stephanie coontz

On December 22, 1962, one month before The Feminine Mystique hit the bookstores, the Saturday Evening Post published a cover article purporting to offer a portrait of the typical American woman. … The Post’s story was based on more than 1,800 interviews and extensive polling by the Gallup organization. According to the author, George Gallup, it was not intended to examine “the extremes” among American women. “Old maids,” divorced women, childless women, and working mothers certainly existed in America, he acknowledged, but they were of concern mainly to sociologists, “because they are unusual” and exist “in a society that is not geared for them.” The article’s aim was to portray how “most” American women lived and thought.
—  An excerpt from social historian Stephanie Coontz’s book A Strange Stirring. Coontz appears on Fresh Air today to talk about the enduring legacy of Betty Friedan’s book and what the world was like when it was originally published.
Is this really the fate facing educated heterosexual women: either no marriage at all or a marriage with more housework and less sex? Nonsense. That may have been the case in the past, but no longer. For a woman seeking a satisfying relationship as well as a secure economic future, there has never been a better time to be or become highly educated.
—  “The M.R.S and the Ph.D”- NY Times, Stephanie Coontz
By limiting their moral concerns to domestic and sexual behavior, many members of the middle class were able to ignore the harsh realities of life for the lower classes or even to blame working people’s problems on their not being sufficiently committed to domesticity and female purity. Yet the establishment of a male breadwinner/female homemaker family in the middle and upper classes often required large sections of the lower class to be unable to do so. Women who could not survive on their husbands’ wages worked as domestic servants in other people’s homes and provided cheap factor labor for the production of new consumer goods. Without their work, middle-class homemakers would have had scant time to “uplift” their homes and minister to the emotional needs of their husbands and children. In mid-nineteenth-century cities, just providing enough water to maintain what advice writers called “a fairly clean” home required a servant to lug almost a hundred liters of water from a public pipe every day.
—  Stephanie Coontz, “"Two Birds Within One Nest”: Sentimental Marriage in Nineteenth-Century Europe and North America,“ Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage, pg.169

The Myth of Male Decline

If the ascent of women has been much exaggerated, so has the descent of men. Men’s irresponsibility and bad behavior is now a stock theme in popular culture. But there has always been a subset of men who engage in crude, coercive and exploitative behavior. What’s different today is that it’s harder for men to get away with such behavior in long-term relationships. Women no longer feel compelled to put up with it and the legal system no longer condones it. The result is that many guys who would have been obnoxious husbands, behaving badly behind closed doors, are now obnoxious singles, trumpeting their bad behavior on YouTube.

I read two different articles today that cited Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men as proof that, thanks to feminism, women now have all the power and men don’t know what to do with themselves, the poor things. This article is a shit ton of statistics provided by Stephanie Coontz, American Hero, to prove exactly how dumb that argument is.

anonymous asked:

A bunch of fems have been bothering me with their reblogging of some lesbians getting married and I don't hate gay people but i don't think they should get married, marriage is supposed to be traditionally between a man and a woman, regular marriage is supposed to be beneficial to our society, gay marriage is not beneficial and does nothing good for our society and they shouldn't be trying to take something that wasn't meant for them, we already let them be together so that should be enough

There’s so many things wrong with this message.

“People are reblogging things I don’t like” Then unfollow them.

“Traditionally between a man and a woman” What tradition is that? In this “mixing bowl of cultures” known as America, exactly which traditions are we talking about? 

“Regular marriage benefits society” What. Does that mean our sinful homo marriages will harm society or something then? I’m truly not understanding how 2 people getting married does anything for anyone outside of their little congregation. 

“Gay marriage doesn’t benefit society” But all you straight people with your 50% divorce rate and unplanned, unwanted babies {That y’all don’t even wanna let us take off your hands for reasons I guess} do?  ….??? I’m sorry but this is so warped to me. “Those 2 people over there are in love, RUN BEFORE FIRE STARTS RAINING FROM THE SKY!!!” Um?

“Shouldn’t try to take something not meant for them” I just googled the origin of marriage: "What marriage had in common was that it really was not about the relationship between the man and the woman,“ said Stephanie Coontz, the author of “Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage,” (Penguin Books, 2006). “It was a way of getting in-laws, of making alliances and expanding the family labor force.” So, it was basically like…how people go to war over more land? So people would marry for more alliances. And many of these people were polygamous. Well then! Looks like marriage wasn’t meant for your ass either, but now you wanna take something that wasn’t meant for you…then wiggle your little fingers at us? Go sit down.

“We let them be together” Well, thank you for your generosity. I’m glad to see that you feel so incredibly entitled and powerful that you get to dictate how 2 people share a love that has nothing to do with you. Gosh, where would we be without nice straight people like you? I think some of your het friends might have missed this memo, we seem to still get killed for holding our partner’s hands in public and our youth are still getting bullied at school for it. If we lived in a world where gay was the majority, and we were up here talking like you do, trying to stick our noses in other people’s relationships and acting like they need my approval to be together or dare to take their relationship to the next step, how would you feel? If you knew you lived in a world where people might hurt you or the person you love just because you 2 are fucking in love. A world where you had to go to a different state just to get married, or god forbid if you end up in the hospital, your lover might not be able to come visit you or claim any of your shit if you fell ill in a state that doesn’t believe in your marriage? Hmm?

Get the fuck over yourself and go eat a snickers or something.


A woman in ancient China might bring one or more of her sisters to her husband’s home as backup wives. Eskimo couples often had cospousal arrangements, in which each partner had sexual relations with the other’s spouse. In Tibet and parts of India, Kashmir, and Nepal, a woman may be married to two or more brothers, all of whom share sexual access to her.

[…] In other cultures, individuals often find such practices normal and comforting. The children of Eskimo cospouses felt that they shared a special bond, and society viewed them as siblings. Among Tibetan brothers who share the same wife, sexual jealousy is rare.

In some cultures, cowives see one another as allies, rather than rivals. In Botswana, women add an interesting wrinkle to the old European saying “Woman’s work is never done.” There they say: “Without cowives, a woman’s work is never done.” A researcher who worked with the Cheyenne Indians of the United States in the 1930s and 1940s told of a chief who tried to get rid of two of his three wives. All three women defied him, saying that if he sent two of them away, he would have to give away the third as well.

—  Stephanie Coontz, Marriage, a History
The recent recession has demoted many Americans of all races to the poverty table. Yet blacks, Latinos and women remain over-represented in that group. The civil rights challenge for the next 50 years will be to find ways to work simultaneously for socioeconomic justice along with racial and gender equity.