ANNA MARTINEN is meditating upon how the relationship between men and women has changed, comparing 19th century and nowadays.
Two centuries ago only few married for love. Marriage was a central block of the society: a financial deal that was to profit both sides, or at least one. Perhaps it was hard to find a soul mate in a marriage, but still, it was possible. And even if the couple wasn’t blessed with a perfect understanding of each other, there was always the possibility of being good friends and supporting each other for better for worse, until death does you part. Other relationships, such as keeping mistresses or lovers were condemned from an ethical point of view, but nevertheless much needed sometimes. However, a close spiritual connection was not the reason for those relations either.
Men and women are now seemingly much closer than 200 years ago. Or are they? If someone invented a time travel car and went Back to the Past, then he/she would note that the social structure in those times was simple: a man was a man and a woman – woman. The latter one’s only profession, for which she was trained and prepared by several generations of family members was ‘wife‘.
Nowadays, women can play male roles and vice versa. There are no distinct rules of behaviour or any strict codes for matrimony. Such richness of opportunities and freedom allows us to get to know our partners more and also affects gender role-spectre. This can be observed even in seemingly primitive part of life – clothing. Sometimes it can be very hard to say from distance, is it man or woman walking in front of you.
Considering such lucid borders of social codes, men and women should surpassingly be able to understand each other better and be closer to one another. But maybe 200 years ago, by being forced into relationship with no
possibilities but to stay in it, marriage was a much more intimate union than nowadays. Perhaps if you only have a choice of going in one door, your sole option is to get along well with your partner and make the most of it. After all, there’s noone else to rely on. Otherwise, marriage just wouldn’t work as an institution, just as canoe cannot be sailed with one person only.
Today, on the other hand, the temptation of new and better experiences, unlimited freedom of choice and will leaves people uncertain of themselves and their partners, so relationships are doomed to fail. That’s why many of us sail kayak instead of a canoe.
It seems that first impression can be wrong after all and liaisons two centuries ago were maybe much stronger than the ones today. Fairytales about Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty might be more lasting experiences of love than the affairs of Jennifer Aniston or the character of Carrie Bradshaw. But of course I might be wrong, so the final judgement I leave for the reader to make.