I have been thinking lately about the issue of "civil unions", gay marriage and the institution of marriage generally. I really think that its time to completely re-evaluate the idea of family. When I thought about what it would be like without religion I realized that there really isn't any reason for marriage, is there? Why should we have an "institution of marriage" at all? What about communal rearing of children? Could that be made to work?
And then there are the social factors. Honestly, it really doesn't serve man or woman to marry anymore, does it? What good does it do anyone? I get the sense that, along with the repression of women bound up in religion, the historical forces behind marriage had more to do with the social repression of women than anything else. Once you take away that, what's left? So, without repression of women, why do we need marriage?
Maybe certain rights for kinship should be retained and rules for how children are reared would have to be figured out, but I was just wondering what others thought about eliminating the idea of marriage completely and if religion and historical baggage is making it appear to be a necessity when it really isn't.
I can only come at this from the standpoint that I cannot get married (I am a gay female in a state that has defined it as man/woman)
At the present time, logical reasons to get married are all the benefits that come along with it, as well as the privileges that you don't have as just a couple. A few of them include the monetary stuff of course, as well as sharing health and work benefits. A few others include guidlines for what to do should your relationship dissolve of if your partner dies.
Emotional ones are that you are voicing your commitment to that person. I've been with my partner for two years and six months. We would want to get married because it's just an affirmation of our love.
That being said, if somehow all those logical benefits were taken away, no..I don't think 'marriage' is a necessity. I don't think to have a good family and a safe, happy life you need to be legally connected to another person (again, magical dissolving of those partner benefits). I don't think it makes you a better set of parents for your kids. But, being a good parent has little to do with marriage any way. Being married doesn't automatically make your family work, but neither does NOT being married.
Not sure if I ended up really saying anything.....
No, you did say a good bit. I was glad you brought up the benefits thing because as you kind of noted, if no one had the benefits would there really be a disadvantage for anyone, if that makes any sense?
I wonder about communal rearing of children and it is not clear to me that a traditional "family" is needed for that. In fact my angle on this comes from a human rights perspective vis-a-vis adolescents, a somewhat unpopular stance. But, in any case, I think kids should have the right to more exposure than just what their consanguinity provides.
Fascinating. Let me ask you something. Do you think that marriage could have been a contrivance of civlization? I mean, could it be that it was "invented" only "recently" for the very things you describe? Maybe it never was a "natural" thing to begin with? I wonder about this.
I think our modern idea of marriage came out of those necessities, as Rich pointed out. It was a means to keep what you had, and to merge that with what other people had (marrying off your kids and such). I think to fully understand what the world would be without marriage, you'd have to wait another century or two to see what the world would be without it. That is if we wiped the slate completely clean. An impossible world experiment.
But my hypothesis is that something similar would still come out of it, maybe not a mirror of todays marriage, but something of the sort. Just a hypothesis though, and it can't be proven really.
As for child rearing, Kir, I can't say much about it. I have seen all different types of families though. My own parents are still married and I was raised by them, but also by both sets of grandparents and my aunt and uncle on my dads side. On my mothers side, my cousins all have two sets (divorced, remarried, that sort of situation) and the newest addition to that side, my cousins baby, is being reared by all the aunts in turn. I think it really depends on the wants of the parents of the child and the socio-economic and cultural setting in which you are set in. This is a facinating topic, but I fear that we can only theorize because that idea that you get married and have a family is so ingrained in our society that it's hard to imagine what it would be without it.
That is very interesting. I do agree that, if we were to imagine a hypothetical family scheme that would really work, it would have to involved some kind of provision for priority in kinship (basically, the adumbration of marriage as you suggested). I've wondered what that might look like, especially in a just scheme where all sexual orientations, gender identities and all sexual insecurities were properly addressed. And you're right, it *is* hard to visualize.
I was reared in a matriarchal family. I was spoiled by having the strong influence of my entire extended family. I think having more adults in the loop, for many reasons, is better for the child.
Lawyers aren't clever, they're just overpaid and therefore think they must be. :-)
This thing about keeping girls at home and denying them education through pregnancy and what-not is really sad and disappointing to see in this day and age. If a girl is lucky enough to be coddled in considerable privilege, maybe early pregnancy isn't such a a bad thing, but even then there are medical risks to consider. And even if a girl is privileged, is that really fair?
It must be interesting to live in the big apple; are you in Manhattan, may I ask?
I have heard that international abductions, mostly of teenage girls and young women, is getting more common and, sadly, I do know of some federal cases where people were charged and convicted for "importing" these girls into the United States!
We must never forget that all religions (except, perhaps, the Quakers) are overtly demeaning to women.
I'm glad to hear you say that, as religion is, I think, a key player in all this. I think we often take this for granted and don't see it in its full effect because we have become so dulled by it due to its ubiquity. Dang, I think Dawkins said something like that ... Anyway, so many social ills become so much more manageable without religion.
Well, that is something else I am wondering about. It seems in many ways that western cultures are beginning to "update" the idea of marriage, or partnership, in a kind of de facto way. But the laws and mores seem to have a hard time catching up.
RE: "Do you think that marriage could have been a contrivance of civlization?"
Despite my avatar, I really wasn't around then, but I strongly suspect that marriage evolved as a compromise between early men and women - a societal convenience driven by a species-wide mandate for survival of the species. Pregnant and child-rearing women really weren't free to successfully hunt to feed themselves and their children, and men wanted sex on a regular basis - both essential for species survival - hence a quid pro quo developed that, with the anthropomorphization of religion, ultimately evolved into formal marriage that lent a degree of permanence and emotional security to the arrangement. Doesn't really sound all that romantic, once you break it down, does it?
pax vobiscum, archaeopteryx in-His-own-image.com
I get this weird sense that you're on to something. Although a tribal or group culture might provide some protection and care for pregnant women, the consanguinity of the father's relation might have ensured more fidelity in that cause.
I tend to see things more as quid pro quo in biology anyway, so that is fairly easy for me to see.
I misread that the first time around - thought you said, "I get this weird sense that you're on something." So naturally, I wondered who you'd been talking to.
But seriously, I'm no misogynist by any sense of the word, but in the dynamics of primitive Man, I believe we can see the beginnings of the social structure that has limited the emotional growth of women for, likely hundred and hundreds of thousands of years. I.e., man hunted while women, tied down with pregnancy and/or children had little alternative but to stay home, scrape hides, sew clothing, etc. Men, hunting all day in all kinds of weather, possibly stalking for miles, had no inclination to skin, dress and cook his meal. Thus the division of labor began that has continued in most of the world til today.
I also maintain that that role differentiation was essential at the time, for the continuation of the species. Today, however, it no longer is.
When you mention a tribal or group culture caring for a pregnant woman, I don't feel that's as likely as with an individual man. With a man and woman, the food would be shared somewhat equally, whereas within the tribal situation, it would be more like a dog with seven puppies, the weakest always gets shoved out, which wouldn't exactly bode well for continuation of the species.
You mentioned wondering how successful would be the communal rearing of children. I have no answer to that, as a child's mind is not something with which I could allow myself to radically experiment. There ARE societies however, in Africa, South America, that have practiced something similar in their cultures. My mind blanks (it's late here) when I try to dredge up names, but surely there must be some case studies somewhere. I know I've heard of plural marriages here in America (1 man, multiple women), who employ multiple-mom childrearing policies, again, maybe some case studies are available for those.
Wish I could help more, but I was up til six this morning working on my own blog, then there was that attention-grubbing Angelo and his alter-ego Michael, so by and large, I'm braindead.
pax vobiscum, archaeopteryx in-His-own-image.com
I get this weird sense that you're on something
lol, that's funny.
... Angelo and his alter-ego Michael ...
I know, strange coincidence, right? The jury is still out for me on this "institution of marriage" thing but I'm thinking it really is all a farce.
Kir - Re, "institution of marriage farce:"
I can't really say one way or another. I will agree that in today's world, it's certainly not as essential to the survival of the species as it once was, and the fact that in America, 50% of all marriages end in divorce seem to back up that contention.
On the other hand, studies also show that children do better in homes that have a mother- and father-figure to pattern after. We seem to tend to pattern after our parent of the same sex, and learn first to deal with members of the opposite sex by learning to deal with our parent of the opposite sex, and if that relationship is a healthy one, we tend to project our feelings for that opposite-sex parent onto the opposite sex at large.
On the third hand (as Zaphod Beeblebrox might say), there are a lot of screwed-up parents out there. In many states, one has to take a gun-safety course before we can buy a weapon, to prove we know how to safely handle one, and nearly all have to take Driver's Ed to get a license, yet we can have a dozen kids without ever having to prove we know anything about raising one. In those instances, there's no doubt in my mind that, though not the ideal, a child would be better off in a single-parent home, than a dysfunctional two-parent one.
Then there's the problem with older-age sex. Women are less visual when it comes to sex - yes, physical appearance matters to a woman as well, but not to the extent that it does to a man, which goes far to explain why so many beautiful women have been kind to me. Women are more into the emotional and tactile end of a relationship, than a visual one (imo). I think my point is proven by the fact that the porn industry is directed far more toward men than women. My point here, is that as a man gets older and is unable to interest young, attractive women, his only alternative (assuming he's heterosexual), is older women. A man who marries a woman he loves and develops a deep emotional bond with her that includes, but goes beyond physical attraction, can likely be sexually attracted to her long after her physical features begin to decline, both because of the deep emotional bond and the fact that the decline is so gradual, it's barely noticed (our minds tend to let us see what we want to see). Whereas a single older man - not speaking from experience, I'll let you know when I get there - it would seem to me, must look for sex among women nearer his own age, whose features are far less attractive than those he was accustomed to in his younger years, which (again, imo) would tend to unnecessarily and prematurely dampen his sexual desire. I'm not sure that's an earth-shattering reason for entering into a lifelong commitment, but I would have to count it as one reason for doing so.
Another reason might be that within marriage, each partner has what I would call a portable support group of one. We all need our "'Attaboys," to stay emotionally healthy, and within a good relationship with the right person, those are there for us when we need them.
I'm just throwing these out as things to consider. The truth is, that the entire subject is so, well, subjective, and my reasons above so generalized, that they obviously don't apply to everyone, but are, just as I say, things to consider.
pax, and all that jazz, archaeopteryx