As a rule, when women had enough food, water, and shelter so that they could live independently of men without starving, divorce was made legal and considered moral 47 And therefore it was common. This was the case among middle-class Americans since the 1960s, the IKung Bushmen of southern Africa’s Kalahari Desert, the Yoruba of West Africa, the Hadza of Tanzania, and the Tamang of Nepal Even in societies that married off every woman possible and prevented divorces for the masses, women who had economic security often ignored marriage – from Cleopatra to the empress Wa of the Wei dynasty of China to Elizabeth I in the sixteenth century or Catherine of Russia in the eighteenth century.48

The laws and religious rules, both made by men, almost always gave women the primary proteaion even when a man might have wanted a divorce. Calling the taboo against divorce God’s will ( "What God has joined together, let no man put asunder") was society’s way of making that guarantee iron-clad for women. Marriage-as-sacrament was the female’s divine right. At least for as long as women needed it to prevent starvation.

The lesson? If men and women want the freedom to divorce, the socialization process must require women to take care of themselves from as early an age as it requires that of its men.