Oops: College Names Anti-Rape Program After a Wife-Beating Law
The ‘rule of thumb’ said a man could hit his wife with a rod no wider than his thumb. Not the best title for the University of Maryland’s sex-assault fight.
Kudos to the University of Maryland’s Office of Civil Rights & Sexual Misconduct for launching a campaign to combat sexual assault on campus.
But boo to naming it “Rule of Thumb,” which, before its meaning of “a commonly accepted general principle” had at least one specific meaning: A man could beat his wife with a switch, as long as it wasn’t wider than a thumb.
Not exactly the best connotation for a campaign against sexual assault, right?
For the record, etymologists disagree about the origin of the phrase. Its use in spousal abuse contexts dates back at least to 1782, but similar phrases exist in other languages without that meaning.
So, maybe, one thumb up?