Why is marriage valued more? — 8 Comments

  1. Oh, THAT Stephenie Meyer. LOL I didn’t know her until I Googled the name after that last post. Yes, some of my younger students have been carrying around those books since the film came out. In the style of David Spade on SNL, I’d just like to say, “I liked it better the first time when it was called ‘The Vampire Chronicles.’ And the time after that when it was called ‘Dead Until Dark.'” Each generation seems to buy the same stories, revamped (excuse the pun) and retitled.

    I had NOT seen the full photo in the back of your book, but thanks for the heads up. That was pretty funny, too. I recall my Anthro teacher telling us in unabashed detail about “G-G rubbing” that female bonobos engage in regularly in place of the grooming done by their cousins Pan troglodytes. It’s just about the only thing some people paid attention to in that class, and it’s certainly stuck with ME all these years, too. LOL!

    By the way, please let me know if you’re ever willing or available to do a talk at our little college. Although it will likely become more difficult to find funding considering the economic situation (of the nation, but particularly in California), we do sometimes scape together enough money to have speakers on interesting topics such at that in “I Don’t.” You can contact me at if you have a moment and I’ll do some groundwork on it when the Spring semester begins in late January. : )

    — Sheldon

    P.S. That “Erotomania” book doesn’t seem appealing to me at all. Too bad about the image being used on both books!

  2. LOL, I hadn’t heard of her either until a week or two earlier when the much-hyped movie version of her book(s) about teen vampires in love came out–just thought “Stephenie Meyer” sounded more, as they used to say back in the day, “with it” than, say, “JK Rowling” or “John Grisham”…

    As for the cover shot, I assume you didn’t miss the bonobos going at it uncropped, following the Index? (Contractually the publisher had to run the photo in full along with the semi-illiterate caption that I did NOT write and was not allowed to rewrite, much as I begged.) But maybe you missed the OTHER book that happened to come out at the same time as mine, was blurbed by one of the same people, and used the same shot on the cover? Called Erotomania or something like that.–Susan

  3. OMG! Susan Squire replied to my post! What a powerful thing this Internet is! I’m sure it’s my faulty memory and not your writing skills that caused my misunderstanding about the hetarae. I’m glad to be corrected on the matter since I’ll likely be passing along the information to hundreds of info-hungry students each year, most of whom are eager to learn the parts of history their teachers either left out, or never knew themselves! LOL

    Yes, I’m very much enjoying your book, and delight in watching people’s double-takes as they spot the front cover photo of the two Bonobos fucking. A quick, hearty pat on the back to the person responsible for that little brainchild! Nothing gets ’em to take notice like two chimps having face-to-face sex, eh?

    — Sheldon

    P.S. Who the hell is Stephenie Meyer? Never heard of her.

  4. Hi Sheldon–I’m the author of I Don’t and like most authors I’m ecstatic that anyone out there not only knows about my book but has actually bothered to read (and even like) it. So thanks…but just wanted to correct the bit about the hetaerae (and worry that I wasn’t clear enough about it in my writing if you got the wrong impression): Men did sleep with them, that would be part of the deal, but not the entire deal (as with whores/prostitutes/concubines, all synonymous) Hetarae were the equivalent of mistresses, or kept women–high-end courtesans. According to the code (and who knows what real life was like), prostitutes were for fucking, wives were for breeding, and hetaerae were for companionship but also for “lovemaking” (as opposed to mere fucking). Wives and hetarae (until hetarae got old and ugly and/or pregnant) were respected; prostitutes were bodies, holes for hire–although as slaves the fee for service went to the state anyway. It was ok to desire your hetarae, but not too obsessively; the general attitude was that the only humans worthy of a man’s love and attention, sexual or cerebral (“platonic”), were other men–his equals.

    Thanks again for reading my book and I hope Rachel gets a copy. btw it’s only 17 bucks on amazon…every sale helps when you’re not Stephenie Meyer…


  5. Thanks, Sheldon! That book sounds interesting, especially since it’s newer than Stephanie Coontz’ work “Marriage, A History.” In my mind, the question remains: Why is marriage valued so much more than other forms of relationships? Especially here in the US, since the Canadians and the Europeans don’t seem to be as steeped in matrimania.

    (I am #9 in the hold line at the library for this book… I hope people will read fast…)

  6. Now that Prop 8 has passed (ugh!), I find myself very curious about definitions of marriage around the world, the history of marriage in the Judeo-Christian world, etc. One of the best books I’ve picked up recently on this topic is “I Don’t! A Contrarian History of Marriage” by Susan Squire. You might want to pick up a copy…it’s fascinating stuff! For instance, did you know that the Ancient Greek citizens (e.g., men of land, money and power) had three “marriages” at once? One was his wife (for procreation only, and never allowed to leave the house), another was his Hetaera (a woman of education and intelligence, with whom he’d go out on the town, but never have sex with – it’d be obscene!), and a third with his whore (a young male or a female). And this was the seat of modern civilization?! LOL! Oh, and the early Christians spoke against marriage or sex for nearly 6 centuries, arguing that Jesus was celibate and chaste, so you should be, too! Incredible stuff to tell your Christian neighbors, eh?

  7. What culture or in what time was marriage not patriarchal? I am not looking for examples of specific people, some people might be able to create marriages that are egalitarian, but rather for whole cultures, whole times.

    Kinship is not limited to biological ties, nor is marriage the only way to develop kinship ties: “Kinship is a relationship between any entities that share a genealogical origin, through either biological, cultural, or historical descent.”

    Something else interesting about kinship: Here is a story of two friends living together in a committed relationship. The story ends with this thought:

    We wonder how our difficulties and the major changes we have had to adjust to are similar to those experienced in reconstructed families. The key difference may be that step-families, half-brothers and half-sisters share the terminology of kinship, whereas friendship, still, is identified as remaining outside the family circle and remains quietly uncelebrated.

    So, again, this argument is circular: Because we define kinship as limited to marriage, marriage is the way to develop kinship ties.

  8. I think that marriage can’t smash the patriarchy has a lot to do with marriage’s history, which is purely patriarchal.

    Every form of marriage that has ever existed in every culture that has ever existed? That sound rather over-broad.

    What makes marriage better than other relationships?

    Outside of adoption and giving birth, it’s the only way to create kinship.

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