Cut-throat razor with box

Gender and life cycle: marriage

Family and relationships

Gender roles

Until well into the 20th century, the cut-throat razor was a grooming item that was used, among other things, to enable men to attend the dances held in the town square with a clean shave. At those dances, we would find numerous couples dancing, but also a good number of bachelors, the town ‘unmarriageables’, who were traditionally second sons, as families preferred to marry their daughters to the first-born, the one who would inherit his father’s land.

However, the rural exodus over the course of the 20th century reversed this situation: younger sons left for nearby cities in search of work, and as a result, women began to prefer marriage to them, as they could offer a better quality of life in the city. Consequently, the first-born, tied to his land, was no longer sought after by society. With this, the bulk of the group of ‘unmarriageables’, the bachelors, came to be made up of these first sons, unlike in earlier decades. Beginning in 1914, and especially from the 1950s onward, these trends constituted a break with the model of matrimony that had been in operation in the Western world for centuries.