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It is a common argument of those protesting modern attitudes towards sex and marriage, to point to increasing divorce rates as proof that modern marriages are not as happy as in the past.|
It is true that in both Chinese and Western cultures, 100 years ago divorce rates were far, FAR lower than they are today. Some people therefore draw the conclusion that marriages in the past were happier, or more stable, than they are today.
Now let's look at the OTHER SIDE of that argument.
In Western culture, 100 years ago, many kinds of abuses were quite common. Men could beat their wives, and not be punished for it. Men could abuse their children, and face no penalty. Men could have other lovers, and there was nothing the wife could do about it.
MANY women in such situations were VERY unhappy; their marriages were neither "stable" nor "happy". But they had no choice; there was little legal protection for them, and if they left their husband, they would be social outcasts, and probably unable to support themselves economically.
Now let's look at China.
One hundred years ago, various forms of abuse were ALSO very common. Women in particular had almost no rights. They had to wear tiny shoes that destroyed their feet. They had no choice about who they married, and often had to marry some man they had never even met before. If they were abused or mistreated, their family would tell them to just accept it, because LEAVING their husband would cause everyone in the family to lose face.
More recently, SOME of these abuses -- such as foot binding -- have stopped. But others have not. Although China has laws to protect women from being abused by their husbands, these laws are generally not enforced very effectively. Women are afraid to come out in public and raise such a complaint. Wife abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse -- all of these things happen. But everyone is afraid to talk about them publically.
Think of it this way:
100 years ago, earthquakes and floods happened all over the world; but we almost never heard about them, because there was no way to spread the news rapidly. Today, it may SEEM by comparison that floods and earthquakes are more common, because we hear about them all the time. However, the TRUTH is that the earthquakes and floods haven't gotten worse; its just that the information is no longer hidden, we are no longer unaware of such things happening.
The SAME THING is happening in both Western and Chinese cultures.
Marriages aren't suddenly becoming less happy, and couples aren't suddenly becoming less faithful.
Rather, the problems that have ALWAYS EXISTED are finally becoming public. They are not being hidden, they are not being denied.
Yes, this DOES cause some instability and problem during the process of this change.
But PERSONALLY, I would argue that a society that ACKNOWLEDGES its problems, and take steps to SOLVE THOSE PROBLEMS, is far, far superior to a society that hides its problems away shamefully, and pretends they don't exist.
"Lower divorce rates" in Chinese culture AND in Western culture, in my opinion, are not the sign of a HEALTHIER culture.
Rather, they are a sign of UNHEALTHY cultures that sought to hide or ignore very serious problems that were taking place.
Our GOAL should not be to RESTORE that old "traditional" system, where abuse could be hidden away and denied.
Our GOAL should be to build a NEW society that DOES have stable families, but families that are based on EQUAL rights, and on a full ACKNOWLEDGEMENT of our problems -- as well as effective methods to deal with those problems.
And for Chinese who want to argue that "men and women in China are equal", just look at coolmax's post about the Chinese woman who jumped out a window to escape a rapist. Many Chinese men, when interviewed, stated that if it was their wife, they'd prefer their wife to kill herself, rather than be raped.
That is not equality. That is abuse. It is reprehensible.
There are problems in China. There are problems in the West.
Let's not play games of denying those problems. Lets discuss the best ways to DEAL with those problems.