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.
Much material, I'll start from the top:
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.
I think, and this is just my subjective opinion, that this is because marriage is a recent invention used for exploiting large populations; part of which involved repression of women but a smaller part involving the repression of everyone else, especially sexually.
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.
I have heard this. Could one devise a communal system however, where the biological parents are still the primary influence in terms of total time spend with the child?
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.
And personally I don't think we should get into regulating parenting. Courts and Legislators are notoriously unable to make good decisions about internal family matters precisely because of their intricate complexities that are hard for an outsider to learn in the short time they have to examine it. I think our tendency to publicly expose the private family world is perverse; though having more eyes in the mix is a good accountability measure for the very things you mentioned. This is why I'm thinking about communal rearing. I'm really trying to think of a way to get the public out of the family without reducing accountability.
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.
I think almost all of this is due to deep, visceral sexual insecurities that plague Humanity in this Age, but that especially plagues the culture here in the United States. There is no reason for all the boundaries we have put up around who can have sex with who, and how they can do it, in my decidedly controversial opinion. Surprisingly, the unsung research data strongly supports this.
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.
Could this be had all the same in a communal environment?
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.
Oh, yea, so am I, and thanks for the food for thought.
RE: "thanks for the food for thought"
omg, what a slip! I'm sorry. I don't know where that came from. Get=Hey
As far as I know people have always gotten married without monetary benefits. And people had raised families before there were any marriages. I think marriage is about your love and commitment for another person. I don't think anyone should get any extra benefits from it either. I don't think it's fair that just because I have not found anyone that I can share my love and commitment with that I should be denied a tax break or insurance benefits. If I can't join my taxes with my sister or add her to my insurance plan then why should married people be allowed to.
So I say take away any monetary benefit of marriage and let anyone do it regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or quantity.
This is where I'm leaning. And you hit the two key points for me as well; why should singles be singled out (no pun intended) and I don't understand the whole benefit thing either.
I've heard that this is an old tradition used a long time ago to encourage marriage and procreation and family and what-not because that was good for the "nation". But that concept is long outdated now.
I think the whole concept of "family" is changing. Almost no younger people including me are in attendance at my family reunions anymore (younger meaning 18-30). People seem to be waiting longer to get married and have children. I for one feel far closer to certain friends than I do most family...have never really bought into that "blood is thicker than water" jazz. Seems at some point in history families were more dependent on each other as far as helping out w/ everyday needs, all the while it has become common to see a 30 year old with a room mate (as is my case, I'm 28). I'm not opposed to the idea of marriage, but feel no real need for it either. Have never liked the ceremonial aspects of it. But then again, there are very few traditional things I feel or have ever felt any serious need to follow. I'm all for gay marriage, but only because they should have the same rights as straight people...that, and the fact that I know it would piss certain religious institutions off (which sounds shallow of me, I know...but I'm just speaking the truth regarding my feelings here).
I've never had any serious desire to marry or to have children. I love kids, just don't feel as if having one of my own is for me. I do feel as if we as slowly experiencing a shift of yesterday's values into something new. Kind of exciting in a way.
I think your idea that the concept of family is changing is not something everywhere but among white culture in the US. And it's not new. I was born in this country but from a very young age I noticed a big difference between my Hispanic friends and my white friends. The big difference was the importance of their relatives in their lives.
It is such a big difference that the definitions are not the same. Everyone of my aunts and uncles are like my parents, first cousins are our brothers and sisters and what you would probably call your second cousins or your parents cousins, they would be my aunts and uncles and their children well they're my cousins too. My cousins children they are all my nieces and nephews. On my mothers side of the family we can trace our tree back 200 years to the small towns in Spain and France where they were from before they migrated to Mexico. On my dads side not so much because they mixed with many of the Native Indians of Mexico but my grandmother always told me stories of the Indians we were descendants of and their myths and legends.
We all lead individual lives, sometimes we go for long periods without seeing each other, and it's a pain in the but to get everyone to show up to a family reunion(most make it and if they don't you can count on them at the next one). We definitely have our differences and we don't always get along but if I'm ever in a street fight there is no one I would want more by my side than one of my cousins.(Even the smallest weakest one of them)
I could be wrong, but I think part of the "closeness" you feel with your family lies in the fact that y'all came here from somewhere else. Being in a new place w/ knowing next to no one but family probably brings ya closer together. I can see this sense of closeness being taught as being important even if in few words, and it carrying down through the generations.
My grandmother's parents were from Portugal (dad's side). My great grandmother was Cherokee (mom's side). Outside of this, I know next to nothing about my family heritage. Guess we've been here so long that somewhere along the line people didn't think it was important enough to pass the information regarding where we came from along.
Both of my parents are on their third marriages. I barely know my dad anymore (no relationship with him since I was 11-12 years old). Rumor has it he may soon be having his third divorce. I have at least two brothers I've never met (dad's fault...he doesn't know them either). Two half sisters I barely know. Needless to say, "family" for me has always meant more drama than anything else...thus, developing friendships with people that feel more like family to me than a lot of my actual biological family. It's strange. My situation isn't unique either.
My family is from somewhere else but we are from here too. I am a fourth generation American on my mothers side and second on my fathers. The importance of family is just a strong part of our culture that it is passed down at the top of the list of priorities to teach our children. It is something I will never forget because every single time without exception that I hurt one of my sisters or brothers growing up my parents recited to me the same lecture that said "You never hurt your family you are suppose to protect and take care each other."
I am not a father of my own yet but when I'm in charge of the care of any of my nephews or nieces they can expect to hear that same lecture from me if I catch them fighting each other. And if I ever do have children of my own they too will hear that lecture.
The marriage well that has been happening in our culture too my parents have been divorced for over 20 years and so have many of my relatives. I think that is something that is common everywhere because the importance of a wedding vow was one of those things that was not as high on the list of priorities as family. It is not always a bad thing though. I was only 11 when my parents split but I remember advising my mother to leave my dad.(It was at his lowest point in his drug addiction) My mother recently divorced her second husband and although that is sad I gained a step sister from him and he was a big influence and teacher in my career. If my dad has any brain cells left he will ask his girlfriend to marry him and I will get a new step mom, step sisters, and a step brother. I always look forward to the expansion of my family and although he says no I would like my dad to give me a little brother.(my mom had a hysterectomy so she can't)
Marriage aside, I think it is for selfish reasons no one really wants a "village" to raise their children. I love that my kids have a lot of loving adults in their lives beyond my husband and I to interact with them, but I don't necessarily want my uber-religious sister or my semi-crazy mother-in-law to be in charge of their morals or belief systems on a regular basis.
Yea, I think that is perhaps the biggest objection you would get to communal rearing. In fact, I think it is a very legitimate argument; especially when we consider the possiblity of public institutions deciding how children are reared, which almost always is a power abused.
Here's an idea; suppose you had a system where the "community" of rearing adults was chosen by the parents? Could that work?
Interesting thought. I suppose in theory, it could. I'm rarely a fan of group work. If it survives for too long, it tends to mutate into something it hadn't start out as. Does that make sense? Just look at our government, for example.