Re: how many bastards are there, anyway?

sgf (
4 Sep 1996 22:27:35 GMT

In article <>, Lars Eighner <> wrote:
>In our last episode <50fkqs$>,
>Broadcast on alt.folklore.urban,sci.anthropology
>The lovely and talented (sgf) wrote:
>>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).
>This is misleading.
>In societies in which marriage is universal, marriage is purely a
>property arrangement. Romance, if it happens, is expected to occur in
>the bush. That people are put the yoke together doesn't mean
>they are forming "long-term pair-bonds."

Helen Fisher, _Anatomy of Love: The Mysteries of Marriage, Mating and Why
We Stray_, pp. 72-74:

"Is monogamy natural? Yes. There certainly are exceptions. Given the
opportuinty, men often opt for multiple spouses to further their genetic
lines. Polygyny is also natural. Women join harems when the resources
they can garner outweigh the disadvantages. Polyandry is natural. But
co-wives fight. Co-husbands argue too. Both men and women have to be
cajoled by riches to share a spouse. Whereas gorills, horses, and
animals of many other species *always* form harems, among human beings
polygyny and polyandry seem to be optional opportunistic exceptions;
monogamy is the rule. Human beings almost never have to be cajoled into
pairing. Instead, we do this naturally. We flirt. We feel
infatuation. We fall in love. We marry. And the vast majority of us
marry only one person at a time.

"Pair-bonding is a trademark of the human animal.

"This is not to suggest that all wives and husbands are infatuated with
each other when they wed. In most traditional societies the *first*
[emphasis mine] marriage of a son or daughter is arranged ... But in the
vast majority of cultures, the views of both the boy and girl are sought
before wedding plans proceed.

"...But you can't kill romantic love. Even where man and women live with
several spouses simultaneously, individuals generally have one partner
that they prefer. In free sex communes men and women tend to pair up.
Even where marriages are strictly arranged and romantic attachment is
prohibited, love blossoms ...

"Taboos, myths, rituals, myriad cultural inventions coax the young around
the world into arranged marriages. Yet where these marriages can be
dissolved, as in New Guinea, on atolls in the Pacific, in much of Africa
and Amazonia, people regularly divorce and remarry mates they choose
themselves. To court, to fall in love, to form a pair-bond is human nature."

>Yes, I know, filtering the facts through the "they lived happily
>ever after" fairy-tale and the myth of the "noble savage"
>does present a pretty to picture to some. But it just isn't true.

I am hardly the one to accuse of believing in the myth of the "noble
savage." My students in the past have gotten quite angry with me because
I refused to take 'Because the <insert traditional society here> just
have more *respect* for nature' as an answer -- I like to tell them about
Chaco Canyon, Easter Island and the possible reasons for the downfall of
the Maya to bust *that* myth.


-- <*>
"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)