The Way We Never Were By Stephanie Coontz Essay

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Stephanie Coontz begins her speech, The Way We Never Were, by debunking common misconceptions about marriage and family life throughout history. She discusses the myth of how single-parent and step families are a new phenomenon introduced only recently into our society.The fact is that early death rates were much higher in history compared to what they are now and, in fact, “in the beginning of the nineteenth century a majority of marriages were ended by death ten years before the last child was ready to leave home.” Therefore, single-parent families and step-families were fairly typical back in the day. Coontz points out how fairy tales like “Cinderella” and “Snow White” actually were incredibly accurate in the portrayals of family dynamics during these early centuries. The institute of marriage, at this time, did not associate its origins with love, but instead power, money, and property. Therefore, when a father remarried, it was the step-mother’s interest to make sure that his children were gotten rid of, for she wanted her own offspring to acquire his money and land. Coontz also debunks this modern view that divorce rates have never been higher than right now in contemporary society. She explains that throughout history today’s rates are actually pretty similar to those found in ancient Indonesia,
Malaysia, Japan, as well as among Native Americans. This idea that Christian tradition has always been anti-divorce, mainly enforced due to Jesus’ denouncement of both women
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