Caroline Zielinski

Despite today’s popular view that marriage equals love, matrimony is not actually grounded in love or intimacy: historically, it was a strategic alliance between two families, more often than not orchestrated by the families to ensure long-term stability and prosperity for the maximum amount of people.

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2 Responses to Caroline Zielinski

  1. shinichi says:

    First comes love, then comes marriage. Not for me, thanks

    by Caroline Zielinski

    Historically, women have always been disadvantaged by the institution of marriage. I am just going to preface this article as talking exclusively about heterosexual marriage. There are not enough words to explore gay marriage, and I couldn’t do it justice nor give it the respect it deserves.

    The meaning of marriage is so deeply rooted in patriarchy and gender inequality, that, in the modern sense, it does not make sense for a young woman to tie the knot unless she has a partner willing to reject all traditional overtures of marriage.

    In the past, women were generally forced into marriage for economic security. In a world where the “welfare state” did not exist, a woman’s best chance at survival was to marry, and to marry well. But as soon as she married, the woman’s rights, independence and even identity – thus, the Mrs Dean Jackson title – were surpassed by the will of her husband’s, who became her legal guardian in every way.

    Despite today’s popular view that marriage equals love, matrimony is not actually grounded in love or intimacy: historically, it was a strategic alliance between two families, more often than not orchestrated by the families to ensure long-term stability and prosperity for the maximum amount of people.

    If you think about it, marriage is a brilliant invention that, in the past, simultaneously ensured women’s rights and feelings remained subservient, and that reproduction – the only thing which could be controlled by women, considering babies grow within their own bodies – was kept firmly within the sphere of male control instead.

    The concept of a “love marriage” is relatively recent, and is still considered taboo in many parts of the world, where the possibility of marriage reaching beyond economic stability for women, and the respectability and heirs it affords men, is tantamount to betrayal of one’s own family.

    So, despite Hollywood’s best efforts to make marriage appear the epitome of romance, I can’t quite get past matrimony’s essentialism: that it stems from the kind of institutionalised inequality between genders that saw women as the property of their husbands – and before that, the property of their fathers.

    Yet, governments, businesses and popular culture continue to propagate the concept of a traditional marriage by legislating against anything that could possibly disrupt this apparent “ideal”, and also actively discriminating against those who, for whatever reason, are not married, or are not allowed to (hello, gay couples).

    Former Families Minister Kevin Andrews went as far as to hand out $200 relationship counselling vouchers, hoping that many de facto couples would no doubt make society proud and get married.

    He has also urged de facto couples to marry, which just shows how instrumental and determined the government is to force ideas of respectability onto the general public.

    In reality, when it comes to marriage, men win and women lose, and women are starting to realise it.

    For example, consider the falling rate of marriage. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were 4,282 fewer marriages in 2013 than the year before, a drop of 3.5 per cent.

    The average marriage lasted 12.1 years in 2013, a slight decrease from 2012.

    Women are also far more likely to initiate divorce than men, when given the choice. In Australia, the US and England, research has shown that women are behind roughly 70 per cent of all divorce proceedings. The reasons vary, however, it is interesting that with the introduction of no-fault divorce in 1975, it is women who began leaving.

    Young, professional women are also choosing to live alone for longer, with recent Australian Institute of Family Studies data showing that women younger than 40 are choosing to live by themselves more often than men. In addition, those women who do live alone are 70 per cent more likely to have a tertiary degree, and 60 per cent more likely to work professionally than men in the same position.

    It is no wonder that younger women, and especially those who have demanding and exciting jobs, have much to lose when they marry.

    According to the most recent data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the gender pay gap in Australia has reached a record high of 18.8 per cent. In real terms, this means that female employees are penalised almost $300 per week.

    Now throw into the equation marriage and, what usually follows, children. Statistics show that even the most egalitarian households will ultimately conform to traditional gender roles, with women not only being forced out of the full time workforce – only 3 per cent of Australian families have a mother who works full time, as opposed to 60 per cent where the father is the primary breadwinner – but also taking on the brunt of domestic labour and childcare responsibilities.

    To conclude: marriage is an institution based on the alliance between two unequal partners, which requires one partner, the husband, to be dominant and the wife to be subservient in order to function. The premise of the so-called perfect traditional marriage is rooted in the man having all economic control in the relationship, and thus, most of the control in general, as financial control leads to control of how the money is spent and how life is lived.

    I know that many couples, including those who identify as feminist, continue to marry. Many of these couples will no doubt redefine the concept of marriage to suit their own needs and personalities, and can separate themselves from the historical makeup of this institution enough for it to make their relationship stronger.

    In the end, what bothers me the most is not that marriage exists; I can see how for many people, the idea of being bound to someone legally, and perhaps spiritually, is a beautiful thing, and a public validation of each other’s affections.

    But until the entire structure of society changes (read: no more patriarchy), the institution of marriage will remain a reflection of that structure, which, unfortunately, continues to penalise women for their gender. And for me, that’s just something I cannot separate from what marriage is supped to represent: complete and utter equality between two people who love each other.

  2. shinichi says:

    (Google Translate)

    First comes love, then comes marriage. Not for me, thanks

    キャロライン・ジーリンスキー(Caroline Zielinski)




    これまで、女性は経済的な安全のために結婚することが一般的でした。 「福祉国家」が存在しなかった世界では、生存の最善の機会は結婚と結婚であった。しかし、彼女が結婚するとすぐに、女性の権利、独立性、そしてアイデンティティー – したがって、ディーン・ジャクソン夫人の称号 – はあらゆる面で彼女の法的保護者になった夫の意志を上回った。


    あなたがそれについて考えるならば、結婚は過去に、女性の権利と気持ちが依然として従属的であることを同時に保証する華麗な発明であり、繁殖 – 女性が自らの体内で成長することを考慮すると、代わりに男性コントロールの領域内にしっかりと。


















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