Cognition & Reality

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

“Living Together” And “Ms.”

Filed under: Sex & Love,Wilhelm Reich — drtone @ 8:00 am

Among the most remarkable changes in society to occur during my life is that it is now routine for a couple to live together without being married. When I was a teenager in the sixties, such an arrangement was borderline illegal and potentially scandalous. It was confined to the very richest and very poorest segments of society, but within a decade it became an acceptable alternative across a broad spectrum of society. Now, we look askance at a young couple who jump into marriage without first living together for at least a year or two. A young woman who called me this morning about becoming a client mentioned, among the pertinent facts about her, that she lives with her boyfriend, something that, once upon a time, a “nice girl” would have been ashamed to admit. Now it’s nothing.

This is a manifestation of the fluidity marriage foreseen by Wilhelm Reich in the early thirties as women became economically emancipated from men. It’s no coincidence, I suppose, that the change in the status of “living together” corresponds almost exactly with the entrance of the birth control pill Because of the many more spectacular manifestations of “The Sixties,” we don’t appreciate some of the most revolutionary changes that remain from that era, changes that extend to important aspects of nomenclature. Perhaps the brouhaha over the use of “Ms.” as a term of address for any woman married or single, stood for the effort of society at large to accept the end of marriage as it has existed for hundreds of years. That “Ms.” now seems a bit out of style may reflect the end of that struggle.


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