Re: how many bastards are there, anyway?

sgf (
2 Sep 1996 21:50:19 GMT

In article <505u99$>,
David Vanecek <> wrote:

>Men *very commonly* in *many* societies at *all* levels of economic development
>live without significant relationships with women. There is no
>human relationship except sex that *requires* a woman. If perversion or
>celibacy is allowed, even that vanishes. There is a social necessity
>to support children; typically this is the responsibility of the men.

Um, cites, please? In all the reading I've done for my degree, in most
of the cultures, men almost always marry, or at least form long-term
pair-bonds with women. Even in societies that have no penalty for
illegitimacy (of which there are many).

>: to engage in sex, knowing the dangers of pregnancy, unless the women
>: got immediate benefit.
>Payment in cash or kind is the traditional non-orgasmic immediate benefit.
>Many prostitutes report almost no erotic pleasure in an act that
>nonetheless they indulge compulsively. Many Christian wives report
>the same absence of pleasure, yet are famous for their fecundity.

Yep. In Marjorie Shostak's _Nisa_, Nisa (a hunter/gatherer woman)
explains why she has many lovers in other tribes. She says it is so that
when you go to another tribe to visit, this man will give you meat. If
you go to yet another tribe, you lover there will give you beads. And so
on. She enjoys the sex, but when asked why so many lovers, it is the
economic gain she is after. (This does not mean she does not love or at
least feel strongly about her lovers. She is very explicit that she
feels strong emotions for them.)

>It also depends on his wife's behavior. It depends on the social consequences
>of adultery. If the female is protected by law, a husband or a family,
>the adulterer may find himself incapable of any future behavior of any
>kind except in the afterlife.

Human wiliness and cunning as well as the strong pull of sex and love
ensures that a certain measure of adultery happens in all societies,
regardless of the consequences. (Helen Fisher, _The Anatomy of Love_)

>A gene with high survival value means a gene that reproduces itself
>better, and produces an adult more likely to reproduce. An organism is
>a gene's method of making more genes like itself. A society is a gene's
>method of setting rules and establishing conditions for its survival.
>The goal of every individual in a species is to insure the survival of
>his or her OWN genes, i.e. children. When we speak of 'survival of the
>fittest' we often forget what 'fittest' means: it means 'most able to
>reproduce successfully.' And NOTHING else.
>Women marry for money, abstracted into 'support.' Men marry to
>guarantee the paternity of their wives' children. If there are other
>ways than paternal support to raise a child, bastardry will rise in
>proportion. If the primary purpose of marriage be to raise children,
>marriage will decline in the face of alternatives.

Explain societies in which illegitimacy has no consequences and yet
people still marry (i.e., most hunting and gathering societies). *One*
of the primary purposes of the institution is to raise children. Another
primary purpose includes establishing ties with neighboring groups, in
other words, politics.

>A woman has no motive for avoiding adultery unless it endangers the
>support of her offspring. Since a woman is biologically conditioned
>to copulate almost without vacation from menarch to menopause, even
>during pregnancy and suckling, some selection process needs to be
>in place. In the past, this was support by a mate or family, since
>a woman with children cannot survive by her own means in most economies.
>BUT If society will support her in producing bastards, she has no reason
>to marry, a goal central to feminist politics in all ages. A man has no

Again, "bastardy" is a *cultural* *construct*, to be found in more
complex societies (i.e., more complex than bands and tribes). Many
societies value children because they are children. Why do you place a
value judgement on women being able to support themselves and their
children? Illigitimacy is not a *cause*, it is a *symptom*.

>taxpayer), or rewarded in some way, say through subsidized access to
>prostitutes (welfare). It is not an accident that the silly, daft
>phrase "It takes a village to raise a child" is commonly on the lips
>of the parents of bastards. "It takes a village to raise a bastard" is
>still inaccurate, but closer to the truth: "It takes a cuckold to

Children being raised by only their parents is a recent (i.e., last couple
of thousand years) invention. In the social systems humans lived in for
a million years or more, a woman produces a child, takes the child with
her when she gathers until it is partially weaned and she can no longer
carry it. At that point, the child stays behind in the tribal village
and is watched over by older children and men and women who are older and
nolonger go out hunting and gathering. The extended family was, for most
of human existence, a basic unit of child-rearing. I don't think it is
any coincidence that humans in modern welfare states no longer live in
extended families, and rely on the state as a surrogate family.

>The welfare system is an etherealization of prostitution: a female is
>apportioned support (from virtual cuckolds) on contract, proportional
>to the number of her bastards. Support being guaranteed her, she may
>then disregard the paternity of the bastards. Strictly speaking,
>welfare is a medial form, between the piece-work of prostitution and
>the long-term contract of marriage. It may be properly called
>"socialized cuckoldry." It is a form of paternity insurance for
>adulters, funded by cuckolds.

True or not: women who are married recieve less in welfare benefits than
unmarried women, because it is assumed their husbands are contributing to
their support. If a woman with kids will recieve *in total* more money
without a husband (from welfare) than she will with welfare and a
husband's income, then it makes economic sense (in the short term, at
least, and to her, not society as a whole) not to marry.

Even if that factoid isn't always true (I have no cites or anything; it's
just dredged from my memory), there is an alternate explanation for some
of the long-term-nonbeneficial behavior that goes on in the welfare
state: the continued, heavy use of alcohol. Children born to mothers
who consume alcohol during their pregnancies have been shown to not be
able to calculate long-term costs and benefits. A woman who was born to
a mother that drank while pregnant may not be *able* to forsee that
having another child to bring in more welfare benfits will *not* produce
more money in the long run. (_The Broken Cord_, Michael Dorris, a Lakota
[if I recall correctly] who adopted Adam, a child with Fetal Alcohol
Syndrome, and wrote this book about Adam, FAS, Fetal Alcohol Effect
[milder version of the syndrome] and Native Americans.) And if *she*
drinks while pregnant, then the problem is passed down through the

>We should meditate on the processes of natural selection that produced
>in us a species with the notion of paternity. We may contrast
>ourselves with the chimpanzee, which practices bastardry and is in
>danger of extinction. We are not unique; cats (domestic and others)

The impending extinction of the chimpanzee has nothing to do with bearing
young out of committed pair-bond relationships, and has everything to do
with their shrinking habitats.

(Hey, they lasted four million years practicing bastardry! What a strong
maladaptive force that must be!)

>Toleration of bastards is a consequence of men's poor sense of smell.
>If paternity could be judged by smell, there would be no bastards and
>no cuckolds. Successful adultery would be, like suicide, a
>once-in-a-lifetime event. Curiously, paternity can now be "smelled"
>with laboratory instruments. Advocates of bastardry might profit from
>the contemplation of future social evolution.

Illegitimacy has been happening in the human race for millions of years.
Somehow I don't think it's going to spell the downfall of the human
race. Social consequences that correlate with the occurence of
illigitimacy on a large scale in societeis with a particular structure
may happen to assist in the downfall of that particular society, but the
human race as a whole is not threatened.


-- <*>
"Assiduous and frequent questioning is indeed the first key to wisdom ...for
by doubting we come to inquiry; through inquiring we perceive the truth..."
--Peter Abelard (..........I claim this .sig for Queen Elizabeth)