Public Vows: A History Of Marriage And The Nation

analytical Essay
535 words
535 words

Marriage is perhaps the most unique contract among all others. Not only does it serve as an emblem for a couple’s love and commitment, but it also holds strong ties to national policy and jurisdiction. Throughout American history, marriage ideals and the paradigm of consensual monogamy have been strongly enforced. By implementing certain policies and excluding other alternatives to marriage, marital laws have essentially promoted monogamous marriage as well as shaped people’s understandings of societal roles. Specifically, the role of women has evolved within the constraints of marriage. In chapter 7 of Public Vows: a History of Marriage and the Nation, author Nancy Cott discusses the shift in marriage during the 1920s. As the Great Depression hit, American families suffered immensely. Still, the government’s “focus of public concern about unemployment was working men [who were] understood as providers for their families” (Cott 172). At this time, the government was entirely dominated by men, so protecting all men was a primary concern. Families were to adhere to strict familial roles - husbands were expected to be the breadwinners as wives to be the homemakers. However, as women became increasingly employed in the workforce in …show more content…

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that marriage is perhaps the most unique contract among all others. it serves as an emblem for a couple's love and commitment, and holds strong ties to national policy and jurisdiction.
  • Analyzes the shift in marriage during the 1920s in public vows: a history of marriage and the nation.
  • Explains that despite women's newfound freedom, they were still faced with economic discrimination and struggled to be on more equal footing with men.
  • Argues that the struggles that women faced during the depression era set the initial framework for the birth of feminism.
  • Analyzes how nancy cott illustrates the political and social meaning of marriage and how it has been influenced by the economy and gender roles.

The federal government imposed several obstacles including removing women from public sector jobs, sanctioning New Deal programs, which provided benefits only to white men, and prohibiting two people of the same family from holding federal employment at the same time. Since women did not have the same voice as men, a lot of things they wanted to accomplish were dictated by what the government imposed. Laws deeply entrenched in people’s societal views of family and what was expected of women, especially women in more traditional roles. Men did not want women to work outside the home and feared

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