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Nowadays we think of marriage and family as fluid categories. We celebrate same-sex marriage along with heterosexual marriage. Mental and physical disabilities no longer stand in the way of family formation. Most of us no longer know the meaning of the word miscegenation, which once barred loving interracial couples from marriage. As marriage has changed, so have families. The nuclear family, as it was once called, ideally consisted of two parents mail breadwinner families. Those families now make up only 7% of all our families. The elderly now really live with children. Solidaristic extended family communities are increasingly hard to find. 50% of all marriages end in divorce.
Dress it up, subvert it, deny it all you want but marriage is an institution that has curtailed women’s freedom for centuries. Instead of rejecting the patriarchal and outdated tradition, some feminists have decided to reclaim it. We may have progressed into the industrial revolution when it was described as “little more than a state of legal prostitution”, but let’s not kid ourselves. Event today marriage is not about equality, it’s about perpetuating privilege. Being given away by your father mason you and romantic, but it stems from a time when women were seen as property by their fathers and husbands. It forms a backdrop to women’s oppression for centuries. Forced marriages, child brides and polygamy all show how human rights violations of women and girls all too often go hand in hand with marriage. In India, marital rape is still not recognised. Unmarried people are tagged sad, lonely, abnormal, or dangerous. This suggests that not being married puts them outside the realm of natural human needs, desires, and behaviours. Human beings are the only species that marry and validate others who marry. Marriage is not natural. It is not a requirement for survival, procreation, or evolution. Marriage is a choice.