Thursday, July 28, 2011

I Don't Want to Be a Bride -- Writer's Poke #298



Perhaps what fascinates me most about Vanessa Carlton's song "I Don't Want to Be a Bride" is the idea of "want" itself. Do people "want" to be married? Statistics show that 80% of people marry at least once by age 40. And on average, women tend to marry at a younger age than men. Averages and statistics do not address the issue of "want," however.

Marriage is a social institution designed to regulate a biological drive. That doesn't sound very sexy, but that's what it is, and to deny the social pressure to marry, or to deny the biological drive to pair and mate is to overlook a fundamental reality.

In other words, to suggest that people "want" to marry is incorrect. People marry simply because it's a societal expectation and/or because they are driven to marry, in part, by biology. With regard to marriage, it seems that the only real way to utilize free agency would be to reject marriage all-together.

Disclaimer: my wife and I married in our 20s; we're still married, and we have one child. Being married isn't "bad" in and of itself, but to argue that anyone is completely "free" in the process of deciding to marry is highly flawed.

To what extent is free-will an illusion?

"A man can do what he wants but not want what he wants." -- Arthur Schopenhauer

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