Feminists like to paint the traditional family as one where the man held all the power and the woman slaved to serve him and see to all his needs above her own. They painted these images of women in utter misery and frustration that women lived in these restricted lives. But as I look at the effect it has on our culture, I wonder if perhaps that isn't true? If it was, then wouldn't we see divorce rates drop as women get such a sense of freedom that they seek out their partners and everyone becomes happy? Yet, I find that at the start of the second wave of feminism around the 1960's the divorce rate skyrockets and hasn't fallen sense then.
Forgive me if someone has addressed this issue in this fashion already, but I didn't get through all 8 pages of comments yet, and I really really feel the need to address this.
First off, the 'painted images' are literally painted. Throughout the last several centuries, images of women wearing corsets that would break their ribs, or women in certain parts of Asia whose feet are a size 4 kids because they had to endure footbinding are incredible examples of that. Feminism is not just the struggle for equal pay, or whatever else it might be equated with, it's the struggle against mysogynistic torture. Yes, torture.
I realize that we have come a long way from that in many portions of the world, but then again there are examples like Malala Yousafzai, the 15 year old shot for trying to go to school. These things alone are enough to prove that feminism is necessary.
Secondly, the idea that women can now seek out their partners and thus are happy finally? That assumes that in the era before the 60's or so women could not? (admittedly not if there were racial aspects, but other than that yes, they could.) Women in the 30's could seek out men, and in fact women after either world war had their pick in many locations due to the sheer losses of young men in the country.
Thirdly, you have picked an arbitrary date in a very very long path of feminism. Feminism dates back to Susan B. Anthony, and further in other cases. Look up Olympia de Gouges, for example. Feminism has been a centuries long struggle that is still not won, see Malala above.
But the real ticker here for me is your false dichotomy of Divorce = bad, marraige = good. And this is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I know a few people who are poly. (Polyphilic or Multiamory are my terms of choice, simply because I linguistically don't appreciate mixed latin and greek) How do you define a relationship like that? Is it fair to say that they shouldn't have a right to have their relationship simply because it is not seen as normal? It is a loving kind relationship that makes all three members better, the one I've seen anyhow, and I can't reconcile it with normal (PC) definitions of marriage, ie, two people. In this case I can't even state that marraige is a good institution because it ostracizes alternative families like this.
On another level, marriage may be a concept of permanence for you, but that doesn't mean that all people think of it like that. I can't imagine being with someone who has a violent nature that they've concealed from me, or has some sort of severe mental problem that reveals itself down the road. And on a less extreme note, people change. I'm not the person I was 10 years ago, nor is my spouse. Fortunately, we have changed together, in ways that complement each other, but what if we had not? What if we had changed in ways that made us drift apart? People shouldn't have to be forced to stay with each other if they are no longer suited for each other.
I'm not saying that marriage should be a fluid thing like certain celebrities seem to think it ought, but I am saying that promising forever is an unreasonable thing. And that that should not stop a person from trying, but it should not make them feel shamed if they cannot keep it.
And just to round out my opinion on divorce, there was a common view that since divorce became legal that there should have been a high point of divorces, as women scrambled to get rid of men who were bad, and then the rates would just even out. History shows us that this is never the case though. Many women didn't act on this right away, being afraid of what friends and family would think. Societal pressures are at least as strong as law. And many men and women, though married, had already lived apart due to lack of ease in obtaining a divorce in the past, they simply had the option in the 60's. I'd like to propose that perhaps the divorce rate didn't 'skyrocket' so much as simply was legalized and recognized. The 'skyrocketing' may be reflective of what portion of society as a whole already had failed marriages.
I hope this doesn't come across as anything more than food for thought. None of it is meant as an accusation against your beliefs on divorce, I was merely trying to articulate mine, which I'm afraid are not the same as most peoples. But they work for me.