Defining Women’s Legal Status
This chapter discusses the author’s finding based primarily on the law texts (i.e., the norms) relating to women’s legal status vis-à-vis the guardian seemingly stipulated by the law. It maps out the origins of the guardian system in Sweden (the malsman system) to highlight how significantly it differs from gendered guardian systems in other European countries. Previous research has been largely inconclusive regarding especially married women’s legal status, and this chapter aims to settle some of those issues. It also discusses what it meant to ‘come of age’ in Sweden and whether or not girls actually gained majority. The malsman in Sweden is labeled with two different chores: to act as a representative and to manage landed property. The rest of the book is divided according to these.