The Marriage Bar
When the ruling elite have got society arranged to suit them they like to keep it that way. In their view their enemy, the people who upset the apple cart, are the people who find ways to win within the rules even when those rules have been designed to ensure they lose – these are the people to be identified and stomped on as a priority. (And if they can steal their innovations and inventions which make life easier, more efficient, lest costly, that is a bonus).
The people they hate, the people they are out to destroy are the innovators and inventors. People who play within the rules but find ways to circumvent the inbuilt handicaps. This is one reason why laws and rules are forever expanding. Whenever someone finds a loophole, the elite rush to close it down.
This is an ongoing task. The poorest people have no choice but to innovate and invent. Any country person, such as myself knows that if a job needs done and a tool does not exist or is not available you make do with what you have, turning tools to tasks they were never intended for, doing a job a different way avoiding the difficulty, or finding a way to eliminate the job altogether if that is possible. You are required to innovate as your resources are never adequate for your needs. Necessity forces you to adopt this mind-set and as it becomes second nature you apply it to every area of life. You ask, why does this rule exist, and why must we accept the damage it causes?
Blocking loopholes might be a major reason for many recent changes in social practices and laws.
Consider these changes. When I was at primary school in the fifties one of my teachers was leaving teaching at the end of the year because she was getting married. In those days women in many middle class occupations were required to give up work on marriage. Partly because in the era before generally available reliable contraception marriage was inevitably followed by multiple births and increasing child care responsibilities. It seemed common sense that family responsibilities would disable the woman’s primary commitment to her job. It was also assumed that the middle class wage of her husband was sufficient for her support.
However this common rule had an unwanted effect. Many women, then and now found great difficulty in finding a suitable man to marry, that is a man of decent character who would not abuse them and whose income was sufficient to support a family. The marriage bar acted as an incentive for women to not marry but stay with their careers. In addition the ejection of middle class women out of work created vacancies for educated working class women, who with even less chance of making a good marriage, prioritised career. This trend was likely to increase with secondary education extended to the working class.
Intelligent women of both the middle and working classes were by being forced to choose, some were deciding a good job was a more secure option than gambling on a bad marriage. It also gave them financial independence in contrast to wives total dependence on their husband’s generosity. Unhappily married women might glance jealously at single career women in charge of their own lives and income and wonder that they had made a bad choice.
Before this trend – before the trickle could become a flood – the rule about married women being forced to give up work was abandoned.
This could be viewed as a response to the innovation of women to not prioritise marriage but choosing careers instead.
If the marriage bar had continued it is likely increasing numbers of women would have rejected marriage in favour of career. Working class women would have raised their socio-economic status and in some cases would have ended up better off than middle class wives. They also might become middle class, something that the elite did not want. Marriage kept women down. Wives rarely had their own money. Careers could be an escape route, but especially for the working class. This if it could not be prevented, could at least be hindered.
The marriage bar might also have had another unintended effect. The bar applied to marriage not co-habitation. Co-habitation was uncommon in those days due to the huge stigma attached, but it could be some couples in order to retain the woman’s career were opting to secretly co-habit. Marriage as an institution is very useful to the state. It can be used as a very convenient tool of oppression of women. The innovation of walking away from marriage, choosing to co-habit instead freed women financially and also freed them from oppressive situations which marriage enabled.
Another practice at the time was taxing married couples earnings as a single unit. At that time it only applied to married people not co-habitees.
Altogether the financial incentives for women to not marry were great.
Ending the marriage bar was a very successful move in social engineering. Removing the marriage bar reinforced the class divide. Middle class women staying in their careers blocked vacancies for working class women trying to work their way out of poverty. Two career families shot up in wealth widening the economic gap between the middle class and working class, leaving the latter further behind. Middle class women now included in the old boys network also blocked the few vacancies which previously educated working class men could have taken. The working class aspirations for socio-economic advancement into the middle class was effectively stymied.
Keeping women (middle class) in their place was surrendered to the more vital objective of keeping the working class in their place. The changes also removed the disincentives for middle class women to marry. And when they married and bred to capacity, the working class aspirants were again excluded. Altogether a very successful move.
The elite do not want a meritocratic society. And the middle classes do not want competiton from the working class. The elite do not want a flexible class system, but a rigid caste system, where they sit safely on the top of a stable society, with everyone locked into place below them that they can exploit at their leisure.
We’re all right Jack. FU peasants!
Problem for women; avoiding oppression and escaping poverty
Innovation: avoiding marriage and opting for career instead.
Solution of the social engineers: abandoning the marriage bar and taxing married couples as individuals.
Result: middle class two income families hugely expand economic distance between themselves and the working class; career aspirations blocked for educated working class women and men; middle class women are encouraged to marry and have large families;
Class status quo reinforced at cost of increasing socio-economic power and status of middle class women.
Class stereotypes reinforced that the working class are in subordinate and dead end employments because they are too stupid to do anything else (having had most of their opportunities taken away)
Middle class arrogance and feeling innately superior to the working class reinforced. Their financial position is so improved that they have no concept of living at subsistence level which is the standard experience of working class people. They are out of touch with the reality of most peoples lives. They have grown closer in mind-set and values to the elite. All the better for keeping the working class in their place.
(There was a saying around when I was a kid. “Just when you are about to make ends meet, somebody moves the ends”. This sums up working class experience. It seems every advance is followed by a change which restores the status quo or pushes you further back).
keeping you in your place
maintaining the status quo
economic suppression of the working class