British politician and writer, Ferdinand Mount, challenges contemporary beliefs about society and family—including the history of divorce, childcare, and the concept of the nuclear family.
In Subversive Family, politician and writer Ferdinand Mount argues that society is shaped by a series of powerful revolutionary movements, the leaders of which, whether they be political ideologues, theologians, feudal lords, or feminist writers, have done their utmost to render the family a subordinate instrument of their purpose but that, in spite of it all, the family endures. Mount maintains that many widely held contemporary beliefs about the family are based on a willful misreading of the evidence: among the myths are that arranged marriages were the norm until this century; that child care is a modern innovation; that in earlier societies children were treated as expendable objects; that the nuclear family is not a 20th-century invention; and that romantic love never existed before the troubador poets glorified adultery. Divorce, he contends, is no great novelty either, he shows that in many times and places it has been almost as easy to obtain as it is today. Far from diminishing the general desire and respect for family life, Mount contends that the provision for divorce has been popularly regarded as an integral part of any sensible system of family law. This study should jolt the reader into a re-assessment of one of the most familiar and ancient institutions, and encourage greater consideration for policies today that support the family.