to my knowledge, used editors' erroneous editing as justification for my editing. I appreciate, too, being designated to receive complaints that belong elsewhere. I hope I've been helpful in answering those, too.
The point on attribution is much more about how to write what is attributed to sourcing, viz., that it should be written neutrally. Agreed (with presence of balance). That applies especially to main text below the lede; the lede has to be more concise but generally relies on main text for its content. Categories have to be somewhat more fluid, not quite as tightly logically assigned. There was an email sending/receiving device advertised as not a computer; if it really was a computer (and I don't know how it wouldn't have been), an article about it could go into Category:Home Computers despite the manufacturer's disagreement. That's because we don't have both Category:Home Computers and Category:Devices Very Like Home Computers. But in the article's main text it would be appropriate to require discussing how it's very much like a home computer and that the manufacturer disagrees, and that would justify the former category. WP:OVERCAT is about what categories shouldn't exist (we agreed) and about not categorizing by trivia, and we agreed there, too: that not every fact or pair of intersecting facts justifies a category was already agreed to, when I commented with a hypothetical Lego example. Here, we're talking about the subject of an entire article. By contrast, an article titled Commerce if it referenced wife-selling as an example would not be categorizable into Sexism on the wife-selling alone, because otherwise Commerce with modest editing would likely fit maybe a hundred categories (e.g., Furniture, Financial Risk, and Government or their subcategories). I agree that our Sexism case is contentious by a thread posters' head-count but, even if the reason for contentiousness was not in error, contentiousness is a BLP issue and BLP doesn't apply. If BLP applies to the Indian or Chinese custom, that might be a different problem. Misogyny probably shouldn't be a category (for different reasons), and I said so at the CfD (2-27-11 4:10a UTC), but it exists and is more appropriate than Sexism for wife-selling (absent sourcing as misandrous, too). While it exists, assigning it is on the same principles as for Sexism. It may well signify 'hatred', but so did sexism, perhaps consequentially of the definitions you gave, at least until fairly recently, and that may explain its contentiousness, but assigning is no less apropos.
Thank you, all, for working on researching, writing, and editing. No disagreement is on that priority. Being told that something can't be done in editing despite policy, partly because of a misunderstanding of the core subject, appears to be what started the current discussion and why I joined in. I'd rather develop content, too, and have.
Two editors have recently marked TLDR what they apparently read. If they read it, it's a misuse of TLDR (and the other editor had a duty to read it and, too late, told someone else of reading every word but qualified even that, and had refused to provide a required reason for an action except to say it was what everyone else said, referring to conflicting statements); the other TLDR instance was outside of this topic. Point to sexism if you see any.
The concision call could be applied to approximately a sentence and a half (the need for detail is illustratable with the "fine" case) and even those sentences show that logic was lacking in one of the earliest claims in this thread. Thanks for acknowledging another editor's error that was central to this thread.
I have no idea what is meant by the comment on the Highwayman article being an "abortion", perhaps because I'm not an expert on that article's subject.
Nick Levinson (talk) 23:43, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
The "concision call" was referring to the entirety of your many long posts, not just a sentence and a half! Before assessing your own conciseness, I recommend reading Dunning-Kruger effect. Geometry guy 23:41, 28 February 2011 (UTC)
The article on the effect is interesting and makes at least a couple of assumptions on which we evidently disagree, at least one of which requires personal knowledge of me on a point on which you could not possibly have any knowledge through all of Wikimedia. The length of some of my posts tends to be inconvenient to writer and reader but necessary when responding to serious and erroneous claims and where the other party seems not to understand essential elements. Assumptions of good faith permit greater concision. Nick Levinson (talk) 16:12, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
I'm glad you found it interesting, Nick - I made no assumptions in my invitation. Although I do not presume any personal knowledge, it is very natural and easy for me to assume good faith on your part, because such good faith is evident in the integrity of your contributions to this discussion (and I commend you for that). If you have doubts about editors assuming good faith, I recommend user talk as a venue.
Writing concisely is considerably more difficult that writing at length. Geometry guy 00:04, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────An editor posted the following in a subsection, which I've outdented here, and I'm responding to it here:

Oh for heaven's sake. Nobody is suggesting that women weren't the property of their husbands, or that women didn't have fewer rights than men. What you're suggesting is that because this practice seems so outdated, it must be sexist. That you've gone on a search to try and prove that is telling of the silly POV-pushing that's going on here. England's laws were once undoubtedly sexist in that they favoured men over women, but this article is about an unlawful means of ending a marriage, not about a sexist means of ending a marriage. As Malleus has already pointed out, women weren't hanged, drawn and quartered, because nobody wanted to see a woman subjected to such a fate. Should that article now be categorised as sexist? Of course not. Parrot of Doom 14:00, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

In response: Not all outdated practices are sexist and this one is sexist because of its relationship between the genders. There's nothing wrong with doing research even if motivated by POV. What must be neutral is the article. This particular means of ending marriages is sexist whether unlawful or not. The article does not say it is sexist but there's no plan to categorize it as sexist until the article does say so and with proper sourcing, and then Wikipedia expects it will be so categorized, unless the category we're discussing is deleted per the CfD discussed in this topic (if you have an interest in the CfD and haven't participated there yet, take a look at it). Specifically, the expectation is that it will be categorized as misogynous. Hanging, drawing, and quartering, if done to men only or done more to men because of a double standard, could arguably be categorized as misandrous, provided that that article's sourced content supports that category. If you have good sourcing that says that wife-selling was nonsexist, please post it. Nick Levinson (talk) 07:07, 3 March 2011 (UTC)

At the same time, please also post sources to show that wife-selling was not communist, anarchist, socialist or homophobic. Geometry guy 21:16, 4 March 2011 (UTC)
You're virtually disrupting invitations to post sources (twice, to date) and I wonder if you understand that you are thereby objecting to neutrality. Please reconsider.
Nick Levinson (talk) 06:41, 5 March 2011 (UTC)
"If you have good sourcing that says that wife-selling was nonsexist, please post it." - I'll post nothing here that continues this massively boring debate. Believe me, if anyone starts adding to this article POV nonsense in order to satisfy their Millicent Buckridge Tant tendencies, I and others will be taking a very close look to see if it improves the reader's understanding of Wife selling. If it doesn't, it won't be staying, no matter how many screaming feminists descend on it. Parrot of Doom 09:05, 7 March 2011 (UTC)


  • As a general principle, we should refrain from painting historical events with our modern touch. We should maintain an encyclopedic perspective, which implies timelessness. That is to say, we shouldn't look at historical events from a modern point of view, but from a neutral point of view. Putting this article in the sexism category would be an expression of a subjective modern viewpoint on this historical event, of no encyclopedic value, and thus violate NPOV. Cenarium (talk) 02:03, 28 February 2011 (UTC)
No, Wikipedia does not report that Earth was flat before it was proven round even though Romans used to think so. This article reports the view of wife-selling as an "'odd habit'" sourced to 1901 with no evidence that a similar sentiment was expressed in 1302. Perhaps some people in the past should not be blamed for accepting what was then the normal view of matters, but that is separate from whether, with sourcing, we today may or should report or characterize what is in the past in modern terms. Timelessness is unattainable when we seek and depend on continual updates from new information. The modern view is presumptively neutral, all else equal, whereas reporting a dated view that is contradicted by a modern view and omitting the modern view is likely nonneutral. That a modern view contradicting an older one would be deemed "of no encyclopedic value" is astonishing; perhaps that was an oversimplification. No doubt ample sourcing exists stating criticisms of the 13 colonies for leaving the benign leadership of George III (for non-U.S. non-U.K. readers, this refers to when the colonies that eventually became the U.S. declared independence and started a revolutionary war against England and King George III over two centuries ago) and such sourcing would be valuable to Wikipedia for a historical perspective, but we wouldn't replace the U.S. article with one on the 13 colonies. If all you meant is that we shouldn't use a modern source to attribute to the past what the source does not so attribute, we agree, that being an issue only of accuracy. As to subjectivity, that's addressed above in this Talk topic; any question of the category for its subjectivity may go to the CfD discussion on deletion of the category per se. Nick Levinson (talk) 06:28, 28 February 2011 (UTC) (Corrected two links and, for neutrality against canvassing, replaced "should" with "may" in the last sentence: 06:43, 28 February 2011 (UTC))
Your analogy is utterly flawed, the Earth is not a historical event. And the evolution of mentalities is documented in the article. But expressing a modern viewpoint on a historical event without any legitimate encyclopedic purpose is a violation of NPOV. Putting this article in Category:Sexism is of no encyclopedic value because it is not directly supported by the text (I do not see anything in the text mentioning sexism), this is nothing but a pure expression of modern POV. Cenarium (talk) 14:06, 28 February 2011 (UTC)
The difference between the "modern point of view" and the "neutral point of view" is, yet again... attribution. Geometry guy 23:41, 28 February 2011 (UTC)
Modern and neutral are not necessarily in conflict. Both can be attributed.
We're already in agreement, per above: sourced content is to precede the categorization. Sourcing to a modern view of an old practice is not unencyclopedic. It can be neutral to state nonneutral views that are attributed; each source is not required to be neutral, as long as the article is neutral in its selection and presentation of views on the article's subject.
Nick Levinson (talk) 16:12, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
The neutral point of view is the point of view that strives to represent (often with attribution) other viewpoints fairly, proportionately, and without bias, The neutral point of view has been adopted on Wikipedia by fiat; neutrality in this sense is not something that can readily be attributed. Geometry guy 00:04, 2 March 2011 (UTC)
We agree there and, to that end, partly because I think that finding sourcing that wife-selling (English) is sexist will be a good deal easier than finding contradictory sourcing, I now invite anyone to source that the custom was not sexist, that sexism was contradicted, or that it was sexist, so that both sexism and nonsexism can be reported in the article, if and as apropos. I don't know if and when I'll get to the research needed to support a finding of sexism and, at temporary risk to NPOV, neither research side need wait for the other (risk to NPOV can be alleviated by placing a research result, including any proposed main text, on the talk page or a talk subpage). Disagreement, even with sourcing, about whether the custom is sexist or not is not the same as proof against the other, and the best treatment of such a disagreement may be the reporting of it. I hope someone who asserts that the nonsexism is already clear will come forward with sourcing. I don't have it. Thank you. Nick Levinson (talk) 01:22, 2 March 2011 (UTC)
I likewise invite anyone (without underscores) to source that the custom was not communist, that communism was contradicted, or that it was communist, so that both communism and noncommunism can be reported in the article (per NPOV, obviously). Well okay, socialism will do, as it may be easier to establish the practice was socialist than not socialist (or communist). Nevermind, though, there is no excuse not to begin your researches now, as the same applies to homophobia, antisemitism, puritanism and humanism. If you have better things to do (such as contributing content to other articles), shame on you. Geometry guy 01:55, 2 March 2011 (UTC)
I've habitually been choosing fora and what I'll do there, but if you think I should stop choosing and simply commence world domination, please post details. My invitation was, however, serious, since I think someone will have written on wife-selling as sexist but I think it'll be harder to find a defense of the practice as nonsexist. Perhaps an editor already knows such a source and would like to name it. As noted earlier, for unrelated reasons affecting my time, my research will wait a bit, as it is on another article I've deferred editing, but I don't think you'll mind the wait. Nick Levinson (talk) 04:01, 2 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Some thoughts on views expressed above:
    • Nick is correct in that we often apply categories that only relate to a small part of article content. Nick mentioned birthplace; another category type is Category:Politicians convicted of crimes and the like. In addition, there are hundreds of ethnic and religious categories which apply a category label to an article even though the related content may not be more than a sentence,
    • Geometry guy highlighted a potentially useful distinction between category labels based in fact vs. labels based in arguable opinion. The ones I just listed for example are based in fact -- birthplace, criminal convictions, religious self-identification.
    • On the other hand, Wikipedia does not avoid category labels based on opinion, even contentious ones; examples that come to mind are Category:Fringe physics, Category:Pseudoscience, Category:Pseudoscientists, and many others in that vein. Two or three authoritative sources using the term are generally considered enough to apply the category label. Arguably, the same principle could be applied here.
    • Categories are meant to serve readers browsing for content; a germane question in this case is, Would a reader interested in researching sexism or misogyny appreciate being pointed to this article? I tend to the view that they would, just as a reader interested in pseudoscience would appreciate finding further pseudosciences they had not heard of before.
    • Editors who disagree with a contentious label often feel that it is used to stigmatise or "claim" the article and its subject for POV reasons, rather than assist readers in finding the article. I've often felt the same way myself in other contexts (especially in relation to ethnic and religious category labels).
  • I'm undecided at this point as to what to do in this article. I confess I often loathe categories, and all that comes with them; but I find the discussion here really interesting. --JN466 13:50, 2 March 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for your usual thoughtful comments, Jayen. Regarding the first and third bullet points, you (and others) may find it helpful to recall that WP:Categorization distinguishes two main types of category: "Topic categories" (such as Category:France) and "Set categories" (such as Category:Cities in France). The latter are typically plural in name, comprehensive in content (once subcategories are taken into account), and based on fact. These are the categories which are often applied to articles even though the related content may not be more than a sentence (place, time, affiliation etc.). Set categories which are based on opinion or point of view are potentially problematic and often get deleted: the example you give of Category:Pseudoscientists is interesting, because may of its subcategories (Astrologers, Homeopaths) are valid self-identifications, whereas the umbrella term is not. I would propose renaming it, if I could think of a good alternative title!
The non-existent Category:Sexists and Category:Sexist practices would be set categories. However, Category:Sexism is a topic category. Inclusion in a topic category is based not only on a connection, but on significance and relevance to the topic. I noted already that I would consider this article appropriate for Category:Sexism if reliable sources showed not only the relevance of the topic of sexism to wife-selling (which would suffice for a set category) but also that wife-selling is a significant example in discourse on sexism. Is it more significant, for example, than Marriage, which is not in the category? Your imagined reader researching sexism should be directed to articles by relevance and significance. Geometry guy 21:16, 4 March 2011 (UTC)
The distinction between set and topic categories does not have that much meaning. WP:CAT does not have different considerations for categorizing into topic or set categories and a single category can be of both types anyway.
Requiring a greater share of discourse than is required by WP:CAT would favor modern topics and topic categories or any categories are not intended to disfavor history. History tends to focus on topics of ongoing interest; wife selling has that but not as much as modern phenomena. If you want to create a subcategory for historical sexism or historical misogyny, go ahead, subject to deletion, which I would support on the same principle as for sexism, but if it is not deleted then I have no objection to using it.
If you want to add Marriage to sexism, go ahead. Whether the Marriage article is so categorized or not is not binding on whether this article is.
Nick Levinson (talk) 06:41, 5 March 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the pointer to topic and set categories. The sexism–misogyny branch of the category tree does not have any set categories, which must be part of why we're scratching our heads here. --JN466 01:04, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
The relevant categories have survived the CfD with a restriction against using them to categorize people, organizations, and media. That means practices can be so categorized, especially historical practices that don't involve BLP. I don't intend to so categorize until supportable by sourced content. Nick Levinson (talk) 02:25, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
If I was to write an article on husband selling, which I have considered, would you be so keen to label it as sexist? Malleus Fatuorum 02:32, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Depends. I don't know the subject. If it's identical to wife-selling in the English custom as I understand it except only that the sexes are reversed, then it's misandrous. However, it's likely different since few, if any, major long-lasting customs have ever been identical except for sex reversal because many genderal differences overlap. For example, if the husband-selling occurred in the same time and place as English-customary wife-selling, then it's not identical because coverture was not sex-reversed then and there. The differences could easily result in it being contextually not misandrous. But, at any rate, if you want to classify husband-selling as misandrous and it's sourced so, go ahead. Your question was explicitly about the practice being sexist; if you weren't interested specifically in misandry, then the answer depends on husband-selling being both misogynous and misandrous, and I don't know enough about husband-selling to say what conditions would have to obtain for that to be true. Nick Levinson (talk) 04:23, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Husband selling (although admittedly fairly rare) had exactly the same purpose as wife selling, to end an unsatisfactory marriage. So is it sexist? Or does sexism only apply when females are perceived as being in some way disadvantaged? The discussion in this section is, after all, about applying the sexism category to this article. Malleus Fatuorum 14:25, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
How did husband selling work? I don't think the act of wife selling would have been sexist in spirit in those cases where it was an agreement between a wife and a husband along the lines of "Okay, let's end this", with the aim of allowing the woman to be with the man she had already chosen. The effect in such a case would have been liberating for her ("I wants a change"). That they believed it was necessary for the wife to be "sold" to accomplish this was due to the patriarchal (and sexist) legal system, but the act of selling in this circumstance could just as well be seen as giving the system the finger, and allowing the woman to choose who she lived with.
It's different in those cases though where the man sold his wife on a whim, because he was drunk or whatever, and the woman got purchased for marital services "until death" by a man she did not know and may not have cared to be with in the least. That is sexist, and grossly so. These cases may have been rarer, but the sources do mention them.
If a wife had the ability to sell her husband to an old hag, and the husband had no choice in the matter but to comply and live out the rest of his days with said hag, then that would indeed be quite as sexist. If it was only a way to formalise a decision the man had already taken, to be with another woman, then not. --JN466 16:02, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
I don't know how husband selling worked; apparently there are few recorded cases, none of which I've investigated. I suspect that it was wives who had remarried after receiving trusts of property from their first husbands, but I'm guessing. But you make a very good point. Wife selling was a pragmatic approach to the prevailing law that made divorce impossible. In very many cases, perhaps even the overwhelming majority of cases, it was done by mutual agreement and the purchaser (often the wife's lover) pre-arranged. There's nothing "sexist" about that. Admittedly there were also cases where the sale was imposed on one party or the other, but not always by the husband or even the wife. The cases I find most poignant are those like the one cited in the article, where the Poor Law authorities separated a husband and wife who had fallen on hard times and entered a workhouse, and to avoid the expense of maintaining the family auctioned the wife without her husband's consent. To label that kind of thing as "sexism" seems to me like putting a tutu on a pig. It's self-evidently abhorrent. Malleus Fatuorum 18:44, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for pointing that out; that example hadn't really registered with me. Well, that's the abuse of the working class for you. Perhaps we should add Category:Classism. :( --JN466 04:58, 9 March 2011 (UTC)
Malleus, it's not like you don't have a point. There are things that are slanted against men. Compulsory military service for men, but not women, is sexist, yet almost universal in countries that have conscription. I had to go to court in order not to have to bear arms, while my female contemporaries just got on with their lives. Even after I went to court, I had to spend a year and a quarter doing civilian service, while my female contemporaries just got on with their lives. Similarly, violence against a woman portrayed in a film may cause significant comment, while identical violence against a man passes without comment. (I don't think drawing and quartering is a good example, because the female punishment for high treason was being burnt at the stake, according to our article, which is hardly more pleasant.) But if there are substantial sources pointing out the misandrous or misogynist character of such customs, we should not hesitate to apply the relevant categories. --JN466 06:44, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
They weren't necessarily alive when being burnt at the stake, so arguably it was more of a ritualised and public cremation really. Malleus Fatuorum 14:32, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
More specifically, the discussion is now about applying the misogyny, misandry, or sexism category to this article.
The purpose of wife-selling is not the only thing that can make the practice sexist or not. The selling of Black slaves between White masters was racist even though the purpose often was likely commercial advantage (one master got more labor when needed and the other got more capital when the labor wasn't needed). As I understand wife-selling: If the wife's only way out of a marriage was to go into another one, then being single was effectively forbidden, but only for the wife, since, in wife-selling, there was no requirement that the selling husband have a wife after the sale (by being required to marry some other woman), but the wife was never to be without a husband. While in many cases the woman would be sold to a lover, the requirement was that her new husband be the highest bidder, and her lover might have been the man most willing to bid the most, but if some other man bid more then that's who her new husband would be, in which case she did not have a choice about whom she was marrying. More or less every time we discuss this, I notice another way that the custom was misogynous.
Nick Levinson (talk) 17:04, 9 March 2011 (UTC)
You're generalising about a long-standing practice that changed significantly throughout its history. Clearly the wife didn't always have a choice in the matter of who her purchaser but she not infrequently did, as in the 1824 case mentioned in the article: "after several biddings she [the wife] was knocked down for 5s; but not liking the purchaser, she was put up again for 3s and a quart of ale". The label of "misogyny" is clearly inappropriate here though, as there is no "hatred" of women being displayed. Malleus Fatuorum 18:39, 9 March 2011 (UTC)
I've been erring and you open an interesting issue: While misogyny and misandry are defined as 'hatred of ...', sexism is defined as discriminatory and is not necessarily based on hatred (Shorter Oxford ([4th] ed.), Am. Heritage Dict. (3d ed.), & (without sexism) Webster's Third New International Dict. (Merriam) (misogyny and misandry are defined as 'hatred, distrust, or dislike of ...' in Random House Webster's Unabridged Dict. (2d ed.))). While sexism has had its meaning widened from female as object to either gender as object, misogyny and misandry have been pressed into service as gender-specific sexism, but if that has not been documented in dictionaries (there are more that should be checked), then the categorization of this article may be more appropriately into Sexism rather than Misogyny, if wife-selling is not based specifically in hatred, since wife-selling is nonetheless clearly genderally discriminatory. When invidious discrimination persists without good cause and against demands that it be ended, it's fair to say that it is based in hatred, but that may be too subtle a point for categorizing articles. I would agree that misogyny and misandry are not simply subsets of sexism. So Sexism looks like the right category for this article.
One problem with researching a largely illegal practice is that no statute tells us what's allowed and people who desire to avoid getting punished tend to leave less evidence around, and those factors decrease consistency in the practice. As I understand it, the husband accepting a lower price is still up to him; the most she can do is try to persuade him. Decision-making is more powerful than attempted persuasiveness, thus, in that case, he's the more powerful in the couple.
Nick Levinson (talk) 14:55, 10 March 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Well, at least we've managed to agree that wife selling wasn't misogynist, but I'm still firmly convinced that neither was it sexist in any real meaning of that term. One could make a reasonable case that the English legal system at that time was patriarchal, but it doesn't necessarily follow that any pseudo-legal practices that grew up to deal with what we would now perceive as flaws in that system were also patriarchical, or more specifically sexist. Wife selling was simply a pragmatic response to the prevailing legal system; it doesn't inherent any sexist overtones by coexisting with it. If divorce had been as easy in the 17th and 18th centuries as it is today then no doubt the practice would never have been adopted, as there would be no need for it. Unless of course it's your contention that wife selling existed not as an alternative to divorce but as a means of humiliating women, in which case it would be quite proper to label it as being misogynist, but not sexist. Malleus Fatuorum 17:49, 10 March 2011 (UTC)

Even if the practice was the best available alternative to what the sexist law on divorce allowed (and we may not know much of what the debates were back then), it may still be sexist, and mere coexistence with an overarching sexist system does not make other systems sexist (or feminism would be inherently sexist because of coexistence with the sexism it challenges), but it is both a sexist system and an alternative to a sexist system. If it was misogynist as a means of humiliating women if lawful divorce was feasible, it was also misogynist as a means of humiliating women even if lawful divorce was infeasible. I've offered an analysis of wife-selling as sexist supra, and if humiliation is accepted as hatred then misogyny is also established. I'm not sure what analysis will be relied on by sources; that's more relevant to the article. But that the practice was sexist is clear. I have no idea what "real meaning" of sexism could be that would exclude wife-selling; could you clarify the definition consistently with a citable dictionary or other sourcing? Nick Levinson (talk) 16:17, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
I can summarise that for for you very easily. "Sexism" is a label used by 20th-century feminists for any practice that they believe disadvantages (or disadvantaged) women. It has nothing to do with equality of the sexes, as it pointedly ignores discrimination against males. To introduce yet another example, would you consider the practice of press-ganging to be sexist, or merely a rational response to the military needs of the time? Malleus Fatuorum 16:26, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
Sexism has become both '... against females ...' and bigenderal. (In the following, bolding is in originals.) Shorter Oxford Eng. Dict. ([4th] ed.) says, "... one sex, esp. the female, ...; ... esp. against women ...; ... (esp. a woman's) ...." Am. Heritage Dict. (3d ed.) says, "1. ... especially ... against women. 2. Attitudes, conditions, or behaviors that promote stereotyping of social roles based on gender." Definition 2 is unequivocally bigenderal. Random House Webster's Unabridged Dict. says, "1. attitudes or behavior based on traditional stereotypes of sexual roles. 2. ... esp., ... against women." Definition 1 is unequivocally bigenderal. All of the other 5 definitions emphasize one gender but none of them exclude sexism being against men. Do you have enough sourcing to overcome that these three dictionaries aver that sexism is rather bigenderal?
Probably at least one woman was fit as an asset for naval service (whether there were enough such women for a government to adapt its policy is arguably a more complicated question but equal numbers of women would not be required for that adaptation). Entry into the navy should have been based on interest and merit. Taking sexism as bigenderal, impressment as being of men only was sexist. If you want to source the female aspect for that article's content (I didn't check if it's already there) and so categorize it, go ahead.
Nick Levinson (talk) 17:13, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
Have you seen even a single reliable source claim that press-ganging was sexist? Malleus Fatuorum 18:04, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
You guys are still debating this? Why not direct all of that effort and energy into something with more tangible results? If you help expand Wife selling (Chinese custom), I won't care what categories you apply to it. Right now it's a poorly written stub and could use a lot more research. Kaldari (talk) 16:39, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
Some of us are, and some of us aren't, your choice as to which is which. Naturally the wife selling (Chinese custom) is a crock, as it was created simply to make a point. Malleus Fatuorum 17:59, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
It was created because I was told not to add information on wife selling in China to this article. Considering that it has a much longer and richer history in China (as an actual type of legal transaction), it seems like it should be mentioned somewhere. Otherwise, we are giving the false impression that wife selling only ever happened in English culture. Personally, I still think they should be merged. Kaldari (talk) 20:15, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
Then why not do a proper job, instead of complaining that others haven't? Malleus Fatuorum 20:54, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
Seeing as the custom was considerably different in China ("as an actual type of legal transaction"), keeping the two separate would be preferable IMO. Agree that this discussion seems to be going nowhere - a majority of editors who have expressed a viewpoint here would prefer that the sexism category not be added, and thus it stays out unless/until someone comes up with a spectacularly convincing argument that hasn't already been expressed three different ways. Nikkimaria (talk) 21:45, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
I wasn't complaining, I was suggesting that people could put their time to better use than endlessly arguing over a single category listing. Kaldari (talk) 22:48, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
I agree, but I don't see any of you stepping up to to the plate to improve Wife selling (Chinese custom), which you obviously created to make a point and now have no idea how to develop into a proper article. Malleus Fatuorum 23:10, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
Well excuse me for thinking there's more to the world than Merry Old England. Kaldari (talk) 03:23, 12 March 2011 (UTC)
I take it there's no sourcing that sexism is genderally entirely unidirectional. It appears that the arguments that sexism or misogyny do not apply to wife-selling in the English custom have now vaporized.
Consensus cannot override policies and guidelines, including a duty to categorize appropriately.
The consensus, such as it is, applies to the article currently lacking sourced content on point, with most of the debate occurring when the existence of the category was in question (it's now been resolved). If and when that sourced content is added, the categorizing applies.
Discussion is an educational method. Editors have been learning and that's how we can arrive at a point that is within policies and guidelines.
It doesn't matter why the Chinese article was created; if it fits Wikipedia, it stays. If it's a stub, it's expandable by anyone with appropriate information. If it needs discussion, its talk page is over there.
The articles on the English, Chinese, and (if existent) Indian customs should be separate. Subjects should be international in scope, unless there's too much good content for just one article. It's likely the Chinese and (if begun) Indian articles would eventually each become too long for combining.
I have drafted a new article on another subject recently because I could do so offline. When I can be online, I have other things to do before I research the point we're discussing regarding wife-selling. The debate here was about a salient point, even if someone was bored by it, and it had to be addressed.
I don't have to do the research on impressment or press-ganging to find a source of any kind. You asked if I would consider it sexist. I answered your question. If you want to categorize that article's subject as sexist and if it needs sourced content to support that category, feel free to do the research and writing.
Nick Levinson (talk) 04:00, 12 March 2011 (UTC)
I rest my case. Your argument is at best a fashion statement. Malleus Fatuorum 04:08, 12 March 2011 (UTC)
I have no idea what that means. Please clarify it, if you wish. Nick Levinson (talk) 04:20, 12 March 2011 (UTC)
As ought to be very clear by now, you and many others confuse sexism with militant feminism. That you are here arguing to tag this article but completely unconcerned about press-ganging speaks volumes. Malleus Fatuorum 07:40, 12 March 2011 (UTC)
No one has confused sexism with any kind of feminism. One is a state and the other is advocacy against that state. This is regarding antiwoman discrimination. I don't recall any feminist interchanging those two words as if they meant the same thing. I don't recall any masculist confusing the two. I don't recall any journalist or commentator doing so. No, there's no confusion there, and I daresay you're not confused about it either. Your use of the word "completely" in your last post is quite contradicted by my posts and is hyperbolic, thus a forum-waster. If you consider it valid to give me assignments in lieu of the principles of Wikipedia, then I'll be glad to offer you a bunch of assignments to keep you busy. You don't need an assignment to edit the impressment article yourself, and meseems you already have an interest in it, given that you seem to feel that I'm your servant here for the purpose of doing your bidding. I do not have to do everything in the world, even if you order me and threaten a court-martial. I don't even have to fetch your newspaper. Or if your issue is with the British Navy, perhaps you can take it up with them. Don't use the talk page to introduce substantive disagreements with subjects when they don't address how articles should be edited. Nick Levinson (talk) 08:24, 12 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Just noting here that there are plenty of sources that refer to selective service as a sexist practice. [4] So it's not true to say that sexism is a term only used by feminists, who pointedly ignore discrimination against males. (To prove the point, here is a feminist, Karen DeCrow, arguing that she "can think of nothing more man-hating than the idea that a man's getting killed in war is any less offensive than a woman's getting killed in war.") Just for the record.
  • I agree by the way that the article should not be merged with articles discussing wife-selling practices in other cultures. If a day comes when we have similarly complete articles on the practice in other cultures, we can have an overview article that links to the various daughter articles. --JN466 13:11, 12 March 2011 (UTC)


  • As for sources labelling wife selling misogynist or sexist, I looked a few days ago, but found them harder to locate than I thought. Here is what I find in Google Books and Google Scholar:
    • Hill (cited in the article) sums up her chapter discussing wife selling by saying that the practice, which she asserts was almost without exception initiated by men, seems to have "favoured men at the expense of women" (p. 220).
    • Don Herzog cites an "eighteenth-century feminist" (I mention this just to counter the idea that sexism is a modern concept) and gives wife sales as an example of how class divisions played out in relation to "gender and misogyny".
    • Anna Clark says wife selling "may have stemmed from a particular misogynist trend" and "symbolized women as property".
    • Introducing cultural studies states that "the wife sale could be a form of divorce, as well as an act of misogynist male power".
    • This journal article discusses "the possible kinship of the 'sale of wives' to that eighteenth-century addition to folk misogyny, the Punch and Judy show" (but then commends Thompson for following a different line of thought).
    • Alvin J. Schmidt discusses British wife selling in Veiled and silenced: how culture shaped sexist theology.
    • Hilaire Barnett briefly discusses wife selling in Introduction to feminist jurisprudence, in the chapter "Gender inequalities and law". She also discusses it in her Sourcebook on feminist jurisprudence, noting the "immense symbolism as to status of women and the manner in which women were viewed as chattels of their husbands."
    • Tany Evans, in a book edited by Hannah Barker and Elaine Chalus, states that "at no time during this period was the sexual double standard threatened", citing wife sales as an example.
    • Deborah M. Valenze cites David D. Gilmore, in the context of wife selling, as saying "in an anthropological analysis of misogyny" that "scholars have not rushed to analyzed the ritual humiliation of women because they feel it is somehow self-explanatory and perpetual, even if it seems abhorrent". The discussion in Valenze is quite interesting; this is a work that could be used for adding further detail to the article, quite apart from the sexism issue.
  • Another source that may be of interest, quite apart from the sexism discussion, is this by Clare A. Lyons; it says that wife selling never caught on much in Philadelphia as a form of self-divorce, as "this rite was too close to the actual sale of Africans into slavery in Philadelphia's markets to retain its central tenets of consent and mutual agreement." --JN466 13:50, 2 March 2011 (UTC)
Oh for heaven's sake. Nobody is suggesting that women weren't the property of their husbands, or that women didn't have fewer rights than men. What you're suggesting is that because this practice seems so outdated, it must be sexist. That you've gone on a search to try and prove that is telling of the silly POV-pushing that's going on here. England's laws were once undoubtedly sexist in that they favoured men over women, but this article is about an unlawful means of ending a marriage, not about a sexist means of ending a marriage. As Malleus has already pointed out, women weren't hanged, drawn and quartered, because nobody wanted to see a woman subjected to such a fate. Should that article now be categorised as sexist? Of course not. Parrot of Doom 14:00, 2 March 2011 (UTC)
Parrot of Doom, your post is copied above and answered there. This subsection is about collecting sources and your post is about another subject. Nick Levinson (talk) 07:07, 3 March 2011 (UTC)

Valenze's The Social Life of Money in the English Past is viewable in amazon. On page 249 it states, "Like Thompson, Ihde asserted that wife sale 'did not necessarily entail the degradation of women, but could in fact be a positive event in which the women were frequently willing participants.' His evidence fit the model of positivistic functionalism far less comfortably: he cited several particularly horrific accounts involving the stripping and sexual abuse of women, which appeared to be sales of women as 'servants' (or, as another historian more accurately described them, slaves, exploited prisoners, or prostitutes), rather than as matrimonial partners." Shall we do some work on incorporating this aspect, and some of the above sources? --JN466 13:45, 12 March 2011 (UTC)

This article is about wife selling. In the cases you mention was the woman married to her abuser? Malleus Fatuorum 16:56, 12 March 2011 (UTC)
See Ihde, linked below. There are multiple references in Ihde to the women being considered "wives", as well as a note that many marriages in England were common-law unions anyway, cemented by jumping over a besom or the gift of a curtain ring and such. The abuses described in Ihde that Valenze refers to occurred in the Australian convict population. Ihde mentions though that even in England, where wifely adultery was the most common reason for a sale (and we have to bear in mind that a wife could not presumably sell an adulterous husband), "other reasons could be simple incompatibility, domestic discord, cruelty, barrenness, drunkenness, wifely extravagance, or the absence or impending absence of the husband" (cited to Menefee and Gillis). --JN466 18:26, 12 March 2011 (UTC)

Ihde, quoted by Valenze, is here, and describes the practice of wife selling that the British brought along with them as it came to be practiced in Australia. --JN466 14:18, 12 March 2011 (UTC)

Thank you for digging up all those possible sources.
I think I'll have the time to start reading on point in about a week or two. Since Google/Amazon snippets are only a starting point, I'll probably try to get some sources via libraries, including via interlibrary loan, which may take a few weeks to a couple of months beyond that. Go ahead if you already have the texts and time you need; I don't own the subject. But I'll do what I can as soon as I have the time free.
Thanks again. Nick Levinson (talk) 15:16, 12 March 2011 (UTC)