Re: how many bastards are there, anyway?

sgf (
4 Sep 1996 22:52:23 GMT

In article <>, Lars Eighner <> wrote:
>In our last episode <50hbdp$>,
>Broadcast on alt.folklore.urban,sci.anthropology
>The lovely and talented (Bryant) wrote:
>>In article <>, Lars Eighner <> wrote:
>>>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."
>>Um, so if marriages don't represent arrangements of sexual exclusivity,
>>why are trysts performed "in the bush" ??
>I did not mean particularly clandestined. Of course everyone in a
>small village knows what is going on.

Everyone does. But they rarely talk about it openly, and almost never to
the spouses in question. Marriage is still seen as an institution
thatdemands some form of sexual exclusivity or even politeness, and it is
considered rude to drag extramarital affairs out into the open.

>>What happens in the cultures you have in mind when a husband finds out
>>about the trysts? What cultures, in fact, are you describing?
>He is delighted, especially if there is some prospect of offspring.
>The biological father's family will almost certainly attempt to
>ransom the child. Most of these societies are 1)chronically
>underpopulated and 2) dependent upon a very labor-intensive
>economy. The husband gets to keep the child or he gets the offerings
>of the biological father's family. In either case, he will be
>wealthier and the biological father's family will be poorer.

I am going to repeat Bryant's last question, which you failed to answer:
What cultures, in fact, are you describing?

There are societies in which what we term "adultery" is not looked on as
morally sinful, but in most of these cultures the adulterous
relationships remain clandestine. There are a few exceptions: some Inuit
peoples, the Kofyar of Nigeria, the Turu of Tanzania, among others, but in
these the "adulterous" relationships are all strictly controlled -- to
cement bonds of kinship, to replace a spouse one is dissatisfied with but
does not wish to divorce, or limited to certain occasions. And once you
start looking at agricultural societies (which are based more on hard
manual labor than hunting/gathering or herding societies), you find that
women are expected to be faithful and are subject to a wide variety of
punishments if they take a lover. (Fisher, _Anatomy of Love_, 1992)


-- <*>
"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)