Merav Michaeli: Cancel Marriage at TEDxJaffa (Full Transcript)

But this is all ancient history. Why are you bothering us, modern women, and contemporary men that we are with this ancient non-relevant history? Let me return the question to you: This is an institution from the time when women had no status before the law, and couldn’t stand on their own. A century later, when women are supporters and legislators, why does this institution still exist? And has it really changed?

Still today, when a couple gets married, they are pronounced “Man and Wife”. The man remains a man and the woman is turned into a “wife”. And the wife is, first and foremost, “shame and vulva”, but a wife is, first and foremost, somebody’s wife: A woman belonging to a man. She is his, so she is given his family name and the children are, too, his.

Why else is it that still today children carry on their father’s name, not their mother’s? Not in your case, of course. You all kept your family name and you have your children and husbands carry them too. But just so you know, the word “husband” is derived from “householder” and “owner” in old English. No comfort there.

And “wife” still means bear his children, raise them, take care of the house, clean, cook, wash, shop and all of this work is completely invisible. All of this work is unpaid, unrecognized for its financial value, unrecognized for social security, for pension, for tax deduction. Even in places where childcare expenses are deductible — only childcare is deductible — and not the cleaning-cooking-washing, and also, childcare is only recognized if you pay for it, not if you do it yourself.

This invisible work is so much work, that according to the International Labor Organization, if housework was included in the national accounts worldwide, the total value of world GDP would grow by 25% to 30%. That is how much unpaid work there is and it is all done by women, because we never cancelled marriage. Not in your case, of course; you all share the housework with your spouse, evenly and equally, not only that, you do it together to candlelight and violin music. Of course.

But in Canada, a contemporary, modern country, women in double-income households spend 72% more time on childcare alone than men, in those same households, probably 150% more on housework and of course in India, women do 10 times more time than men on childcare and housework.

And if you think to yourselves: “Oh well, what’s the biggie? Women are doing this kind of work while men are at work, and all in all they do the same,” Think again. In Canada, which is so advanced that it is the only place checking it regularly, women do 30 additional minutes a day of paid and unpaid work compared to men. That doesn’t sound much, 30 minutes. Again, no biggie. Over a year, this adds up to 5 weeks of full time work. Five weeks. When is the last time you had a 5-week vacation, that men get annually from women, in Canada, at least?

So this information may help you to understand that research shows that married women are in the worst physical and emotional condition, followed by single men, single women, and, in the best condition, married men. Not in your case, of course; you are all used to putting your feet up and having everyone fuss over you, but UN analysis on women shows that though women are half the world economic population, we put in two thirds of the working hours. And still, after that, own only 1% of the world’s property.

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So it seems that women still have to get married to make a living. Fact is that unmarried mothers are much poorer than married mothers in America today. That is why they put so much effort into making us want to get married. This is why we are raised on myths that are organizing for us the idea of marriage as the dream of love and romance come true.

Let’s think of Cinderella, the world’s No. 1 bride, the ultimate dream of happily ever after. After all, she married a prince. But was it for love? First of all, how did she meet the prince? They didn’t just meet and hit it off. No, she came to the ball that the prince held with the official intention of finding a wife. He wasn’t looking for love, he wasn’t looking for a partner. He was looking for a wife.

And did you ever notice that no one ever asked Cinderella if she wanted to marry the prince? Well, I know she probably wanted out of this abusive home with the evil stepmother and stepsisters, but is that a reason to get married? Well, yes definitely. When you have no status in the eyes of the law, no way to make a living no way to protect yourself, you cannot afford not to get married.

So marriage and the myth of marriage is keeping us under the clear understanding that if we want to move up in life it is not by work, not by talent, but by marriage, and as best you can, with the strongest, richest man possible.

Why was Cinderella chosen? She was pretty. Like, Hello? Again, the deal: She’s pretty, he’s handsome — or not. She’s young, he’s probably not. She’s delicate, he’s not. He’s taller, she’s looking up to him — not in your case, of course; you’re all willing to corrupt your feet and backs on 10 inch heels because your husbands are dying to look up to you. This is how marriage organizes our gender role. This is how marriage is making us man and wife.

But this is not just Cinderella, this old fairytale long gone. It proliferates in so many ways, all the time. Just a year ago: The Royal Wedding, Kate and William. The Patriarch — that’s how it’s called: The Patriarch, the Thing itself, the Patriarch asked: “Who giveth this woman to be married by this man?” And then her father takes the hand of Cinderella Kate, gives it to the Patriarch who has given it to William, the prince. You were watching, I hope. It was broadcast for us to watch and learn to refresh our memory in case we’ve forgotten how wonderful marriage is.

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