Many thanks to Lady Christabel for her editorial help
Romantics argue that the modern custom of marriage arose from the emotion of love; and that throughout the millions of years of our evolution, humans have always gravitated to exclusive pair bonding. Realists, on the other hand, argue that while love is nice, for millions of years marriage has always been more about male possessiveness and the female need for support and protection –a matter of security more than emotion. I argue that neither of these is correct. What actually caused the invention of marriage was something else entirely.
To understand the genesis of marriage, we have to look back 12,000 years. An ice age had ended, the rains had returned, and the land was blooming bountifully. The humans who had lived through the ice age were hardy clans of hunter-gatherers who roamed the wilderness in bands of twenty or so members. Their lifestyle had changed only a little over a thousand millennia. They had acquired the use of fire. They had developed weapons to hunt and thereby obtained leather, sinew, and bone. They had learned how to clear a convenient cave or build a temporary shelter to use for a few days until their foraging needs pushed then onward. They even understood that fruit trees would sometimes grow from rotten fruit or seeds discarded on the ground, but in most regards, they lived the way their ancestors had lived for millions of years. However, this was all about to change drastically.
Their traditional lifestyle was difficult on its best day. Predators, accidents, illness, and starvation all worked to keep their population low. Nor could they depend on the presence of neighboring clans for support in difficult times. While certainly aware of any other nearby clans, they studiously avoided them. Competition for food is never a good thing, and communication was impossible, as the clans rarely shared a language. Only the rarity of neighbors prevented frequent, serious conflict. However, as the bounty of the land increased, so too did the membership of the clans. Despite the bounty, population pressure escalated, and fighting started to break out. It was a time of great danger, but also a time of great promise.
If the legend of Adam and Eve is correct, it was a woman who finally envisioned a solution. You can almost hear her words as she stands in front of her hungry clan as they sit around the evening fire dejectedly.
“Look, people, I am tired of walking all over creation with a baby on my hip to get to a fig tree only to find that those jerks on the other side of the valley got there first and ate all the figs. I am tired of falling down treacherous paths because the rain eroded the footing. I am tired of losing my kids to hungry wolves and flooded streams. And, I’m really tired of being hungry all the time – breastfeeding mothers are ravenous, you know. I’ve had enough!”
“Consider this. Instead of always traveling to where the food is, why don’t we bring the food to us? Do you see that field right over there? As an experiment, when we were here last year, I scattered a handful of wheat nuts on the ground to see what would happen. Look now! There are more young wheat stalks than we can count. If we scatter a whole bunch more, that one field would hold more wheat than our clan could eat in an entire winter. Also, do you see that hilly little valley over there? Two summers ago, I threw a rotten apple there. Look at it now — there is a good young apple tree there. In a few months, it will be full of fruit. If we plant a bunch of other fruit and nut trees, in a few summers we would be rolling in food. We could even bring some of those melon plants we like from that dangerous place down the river and plant them right here in a safe place over by the stream. If we do it right, we might never have to go anywhere for food or water ever again. Everything we need will be right here!”
“Then, here on this rise, we could build a big lodge strong enough to keep out the wolves and wild cats. We could take our time and make it permanent and strong because we would never have to leave it behind, and we would never have to sleep out in the rain again.”
“Now that I think about, there’s lots of other stuff, too. In addition to being hard and dangerous, all this traveling takes a lot of time. If we were not traveling constantly, we would have lots of extra time to make baskets to store extra nuts and seeds for winter, and we could make extra weapons and tools, too. The great part is we could never do that before. We always had to leave anything behind that we could not carry. Usually, it was gone forever. Now, we can make all the extra stuff we want and keep it forever!”
By the time Eve had finished speaking, she knew that the idea was a big hit, particularly with the other women. Most of the men did not seem as sold on the idea, but they went along with it for the sake of the women. Over the course of the next let the right one in izle few years, the clan built an abundant, comfortable, and safe new lifestyle. Farming was born.
The establishment of Eve’s farm formed the dividing line between ancient and modern human society, between subsistence and civilization. Eve’s invention revolutionized human society, but in the process, she opened Pandora’s Box. This new lifestyle brought with it a number of completely unforeseen consequences, and adapting to those consequences revolutionized human interaction.
Among the ancient clans, mortality was high. The average life expectancy was only about twenty-eight years. On Eve’s farm, however, with enhanced safety and high food availability, life expectancy shot up into the forties. In addition, the female fertility rate, which had been about one child every four years for women between the ages of fourteen and death at twenty-eight, more than doubled. With less danger, more food, and less travail, the fertility rate shot up to one child every one to two years for women between the ages of fourteen and menopause in their mid-thirties. The net result was a population explosion. Eve’s farm started with one lodge and twenty people. Within five years, it went to forty people and two lodges. In another ten years, it went to a hundred people and five lodges. It was no longer a clan; it was a village.
This explosion had many far-reaching effects. The first problem was food. Feeding twenty people was a bit of a challenge, but the group was used to it from their clan days. However, when the population climbed, so did the food needs. Caring for the fields went from being an occasional task to an everyday job; the amount of land that needed to be cleared and tended jumped by a factor of five in just fifteen years. Unfortunately, all of the new mouths to feed were children — the number of adults had not grown nearly as fast. Furthermore, because there were so many children, the women were heavily occupied with their care and less available to work in the fields. Very quickly, this led to a division of labor — men and older boys worked in the fields and attended to the necessary tools, and women and older girls tended children and prepared meals. What had once been an egalitarian social order became stratified and uncomfortable. Further, since fieldwork is necessarily hot and difficult labor, the older men, who could still remember the relative ease of their old clan days, came to resent Eve’s invention. They grumbled among themselves about how the cost of the women’s new “ease” was the sweat and toil of the men. This was only the first of many fractures that would tear men and women asunder.
As the bounty of the fields grew, this brought other problems. The fields became the target of every sort of marauder, from wild birds, to insects, to foraging animals, to neighboring clans. While some losses were to be expected, and even tolerated, the losses grew relentlessly every year as awareness of the fields spread. Soon, it became necessary to begin to protect the crops, for this food had become the life-blood of the village. Yet, the die was cast. Returning to the old clan ways became impossible as their numbers had grown too large and the intimate knowledge of nature that had protected and fed them as a clan withered from disuse. Therefore, the clan elders decided to arm some of the stronger young men and have them patrol the fields, day and night. This was the birth of the military force. Fortunately, the population explosion had created a wealth of well-fed young men of abundant energies and blossoming strength. For the young men, the derived glory and social acclaim of these tasks made up in part for the lost joys of the clan life — though not for every young man. The segregation of duties was sure to create situations that elevated some men and deflated others. The chosen would receive glory, the rejected, shame. During clan days, the small number of men, the common nature of their tasks, and the egalitarian share-everything nature of their society largely eliminated such major social distinctions and vastly reduced the probability of male-male clashes. The village environment eliminated all of these moderating influences, and military training only aggravated the problem.
Another developing problem for the village was the birth of ownership. Within the clan, people possessed only what was attached to his or her body. Ownership of other objects was either unimportant or so obvious as to negate conflict. Further, the concept of owning such things as land or a river or a tree was nonsensical to them, even though they might occasionally fight with another clan over the fruit on a given tree. Within the village, however, the concept of ownership took on a life of its own. Because the people had created and accumulated so many new things, the ownership leyla ile mecnun izle of any particular item could easily become a matter of some dispute. Further, the accumulation of a pile of things that was yours became a source of great satisfaction to many; and the loss of any of it was a cause of distress. To alleviate this distress, owners of objects prominently marked the things that were theirs with distinctive designs. This accumulation of stuff rapidly became yet another mark of social distinction — separating the “haves” from the “have-nots”. Similarly, because the village had invested so much time and effort into creating and maintaining their fields, and because their life depended on the safety of those fields, the village naturally came to think of those fields as their own, and the necessity of defending them only deepened that feeling. The confluence of these two problems — military service and ownership — ultimately led to the new invention we now know as warfare.
The next major nasty surprise was the “stranger” problem. Most clan folk lived out their entire lives never having met a stranger. They avoided or drove away the few strange humans they might encounter, particularly males. The village environment, however, presented a problem. As the village grew and the number of lodges multiplied, people became less familiar to each other. Over time, you would naturally grow closer to your lodge-mates (family) and more distant from everyone else because firesides, conversations, and closeness were no longer shared. The emotions, moods, and motivations of others became less clear and less trusted; minor disagreements went unresolved more often and created grudges. Though you might still know every person’s name and associations, an inevitable social distance was bound to grow. This created the need for completely new classes of relationships. Where once everyone was either clan or stranger, loved or feared, now there were a hundred shades of gray in between. New words such as friend, coworker, and rival entered the language. Where once everyone around you was trusted family, now you spent your days surrounded by people you knew and trusted less well. The village life had vanquished the old fears and insecurities, but in their place had created a hundred new ones.
Nowhere was this more evident than in the sudden change in the manner of dress. Clan members wore no clothing. For millions of years before the advent of hunting, they possessed no materials to make body coverings and had little need to cover themselves as they lived in an environment in which every human bodily function was performed in full view of every person one knew. Even after hunting commenced and hides became available, large hides were far too valuable as blankets, baskets, and rain shelters to cut up into small pieces for underwear. In addition, such clothing would have been horribly uncomfortable given the amount of exercise their lives required. Modern depictions of “cave people” wearing such attire are fiction – designed purely to assuage modern modesty hang-ups. They bear no relation to reality. Clan folk wore hides the way we wear a coat — they put it over themselves when they needed protection, and took it off otherwise.
This all changed with the growth of the village and the constant presence of strangers. Farming technology allowed for the cultivation of fibrous plants, and the villagers soon turned this material into cloth. This new cloth was cheaper, cooler, easier to sew, and far more comfortable to wear than hides had been. In addition, it was easy to dye and decorate which provided a colorful antidote to the growing impersonalization of the village. The final kicker was that people discovered wearing such clothing on a regular basis provided a psychological defense against the surrounding presence of so many strangers. It insulated them from disquieting feelings of vulnerability, it shielded them from the critical stares of potential rivals, and it could even add to their social stature in the village. Clothing quickly became very popular.
However, all the other problems paled in the presence of the biggest problem of all – sex. Clan sexuality was about as simple as it could be. Both men and women had sex with whomever the wanted, pretty much whenever the wanted. During an average day, clan members might spend several hours walking to their feeding site, another hour or so eating, and perhaps another hour gathering wood. After that, the remainder of the day was free time. While theirs was a strenuous lifestyle, it was not a hurried one. Remember: the majority of the clan adults were actually very hormonal teenagers and young twenty-somethings. It is not hard to imagine that sex filled a large portion of their afternoon and evening hours as they rested in camp. Nor is it hard to imagine a great deal of partner switching, as there were commonly unequal numbers of men and little women izle women. In order not to leave someone lonely and jealous, some people would need to have several partners. Perhaps most people had several partners on any given day. Certainly, there was no reason not to; nor was there any reason to hide. Clan people grew from birth in an atmosphere of constant nakedness and sexuality that was as normal to them as breathing. To them, for a man and woman to want to leave the group to have sex privately would have seemed strange and dangerous – an insult to the rest of the group.
This sexual atmosphere changed drastically as village life started to dictate a new type of rhythm to their lives. As workloads and responsibilities increased, time and energy correspondingly decreased, and sexuality time along with it. The number of daily partners dropped, and the likelihood of being left out increased. While sexual frequency had decreased, the desire for it did not. Villagers began to experience a new sensation — horniness.
It might seem that the population surge would help this problem – that the larger number of potential partners would reduce the difficulty of finding a partner when you wanted one, but in reality, it only made it worse. Sexuality was the glue that bound the clan together through times of grief and pain. Because every woman routinely had sex with every man, nobody felt excluded; no one was a second-class citizen to anyone else. Everyone was valued and loved. The very size of the village, however, precluded this kind of egalitarian love. To have sex with every other potential partner was simply impossible — there were too many of them – even if the workload had not already precluded it. In short, it became necessary to choose. This, of course, led to the obvious problem — what happens if one person rejects the person who is trying to choose them? Sexual rejection created a particularly nasty social mess because of its high emotionality.
Dealing with the arguments, fights, hurt feelings, and disruption cause by these rejections became a major problem for the village because these situations could easily escalate to bloodshed, particularly if a member of the military was involved. To deal with these and other disputes, the once informal group of wise elders took it upon themselves to strengthen their control over village activities, and to get more serious about their leadership. They formed the world’s first government, and established laws of village behavior. Of course, if there are to be laws, there must be enforcers (the military — no surprise there), and there must be punishments — all new creations.
Establishing rules concerning ownership, work sharing, and food sharing was relatively straight forward, but establishing rules about sexual rejection proved maddeningly difficult. Who gets to choose? Is it the woman or the man? How is choosing to be done fairly? Suppose we require that both have to choose each other — how we can accomplish this? Could it be arranged in advance, if so, by whom and how? No simple solution presented itself. Following one particularly messy festival, the council threw up its hands and decreed that nobody could have sex at all. Sex was getting very complicated.
It was during this bout of village abstinence, that one of the leaders, a woman named Mae, noticed something strange. The young men, while deprived of the opportunity to actually have sex, instead devoted that excess sexual energy to various forms of industriousness in the attempt to win the attention of attractive young women. Further, the young women clearly seemed to enjoy the help and attention. “Very interesting!” she thought to herself. “If we simply deprive the young of sex, not only do we eliminate the rejection problem, but we induce them to think more carefully about their choices, and they even guide themselves into a situation where they eventually choose each other. Marvelous! Not only that, but we get a lot of extra work done around here, in the bargain.”
With that, she hurried back to the council to relate her brilliant idea. The other members, while truly impressed by her insight, were nonetheless a bit skeptical. Old Walter scratched at his beard and spoke first: “My dear, this is all well and good, amazing actually, but I’m a little hazy on the timing. When you say ‘deny them sex’, are you talking about a day, or a week, or how long? And then on the other side, when they have chosen each other, how long can we expect to see them together before they get bored and wander off, and we’re back in this mess again?”
Mae looked a little puzzled. “Indefinitely, of course in both cases.” she replied. “Actually, the other women and I have been meaning to bring up another little problem that we have been noticing about this whole sex thing.” Several other women nodded agreement, knowing where Mae was headed with this. “We have been feeling a little, no make that a lot, left out of the sexual adventures around here. It seems that all of the men, even the older ones, only have eyes for the younger women. Experienced pleasure warriors like us cannot attract any attention around here anymore. Even smelly old farts, such as yourselves, who have no chance with the young chicks, still follow them around like dogs. It’s disgusting!”