Monogamy, change, intentionality
Over at the redhurtmachine we had a lively, three-part discussion catalyzed by a post on my blog about monogamy. (Among the 4 posts there was a total of 87 comments.) There was genuine disagreement between the participants about (1) the cultural paradigms of the 1950s and today, (2) the role that commitment plays in our society, and (3) the reasons for the decline in the number and duration of marriages between the 1950s and today. What we managed to agree on was that (1) the freedom from consequence that technology (specifically, birth control) brought and (2) the subsequent separation of sex from procreation were two major factors in the changing cultural landscape.
So, here's my question for everyone. I want to know how strong people think the social stigmas of the past were. If cases like Roe v. Wade and Griswold v. Connecticut had been decided in the 1920s, and birth control had been available and widely distributed, would things have changed (toward smaller nuclear families, less commitment, and more divorce) MUCH sooner, or just sooner? Your answers will not lead me to say "Gotcha!" or attempt to re-make any of my cases; I'm simply curious as to how much we can separate the ethereal cultural forces that we reify in order to have discussions about the past from concrete events and developments, and once that's done, what we come up with. Have at it.