Since I have enjoyed many of the other videos posted for this class, I decided to start off my studying by watching Stephanie Coontz: On Marriage. I thought Mrs. Coontz was absolutely hilarious and made some very interesting points. She spoke on the radical idea of love in a marriage and separated her talk by two main points. This was her first:
She pretty much turned this point into a history lesson, discussing marriage and expectations of different cultures in the past. In countries like India and China, love was considered a dangerous emotion and was socially disapproved of – and not just outside of marriage. Even after marriage, love was frowned upon. People didn’t get married because of their emotions, instead they got married to get in-laws, sign peace treaties, make alliances, increase their personal labor force, increase social power, etc. It was never due to emotions.
When the idea of marrying due to love came up, supporters of traditional marriage were horrified. They were scared people would marry the wrong person, poor people might be able to marry, and that if men loved their wife they would start giving into them. They truly believed love would be the death of marriage.
Does this sound familiar to you? It does to me. As I was learning about this history I began drawing parallels between the fear of a love marriage and the fear of a gay marriage. I could replace ‘love’ with ‘gay’ and see the same arguments against it. However, it turned out that love made marriages stronger and more passionate. With such similar arguments against love and gay marriage, I can’t help but think they both probably have a similar outcome. In the article 3 Ways to Talk About Nontraditional Family Structures Appropriately by Shoshana Devora, the author outlines many marriages/families that don’t qualify as nuclear marriages/families (One mother, one father, two children). Once again, marriage and family dynamics are changing and many are opposed to it. However, these marriages/families are just as valid and loving as a nuclear marriage/family, so why is there still so much resistance? I found an answer from Mrs. Coontz. She said, “What makes a marriage more rewarding makes marriage as an institution less stable.” (Coontz, 2011). All of the changes in marriage people have feared (love and gay marriage, etc.) could be a threat to marriage as an institution.
Going back to her first point, most cultures don’t find these changes appropriate and do not value the emotions behind them. In Feminist Perspectives on the Family, socializing women into accepting the housewife role is discussed. The nuclear family model believes it’s the only acceptable role for the woman. So if we change this role, who will do the housework? Who will cook? If there are two males in the marriage, how will any of the housework get done? This nuclear family way of thinking is totally outdated, for we have seen with our own eyes nontraditional families/marriages work out beautifully. The best way to combat this way of thinking is through education. To find some good educational resources on nontraditional marriages/families visit:
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=118267&page=1 (this article quotes Stephanie Coontz)
Coontz, S. (2011). On Marriage. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwtb7jz8G4k
Devora, S. (2014). 3 Ways to Talk About Nontraditional Family Structures Appropriately. Everyday Feminism. Retrieved from http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/05/talk-about-nontraditional-family/
Feminist Perspectives on the Family. (2014). RevisedSociology. Retrieved from https://revisesociology.com/2014/02/10/feminist-perspectives-on-the-family/