When it comes to our society’s progress, what seems common today was abhorrently abnormal less than a century ago. Many parts of our lives that seem so basic for human rights and the foundations of our principles were nonexistent more than a generation ago, if you really think about it. The Civil Rights Act, for example, was only passed fifty-two years ago, in 1964.
But, something incredibly common in our modern society was only deemed acceptable fairly recently in terms of history. Women were allowed to divorce their husbands only on terms of adultery until 1937, when “desertion” and “insanity” were added to the list of plausible reasons. Wives were finally given the access to separating from their so-called “loved one” that had been left out for so long because of the No-fault divorce ideology, in which the courts decided that no wrongdoing by either party was necessary to file for divorce.
While originating outside the United States, California became the first state to adopt the no-fault divorce in 1969. That’s right, the modern day picture of divorce — simply falling out of love or fighting over such small things…going to court, battling over custody rights — is newer than the law which finally protected people from criticism of race.
Now, the pillar of family in our society has been crumbling, according to New Right platforms and sociological research accompanying those believers of a “nuclear family”. Instead of having a husband, wife, and at least one child making up a single “economic unit” in our society, we’re seeing progression. The traditional family is dying off, very quickly. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily, but it honestly depends on the situation at hand.
The concept of women being able to divorce was something which fueled a new wave of feminism. I don’t mean feminazis, the radical extremist women that would prefer one side of the world be for men and the other side be for women. Like every activist group, there are radicals that ruin the image for everything. This new wave of independence, this first wave of women not bound to the sociologically accepted family unit, influenced generations to come.
According to The National Center for Health Statistics, we saw an increase in divorce after the no-fault concept. Women no longer had to make a case for adultery, desertion, or insanity in order to get out of domestic violence and abusive relationships. From 1975 to 1988, women filed for more than 2/3 of divorce cases. In 1975 alone, 71.4% of the cases were filed by wives that, for the most part, were feeling economically dependent or feeling insignificant in their relationships.
In our current society, it is incredibly easy to get a divorce. Billboards advertise low rates for lawyers, marriage counseling is oftentimes overlooked and replaced with simply signing documents. Therefore, the pillar of society that the New Right holds near and dear to their sociological perspective is dying off.
More children come from divorced homes, leaving an impression that divorce is normal. Let alone the impact divorce might have on the child’s emotional and mental progression. At their youngest age, when taken away from a “stable two-parent family”, children might end up being scarred in terms of their own emotions. The New Right would also argue that things such as gay marriage and simple living longer (making it easier to fall out of love quicker) lead to the collapse of their historically traditional “nuclear family.”
Most of the New Right, however, have a simple checklist: Religious, Racist, and Republican. Therefore, their traditional family structure is something they hold to themselves closely. Of course there are other pillars in our society: religion, community, and education facilities. But…in a society like ours, they all seem to be fading into the past. Religion is becoming less important to future generations. Communities grow quiet as neighbors quit interacting with one another. Schools are becoming simple machines to prepare students for careers and bubble sheets. Could all of this be traced back to divorce rates? Could the fall of one pillar — one that led to the freedom of so many thousands of women — have led to the complete destabilization of New Right society?
In my opinion, no. Societies are like rivers, meaning they are easy to shift and shape in whatever direction needed for the world to progress. Truth has a rather liberal bias, but the ideas surrounding the traditional family unit, that of the nuclear family, is beginning to become obsolete. Regardless of your belief on the family structure, the addition of no-fault divorce made “History” into “Her Story” in even the slightest of ways for future generations.