Every few years the concept of marriage becomes a subject of debate and every time I find myself once again reeling. Reeling as I realise that we are still performing marriage in the same way we have for hundreds of years, despite its purpose fundamentally shifting – a bicycle has become a satsuma, a pan has become a palace. We no longer need to marry, for instance, in order to have sex, or create alliances between families, or acquire land, or produce heirs, or validate a pregnancy, or even have a wife we can take to business lunches to present ourselves as normal. We marry now for love and for parties, and also to legitimise our choices, and because it’s what our parents did, and to make a statement about commitment, and to fix something, and to create safety, and to draw a line, and find a feeling of belonging, and to claim adulthood, and any number of quiet other reasons that ferment in anxiety, romance or nostalgia.
Author Rebecca Traister, discussing a series of stories in the US press, recently described the moment we’re in as a “period of marital revivalism”. An example of one such story appeared late-September in the Washington Post, about a new book called The Two-Parent Privilege. “The evidence is overwhelming,” writes Megan McArdle, “that the decline of marriage over the past few decades has been very bad for children and, by extension, society. For various reasons, however, this truth is too often left unsaid.” I would argue, in fact, that it is not only “said”, it is screamed, loudly and often. In 2019, a magazine launched for “tradwives” (housewives who eschew feminist values in favour of traditional domestic pursuits) and those aspiring to be one – the Peter Thiel-linked Evie Magazine has been described as “a Gen Z Cosmo for the far right” and a recent article listed the benefits of no sex before marriage. Another asked, “Should your husband be your boss?” Scrolling through their site I had an uneasy feeling, as if the bus was rolling backwards.
Read more here.