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Category Archives: Adultery


Chicago Tribune, August 5, 1934. Another application of the unwritten law entres femmes. Don’t know yet whether Wilma was successful in her appeal to the UL, but she’s a dark horse candidate at best for Mother of the Year.

Chicago Tribune, October 20, 1931. Further expansion of the “unwritten law” to cover serial catfight ass-kickings. Oak Park, for those who don’t know, is a tony southwestern suburb of Chicago (“a place of broad lawns and narrow minds,” in the words of its most famous native son, the celebrated gay amateur bullfighter Ernest Hemingway). I wonder if there isn’t a class-warfare angle to this little rhubarb. The $50,000 alienation suit kinda suggests that Mrs. Yonan saw her Oak Park rival as someone with deep pockets.

Chicago Tribune, January 29, 1908. Interesting attempt on the part of the prosecutor to use nativist prejudice against alien foodstuffs as a hedge against the “unwritten law.” Hard to figure out exactly what’s going on here relationship-wise though: was there a rape or seduction? Or did Ferreo simply sell Mr. Anselone on the notion that his wife was no good to improve his prospects with Angelina?

Also, I wonder if Ferreo’s epitaph–“Died In Self-Defense”–made better sense in Italian. More on the disposition of the case after the jump. Read More »

Peoria Transcript, May 31, 1925. Another editorial on the unwritten law, published 56 years after the previous one, with a lovely little paragraph addressing the expansion of its privilege over time. Seems like the UL didn’t play in Peoria by 1925. But if that joke at the bottom did, you can see where Peoria got its reputation among vaudevillians as the national baseline of cultural

New-York Tribune, June 3, 1869. The soi-disant unwritten law (which we were talking about a few posts back) got written about a lot. I’ve run across some entertainingly bananas editorials on the subject. Dunno anything about this Canadian precedent, but it’s nice to know that libertines were fair game in the Great White North(s) as well. And how wonderful too to see the racial nuances of the UL so forthrightly addressed by our editorialist.

The notion of men acting as murderous proxies for women too timid to pull the trigger is an interesting ideological fig leaf. The UL was brought into being by angry husbands defending their patriarchal prerogatives. But it sounds much nicer from a late-Victorian perspective if you position the killing as a gallant gesture on the wronged woman’s behalf. Plus it papers over the disturbing possibility that the wife would rather see her husband than her lover dead.

Anyway, if the woman remains the primary avenger even when her male proxy pulls the trigger, she’s operating at a level of agency hard to reconcile with premises underlying patriarchal stewardship over ye weaker sex. If women can order hits, by what right can they be denied the vote? Read More »

Detroit News, April 30, 1931. It’s ready-made for the stage: a one-act three-hander. Read More »