Gender issues discussion in marriages



Various reasons for marriage. 2

Marriage in the Victorian age. 3

Marriage in a modern society. 4

Same sex marriages. 5

Marriage in a polygamous setting. 6



Marriage is the union between man and woman that is solemnized by members of the community and blessed by God. This is the definition of marriage that the founding fathers are raised by and thus practiced(Lewellen, p. 152). The present definition differs from the former due to the change in cultural aspects of the society. The society continues to change on a daily basis due to the high rate of globalization across the communities. Globalization increases the rate of interaction thus exposing individuals to a different sort of cultural practice. Culture is a way of life; each person belongs to a particular culture that acts as a source of identity (Haviland and Haviland, p. 105).  Culture determines the way they approach and perceive different situations. One of the most essential cultural aspects is the right of passage from singlehood to marriage hood. All the cultures around the world embrace this process due to its significance in the sustainability of the society. All cultures view marriage as an essential aspect of life. Thesesame cultures however, have different reasons for marriage. The relationship between two parties involves a set of rules that are ideal for the survival of the marriage. This creates the need for social roles that define the role of both individuals.There are different types of marriages which are brought about by the different cultures in the society. These marriages have different rules that dictate on the way members of the community should behave. Despite the different rules that the marriages have, one factor that they have in common is that they all cannot avoid a discussion on gender issues (Ferraro and Andreatta, p. 341).

The focus of this paper is to present an analysis of gender issues in marriage. There are different types of marriages that are a direct result of the cultures that people belong. The paper seeks to provide an opinion on the notion that states that “No consideration of marriage can avoid a discussion of gender issues”.These arguments will be supported by selected ethnographic illustrations to support the research.

Various reasons for marriage

As stated earlier, different cultures have their own definition and perspective of marriage. These cultures dictate on the rules of marriage thus providing the basis upon which marriages are formed. There are different reasons that make a couple choose to get married. One of the reasons people get married is to produce offspring’s. The society requires the reproduction between man and woman for its sustainability. If a society has a low birth rate, it faces the risk of having a diminishing population(Sweetman, p. 351). Any community has to ensure that their population maintains the normal average so that their offspring’s can inherit the community in the future. Another reason that people choose to get married is to have companionship. Companionship is essential for the health an individual. A person is likely to live for a longer time when they are in a relationship compared to a person who is not. This is one of the modern approaches to marriage. Some people opt not to have children due to the fact that it is not priority in their marriage. Some choose to get marriage due to their need to be elevated in their social status. This can be classified as a marriage of convenience. These types of marriages are influenced by political social and economic aspects of a society (Lewellen, p. 122). These marriages were commonly practiced in the ancient times. An example of the modern application of this marriage is the marriage for citizenship.

It has been established that there are various reasons that individuals choose to get married. The formation of a union however, has some principles that the couple has to follow in order for the marriage to work. Social roles are an arrangement that have been put in place from the ancient days to present day. The traditional social roles are defined by the division of labor between male and female. Traditionally, the man is supposed to go into the world and fend for his family. This leaves the woman with the responsibility of child bearing and raising the family. The introduction ofeducation changed the dynamics of the society. As women were exposed to different ideologies and principles, they began to identify with the notion of independence. This disrupted the social arrangement in that women no longer place marriage as the main priority in their life (Dumont and Robert, p.107).

Marriage in the Victorian age

The Victorian age is one of the periods that comprises of the mid ancient civilizations. During this time, the cultural norms are traditional in nature. There is a distinct difference in the role of both men and women. Men have the role of being the breadwinner in the family. The rest of the family is thus depending on the male for financial related issues. Women on the other hand are expected to get married and have a family of their own. This is a defining moment in a woman’s life in that it is the only achievement expected of her. The role of a woman consists of bearing children and raising the family (Coontz, p. 128). Women are thus not expected to be ambitious in all areas financial due to the reliance on their husbands. This practice is reflective of the way that children are raised in this society. Children are supposed to behave a certain way so that they can channel their male and female counterparts. Boys are thus expected to concentrate on education in preparation of the future of their family. Girls on the other hand, learn how to be the perfect home makers. This involves learning how to keep a home by taking care of their younger siblings. The differentallocation of roles is essential for this type of society in that these cultural aspects are normal to the society. The observing this type of society shows the traditional form of marriage that is practiced in different parts of the world at this period (McLean and Hurd, p. 362).

Marriage in a modern society

The modern arrangement of marriage consists of marriages that are practiced in the modern setting of the society. The world is prone to change due to the introduction of different ideologies. One of the areas that have been affected due to change in the societal situations is the institution of marriage. The switch from the agrarian to the industrial revolution changed the way in which the society interacted. During the world wars, men were expected to live their homes so that they could defend their country(Haviland and Haviland p. 245).This left a vacuum in the family in that the female took the role of the breadwinner. Women realized that they can perform the same jobs as their male counterparts. This is a significant part of the country’s history in that the change in social roles influences the argument for equal education. The emphasis of education gave rise to the demand for equal treatment in all aspects of life. The rise of feminism is a significant determinant of the modern family setting(Koktvedgaard, p.278).

Women now have access to the same level of education as men. This means that they do not place priority on starting a family as opposed to the Victorian days. The rise of feminism and the demand for equal treatment between both men and women is a monumental time for women in the current society. This however, affects the natural arrangement of the family setting. One of the most challenging times of the life of a woman is deciding the route to take in terms of career or marriage. This factor affects women more than men in that the majority of the women aspire to have a career and a family. It is difficult to avoid the issue of gender roles. Both the man and the woman are expected to get a job when they complete their studies making it difficult for a couple to raise a family(Hirsch and Wardlow, p. 89). The attempt to create equal opportunities has been established in regard to financial, economic and political areas. The changes however do not dictate the natural order that gives women the opportunity to bear children. A family thus has to discuss gender roles due to the need to balance between work and raising a family. Some mothers have chosen to go back to the traditional ways by choosing family over career. This shows that there is no way around this issue in any marital arrangement(Dumont and Robert, p.147).

Same sex marriages

One of the latest forms of marriage that directly results from the change in society is the same sex marriage. Same sex marriage is the marriage between two people who are the same sex. The fight for same sex marriage has reached its peak in that affected persons and their supporters are demanding of more rights. More states are demanding the right to get married to their partners. This privileged is reserved for couples who are heterosexual. The observation of a same sex marriage situation is ideal to indicate that no consideration of marriage can avoid the discussion of gender roles. This is a different condition in that a lesbian couple does not have a male present vice versa (Croll, p. 261). One of the first gender issues that such a couple face the inability to get an offspring amongst each other. If the couple is lucky enough to get a donor, one of the two have to decide who takes the role of the nurturer and the role of the father figure. The couple cannot ignore this situation in that it is natural for a child to demand the presence of both a male and female figure. Another situation that places challenges for the couple in terms of gender roles is the discussion of finances. A couple can choose to both pursue their career and take a back seat for the sake of the children. This type of arrangement indicates the level of masculinity and femininity that is present in both male and female (James and Garrick, p. 452).

Marriage in a polygamous setting

Another form of marriage that is present to date is the practice of polygamy. Polygamy is the marriage of one man to more than one woman vice versa. This type of marital arrangement is practiced all over the globe including the United States. Polygamy is different from the rest if the marriages in that more than one relationship are involved. This is a unique example in that it emphasizes the diversity of marriages that exist. Polygamy is not so common in the United States. This makes the society stigmatized when the thought of the ideology is mentioned (Cahill, p. 126).

One of the basic principles of polygamy is the acknowledgment of the supreme head of the family. This person can be male or female depending on the polygamous person in each case. The society is however more exposed to polygamous men as opposed to women. People who practice polygamy recognize the divisions of roles in the family. The man in this case has a lot of authority due to the fact that he is married to more than one person. Most of the cultural practices of polygamous individuals lean towards the traditional marriage setting. The women are expected to procreate so as to increase the number of the members of the family. This thus makes procreation one of the basic principles of polygamy. The gender issues in this case are highly questionable. Women in this type of arrangement are said to be at a disadvantage because of a number of issues (Coontz, p. 98).

One of the issues is the fact that two or more women are forced to share one man vice versa. This limits the level of companionship making the women get less attention compared to man. The man on the other hand experiences all the perks in that he receives an immense amount of attention from each wife. One of the strains of the polygamous marriage to the male is the financial strain that he experiences as a result of maintaining more than one household (Ablow, p. 235).

In conclusion, gender issues account for a significant portion of a human beings life. People are either born male or female in most cases. Both sexes have body parts, genes and hormones that establish how they conduct themselves in the surrounding environment. One of the unions that showcase the gender issues in the society is marriage. Marriage creates a bond between the parties involves in the union. Different marriages face a number of gender related issues depending on the culture that identify themselves. The gender issues vary making some marriages face more issues compared to others. Marriages are traditionally not supposed to be broken. One of the reasons that lead to the increasing number of divorces across the globe are gender related issues. It is thus essential to analyze these issues so as to create an environment that is not ignorant of this matter. Increased awareness of these factors improves the situation in all types of marital unions. This in turn, reduces the rate of divorce that the society has become accustomed to as a result of ignorance in the society.


Works cited

Ablow, Rachel. The Marriage of Minds: Reading Sympathy in the Victorian Marriage Plot. Stanford, Calif: Stanford Univ. Press, 2007. Print.

Cahill, Sean. Same-sex Marriage in the United States: Focus on the Facts. Lanham [u.a.: Lexington Books, 2004. Print.

Coontz, Stephanie. Marriage, a History: From Obedience to Intimacy or How Love Conquered Marriage. New York: Viking, 2005. Print.

Croll, Elisabeth. The Politics of Marriage in Contemporary China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Print.

Dumont, Louis, and Robert Parkin.An Introduction to Two Theories of Social Anthropology: Descent Groups and Marriage Alliance. New York [u.a.: Berghahn Books, 2006. Print.

Ferraro, Gary P, and Susan Andreatta.Cultural Anthropology: An Applied Perspective. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2010. Print.

Hirsch, Jennifer S, and Holly Wardlow.Modern Loves: The Anthropology of Romantic Courtship and Companionate Marriage. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan press, 2006. Print.

Haviland, William A, and William A. Haviland.Cultural Anthropology: The Human Challenge. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, 2011. Print.

Haviland, William A, and William A. Haviland.Evolution and Prehistory: The Human Challenge. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsword, 2008. Print.

Koktvedgaard, Zeitzen M. Polygamy: A Cross-Cultural Analysis. Oxford [etc.: Berg, 2008. Print.

Lewellen, Ted C. The Anthropology of Globalization: Cultural Anthropology Enters the 21st Century. Westport, Conn. [u.a.: Bergin & Garvey, 2002. Print.

McLean, Daniel D, and Amy R. Hurd.Kraus’ Recreation and Leisure in Modern Society. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2011. Print.

Meade, Teresa A, and Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks.A Companion to Gender History. Malden [u.a.: Blackwell, 2006. Print.

Peoples, James G, and Garrick A. Bailey.Humanity: An Introduction to Cultural Anthropology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2012. Print.

Sweetman, Caroline. Gender, Development and Marriage. Oxford: Oxfam GB, 2003. Print.







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