The evolution of marriage, culture, and sexuality in American society.

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Sexuality, family, and marriage has evolved substantially in the past one hundred or so years. The transition of capitalism has been paramount in our economic system in the United States. “These years, accordingly, mark the rise and early development in the United States of corporate capitalism as the dominant property production system (or mode of production) in the nations political economic history”(Skylar,17 p1/4). Capitalism is defined as an economic system in which the means of production and distribution are privately or corporately owned and development is proportionate to the accumulation and reinvestment of profits gained in a free market (American Heritage Dictionary,001pg.1).


Through capitalism our society has emerged from a Traditional to a Modern society. “These same years, not coincidentally, also mark a period in United States history of a great Age of Reform--reform in social relations, politics, institutions, culture, and thought”(Skylar,17p1/4 ). Therefore, the rise of industrial capitalism and a social reformation of the nation went hand in hand (Skylar, 17).


Traditional society believes that more kids in the family equals more laborers. The role of the women from the traditional standpoint is in the home with the family and the husband is typically the “bread winner”. In a traditional society marriages last a lot longer than of that in a modern society. Modern societies typically have smaller families. The belief that less kids equals more money is more likely due to the fact families aren’t pre-industrial laborers to any further extent.


Modern marriages have a fifty percent divorce rate after one to three years of matrimony. According to Hannah Lodwick today’s views on marriage makes it very unstable for children with one parent homes(Lodwick, 00). Lodwick goes on to express that fourty percent of children within their developing years will live in a cohabiting household(Lodwick, 00).


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Americans views as to what is morally acceptable and even toward what is to be valued has evolved in today’s modern society. Research suggests, that more than half of Americans feel that out-of-wedlock births are acceptable (Lodwick, 00). A poll conducted in May of 00 resulted in fifty one percent of Americans viewing out-of-wedlock births being acceptable(Lodwick, 00).Fourty six percent felt that this was morally wrong. This same poll one year earlier resulted in a slightly lower amount (45%) of Americans feeling out- of-wedlock birth was acceptable(Lodwick, 00). This study shows the extent of the modern view society has transition toward and continues to shift in time.


Gender roles have evolved undoubtedly. Women are now active workers in the labor force than in traditional societies. Womens work is characterized by subordination and service to men, and has been traditionally confined to care of family members, household work, provision of health care, shelter, and food, and support services in such roles as nurse, secretary, and teacher. ( Boserup & Liljencrantz, 175). Although the role of women in the work force has been accepted as part of the norm, womens jobs are lower status, and lower paying jobs than of that of men. Women have made major contributions to society politically, socially, economically and culturally and despite society’s modern outlook women’s recognition is still at a much lower proportion than of that of men’s.


The glass ceiling is the theory that women and minorities do not advance into senior management or executive positions within corporate America (Garcia, 1). It is a barrier that has been in place since women started redefining their roles in the family. This evolution began during World War II when their husbands were forced to leave the home and go fight in the war(Garcia, 1). At this time the wife went to work while the husband was at war to support the family(Garcia, 1). At the end of the war this new trend was ongoing. Although the majority of women, at this time, chose not to continue working when the war ended, a percentage remained in the workforce(Garcia, 1). This change in the culture and structure was not accepted on a positive note(Garcia, 1).


Many effects have resulted due to the “cultural change” in society. As said earlier marriages have been highly effected due to the evolving of gender roles and the transition from a traditional to a modern society. Other aspects of societies have evolved as well. The American family due to the lack of marriages in households has shifted from a two parent household to a typically one parent institute.


American television is a major depiction of this. Television’s portrayal of the American family has undergone a major transformation in the fifty years of its existence (Embry, 00). Television shows such as Leave It To Beaver which portray the traditional two parent household within the family. In contrast newer television shows depict the more standard one parent household such as the popular WB television show One on One. Second marriages have also been displayed with families coming together after divorce and children are even a part of this new union. Shows as old as The Brady Bunch and even most recent shows such as Step by Step or Sister Sister, depicts the coming together of the step family into American television.


The Traditional/ Modern ideology can also be applied to the transition of sexuality in our society. I also learned that this is a very debatable issue, this was evident in our in class discussion. To some sexuality is still as taboo as in previous times. To others sexuality has evolved a great deal and things such as homosexuality, pre-marital sex, and divorce are more acceptable than ever. Gender and sexuality represents fundamental categories of human social and cultural experience; in every human society, understandings about gender and sexuality constitute powerful aspects of individual identity that shape and are shaped by key aspects of social relations and cultural belief (Margolis, 00).


The traditional/ modern ideology diagram which was illustrated in class shows that with the emergence of capitalism brought forth power to people of higher social status. Through this same illustration the sexual revolution emerged. According to Catherine McKinnon, “our entire culture of sexuality, of identity is defined by male dominance”(McKinnon Sexuality, Pornography, and Method “Pleasure under Patriarchy”). McKinnon goes on to express in our society men are in control therefore, they determine sexuality.


As sexuality, marriages, and families continue to evolve ,many effects will be placed upon our culture in society as we know it. As time progresses research shows that more people will transition into more modernistic views until eventually the traditional views will become extinct. People of future generations will even begin to look at today’s modern society as outdated and society will continue to transition and evolve at this recurrent pattern.


Reference List


The Evolution of the American Television Family. Papers. 18 August 00 http//www.papers.com/Assets/615.php


“International Handbook on Gender Roles”(1).Greenwood Press. n.pag. Online.Internet. Availablehttp//www.questia.com 17 August 00


“The Glass Ceiling Effect”.(1)Google.n.pag.Online.internet. Availablehttp//www.glassceilingeffect.com 17 August 00


“Women, gender, sexuality studies”(000).n.pag.Online.internet.


Availablehttp//www.colby.edu 17 August 00


“Report views on marriage notes homes are unstable for kids”.(00).Associated Baptist.n.pag.Online.internet Availablehttp//www.nationalreview.com


Karl E. Case, Capitalism , World Book Online Reference Centre, http//www.aolsvc.worldbook.aol.com/ar?/na/ar/co/ar0460.htm, August 18, 00





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