The ever-shifting status of women—and how many are marrying

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For centuries in American history women were not legally considered people. Today, though we think we’ve “come a long way, baby,” there’s a guy, Justice Antonin Scalia, on the Supreme Court who says he still doesn’t think women fit the legal definition of “people.” Judge, are you for real?

The Feminine Mystique was a runaway international bestseller in the 60s. Even though it had its faults, it was a beacon of hope for hundreds of thousands of American housewives who felt stifled and unseen. Stephanie Coontz gives a useful analysis of the book and some interesting insights on the status of women in America in the 50s and 60s versus their status now. She admits that times were particularly prejudiced against women then and mentions how single women were in some ways freer than married women—married women were basically subsumed into their partners’ legal identities and had few rights of their own.

Even though laws discriminating against women have improved in the U.S., rates of marriage are still dropping in almost every country around the world. Here are a couple of New York Times writer’s opinions on the subject of how marriage is faring these days and whether the frequency of marriage, or lack thereof, has anything to do with the state of business. Reading the comments on the Freakonomics post (second link) is like peeking into the minds of people on different sides of the question—one says happy single women = lower marriage rates. Another says

Love and Marriage
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the easily availability of pornography has had a big influence on rates of marriage. Hmmm. Really?

Oh, well, it’s interesting stuff if you have a few minutes to read. Like anything you try to “prove” with statistics, there’s always another angle you can view it from. So here’s to you, fellow single working woman—and who cares what observers say about our status!

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