Re: Bastards--long

Ken Comer (
6 Sep 1996 08:47:08 -0500

In article <>, Lars Eighner <> wrote:
>The lovely and talented the spiegel <> wrote:

Based on my mirror, the "lovely" part is a real stretch. Based on the
sloppiness of my last post, I could question the "talented" part as
>>In article <> you write:
>>>The question is: what accounts for the absence of female-female
>>>marriage in cultures where it is absent?
>>>This is what I mean by pointing out the bias inherent in your
>>>questions. Apparently your culture is the norm and it is
>>>up to those that differ to explain themselves.
>>Unfair. Last time I used the word "normal," I meant it as "what is most
>>commonly seen."
>When "norm," the word I used, entered the language it meant
>a model or standard, as might be guessed from it's origin
>in the Latin word for carpenter's square.

You say, "norm," I read, "normal." Duh. Still, the point was not the
word but the meaning. Nowhere did the original poster say his culture
was the norm, nor was the question inherently biased. The absence of
female-female marriages is common. Looking for reasons to explain the
exceptions might be fruitless, but it is generally more fruitful than
looking for reasons to explain the common mode.
>>I can name dozens of cultures where female-female
>>ritual partnership (i.e., marriage) is rare. Can you make a
>No. In fact your data would be helpful to me. What is in
>question is not whether female-female marriage is the
>modal form of marriage in any culture--unless someone thinks
>there is a real basis for the Amazon myth, I don't believe
>anyone has made such claim. Female-female marriages are fairly
>rare (how rare is rare?) in all the cultures in which they are
>known to occur.

I meant "rare" in the sense of "vanishingly rare." Like, "seldom or
never seen." The list is pretty well all-encompassing. Sloppy of me to
use "rare," but there you are.

>The dozens of cases that you can cite in which female-female
>marriages are rare, plus the dozens of cases I have cited in
>which female-female marriages occur both argue against setting
>up one culture--our own--which forbids such marriages, as
>the authoritative standard against which every other society
>must be judged.

I misspoke. There is no "authoritative standard"-- agreed. But there
is a common mode and an uncommon mode. The uncommon mode is the one
where ritual FF marriages exist. Looking for exceptions, then seeing if
there is a common element which might explain them is reasonable.

>ethnocentrism is, and I am truly appalled to discover it has
>so many adherents in sci.anthropology in 1996.

Man, if that appalls you, you're being ethnocentric at the other

the spiegel

Ken Comer | | aka spiegel