Thursday, March 01, 2007

Marriage- The Evolution

I have two theories to propose as to how the current concept of 'Marriage' came about.

This Photo of a Marriage is from DeviantART done by SoundofSanity.



Both the theories are based on my reading and interactions and discussions i had with with people on the same subject.

Centuries back, there were tribes roaming this earth. They used to hunt for food and copulated when ever they felt like. As a result, the population increased. Food started becoming scarce.

There was one tribe leader who noticed this phenomenon. He came to a conclusion that for his tribe to survive, sex [As it led to a large number of children] should be controlled. Initially, he must have allowed 3 or more women for a man; which as time passed reduced. As of now, it stands in most places as one.

A picture depicting a tribe or tribes:


[Source:University of Texas]


Long long ago, tribes used to raid other tribes for jewels and precious things. And women used to be taken as slaves. More slaves implied that they had more wealth. By and by, a slave leader came to be. Probably the importance of the slave leader grew and grew and transmogrified into the 'wife'. [Women being taken as slaves and how the prominence of a 'single' slave grew is documented in Thorstein Veblen's 'The Theory of the Leisure Class']

This painting by Gustave Boulanger portrays a 'Slave Market' of olden times.

[Source:Wikipedia]


NOTE: Readers, if you have any other logical explanations, both accounted and unaccounted, please post them as comments.

6 comments:

Uma said...

The theories you have posted are nice, but I think they are not strong enough, if you see it in the evolutionary point of view. Biologically the concept of ‘marriage’ is more favoring women than men. The basic animal instinct is to propagate their genes. For male, more they have sex, the chance of propagating their gene is more, but for women, she is fertile only 3days(even less) a month and even if she is successful in that period, she has to wait for another one year to reproduce again (after child birth etc.) So, naturally man worry about the quantity of partners he can get, but women more about the quality of the partner. If you see the sexual behavior of our ancestors, there were always fight between men to get their mating partner. The male have to prove their strength, to prove that their genes are worth and are the fittest to transmit to the next generation. Then why and when this concept of marriage came into existence?

The theory of “population control” is good, that can be justified biologically. The concept of marriage controls males and hence the population. But in nature always the sex ratio is maintained, so, the population control theory can be justified with an assumption that something terribly went wrong with the sex ratio.

But to have a women as a slave, might have evolved when man started being ‘lazy’ to fight with another male every time, when he wanted to have a mate. But to manage slaves is a big disadvantage for him. Also this is against the psychological evolution of men. Men’s psychology always makes him feel confident, only when he gets success after a fight by proving himself. So the “slave theory” favors only a smaller group of weaker men. So, biologically and psychologically marriage is a big compromise a men make and a big favor for women. Why the entire ‘male dominated’ cultures are favoring marriages? When we relax the cultural constrains (like in the western world) we can see less and less men are opting for marriage. I think there should be a stronger reason for the evolution of marriage. This comment is purely based on my readings and discussion I had with my fellow biologist. Please write if there are any flaws in my comment.

alex said...

Uma,

Thank you for your comments.

"Biologically the concept of ‘marriage’ is more favoring women than men."

I didn't look at it this way. I am thinking.Hmm.. As far as i see now, it is the women, in fact both men and women get comfortable 'emotionally' at the thought of a marriage.

"The male have to prove their strength, to prove that their genes are worth and are the fittest to transmit to the next generation."

True. [But, why did males dominate then also?]

"But to have a women as a slave, might have evolved when man started being ‘lazy’ to fight with another male every time, when he wanted to have a mate."

Or it could have happened when the interest of males in females was less as in they might have been there for sex only. Implying that the master could have sex with any of his slaves and the main 'power' at that time was to defeat other tribes, as you suggested to prove their might.

"So, biologically and psychologically marriage is a big compromise a men make and a big favor for women."

Could you explain this point a little more?

Uma, thanks again, for contributing.

Uma said...

Thanks for your reply Alex!

>. As far as i see now, it is the women; in fact both men and women get comfortable >'emotionally' at the thought of a marriage.


It depends; Human get their sex drive by the age 13, In India (or in the East) I think because of the restrictions we have on the pre-marital sex, marriage is the cheapest and easiest option to fulfill their sex drive, so I guess Marriages are indirectly forced on them. But now days the rate of people getting married in the West is drastically going down. Here in France, I see ‘many’ people start thinking about marriage only in their 30s, when they started feeling that they are not young enough to get partners when ever they “need” or, they get married for the government benefits. I am sure, if this trend continues, we will see only live-in relationship and marriage will be soon a ritual of ‘the past’ in the west. If the marriages are ‘emotional thing’ why is it so different in East and West…I think the emotional security is more of a cultural thing rarer than a ‘psychological preference’

>"The male have to prove their strength, to prove that their genes are worth and are the >fittest to transmit to the next generation."

>True. [But, why did males dominate then also?]


This is exactly why they dominate, Male have to prove their strength every time before they get a chance to spread their genes. (In animals it’s still true) so, the stronger genes are selected. So the stronger dominates.

I agree on your comment on the ‘slave’ system, it’s to protect them too.

> "So, biologically and psychologically marriage is a big compromise a men make and a big favor for women."

“Biological compromise” –

When men have the advantage of spreading his genes more without marriage by having many women. (As he is fertile from the age of 12 or 13 till his death, unlike women) What makes him to go against this natural instinct and make him stuck to one or few women in the name of marriage? Biologically he is wasting his fertility.

“Psychological Compromise” –

Psychologically male feel very powerful and win over something it can be his prey for food or women. This psychological nature makes the male show more interest in sports, (like fighting over a ball etc.) So, why doest he just stops with one woman? He should feel psychologically more powerful by getting more women. Why is he making this compromise?

Thanks for starting this discussion. I have discussed a lot about this with biologist, psychologist and philosophers but still Marriage is a big puzzle.

alex said...

Uma,

"I think the emotional security is more of a cultural thing rather than a ‘psychological preference’ "

Exactly. I too think likewise.

"When men have the advantage of spreading his genes more without marriage by having many women."

I do agree to this. But why should one do so?? Spread genes? Show power? Isn't man confident of himself that he has to show his power likewise?

I think, it would remain a puzzle because we can never know the milieu of humans then, their societal framework etc.

But, then why are people so ignorant of marriage and why do people think of it as their only goal in life?[Exceptions are there]

Uma said...

>I do agree to this. But why should one do so?? Spread genes? Show power? Isn't man >confident of himself that he has to show his power likewise?


No, its not to show the power, but that’s the basic instincts of any living thing, even plants reproduce. They use all the possible medium like air, water, even bees and butterflies for pollination) so, biological instinct of any living things is to spread the genes.

>But, then why are people so ignorant of marriage and why do people think of it as their >only goal in life?[Exceptions are there]

Because we think that’s the only way of leaving our impression in the earth. And every time, human do something against the nature, he have an ignorant feeling that he is wining over nature, and again and again he do things to make himself different from (other) animals, and thus keeps on proving his ignorance.

alex said...

Uma,

Hmm. Like you said, lots more to unravel and discuss. :)