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For Wegner, the key is patriarchal control over female reproductive functions.
From the onset, Wegner identifies six taxonomic categories (which she claims originate in scripture) into which the Mishnah classifies free women: These constitute two main categories, each comprising three subclasses.
In considering the cases of rape and seduction of a minor daughter, Wegner finds further evidence of paternal ownership over the daughter’s sexuality.
For example, in the case of seduction a perpetrator pays for shame and blemish.
Wegner considers the ordeal for the “straying wife” as prescribed by Mishnah Sotah as “[p]erhaps the most graphic depiction of a wife as her husband’s sexual property” (p. Once again the action is unilateral; there is no corresponding ordeal for men.
21) She has a market price [200 zuz] if her virginity is delivered intact.If a girl were sexually assaulted before the age of three years and a day, rabbinic medicine determined that the hymen healed itself (or regenerated) and so upon puberty virginity was again intact (and the girl could claim full bride-price).Wegner notes that the rabbis utilize external, social factors to determine the virginity status of women and girls instead of physical examination.My analysis matches these three women with three subclasses of autonomous women, each forming the mirror image of one of the dependent classes: (1) the legally emancipated daughter who has outgrown her father’s jurisdiction; (2) the divorcée; and (3) the normal widow. 14) Wegner contends that “ownership” or “exclusive rights to” a woman’s reproductive function are the decisive factor in the above taxonomic system.When no man has a right to those functions, a woman is treated as an autonomous human being.