Marriage a most unnatural state of affairs?

(158 Posts)
MiniTheMinx Fri 06-Jul-12 22:03:41

The monogamous family seems to me to uphold patriarchy better than any other institution. Men have for thousands of years sought to control women's reproduction as a means of controlling wealth. The most obvious way in which they have done this is through marriage.

Having read quite a lot and of course experiencing first hand the joys and the lows of monogamy, with all the emotional fall out, the sense of ownership but also support, the security but also the boredom! (at times) I question just how natural monogamy is.

Women are brought up to believe in fairy tale endings, white weddings and happy retirements, men, meanwhile we are told are naturally less inclined towards faithfulness. Their behaviour proof of biology, our faithfulness and commitment is likewise biologically driven.

I don't believe biology drives our desire for monogamous relationships and think this a materialist social construct which can be accounted for by the study of our material and economic history.

www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2011/04/feminism_and_re_1

www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1884/origin-family/ch02d.htm

jezebel.com/5339211/is-non+monogamy-a-feminist-relationship-choice

I am interested in hearing what others of you think, is marriage and monogamy an unnatural state of affairs?

EclecticShock Fri 06-Jul-12 22:49:06

fifty shades keeps women in their place

This article is interesting. I'm not married but I am in a committed monogamous relationship. I see no need for marriage as I am self dependent.

EclecticShock Fri 06-Jul-12 22:50:44

Fwiw, I think it's unnatural now that we live so long but I think it can work, if you have similar expectations.

FunnysInLaJardin Fri 06-Jul-12 22:53:11

wow, this sounds like an interesting topic. Honestly, I am feminist, but really. I may start my own thread.

Viviennemary Fri 06-Jul-12 22:54:59

I believe in marriage. A lot of animals and birds even do live in monogomous relationships. With each partner having their own job and responsibilities. There's been a few interesting nature programmes on this very topic. Not that I'm saying that's why we should. But it's a thought. So it's not some human invention to promote wealth or an unnatural state of affairs.

MiniTheMinx Fri 06-Jul-12 23:01:46

Have you read Fifty Shades? Thanks for the link. I haven't read it, I think I might actually enjoy it although I think the guardian article is probably correct, in saying that it isn't the sex that is the problem, it's the power relations between the two characters. I would have to ask really whether that is typical of all sub/dom relationships, I suspect that there is sometimes a difference between nature and demeanor.

EclecticShock Fri 06-Jul-12 23:03:34

I don't believe in marriage unless it protects both partners equally. I believe in monogamy while bringing up children. I don't believe in happy ever after and all this romantic fairytale stuff. It takes work, not about "the one"...

Alameda Fri 06-Jul-12 23:04:30

marriage just seems such a horrible horrible thing, I don't know why I did it? Or why I still haven't got round to getting divorced almost two decades after separation, or why I very nearly thought it might be a good idea to do it again with someone even less suitable recently but yes, it seems unnatural. Am terrified of my children ever getting married, it seems such a trap, but obviously would have to try not to be if they ever did.

I can see the appeal of sex on tap and some company sometimes but any relationship like that so quickly feels cloying and scary. They start off all normal and nice but then want to know where you are every three minutes.

There might be something wrong with me though? I know probably about three out of fifty or so married or co-habiting couples where the relationship looks good and everyone is happy, the rest scare me to death.

EclecticShock Fri 06-Jul-12 23:05:17

I haven't read it yet. I think it might be entertaining and escapist but I do hate how "love" literature always focuses on romance and the one... It's not realistic, IMO.

EclecticShock Fri 06-Jul-12 23:08:35

I think marriage can be a trap but then having children requires an enormous level of commitment as having 2 parents who are equally supportive is better than one. However there are obviously many scenarios where having one parent is preferable. All in all I think of people entered into it with their eye wide open it might be easier.

MiniTheMinx Fri 06-Jul-12 23:09:39

Anthropologists are discovering new finds all the time, some of which leads them to believe that historically many tribes followed the matralineal line, women and men did not pair bond for life and women although having quite defined roles were equal to men. So I question whether it is nature or social factors like religion, wealth accumulation, land and property ownership that have brought about an institution which on the face of it, might seem natural. Over time, it is possible that we perceive it to be natural, even if it isn't.

EclecticShock Fri 06-Jul-12 23:12:32

I think religion has played a large role. Many are very patriarchial IMO and I don't even like that term.

Alameda Fri 06-Jul-12 23:14:02

if it was natural surely it would probably happen much more easily? you wouldn't have to work at it, would be like breathing or shagging or having a wee. It all seems so angsty.

who mates with only one person, for life? it must be pretty rare. Most people play the field before they settle down and then lots of them will go on to split up and pair off with someone else once or twice before they just get too old to bother and are happy to settle for anything

monsterchild Fri 06-Jul-12 23:14:06

I don't know that it's unnatural, but certainly there's not a lot of basis in biology, as we are a sexually dimorphic species. I think communities are what are natural, with women at the middle, but men equally important to the group survival.
Marriage evolved as a way to consolidate land/power, mainly I think, by taking the power that women have and giving it to men. Men, of course have their own power, but if you don't allow women to hold power, you've got to have a man there to wield it.

I do think that the current situation isn't going to be fixed by just abolishing marriage. Now children also have rights (as they should) and marriage (or divorce, rather) ensures that children are not left out, especially by the next man.

the problem with sexually dimorphic groups is that you'll see a lot of child killing by the new male(s) to get rid of kids who aren't theirs. This still goes on, of course, but marriage does have the ability to protect those kids whose fathers are no longer there, by empowering them, and giving them something for protection.

Sorry, didn't mean to get so long, but there's more to it than just the Patriarchy holding us down, and it's too easy to throw out the baby with the bathwater sometimes!

Himalaya Fri 06-Jul-12 23:14:10

I think the hunt for "natural" or our original state is a dead end.

MiniTheMinx Fri 06-Jul-12 23:15:12

Alamada, it just seems so permanent doesn't it. I'm not married, never have been, at 40 still have no plans. DP is quite hurt, 15 years and still no leash with which to bind me to him. Monogamous yes, marriage is a step too far. Children have asked about it too, it seems to matter to them, since school and other social contacts seem to convey the normality of it, which means mum and dad must be odd.

Alameda Fri 06-Jul-12 23:18:35

I don't think the nuclear family (is that term still in use?) is a good way to bring up children at all, it's too isolated from the wider community and too many horrible things happen behind its closed doors. That saying about it taking a village to raise a child - if not a village then at least your wider family and friends, much better than two parents I think. Am I a hippy?

EclecticShock Fri 06-Jul-12 23:21:23

Communities don't really exist anymore in the uk... India has the coomunity aspect to raising children.

Alameda Fri 06-Jul-12 23:24:53

well you make your own community of friends, don't you? would be lost without mine confused

Dahlen Fri 06-Jul-12 23:26:19

I think marriage is entirely an artificial cultural construct. I also think there is no one way of organising society and relationships that will work for all. I think society would be a much better place if, for example, communal living was as normal as the nuclear family and every possible scenario in between was equally acceptable. People would then naturally gravitate towards the kind of living best suited for them, would find others with similar expectations and values, and everyone would be far happier.

In terms of best outcomes for children, current thinking is that the larger the unit the child is brought up in, the better, so extended families and communes are preferable to the nuclear family. Likewise, a happy, functional single parent family with a strong supportive network would provide a better outcome (statistically speaking) than a nuclear family with no family nearby and little support from friends, which is, of course, becoming more typical as people move where the jobs are. I guess it comes back to the saying of taking a village to raise a child.

EclecticShock Fri 06-Jul-12 23:26:28

Who has time with the ridiculous amount spent working and commuting...

Dahlen Fri 06-Jul-12 23:26:47

x posts with Alameda there about the village thing. grin

EclecticShock Fri 06-Jul-12 23:28:28

Fwiw, we live very close to grandparents... So in a community of sorts, but it's not that easy for everyone. Anyway, off topic slightly.

Alameda Fri 06-Jul-12 23:30:35

it's true isn't it? except the 'village' is, as you say, slightly different for each of us these days

MiniTheMinx Fri 06-Jul-12 23:32:52

Monster, that's a really interesting point about new males attacking the children that do not belong to him. Do you think that is driven by some natural desire to parent ones own child or is it linked to the whole passing on wealth thing?

I must be a hippy too Alameda, I agree that in many situations marriage hides a lot of abuse behind doors and makes women dependant upon the man. Even when we work and earn our own money, we form an economic unit, we still rely on the other. Is is good for children? well I suppose if the wider society tell children and all of us that the nuclear family is the optimum environment, we believe it. We measure the merits of all other forms of family against it and hold them up to be lacking. Interestingly in the 18th/19th century the word family was still being used in much the same way as it had been in Roman times. family referred to all members of the household. Looking back at old records you find that people who had different surnames and were unrelated formed part of the family. In some cultures this included slaves. The wife was little more than property to the man, same as the slave.

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