Lumley v. Gye, the English case that first established interference with contractual relations, arose from a specifically gendered dispute: two men fighting over a woman. This type of male—male—female configuration creates an erotic triangle, a common archetype in Western culture.
The causes of action that served as the legal precedents for interference with contractual relations – enticement, seduction, and criminal conversation – are previous instances where the law regulated gendered triangular conflicts. Enticement prohibited a rival male from taking another man’s servant, seduction prohibited a rival male from taking another man’s daughter, and criminal conversation prohibited a rival male from taking another man’s wife.
In Lumley v. Gye, the court expanded these precedents and created a cause of action that allowed Lumley to bring an action against his male rival for essentially “taking” his contracted female employee. The gendered basis for the tort explains its most problematic aspects, including why it imposes obligations on non-contractual parties, ignores the role of the breaching promisor in causing the wrong, and treats her as the property of the original promisee.
From the abstract to Sarah Lynnda Swan, "A New Tortious Interference with Contractual Relations: Gender and Erotic Triangles in Lumley v. Gye."
The article goes on to suggest reforms to the tort based upon this analysis, although given the long forgotten roots of this tort, which now applies mostly in non-gendered business disputes, I'm not sure that the facscinating preface does much to support the ultimate conclusion.