Aaron Clarey, a.k.a. Captain Capitalism, offers an intriguing look at whether dowries are something that may become part of the modern "marriage market" in the Western world, just as they were in the not too distant past (and still are in some other parts of the world). I don't necessarily agree with his arguments, but I have to admit that he poses questions that require an answer.
If you don't know (or never knew) what a dowry was, it was a payment the father usually made to his would-be son in law to take his daughter off his hands and care for her into the future. This was based on the premise that women did not work, would likely bear children, would stay home to rear said children, and would in a purely accounting sense be a financial liability to the family, earning no income. And so, the would-be husband would be entitled, if not required, to some kind of financial recompense to take the financial liability of a woman off the hands of her father.
Fast forward 300 years later and I ask a very simple question;
How is it any different today?
If there was a time young women were not a financial liability, but an asset, it was the boomers and Gen X'ers. These women were workers, they were employed, and they did take care of themselves. But today's generation of young women (who are also at the age of marriage) do not present young male suitors a similar financial proposition or condition. Matter of fact, most young women today are horrifically bad financial liabilities, and any young man who commits to them risks tanking his own finances.
This isn't primarily due to young women not working. They most certainly do, and at labor force participation rates higher than any generation of women past. But the financial liability nature of most young women today is due to student loans and the education scam that destroys their finances. Young women ... are lured too easily to go $120,000 in debt for worthless liberal arts degrees that offer them no employability. Worse, the indoctrination they receive in college weaponizes them against men, instead of making them partners and lovers in life to help one another. And with the repeated indoctrination that women should NEVER rely on a man, the end result is not only often a girl who is a financial risk, but is a girl no man wants. Indebted, talentless, unemployable, and ideologically programmed to be against men, marriage, family, and love. Even women trained in STEM, who are eminently employable, are often times indoctrinated to be antagonistic towards men, increasing the risk of divorce, adding a huge legal risk to a financial one as well.
Traditionally, logically, and "accountingly," such a proposition would require some kind of financial compensation for the legal and financial risks of committing to a modern day western woman. And today, young men (or any man) is well within his rights to demand such a modern-day dowry. But since most boomer and Gen X fathers have no money (and are likely financially compromised through matrimony as well), demanding a dowry today is moot.
. . .
Most men simply cannot afford to take on that risk, and even with a dowry the non-financial risks are just as costly and daunting as the financial ones. Yes at the same time, men are biologically programmed, nay, compelled to want to get married and have kids. And so what is likely going to happen is what's been happening for quite some time now - men are balking. They're going to punt.
The increase in cohabitation and the abandonment of marriage is a sign of men waking up and eschewing the legal and financial risks marriage presents to them ... And such marriage-avoidant behavior will continue as the internet educates men about the unacceptable legal and financial risks marriage presents to them (or, frankly, they just saw their dad get butchered in divorce court).
And so what we've seen this past 20 years, certainly the past 10 will continue. With no "theoretical dowries" and marriage being such a bad deal, more and more men will simply leave the marriage market because they can't afford it.
There's more at the link.
Modern marriage is weighted heavily against a man in our legal system. I'm aware of one situation going down right now, where a divorced father, with legal custody of his children, has seen his former wife simply take them and refuse to return them. She's gone so far as to interfere with his bank accounts, file false charges against him, and try to wreck his life, out of spite and vindictiveness. I repeat - she has no legal right to custody of the children, but because she doesn't want him to have them, she's more than prepared to use them as a weapon against him (including lying to them that he doesn't want them any more), and destroy his reputation in the process. What's more, law enforcement authorities appear powerless. They've told him to get yet another court order for them to enforce, ignoring those he already has. I don't understand that.
When men see that sort of thing happening, and realize that our legal system is predisposed to believe the mother rather than the father, is it any wonder that many men are afraid to commit themselves to a relationship that may have those consequences?
There's also the very real problem that a hyper-sexualized society, where a "hookup culture" has taken root, is anything but the ideal climate in which to foster traditional marriage. When both partners in a marriage come into that relationship with a past history of dozens, if not scores of lovers, and probably having lived with several of those partners, how can they pretend that there's anything unique about their relationship? There isn't. They're just going through the motions they've been through many times before. There's nothing "special" to bind them together, because they've done it all before. When it comes to arguments, they can put each other down with comments like, "Oh, so-and-so was much better at that than you are!" There's no foundation of "special" intimacy on which to build, because intimacy is no longer special. It's been trivialized.
Perhaps, if a dowry was required prior to marriage, both sides of the equation would realize that it signifies the value of their relationship in monetary terms. Perhaps they might then attach more intrinsic value to marriage, instead of seeing it as an arrangement that may, or may not, endure, depending on one or the other party's whims. To me, of course, there's also a deeply spiritual element to marriage; but that's not shared by many people, so I won't emphasize it here. I'll simply note that I think it's essential.
Aaron Clarey poses some very good questions, that force us to confront unpleasant realities, and which deserve answers.