Marriage is not as simple as they want you to think

Marriage is not as simple as they want you to think mecrissy20131-268x300Human pair-bonding can be one of the most satisfying and awe-inspiring experiences available to us. The feelings of love, closeness and complicity, strengthened by sexual desire and reward, combine the best of what it is to be human.

Together, in the context of the shared adventure of life’s journey, these emotions are even more deeply satisfying. In a good pair-bonded relationship, the couple are not only best friends but also lovers, enjoying the most satisfying fruits of both.

These powerful emotions combine to make a level of intimacy between two people possible that is spiritual in intensity and can indeed last for the lifetime of the partners. Yet the mechanism is much more complex than is often realised. In the first place, there is absolutely no imperative which says that the parties must be of different sex or even gender. Successful, lasting and loving relationships exist between two cis-men, two cis-women, transwomen and cis-men, transwomen and cis-women, transmen and cis-women, between two transgenders and other forms.*

In fact there is as much scope for variety in successful pair-bonding as there is in any other facet of human life. Furthermore, humans can develop sexualised pair-bonds that are lasting and profound, but not necessarily exclusive; this occurs in extant polyamorous cultures – which have survived despite centuries and more of oppression by the patriarchy – all over the world.

Thus it is quite possible for both women and men to have pair-bonds with several others at once, of any sex or gender. Over a lifetime this becomes even more complicated. Same-sex, same gender and multiple, concurrent sexualised bonding models are all completely viable and all, as seen where they continue to exist, provide for the birth and raising of children, and the successful management of society. In many cultures such models have endured for hundreds or even thousands of years and are probably as old as humanity.

Formalised marriage ceremonies are not necessarily a bad thing and the steps taken in more enlightened parts of the world to overturn the old patriarchal model and allow for so-called ‘same sex’ marriages has clearly made many, including me, very happy. As long as the rights of both individuals are equal and protected and it is possible for either party to end the arrangement without excessive cost or social opprobrium, the arrangement can work very well, especially by allowing the couples’ close friends and family to celebrate and support the partnership. In this case the pair-bond comes first and is always the most important factor; so if the couple, for whatever reason, falls out of love, then the marriage can end so that they may move on.

However, the patriarchal marriage – the one that we are used to and was exclusively the case until the last few years – is not a voluntary union between two equals, which exists out of the mutual love of the parties, but one in which a woman is possessed by a man. The patriarchal marriage prescribes exactly who is allowed to enter into a pair-bond and invariably reduces this to one man and one or more women. This is so pervasive that we need to make the point again: heterosexual and exclusive pair bonds are neither the only ones available nor are they intrinsically ‘better’ than any other. They just conform to the patriarchy’s model of social domination.

Essentially, the patriarchy has done the same to human pair-bonding as patriarchal religions have to our sense of wonder at the natural world. It has appropriated positive emotions and perverted them to its ends, such that only pair-bonding of the type it arbitrarily permits is sanctioned. It then goes further and attempts to eradicate all other forms of bonding, through violence, murder, patriarchal law and relentless peer pressure.

The patriarchy sets out not only to prescribe with whom we are allowed to fall in love, but how we are permitted to express that love. It makes certain expressions of intimacy taboo or illegal– for example, public sex, kissing and, in some cultures, even holding hands. It restricts how couples – even those it accepts as ‘legitimate’ – may have sex and has a long history of making laws proscribing anal and oral sex, even within the privacy of the bedroom.

It produces religious nonsense, bogus philosophy and pseudo-science to pretend that it has a case; yet none of it is true: there is no one ‘correct’ form of pair bond, and no form of consenting sex is any less ‘natural’ than any other.

By appropriating and perverting something so fundamentally human, so profoundly beautiful and so powerful to its own ends, the patriarchy uses the human pair bond to enforce its control over society. It is a telling example of the wickedness at the heart of the patriarchy.

The issues discussed here will be explored more fully in ‘Why Men Made God’, co-authored with Karis Burkowski, which is scheduled for publication on 1 May 2015

* The term cis refers to a person of particular birth sex who presents in a gender role usually thought to be conforming to that, or gender-normative. Thus a cis-woman is a person of female birth genitalia who is a woman. This differentiates her from a transwoman, a person of male birth genitalia who is a woman. The inverse applies to cis and trans men.

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Copyright 2015 Rod Fleming’s World

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