Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Good Old Days, a repost from my MySpace blog

A very short time ago I wrote a blog on my MySpace blog. I don't really use it anymore because my computer is too old to handle MySpace anymore since it forced the new format of "home" on me. I still log in sometimes but the lack of spell check and ability to inform my 5 subscribers of my posts really makes it undesireable. Also two out of those five have left anyway. I am aware that coming here I kind of lost those subscribes, none followed exccept my husband but I am used to talking to myself, I do it all the time.

I like the job I did on this post. I know it has no evidence or anything, just expressing my opinion to contrast with other people's opinion and all that. I am too lazy to write researched blogs. I still put a lot of work into writing a good blog. Here it is in it's entirety, hope someone someday reads it.

The Good Old Days

One of my most hated phrases is "These days..." or a variation of when used to state that people were somehow different in the past morally or intellectually. I really think that no one really thinks about it critically when they make statements like these. So let us assume that people used to be fundamentally different and according to these statements people used to be more moral and intelligent, at least the ones I have read. It seems easy think that people were more moral than today but we need to think are we hearing about a mythical past that is the way we want it to be or perhaps people were just as immoral but doing different immoralities.

So, about sex it seems to be the elephant in the room. Were people better able to keep it in their pants until marriage? Did they stay more faithful to their partners? Did they not get divorces? Well, the short answer is: sort of, definitely not and, yes they did not get nearly as many divorces as we do today. I am sure many people out there know all about this and I am regurgitating well known facts but just play along, it will make me feel smarter.

Premarital sex. I am unsure as to how much the numbers of premarital sex today compare to those of say, 1950 or 1900 or so on. If you have any numbers share them but I would think them to be highly inaccurate because people lie. Today people do not lie as much because everyone accepts premarital sex as the status quo. Let's not be unclear about one fact, it has always been okay for men to have premarital sex, even in puritanical America. I bet a Puritan boy of the colonial era could still have easily married regardless of rumors of premarital indiscretions. We all know why that is, girls get pregnant, boys don't. A girl might have to visibly carry the proof of this on her body and later in her arms. Back then a woman would have been ostracized and later in the good old 1950's and there about would promptly have to be married to "make an honest woman out of her" or be sent away on a vacation from which she would return alone. As long as there has been marriage and prohibitions of sex outside it has been happening. The good old holy Middle Ages were filled with it and the premarital pregnancies to prove it. This has always been going on. I am making no judgments on premarital sex, one way or the other, just on the hypocrisy surrounding it. Besides, during WWI most of America had STDs when mass physicals were done in the military for all the men revealed that 20% to 30% of them had late stage gonorrhea or syphilis. Men would sleep around prior to marriage and then gave it to their wives and their children were born with it.

Did people stay more faithful to their partners in the good old past, definitely not. The only difference was that it was okay for men to have mistresses. Women, not so much. I guess they could have had affairs secretly but if they feared judgement and discovery, which could have been harsh, they would have given their husbands space and drowned themselves in social distractions and hobbies.

What about divorces? No, not really. They did not divorce as much and it was not because of their shorter life spans as some people claim because they married about ten or twenty years earlier, like as young as thirteen for girls and as quality life rose with its extended life spans so did age up on first marriage. The real reason there were no divorces to speak of was because it just was not done. People just stayed in miserable marriages and hated each other drifting apart or fighting like rabid dogs.

Then there are all important family values like mothers caring for kids and fathers working hard to provide. Well, if that is all you know you do it and some people were terrible at this and beat their children neglected them, gave them opium hired nannies to do the childcare for them. You know the iconic image of the child left on a door step? That came from our much cherished past. Mothers giving children up for adoption or just dumping them off at a relatives is nothing new or selfishly toughing it out until the child protection services comes. That is life and people are just as judgmental of it now as they were then. Sucks for the kids to know that they were not wanted by their parents but maybe it could have been worse the other way around. Personally I think it is great if a parent has the maturity to say that they can't do it if they can't having a child is hard and draining and not as much fun as commercials would have you think, but I am off topic here.

As for intelligence, we are not dumber. 100 or 200 years ago most people were illiterate, certainly a lot more than today. Also I read somewhere that people's IQ has been steadily rising. I do not trust IQ that much, to me it is nothing more than an approximate measure. So much more goes into intelligence than can be measured on a test.

I guess what I am trying to say is that we are no better or worse than our predecessors. We should always strive for better and we have in some ways like abolishing slavery, women's rights, children's rights etc. but we have not fundamentally changed on the inside and we still do the same things, society still gives it's harsh judgement just on different things. Maybe a sociologist could shed some more light on this.

If you finished this, thank you. Tell me one of your least favourite phrases, maybe we can loathe together.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm. Not sure if the self-depricating comments are playful sarcasm, or the result of self-esteem questions.

    In any case, I enjoyed the article. I thought it would add some spice to the topic if I mentioned a couple of things.

    First, chronological snobbery, or the fallacy of anachronism affects some people such that they would reason that such-and-such was better "back in the day", or in the inverse manner "these days". What I find giggle-worthy about this kind of lax reasoning is that the people who reason as such are getting older but never apply the charge to themselves. Thus they speak in the present about how much better things were back when they existed at a different moment in time and tacitly admit, in a strange and twisted way, that they're less than better now that they're older.

    Second, premarital sex is a strange topic, I think. When I researched the customs of the peoples depicted in Scripture, I came across interesting facts on betrothals. Namely, the man would go to live with his fiance and her parents. If the parents gave approval, a small public ceremony would indicate as much (usually with precious little reference to God), and then the couple would go and find a tent or private spot to go shag. Thus they were married. That's a far cry different than the way we view and treat both marriage and sex today.