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PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 5:58 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 7:20 pm 
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Most of my friends tell me I tend to overanalize stuff... and yet even I think this is overanalizing stuff.

So... I'll just go ahead and tell SPSS to gimme some Spearman's rhos on those there variables

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 7:21 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 9:20 pm 
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But, and I realise this may be radical, thinking something andit being true are not the same thing!

EDIT: I'm sorry, by the way, if I've been too long-winded for people with short attention spans. My culture places a high value on reaching the correct conclusions on the basis of the available evidence; I realise some would rather leap to conclusions blindly and not bother to analyse to see whether they are right.

EDIT EDIT: sorry, that was too curt. It just galls me sometimes that people actively push for anti-intellectualism and see rationality as something to be avoided and mocked. If people want to ignore careful argument, that's their prerogative - and god knows I do that a fair amount myself, since I'm rarely in the mood for it. But when people feel the need to assert their apathy as a virtue and ridicule the application of intellectual effort, I get riled. Culture wars, I suppose.

EDIT EDIT EDIT: sorry again, that was also too curt. I don't know, I think I'm going to leave it here, since it's far too late in the night-morning to summon up tact and explanatory vigour. Plus there's the point that if I explain myself fully, it'll be further ammunition for those offended by idea of full explanation...

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 10:36 pm 
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Oh, and I didn't say this sooner, but no te vayas del foro, Rada.

I apologize if the ridiculing intellectual effort thing you felt was due to my comment on the sheldon-like vibe, I didn't mean to be anti-intellectual. Rada thinks that the men-hunt-women-gather meme is originated in ethnocentrism, this is, in our own conceptions about sexual division of labour in HG societies based on our own gender roles, but even if the meme came from there originally, fact of the matter is that it looks like it's true, to some degree... at least according to the evidence from the World Sample thingie here. Rada: you said that ethnographic data indicates otherwise; which data, might I ask?

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 11:30 pm 
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 24, 2010 3:45 pm 
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Ooh, look how deliciously derailed my thread has become!

I'm way too tired to read through all that now, so I'm going to make some rash conclusions (conjectural?) anyway.

Those debates about the causes of gender differences are always amusing. I frequently have them with my girlfriend. I give an evolutionary explanation to the differences, and she claims that it's really all about social pressure. Then I spank her for talking back to me.

Anyway. Why is there a tendency for men to hunt and women not to hunt? How about:
a) Men are expendable; if a man dies, there can still potentially be just as many children, so the population in the next generation will be the same, but if a woman dies the long-term population is affected. Therefore women avoid dangerous activities, such as hunting and war.
b) Women in primitive societies generally have several children, breastfeed them for several years, and do not live very long by modern standards. This means that women are likely to be dragging children around a large portion of the time, which makes hunting difficult.
c) Women are smaller and slower runners, making them less effective for hunting.
d) Men have a need to impress women, and killing mammoths is arguably more impressive than picking berries.

Not sure that's what you were actually discussing, but hey, no harm in derailing a little more.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:43 pm 
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2010 9:26 am 
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Sure they do, but less so than men. They have less to gain from impressing a man, since she can usually get laid anyway.

It is of course less true for modern europeanised societies, being monogamous and all, but if you go to a bar I still suspect you won't see lots women going out of their way to convince men to sleep with them.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2010 10:34 am 
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Which is a fact about courting rituals, not about economics. The ritual in modern Europe is that the woman shows up and expresses invitingness, and men make the approach. That doesn't mean the woman makes the choice - sure, she chooses among the men who approach her, but the man chooses whom to approach. And yes, in modern libertine society, almost any woman can get laid if she sets her standards low enough, but then that's also true for men. If nothing else, it's a lot easier for a man to find a prostitute...

Sexual displays aren't about "getting laid", because that's easy. They're about attracting superior mates. And it's not inherently easier for women to catch superior men than it is for men to catch superior women.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2010 9:05 pm 
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2010 9:57 am 
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There was a famous psychology experiment, which you may well have heard of, but it's quite cool so I'll tell you anyway.
A bunch of psychology students walked around on campus and asked random people of the opposite sex one of three questions - either "would you go out with me", "would you come over to my place tonight", or "would you have sex with me". For women, the "yes" answers were roughly 50%, 30%, 10%. For men, it was 50%, 50%, 50%. Many of the men who said no made some excuse, saying for example that they were in a relationship and couldn't say yes.
The idea was of course to test whether men and women would react differently, and the answer there is not surprising.
(Perhaps the most interesting result is actually that the percentages were so high - if you ask a complete stranger for a date, they are actually about 50% likely to say yes. Which is nice to know but maybe not so relevant for this discussion.)

Anyway. I disagree with your statement that almost any man can laid if he sets his standards low enough. Or at least, I think there is a large quantitative difference between men and women, and just how low they would have to set their standards. As the experiment suggests, if an ordinary woman asks an ordinary (single) man to have sex, he will probably say yes, but if an ordinary man asks an ordinary woman to have sex, she will most likely say no.

It's easier to find female prostitutes, yes, but that only proves my point. A woman can find sex anyway, so there is very little demand for male prostitutes.

Is it inherently easier for women to catch superior men? That depends what you mean by "catch". If you mean "marry", then it is not easier in monogamous societies, but for others it generally is. If you mean "have children with", then it is also easier, in any society with a reasonably high degree of promiscuity (or polygamy).

Torco: Yes, it seems that women care a lot about impressing potential partners, if you look at things like appearance. But men try to impress in different ways.
Women buy makeup, men buy sports cars. Women go on diets, men go on duels.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2010 11:16 am 
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 4:40 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2010 6:06 pm 
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As long as the topic has drifted anyway, I have a question.

It's about plural marriages.

Background

A common feature of marriage in many cultures (IMO the defining feature of marriage in every culture, but let's not go there) is that at least one party gains one of two rights; either the right of sexual access to the other party, or the right to (at least partly) control third-persons' sexual access to the other party. (E.g. the Christian Western European ideal was "both parties gain both rights"; husband and wife each had exclusive sexual access to the other.)

In the 21st century so far, at least in the American Midwest, that doesn't seem to be what most people want. Ever since the 1920s no spouse has had the right to deny third parties sexual access to the other spouse (see Eadweard Muybridge); and ever since the 1980s neither spouse has had implicit sexual access to the other spouse (see Greta Rideout).

In USAmerica all legal marriages involve just two persons. Up until recently they had to be one man and one woman; or if there was no such requirement, everyone just thought there was.

But many people, even in the U.S.A., form "group-marriages", though they have no legal standing.

As long as there are only two people in the marriage, the idea that one of them always has the right to have sex with the other, or that one of them can prevent the other from having sex with anyone else, is just not popular these days.

Questions

1. In a group-marriage, wouldn't it be more acceptable that the group could insist (however it can express that insistence) that each spouse always (barring sickness and injury and military duty and incarceration and travel-for-work etc.) be (sexually) available to at least one other spouse? Wouldn't it be more acceptable that the group could insist that no spouse have sex with anyone outside the group except with the group's prior expressed consent?

2. When an individual joins a group-marriage, who is marrying whom?

2a. For instance, suppose Alec marries Brenda. There is now a resulting corporate entity, the married-couple Alec-and-Brenda.
Now, Carl gets involved; does Carl marry Brenda and Brenda marry Carl (without dissolving the marriage between Alec and Brenda), and that's it? Or, do Carl and Brenda marry one another (forming the couple Carl-and-Brenda) and simultaneously Alec and Carl marry one another (forming the (same-sex) couple Alec-and-Carl)? Or does Carl marry the couple Alec-and-Brenda and the couple Alec-and-Brenda marry Carl, forming the corporate entity, the married trio Alec-and-Brenda-and-Carl?

2b. Of course the same questions would apply if there were two women and one man. Suppose Brenda and Carl marry each other, forming the couple Brenda-and-Carl, a corporate entity. Now when Debra joins the group, is it just Debra and Carl who marry each other? Or do Debra and Carl marry each other forming Carl-and-Debra while also Debra and Brenda marry each other forming the same-sex couple Brenda-and-Debra?

3. If two (maybe smallish) groups merge, what happens?
For instance, if Alec-and-Brenda marries Carl-and-Debra, is that what happens -- each couple, as a corporate entity, marries the other couple, as a corporate identity?
Or does the man from each couple marry the woman from the other couple -- Alec and Debra marrying each other while simultaneously Brenda and Carl marry each other?
Or does each individual from each couple, marry the other couple as a corporate entity, and each couple, as a corporate entity, marry each individual member of the other couple?
Or what?

4. Assuming my question 1 is answered "yes", and Alec and Brenda and Carl and Debra are all married, each (non-empty) subset of the four married to each other (non-empty) subset of the four (and vice-versa);

4a. If Debra wants to have sex with Evelyn (male or female), and Alec and Brenda and Carl all say "no", should their joint opinion rule?
What if it's just Alec and Brenda who say "no", and Carl can't be reached for comment?
Or if it's just Carl and Brenda who say "no", and Alec can't be reached for comment?
Or if it's just Alec and Carl who say "no", and Brenda can't be reached for comment?
Is that third case different, because neither Alec nor Carl is the same sex as Debra?
Does it matter whether Evelyn is a man or a woman?

4b. What if Alec hasn't slept with any of his three spouses in over a year, and Brenda and Carl and Debra all tell him "Listen, you've got to sleep with one of us, sometime in the next month". Should their joint opinion rule?
Same questions for what if it's just two of the other spouses who insist on consortium.
And again; does it matter if all the spouses who voice an opinion are the same sex as the spouse in question, or all the opposite sex?
Does it make a difference whether the spouse in question is male or female?
Is it less acceptable for the group to insist that a female member participate than to insist that a male member(yes, I see the pun, ha-ha) participate? Is that too much like rape? What if it's only the husbands who are unanimous? Does that make it more like rape, or even gang-rape?
Is it less acceptable for the group to insist that a male member participate, on the grounds that if he's just not interested he won't be physically able to perform? If so, does that problem go away if he can satisfy his obligations by agreeing to be the "bottom" with one of his husbands?

4d. The bigger the group is, the easier it will be to find a quorum (whatever a quorum is) of spouses that include both sufficient members of the same sex and sufficient members of the opposite sex as the spouse whose behavior is in question. In fact the group-marriage may decide something like, the spouse can do what s/he wants to do or not do what s/he wants not to do, unless a three-fifths super-majority of co-spouses, including both a simple majority of the husbands and a simple majority of the wives, decide to enforce the group's rights.
Would something like that be more acceptable?

Other

What subforum should I have posted this on? If there's already a thread for such questions, which thread should it have been on?


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 01, 2010 7:44 pm 
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I don't understand. Which culture are you asking about? There is no such thing as "group marriage" in an abstract sense, anymore than there is a thing, "marriage". Some of your questions seem to be moral questions. I'm not sure your intentions are sufficiently made clear to address your questions in any substantive way.

I'm surprised that Americans can't deny other people sexual access to their spouse - I thought that was pretty universal in western definitions of "marriage". It used to be grounds for divorce, and the fact that it isn't anymore is mostly because "grounds" are no longer needed. Nonetheless, in the UK, for example, adultery is the main cause of divorce, and nearly twice as common as the second most common cause. Indeed, last I heard, adultery was still illegal in about half of the US - and punishable by a life sentence in Michigan!

Anyway, your questions:

1. The question makes no sense. "Wouldn't it?" isn't a question, it's a pondering. Taken literally, it's nonsense - it poses a counterfactual that is in fact factual (and if it weren't factual, we couldn't answer, because it would depend how many pigs were flying that day). Group marriages exist. If you want to know about their sociology, you should specify which culture you're talking about, as they differ dramatically.

2. It depends. The LORD has not decreed these things clearly, so rules have to be made up by people, who make up different rules depending on what culture they belong to.

3. It depends.

4. N/A.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 5:54 pm 
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Like Sal says, we need to find real examples of group marriage to be sure. But I suppose even without such evidence, we can speculate.
I read some meta-study, similar to the one mentioned in this thread, which compared marriage forms in lots of cultures - percent polygyny, polyandry, monogamy, and group marriages. In their definition, a group marriage was distinct from polygamy. The way I understand the difference (or maybe just the way I personally define it) is that in polygamy one person is married to several other persons, whereas in a group marriage more than two persons are all married to each other.
By that definition, when Debra also joins the group, if she is considered married to only Alec and Carl (and Carl is only married to Brenda and Debra) then it would not be a proper group marriage, but instead a case of both polygyny and polyandry. But that distinction might not be necessary to make; a more pragmatic definition is that any culture which allows both multiple men and multiple women in one relationship can be said to allow group marriage.
The study found that the number of cultures which allowed group marriages was zero. But that is of course only traditional cultures, and does not imply that such relationships don't exist.

If we look at group marriages in the sense of all-married-to-each-other, then they can only be accepted in a culture that allows homosexual relationships. As far as I've understood from other studies like this, many cultures do, but most (all?) of them a) don't consider them marriages, and b) don't have equal homosexual relationships; the partners are distinguished either by age, by power, or by some sort of gender roles. I have heard of some cultures where men can not only have several wives but also several male partners, but they take on a distinctly different role and are therefore not really "married" to the women.

So the only culture (I know of) where proper group marriages could potentially be acceptable would be our very own. And it does exist, even though it is not exactly completely accepted in the mainstream culture.

On a side note, I've been told that there was a suggestion a few years ago in the Swedish parliament that marriages of up to 13 people should be allowed. If I'm not mistaken, it would have made us the first nation to allow two men and two women to marry. Sadly it failed, and our new marriage legislation is only the watered-down version: Gender-neutral, but nothing else is new.
It was also suggested that marriage in the legal sense should be separated from the religious sense. Quite rightly, I think, because other groups of cohabitants (siblings, etc.) should really have the same legal rights as people in a sexual relationship. The smaller churches favoured that idea (because it would allow them to say no to gay couples) but the former state church opposed it, so that failed too.

Thus, the only group marriages I know anything about, and can try to answer questions about, are the legally unrecognised ones that exist in the sexual liberation subculture in our own culture.


1. Most such groups would be rather politically progressive, and would consider the right to sex as a reactionary idea. (That is, unless the relation also happens to have a BDSM component; such relationships are relatively common in the BDSM community.)
As for denying the right for a spouse to have sex outside the group (known as "polyfidelity"), it certainly happens, but I think a person who is okay with group marriage is also more likely than others to accept promiscuity. In other words; no, it is acceptable, but not more acceptable than in monogamous relationships.
(Concerning the observation that those rules no longer hold for mainstream marriages: I think that is definitely just a sign of the legal status of marriage losing power. It's not that we consider violating those rules acceptable, it's more that we don't consider it a matter for the court.)

2. The most common kind of group marriage is that of only three people. In that case, the two of the same sex sometimes consider themselves to be married to each other, and sometimes not. It is probably more common if they are two women, since bisexuality is generally considered to be more common in women. For larger groups (and same-sex groups), I would say that the common view is that they are all married to each other.
But there is another interesting thing to note. In traditional polygamous cultures such as the islamic, it is clearly stated that a man should love his wives equally. But in modern poly/group relationships, a common view is that there is one primary relationship, and then you add on a secondary. If the relationship should not work out, the secondary partner will have to go. But in most cases the secondary partner would probably not be considered married.

3. I've never actually heard of that happening, not to the extent that the people involved have called themselves married. But it is not too unusual for two couples to form some sort of sexual relation to each other. I would say the likely possibilities are
a) the couples "marry" each other, as corporate entities
b) the individuals all marry each other, dissolving the original couples; just like any other four-people group marriage, the same-sex persons may or may not consider themselves married
c) the two members of one couple marry one person in the other couple, making it more or less like a strict polygamous relationship

4. That would be 105 marriages in just four people... but maybe they like wedding parties. :)

4a. In a group which has agreed to polyfidelity, the norm would be that you have to have the permission of all the other group members. In an MMFF relationship with people who are predominantly heterosexual, it might be that Brenda doesn't care as much about what Debra does, but it would probably not be okay to go against her veto.
But other possibilities exist; if we have a couple+couple type relationship, you might only have to ask your primary partner. In a one-to-many relationship, you might only have to ask the one.

4b. It seems extremely unlikely that any egalitarian group would force any of its members to have sex.

4d. While such democratic structures of group marriages sounds like an interesting idea, I have not heard of anything like that in real life.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 6:33 pm 
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Pace Chuma, the studies I've heard of found group marriage to be rather more common than simple polyandry, though I can't quote any. However, it tends to be very much an aristocratic phenomenon. Eg iirc among the Kaingang only 10% of people are/were in group marriages.

EDIT: incest also has to be considered here. Group marriages are often based on fraternal wife-sharing and/or sororal husband-sharing, so homosexual relationships within group marriages would often be considered incestuous.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 6:49 pm 
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As I have a group-marriage culture, however, I may as well contribute some con-answers while we're here.

1. The matriarch can throw anyone out of her house; but she is obliged by honour to show degrees of leniency to different people, particularly her daughters, so in effect "just cause" must be shown. After abuse and treason, the biggest just cause is failing to labour in the interests of the house - and not offering to do your fair sexual share could well be included in this. But the opinions of the people in the marriage don't count at all, at least officially - decisions are made by the previous generation (until the marriage becomes the ruling generation, in which case the matriarch is the eldest home-born true-woman).

2. People are entering the house, and specifically a cell within that house, although entering the house is what counts. The core of the marriage is one, two or three sisters born in that house. Additional sisters may be acquired, and a number of husbands shared between the women. "Marriage" is really a bad translation. Marriage isn't something like our marriage, a relation between two entities. Marriage is simply how to translate the change of duties that accompanies a change of dwelling place into the house of a woman.

3. Groups cannot merge. It is rare for divorced people to remarry (because they're seen as untrustworthy). The group survives as long as the home-born true-women survive. Once they are dead, the group doesn't exist anymore. The survivors may be adopted into other groups, but this is done on an individual basis (though certainly it must be common for several survivors to be adopted en masse).

4. N/A.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 6:59 pm 
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10% sounds like plenty. I haven't got any source - do you, Sal? It would be interesting to see just how they organise their group marriages. I can imagine that defining marriage can be a little difficult with some cultures, so that might give rise to different answers to whether there are group marriages in the world. The EAC linked earlier doesn't even mention such a category. Also, they have found only four cases of polyandry, so even if group marriage is more common it could be very rare.

As for incest, that's a good point - do incest laws generally apply to homosexual relations as well? The EAC does say that preferentially sororal polygyny is the exception rather than the norm, but as far as I've understood polyandry is usually (always?) fraternal.

Edited for Sal's new post:
Is this a conculture of yours? It sounds a bit similar to mine, actually, but I won't go into that at the moment.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 11:23 am 
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Last edited by TomHChappell on Fri Dec 03, 2010 11:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 1:58 pm 
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 2:12 pm 
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 2:59 pm 
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 3:55 pm 
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