What is the true nature of Man-Woman marriage/pair-bonding, found throughout history and across cultures? Unlike same-sex-marriage which is a modern cultural development.
It IS possible that from the earliest human history the cultural custom of M-W marriage has spread from culture to culture because it was a good invention and people liked it, since it solved some social problems. What social problems?
- Keeping men from fighting too savagely over the women.
- Keeping women and their children fed, since they would have a specific man to provide for them.
- Allowing men to have what women had by nature: the ability to be a parent of a specific child.
But is this just a cultural custom? If it were, wouldn’t we see cultures that hadn’t adopted that custom, or rejected it years ago? Especially in long-isolated human groups? But we don’t see that. There just haven’t been cultures in which men could have any women they wanted. Or where human men acted like mating baboons, sharing any female who was in heat, while ignoring the others.
I believe that M-W marriage or pair-bonding might well be more that just a custom that could be different from culture to culture. It may be instinct— the way that wolves have the instinct to form wolf-packs, and Mandarin ducks have the instinct to mate for life.
Some people might say that the facts that some cultures allowed polygamy and harems while others didn’t proves it isn’t instinct, but I don’t think that’s so. Humans, as thinking beings, can shape the cultural results of a pair-bonding instinct. One group allows a man to make multiple marriage-bonds— perhaps because there is or was a shortage of men in the culture, or perhaps because some men were enslaved and made eunuchs. Others allowed only one pair-bond per customer. Or only one at a time.
Our experience of human beings is that they tend to group up in male-female pairs, and attempts to change that don’t work well. Some groups, like the Shakers, wanted everyone to be celibate— no sex. They aren’t around any more. The early Marxists who believed that the ‘means of production’ should be held in common included women as a means of production, and experimented with the travesty of ‘free love.’ That also did not last. The Soviet Union and other Socialist regimes had M-W marriages.
So when they scream at you that M-W marriage is ‘just a piece of paper’ and that same-sex couples or triples deserve paper too, don’t believe it. Humans may have a long history of M-W marriage, but S-S marriage is an innovation we can’t find in the past.
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