Criticism of marriage  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Over time, many thinkers have proposed arguments against marriage for varied reasons, including financial risk when measured against the divorce rate, and questioning of the necessity to have their relationship sanctioned by government or religious authorities.


The Bachelor's argument

The bachelor's argument as described by Dan Moller in his paper 'An Argument against Marriage': </br> (a) most of us view the prospect of being married in the absence of mutual love with something like horror or at least great antipathy;</br> (b) the mutual love between us and our spouse existing at the inception of our marriage may very well fail to persist; </br> and hence </br> (c) when we marry we are putting ourselves in the position of quite possibly ending up in a loveless marriage of the sort we acknowledge to be undesirable, and this is a mistake.

Arguments from social planning

Plato's Republic

A famous early critique of marriage can be found in Plato's Republic, which recommends of group marriage. Commentators have often been critical of individual local practices and traditions, often leading to changes. Examples include the early Catholic Church's efforts to eliminate concubinage and temporary marriage, the Protestant acceptance of divorce, the abolition in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries of laws against inter-faith and inter-race marriages in western countries, etc.

Philip Kilbride

Philip Kilbride, an American anthropologist, in his book, Plural Marriage for our Time, proposes polygamy as a solution to some of the ills of the American society at large. He argues that plural marriage may serve as a potential alternative for divorce in many cases in order to obviate the damaging impact of divorce on many children. He maintains that many divorces are caused by the rampant extramarital affairs in the American society. According to Kilbride, ending an extramarital affair in a polygamous marriage, rather than in a divorce, is better for the children, "Children would be better served if family augmentation rather than only separation and dissolution were seen as options." Moreover, he suggests that other groups will also benefit from plural marriage such as: elderly women who face a chronic shortage of men.

As weakness or distraction


The decision not to marry is a presumed consequence of Soren Kierkegaard's philosophy. His well-documented relationship with Regine Olsen is a subject of study in existentialism, as he called off their engagement despite mutual love. Kierkegaard seems to have loved Regine but was unable to reconcile the prospect of marriage with his vocation as a writer and his passionate and introspective Christianity.

A similar argument is found in Franz Kafka's journal entry titled "Summary of all the arguments for and against my marriage":

I must be alone a great deal. What I accomplished was only the result of being alone.

As an institution

As a high-profile couple, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir always expressed opposition to marriage. Marriage, understood existentially, proposes to join two free selves into one heading, thus denying the freedom, the complete foundation, of each self.

Gender inequality


Some feminists like Marlene Dixon seek the end of formal marriage -
"The institution of marriage is the chief vehicle for the perpetuation of the oppression of women; it is through the role of wife that the subjugation of women is maintained."

Individuals such as Sheila Cronan argue that "Freedom for women cannot be won without the abolition of marriage.", and point to historical, legal and social inequalities of wedding, family life, and divorce.

Marriage as an institution developed from rape as a practice.- Andrea Dworkin

Early feminist literature specifically opposed to marriage include:

Men's Movement

Some Men's Rights writers say that marriage is unfavourable to men, particularly the financial consequences of divorce. Father's rights advocates claim that there is a continuing societal bias favoring women as custodial parents in the face of "no-fault" divorce laws and is unjust to men when marriages fail. Some claim that this leads to men avoiding marriage, calling it a "marriage strike". Some groups, such as the Independent Women's Forum, accept this criticism, but argue that they should not be leveled against marriage itself, but dealt with independently.

Protest against unfairness towards same-sex couples

In response to the Knight Initiative and the current denial of the rights for same-sex couples to enjoy marriage, a group of people have banded together to boycott marriage until all people can legally marry. The argument is that since marriage is not an inclusive institution of society, the members of the boycott refuse to support the institution as it exists.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Criticism of marriage" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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