Re: how many bastards are there, anyway?

Lars Eighner (
5 Sep 1996 03:34:12 -0500

alf.folklore.urban trimmed from followups.

In our last episode <50kvop$>,
Broadcast on alt.folklore.urban,sci.anthropology
The lovely and talented (sgf) wrote:

>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).

Well, I can see I am going to have to lose a day's pay and risk
putting my family on the street again to go to the HRAF and
pull the citations because evidently Tobacco U. doesn't have any

But I'm not saying men don't usually marry, and I am not saying
that most don't form pair bonds with women -- I am saying that
you and your sources seem to think that marriage and romantic
love and pair-bonding are all one and the same thing and are
ALWAYS found in exactly the same relation between two people.
Such IS the stuff of fairy-tales.

I am not even claiming that husband and wife don't form the
kind of mutual respect and regard that any other partners in
a shared enterprise may expect to have for each other.

I am only saying that the expectation that marriage and romantic
love go together like a horse and carriage is a very young
notion. That is not to say that either marriage or romantic
love is . . . uh, . . . novel. But the belief that they
are one and the same thing is.

>>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."

I suppose I could clarify this with "doesn't mean that they are
forming 'long-term pair-bonds' with each other."

>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
>opportunity, men often opt for multiple spouses to further their genetic

And of course everyone is so well-informed concerning genetics
the they can intend "to further their genetic lines"? Goodness,
what a silly old monk Mendel was to have spent all that time
studying what everyone else knew perfectly well.

Is it possible that every time Fisher has read the word "lineage"
she has taken it to mean something genetic?

>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 gorillas, 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.

You see. Your source can't decide whether she is talking about
pairing or marriage.

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

Who is disputing this?

>"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 ...

See. The polygamist is equally married to all of his wives, but
he has a special bond with only one of them. Your own source
is admitting that marriage and pair bonding are NOT the same thing
and is even at pains here to make the distinction. Pairing up
is not the same as marriage--or is it? Too bad Fisher cannot
make up her mind. She gives examples to show that marriage is
not a necessary or sufficient condition on romantic love, then
she gives examples showing that romantic love is not a necessary
or sufficient condition on marriage. From this she concludes
marriage and romantic love are the same thing!

This isn't inductive reasoning. It isn't deductive reasoning.
It must be seductive reasoning.

"You can't kill romantic love" even by marrying other people.

>"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."

That divorces are easy in most of these situations is perfectly
true. That they are common is highly dubious. But again,
I am not disputing that courting, falling in love, or forming
pair-bonds 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.

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