I just read this article on the NZ newspaper website and thought it was pretty interesting:
Marriage rates have fallen so far in the past 40 years that what was once an institution is now largely a symbolic gesture.
A record low 20,900 marriages took place last year, less than one-third of the number in 1971 and one half of the 1987 rate, figures from Statistics NZ reveal.
So, only 40,000 people in new Zealand got married last year… out of 4 million population, that’s pretty low odds! I guess the institution of marriage has become outdated. Which is why it’s so surprising how obsessed with getting married some women are.
Admittedly, I would like to get married one day. I think probably every girl who grew up in North American in the 80’s does. I don’t know why this isn’t so strongly true in New Zealand. If I did get married, I hope I could do it in a ceremony like this!!!! :
At one point I had convinced myself I didn’t ever want to get married. That I would find a baby daddy, have a kid, and remain single, doing it all on my own as my own mother did with me (And I turned out pretty good, right?). I agree that the institution of marriage is a patriarchal remnant of oppressive religious organizations and practices meant to keep women subdued and in the home. However, as Dervin says, society is “energized” by individuals, so if people didn’t agree with marriage, why do so many societies expect it of people? I guess the answer is that secretly deep down inside the institution of marriage is still part of our core value system (As identified by Cutler 2001, p. 75).
Also, I think our society still looks at single women (and probably men, to a lesser degree), and thinks “What is wrong with them?”. It’s hard to believe some one would choose to remain single. I realise that the above article doesn’t examine our society’s perception of “spinsters”, and in fact people are still forming partnerships to the same degree as in olden tymes, they just aren’t sanctifying it with a marriage certificate quite so much anymore.
However, this raises several questions about tradition and what I would perhaps even call a paradigm shift that is happening today. I think it’s really quite remarkable that being an unwed mother no longer carries a social stigma. And, personally, I think that is a step in the right direction, towards equality and independence that all women should be permitted to decide what happens with their bodies. So, I applaud New Zealand, and all it’s unmarried mums! I think the US and Canada are following the lead to some degree, but at the same time, clinging to this idealised version of marriage.. when how many of them end in divorce? 50%?
Which brings me to another point… Monogamy. Were humans meant to be monogamous? Does it work? That is something I will have to explore at another time, I’m going out for dim sum shortly!