There was a time when the unspoken but powerful cultural expectations for a proper marriage went something like this. 

The woman shouldn't be taller than the man nor make more money than the man. They both must be racially matched. The man should be older than the woman. The woman would stay at home and raise children. The man would work to feed the family. Preferably, if the man wanted to receive respect, he made a lot of money. Dads tended to be less hands-on fathers. Mothers cared for the kids. Same sex marriage wasn't even uttered out loud in polite company. If a woman wasn't married before she was thirty, she was beyond her prime. Divorce was taboo. Single people were pitied. Nobody talked about sex, but everyone was having sex, yet, most young people knew nothing about sex. You had a baby and figured out what to do with it later. If you got in the family way, you got married. Unwed mothers were shipped off to some bleak house. The man was in charge. Children were to be seen but not heard. People, by in large, remained in unhappy even abusive marriages until parted by death. Nobody dared live together without the marriage papers to prove they had the right.

Wow! Cultural expectations are far more powerful at controlling the masses than laws have ever been. 


Teresa is a myth buster by trade. She writes about cultural expectations that limit us from being the person we want to be. Her most recent book can be found on Amazon. Click photo to purchase ...

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Comment by Grinning Cat on September 6, 2017 at 1:13pm

I still feel social pressure to acknowledge someone sneezing, but I say "Gesundheit!" ("Health!" No need to worry about escaping souls or an invisible friend's blessing.)

... our so-called Christmas has nothing to do with Jesus.

Jehovah's Witnesses, I understand, don't celebrate Christmas, or Easter, or people's birthdays, or other celebrations which they consider as arising from unbiblical, "pagan" or "nationalistic" roots. Wedding anniversaries are fine.

Comment by Idaho Spud on September 6, 2017 at 9:47am

Teresa, if you don't mind telling, I'm interested in which cult you were raised in.

Comment by Michael Penn on September 6, 2017 at 8:15am

Why should you be blessed if you sneeze? I know why they came up with this saying but what good is it really? Do people who say it blindly today know where it came from and why they are saying it? NO. As for the "Merry Christmas" thing it's up to you to say it or not say it. It's also up to you as to whether your Christmas is merry. The saying has nothing to do with the bible and our so called Christmas has nothing to do with Jesus. It never did have. The more time goes on with this nonsense the more I think that Christians are crazy.

Is there anything else we can force people to say, do, or believe? YES, quite a bit really and I would like to avoid it.

Comment by John Dumaker on September 5, 2017 at 10:55pm

Indeed we do. Most people say " bless you " if you sneeze or " merry Christmas " as the winter solstice approaches. Trump says he will enforce the latter.

Comment by Teresa Roberts on September 5, 2017 at 11:26am

So many wonderful comments. Idaho Spud, I was raised in a cult, too. Not mormonism but a cult nonetheless. 

Comment by Idaho Spud on September 5, 2017 at 9:57am

You reminded me of the religion I was raised in, mormonism.  The most glaring part being the statement by several church leaders that "If a man is not married by the time he's 24, he's a menace to the community."

Comment by Ted Foureagles on September 5, 2017 at 5:55am
I don't know about "Bible-based" but US culture is certainly heavily influenced by people holding, or at least espousing, biblical values. The daughter of a friend got married last month and my sister was in the wedding party. The fundamentalist preacher had little to say about the young couple personally, but went on and on about Woman's subservient role. At the reception the male wedding party members received a 6-pack of craft beer and the female members were given an apron. Sis went around asking guys if they'd like to trade. She and her girlfriend were seated at separate tables on opposite ends of the room, but at least weren't burned as heretics.
My nephew attended a public elementary school for a couple of years. Most classrooms had a prominent picture of blue-eyed Jesus and teachers often signed report cards, assignments and announcements with words like "God bless". In the foyer of the school in foot-tall letters was "IN GOD WE TRUST". This was in a public school where such things are patently illegal, but if any school board member here in rural South Carolina complained they simply would no longer be on the board.
Those examples reflect the values of the overwhelming majority here, while minority opinions are marginalized and their holders shunned. So yes, Bible-based "morality" is deeply entrenched in this country that has never officially been Bible-based.

Comment by Michael Penn on August 30, 2017 at 5:59pm

You post describes it perfectly. I remember almost all these things as a child in the 59's.

Comment by tom sarbeck on August 29, 2017 at 2:55am

Teresa, your post describes too well the world I knew during my teens, 1942-49. A nightmare might awaken me tonight. ;-)

Loren, a minor edit: "...kicking mandated prayer out of public schools...." When xians complain of there being no prayer in public schools, I tell them kids can say any prayer they want any time they want but school employees (with or without the pa system) may not lawfully require them to pray.

Comment by Loren Miller on August 27, 2017 at 8:53am

Ah, the "Leave It To Beaver" / "Donna Reed" / "Father Knows Best" culture of the late 1950s and early 1960s ... which got shot to hell particularly by one innovation: easily accessible birth control, then added to that the rising counterculture which came out of the Vietnam war protests and reactions to the glaring mistakes made by both Presidents Johnson and Nixon.  It's worthy of note that Madalyn Murray O'Hair was in there, too, kicking prayer out of public schools and forcing a more secular environment where the de-facto culture was, indeed, not just religious but blatantly Christian.

Worthy of note is that a great deal of that Christian culture was engineered, as documented by Kevin M. Kruse in his book: One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America.  The struggle between secular and Christian America continues to this day, and while the ebb and flow of advantage is an ongoing dynamic, the long-term shift appears to move away from irrational belief and slowly but surely toward reason, current dislocations notwithstanding.



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