INFORMATION

This website uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some of these cookies are essential to make our site work and others help us to improve by giving us some insight into how the site is being used. For further information, see our Privacy Policy. Continuing to use this website is acceptance of these cookies.

having a multiple partners

Enter here to explore ethical issues and discuss the meaning and source of morality.
Message
Author
Marian
Posts: 3985
Joined: August 23rd, 2009, 2:25 pm

Re: having a multiple partners

#21 Postby Marian » October 1st, 2010, 6:56 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

Nick wrote:
For still others, perhaps only a few at the moment, there may be strong impulses to have more than one domestic sexual partner at the same time.

Hmmm... I think we are a long way from that. Free love doesn’t seem to be able to survive for very long.

There's a difference between free love and having more than one domestic sexual partner. Do you have a definition of free love in relation to what Emma's saying?

Nick wrote:The females may not like it, but their 'best chance' may lie with putting up with the situation.
Best chance of what?
Best chance of getting through life. Only in the last half century or so have (non-exceptional) women been able to make their way alone in a man’s world.

I found it fascinating that the grammatical tense in your first statement is the opposite of that in the last. It makes me wonder whether you might be living (in your mind) prior to the last half century? :wink: Care to expound on why women should 'put up with it' (sounds like the same reasoning that held for domestic violence in the past) as their best chance now, when women are very much likely to make it on their own, so to speak?



Nick wrote:Unsurprisingly, gay relationships often follow a different path, including multiple partners...
I have anecdotal evidence from gay friends, and I’d suggest the course of the AIDS epidemic would be evidence of this.

There are many different types of relationships that exist. There are gay couples who enjoy being monogamous as well as heterosexual couples but my biggest beef here is with the statement about AIDS. I'm really having a hard time not getting my feathers in a knot about this.
If gay relationships follow a different path and this is related to the AIDS virus/epidemic (an epidemic more often situated in sub-Saharan Africa), how is it that in that region, 90% of new HIV infections are among children? Or that both women and men in that region are living with HIV in an almost equal number to each other? Oh, I so want to make a comment just now about men and their sexual habits but that wouldn't be accurate or fair. I'll resist but oh, it hurts me so.... :D


Nick wrote:Given these incredibly strong evolutionary characteristics ...
What incredibly strong evolutionary characteristics?

The characteristic which have led to the predominance of the family as a unit in society.
Are you sure you aren't a supporter of Proposition 8? Could you please be more specific about what these strong evolutionary characteristics are?

Nick wrote:... it is no surprise to find that when these biological 'rules' are broken, it often leads to unhappy results.

Which unhappy results are these, specifically? Are you referring to AIDS or children being raised by gay/lesbian couples or genetic mishaps or something else? Do tell.


Sorry, Emma, I couldn't resist stepping in here although you are quite capable of handling all of this. :)
Transformative fire...

User avatar
Nick
Posts: 11027
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 10:10 am

Re: having a multiple partners

#22 Postby Nick » October 1st, 2010, 8:57 pm

Errr! 'Scuse me Marian! I don't need 'handling'! (Well not in that way,anyway) :laughter: It seems I wasn't making myself clear. (Or maybe I'm just plain wrong after all....)

Marian wrote:
Nick wrote:Hmmm... I think we are a long way from that. Free love doesn’t seem to be able to survive for very long.

There's a difference between free love and having more than one domestic sexual partner. Do you have a definition of free love in relation to what Emma's saying?
Hmmm... Not sure I can come upwith a definition as such, but what I meant was that 'open' relationships have a habit of going wrong,and there are few examples (OK, I don't know any) of successful groups where males and females have more than one domestic sexual partner at the same time. The nearest are certain polygomous groups, but I'd contend they are the result of unequal power, and neither desirable nor successful of societies.


Nick wrote:The females may not like it, but their 'best chance' may lie with putting up with the situation.
Best chance of what?
Best chance of getting through life. Only in the last half century or so have (non-exceptional) women been able to make their way alone in a man’s world.

I found it fascinating that the grammatical tense in your first statement is the opposite of that in the last. It makes me wonder whether you might be living (in your mind) prior to the last half century? :wink: Care to expound on why women should 'put up with it' (sounds like the same reasoning that held for domestic violence in the past) as their best chance now, when women are very much likely to make it on their own, so to speak?

I think you are being mischievous [-X and taking my remarks out of context. My 'best chance' remark referred to past societies where women were (or sadly, still are) totally dependent on men. For them there was no alternative. Thank goodness those days are largely over in the civilised world; may we soon be able to declare them over everywhere. Males should not treat women like that, ever, and females must have the freedom to escape it.


Nick wrote:Unsurprisingly, gay relationships often follow a different path, including multiple partners...
I have anecdotal evidence from gay friends, and I’d suggest the course of the AIDS epidemic would be evidence of this.

There are many different types of relationships that exist. There are gay couples who enjoy being monogamous as well as heterosexual couples but my biggest beef here is with the statement about AIDS. I'm really having a hard time not getting my feathers in a knot about this.
If gay relationships follow a different path and this is related to the AIDS virus/epidemic (an epidemic more often situated in sub-Saharan Africa), how is it that in that region, 90% of new HIV infections are among children? Or that both women and men in that region are living with HIV in an almost equal number to each other? Oh, I so want to make a comment just now about men and their sexual habits but that wouldn't be accurate or fair. I'll resist but oh, it hurts me so.... :D


Preen your feathers, Marian, and let me explain. The causes and explanations for the spread of AIDS are different in different parts of the world. In the developed world, AIDS spread rapidly amongst gays principally because of multiple partners. (It also spread amongst introvenous drug users, but for different reasons). Are you disputing that?

Africa. Hmmm... Well, for a start there are (presumably?) a similar proportion of gays in the population. There are also other factors relating directly to the underdevelopment of the continent. Ignorance, poor health, more prostitution (think 18th century London), poorer status of women, more chance of getting away with it etc. In such circumstances it is unsurprising that children are so badly affected as they are born to infected mothers.

quote]
Nick wrote:Given these incredibly strong evolutionary characteristics ...
What incredibly strong evolutionary characteristics?

The characteristic which have led to the predominance of the family as a unit in society.
Are you sure you aren't a supporter of Proposition 8? Could you please be more specific about what these strong evolutionary characteristics are?[/quote] I am certainly not a supporter of Proposition 8 (I hope you were jesting there...) The evolutionary characteristics which lead to males and females copulating, producing young and ensuring they survive to adulthood in order for them to produce the next generation. Without those characteristics humans would die out.

Nick wrote:... it is no surprise to find that when these biological 'rules' are broken, it often leads to unhappy results.

Which unhappy results are these, specifically? Are you referring to AIDS or children being raised by gay/lesbian couples or genetic mishaps or something else? Do tell.
Some AIDS cases could be, but that's not what I was thinking of. More along these lines: if Curtis Snr arriving home to tell you that he'd slept with every one of the San Fransisco '49ers cheerleaders in the past week, and asked whether you minded, I'm guessing you might.

User avatar
Val
Posts: 749
Joined: October 6th, 2007, 10:56 pm

Re: having a multiple partners

#23 Postby Val » October 1st, 2010, 9:25 pm

slightly off topic but I really wish we could get the whole English speaking peoples to stop saying 'slept with' when they mean 'had sex with'.

I once asked a client of mine about her relationship with a boy and she said "I only slept with him once, up against a wall in the corridor" I rest my linguistic case.

User avatar
Emma Woolgatherer
Posts: 2976
Joined: February 27th, 2008, 12:17 pm

Re: having a multiple partners

#24 Postby Emma Woolgatherer » October 2nd, 2010, 12:03 am

Nick wrote:OK, to put my point another way. A promiscuous heterosexual male wants to poke as many women as possible without once thinking of his genes. But that urge is itself the product of evolution. How is it a different matter? ... He may do it for pleasure, or for feelings of dominance or some other reason, but his feelings are themselves the product of evolution, surely?
In so far as all feelings are, ultimately, a product of evolution. Our drives, our instincts, our capacities to feel any emotions at all are all products of evolution. But the extent to which a particular behaviour or behaviour pattern is directly determined by ones genes as opposed to being learned is very difficult to assess. There's a lot of speculation involved. And there’s a lot of disagreement, even within the field of evolutionary psychology, about the role that evolution might have played.
Nick wrote:
There are also evolutionary arguments suggesting that promiscuity in females is genetically advantageous because it allows them to have offspring with superior genetic potential.
Hmmm... I don't agree. From the evolutionary point of view, raising children to adulthood is more important than superior genetic advantage in kids who die in infancy.
I think the idea is that females form social pair-bonds and also have sex ("extra-pair copulation") with other males. It's common in other mammals, and the argument is that it is, or at least has been in the past, more common that we realise in humans. I think it's the sort of argument put forward in The Myth of Monogamy: Fidelity and Infidelity in Animals and People, by David P. Barash and Judith Eve Lipton (2001). I'm not saying that I agree with it. It’s not something I’ve looked at in detail. But I do think that the evolutionary argument is more complex than the picture you’ve painted.
Nick wrote:However, there may be evolutionary advantage in having children by different fathers, not because subsequent fathers may be superior, but because the greater the variety of genes, the more likely at least one of her brood is biologically likely to survive. However, I think that is of much lower importance than ensuring that any of her offspring survive at all, which would be enhanced by sticking with one partner.
That would be one option. Another possibility would be to form small, intimate, domestic groups of males and females, all mating with each other and supporting each other in raising children. It has been suggested that it’s more likely that our ancestors would have lived in that kind of set-up rather than the nuclear family. There was another book out earlier this year, called Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality, by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá, that puts forward such a case. Again, I’m not saying that I agree with it. I don't see how we can know for certain what the sexual and family lives of our earliest human ancestors were like. It’s all speculation. And it is not at all clear, in any case, how relevant such lives would be to the lives we might want to live in this overpopulated world.

Must go to bed. More tomorrow ...

Emma

User avatar
Gurdur
Posts: 610
Joined: July 5th, 2007, 5:00 pm

Re: having a multiple partners

#25 Postby Gurdur » October 2nd, 2010, 6:25 am

I think this thread really, really needs my sense of humour.

Nick wrote:Errr! 'Scuse me Marian! I don't need 'handling'!


I'll volunteer to be the one needing the handling!
_____

And one thing:

again, all human relations are subject to cognitive alteration. Which is another way of saying, you can change the way you relate by changing your thinking and then your behaviour. Saying ultimately everything is down to evolution is like saying it's ultimately down to physics *; that's true but misleading.

No adult of sound mind is a prisoner of evolution, nor is any society. Any person of sound mind can change themselves and their behaviour; any society can change its ethics. This is the one fact that really puts the boot into the more over-reaching presumptions of evolutionary psychology.

* Apparently it's quite hard to do it in zero gravity.

User avatar
Paolo
Posts: 1474
Joined: September 13th, 2008, 9:15 am

Re: having a multiple partners

#26 Postby Paolo » October 2nd, 2010, 8:18 am

Gurdur wrote:Saying ultimately everything is down to evolution is like saying it's ultimately down to physics; that's true but misleading.

No adult of sound mind is a prisoner of evolution, nor is any society. Any person of sound mind can change themselves and their behaviour; any society can change its ethics. This is the one fact that really puts the boot into the more over-reaching presumptions of evolutionary psychology.

I agree with this in principle, but with the caveat that whilst societies have the ability to change they are unlikely to do so in a way that is not evolutionarily stable - at least not for long.

Stable strategies are the issue here and the whole gamut of possible sexual interactions are potentially stable, depending on the environment (and by environment I am including societal influences). Given the structure of most human societies, the partitioning of gender roles and physical superiority of male humans over female, it is not that surprising that most societies go down the route of polgamy, although most members of those society do not actually practice it:
Wikipedia entry based on data from Ethnographic Atlas Codebook wrote:According to the Ethnographic Atlas Codebook, of 1231 societies noted, 186 were monogamous. 453 had occasional polygyny, 588 had more frequent polygyny, and 4 had polyandry. At the same time, even within societies which allow polygyny, the actual practice of polygyny occurs relatively rarely. There are exceptions: in Senegal, for example, nearly 47 percent of marriages are multiple. To take on more than one wife often requires considerable resources: this may put polygamy beyond the means of the vast majority of people within those societies. Such appears the case in many traditional Islamic societies, and in Imperial China. Within polygynous societies, multiple wives often become a status symbol denoting wealth and power.


Of course there is a difference between multiple partners in marriage and multiple partners as extra-pair couples and I would be surprised if polygyny and polyandry in extra-pair couplings was not common even in monogamous societies. Evolution has provided most of us with a physiology that makes us want sex and a big brain that makes us value the establishment of secure social bonds. The two sometimes go hand-in-hand and sometimes they don't - there's no right or wrong to be determined from an evolutionary perspective (evolution isn't prescriptive, it's a simple process), but an evolutionary perspective might help understand why certain patterns of partnership formation arise under certain environmental (inc. social) conditions. It comes down to what question is actually being asked.

User avatar
coffee
Posts: 1520
Joined: June 2nd, 2009, 4:53 pm

Re: having a multiple partners

#27 Postby coffee » October 2nd, 2010, 9:59 am

Not could include, should include!


Yes it should. I am not very good with English sometime.

Marian
Posts: 3985
Joined: August 23rd, 2009, 2:25 pm

Re: having a multiple partners

#28 Postby Marian » October 2nd, 2010, 12:59 pm

Nick wrote:Errr! 'Scuse me Marian! I don't need 'handling'! (Well not in that way,anyway) :laughter: It seems I wasn't making myself clear. (Or maybe I'm just plain wrong after all....)
Actually, at first I did write your name after the word 'handling' but erased it thinking that I didn't want to word it that way because it wasn't quite what I meant. If I'd meant it that way, I'd have left it in. :D

Nick wrote:I think you are being mischievous [-X and taking my remarks out of context. My 'best chance' remark referred to past societies where women were (or sadly, still are) totally dependent on men. For them there was no alternative. Thank goodness those days are largely over in the civilised world; may we soon be able to declare them over everywhere. Males should not treat women like that, ever, and females must have the freedom to escape it.

Perhaps that is what you meant but it is not what you wrote. Understanding what someone is trying to say is dependent on past or present tense because it can change the meaning in a drastic way.
Here is what you wrote:
Nick wrote:Hmmm... The way I see it, morals are greatly determined by our human evolution, which has tended to emphasise a number of characteristics. Generalising terribly, though a male may seek to spread his genes widely, a female is likely to resist unless she is confident that she will not be left to bring up the brood alone . In both sexes there are impulses to stay with the same partner (though life expectancy has increased a great deal). In some circumstances a male will be strong enough to have more than one partner. The females may not like it, but their 'best chance' may lie with putting up with the situation. Likewise, males are generally unwilling to let their bloodline be messed up by other males interfering in his family. Unsurprisingly, gay relationships often follow a different path, including multiple partners.

Where is the reference to past societies in that quote. I don't see one and I read the paragraph over many times because I don't like to be difficult just for the sake of it. I'm difficult because I see a valid reason. If you meant in the past, why wouldn't you have simply said that in the first place? You only mentioned the past because I made a point of the grammar.


Nick wrote:Preen your feathers, Marian, and let me explain. The causes and explanations for the spread of AIDS are different in different parts of the world. In the developed world, AIDS spread rapidly amongst gays principally because of multiple partners. (It also spread amongst introvenous drug users, but for different reasons). Are you disputing that?

Africa. Hmmm... Well, for a start there are (presumably?) a similar proportion of gays in the population. There are also other factors relating directly to the underdevelopment of the continent. Ignorance, poor health, more prostitution (think 18th century London), poorer status of women, more chance of getting away with it etc. In such circumstances it is unsurprising that children are so badly affected as they are born to infected mothers.

No, I'm not disputing that AIDS spread rapidly in different parts of the world but that is not what you said in the first place. I would go on to state that AIDS continues to spread all over the world but the epidemic right now is African. Again, I'm not trying to nit-pick but isn't it important to be clear about what one means, especially since this form of communication is already fraught with difficulties?


Nick wrote:I am certainly not a supporter of Proposition 8 (I hope you were jesting there...) Yes, I was joking. Sorry, I forgot to put in the smiley.

Nick wrote: More along these lines: if Curtis Snr arriving home to tell you that he'd slept with every one of the San Fransisco '49ers cheerleaders in the past week, and asked whether you minded, I'm guessing you might.

:laughter: If Sr came home and told me that, before I got upset about anything, I'd ask him two things: a) you went to SF without me, where did you get the money for that? and b) did you use condoms each time?
Actually, if he came home and told me that, he'd be doing me a favor because then I could toss him out on his ear without so much as an ounce of regret. :wink:
Transformative fire...

User avatar
Emma Woolgatherer
Posts: 2976
Joined: February 27th, 2008, 12:17 pm

Re: having a multiple partners

#29 Postby Emma Woolgatherer » October 2nd, 2010, 2:11 pm

Nick wrote:
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:Romantic love is a strange, complicated thing, and it may well be that it is much more of a learned emotion than an inherited one, more of a cultural invention rather than a natural phenomenon.
I’m afraid I’m going to disagree with that, principally based on my reading of Desmond Morris’s books. Certainly, because humans have evolved into complex beings with complex brains, there are many more permutations than for lower order animals, but the length of pair bonding has evolved to allow the brood to reach maturity. If humans played no part in rearing their young our sexual morals and pairing behaviour would be very different, I’d imagine. As for romantic love, apparently, when in love, our eyesight is impaired slightly, to increase the chances of finding ones partner beautiful :D .
I wasn't suggesting that lust and sexual attraction and companionship and affection are cultural inventions, obviously, and I wasn't even suggesting that romantic love is entirely a cultural invention. But some people have argued that our beliefs and expectations about romantic love, and in particular the expectation that love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage, are very much tied up with how it is portrayed in novels and poems and songs and movies, and that such portrayals date back to 12th-century France, and in particular to the story of Tristan and Iseult (e.g. Love in the Western World, by Denis de Rougemont (1940); and The Hoax of Romance, by Jo Loudin (1981)). Johann Hari has written — rather passionately — about the subject. See "Love is ... not quite what it seems" (also published in the Independent as "The unromantic reality of love"). Though I note that Hari argues that romantic love is an 18th-century English invention, not a 12th-century French one. And he did admit to feeling rather love-sick when he wrote it.
Nick wrote:Certainly there will be cultural influences and reinforcements, but I don’t see any not based on nature.
I don't understand what that means. Everything is ultimately based on nature. But culture is a powerful thing. Religion alone is a powerful thing. Yes, that's loosely "based on nature", too, but it can also be seen as distinct from it. And religion has had a huge influence on marriage, in particular.
Nick wrote:And bear in mind that humans have evolved to an extreme extent, so that one might expect to find frayed edges and non-standard responses amongst such a highly tuned animal.
Evolved to an extreme extent? Highly tuned? Hmmm. I'm not sure that's the sort of language that evolutionary biologists would be comfortable with. :wink: But one could certainly say that humans have developed culturally as well as biologically. So one might expect to find a huge range of responses, and that what we might think of as "standard" in 21st-century Britain or Canada is very different from what biologically identical humans in other parts of the world and at other times might think of as "standard".
Nick wrote:Evolution has yet to catch up with the fact that humans generally live long beyond their reproductive years. A desire to find a mate and seek pleasure may have a second outing when the first round is completed, or when the unusual environment which we have created sparks off such a reaction that evolution did not expect. For example, the opportunity to play the field outside one’s immediate family circle.
Opportunity is key, I think. When you look at differences in behaviour, you can generally find differences in opportunity. Differences in levels of adultery between men and women have a lot to do with differences in opportunity, I suspect. Opportunities for adultery depend largely on the type of work one does. There was a study about divorce rates among various professions, and agricultural engineers were at the bottom of a list of occupations ordered by risk of divorce, with a mere 1.78% chance, and dancers and choreographers were at the top, with a 43.05% chance. I know divorce isn't just about adultery, but I'd assume that there would be a correlation. And there are other studies. Annette Lawson, who researched the subject for her book Adultery: An Analysis of Love and Betrayal (1980), did find, as you would expect, that men typically have more extra-marital affairs than women. "Those men who were in the traditional male-dominated professions (business, accountancy, law, for example) and those women who were in typically female-dominated occupations (nursing, social work, teaching) had the same number of liaisons as expected" she writes. "When, however, we looked at the men who had entered the `female' professions or occupations and the women who had entered the `male' spheres, then these women `looked like' men and these men `looked like' women in the number of their liaisons" (quoted in "Amoral America", by Suzanne Fields, Insight on the News, June 12, 2000).
Nick wrote:
For still others, perhaps only a few at the moment, there may be strong impulses to have more than one domestic sexual partner at the same time.
Hmmm... I think we are a long way from that. Free love doesn’t seem to be able to survive for very long.
As Marian has already noted, having more than one domestic sexual partner is not the same as free love. Free love is simply love unregulated by law, and that seems to be doing pretty well. My own loving relationship has survived for nearly ten years now without any state-recognised marriage contract, which isn't bad.
Nick wrote:
Nick wrote:The females may not like it, but their 'best chance' may lie with putting up with the situation.
Best chance of what?
Best chance of getting through life. Only in the last half century or so have (non-exceptional) women been able to make their way alone in a man’s world.
Nonsense. Spinsterhood and early widowhood have been common phenomena for centuries, and plenty of spinsters and widows survived to a ripe old age, and plenty of widows successfully brought up children. They may have struggled, but the struggle was because of cultural and social and political restrictions, not because they weren't physically capable of looking after themselves. And women have made their way in the world in groups, too, for centuries. Admittedly they needed the excuse of religion to be able to do it without censure, but it was an excuse that worked very well.
Nick wrote:
But if they're not jealous, or can learn not to be jealous, and if they are inclined themselves to have multiple partners, then perhaps a polyamorous set-up could work well for them.
Do you really think that is likely? How inclined would you or anyone you know be to “learn not to be jealous”? Hmmm..I don’t se it happening in general terms.
Neither do I. And perhaps "can learn not to be jealous" was an overstatement. But "can learn to control jealousy" might be more realistic. Jealousy is experienced to different degrees by different people. There is, apparently, some evidence that jealousy is more pronounced in cultures that attach social importance to marriage and disapprove of sexual relationships outside marriage, and also in cultures that value personal property (from "The evolution of jealousy" by Christine Harris, American Scientist, vol. 92, 2004, pp. 62–71, download pdf file). There are lots of websites that tackle the issue of jealousy in polyamorous relationships. This one is typical: "Jealousy is most common when somebody feels insecure, mistreated, threatened, or vulnerable in a relationship. If you feel secure in a relationship, you don't get jealous. Jealousy is not the problem; jealousy is the SYMPTOM of the problem. Address the insecurity or the things underlying the feelings of vulnerability, and you address the jealousy. So the trick to making a poly relationship work is to make everyone involved feel secure, valued, and loved." I don't know how successful these relationships are or could be. In my first post I did say that I thought polyamory was "something that, in theory at least, is perfectly compatible with a humanist outlook" (italics added). I also said that they didn't appeal to me. But there are clearly rather a lot of people these days for whom polyamory does have considerable appeal. And at least some of those people do seem to be having rewarding relationships. Perhaps they won't last as long, on average, as conventional marriages do, but how important is that?
Nick wrote:
Nick wrote:Unsurprisingly, gay relationships often follow a different path, including multiple partners.
Do you have any data on this?
I have anecdotal evidence from gay friends, and I’d suggest the course of the AIDS epidemic would be evidence of this.
I suppose it all depends on what you meant by "often". I wouldn't argue with the claim that "many" gay men and lesbians have several sexual partners. But then "many" heterosexual men and women have a lot of sexual partners too. I would probably not bother to argue with the claim that a higher proportion of gay men have multiple sexual partners than do straight men, even without supporting data. Though I don't think you can say that the course of HIV/AIDS demonstrates that, because that ignores the issue of different sexual practices having different levels of risk. And if it is true that gay men and lesbians have more sexual partners than straight men and straight women respectively, then I'd be curious to know why you'd find that "unsurprising". What would your explanation for it be? Would it be anything to do with evolutionary biology?
Nick wrote:
Nick wrote:Given these incredibly strong evolutionary characteristics ...
What incredibly strong evolutionary characteristics?
The characteristic which have led to the predominance of the family as a unit in society.
That's begging the question, Nick. Maybe it is evolution that has led to the predominance of the family as a unit in society, but it is not something that we know, because we don't know what human society was like at the time when we were supposed to have been doing most of our evolving. Since then, we have evolved culturally to a far, far greater extent than we have evolved biologically.
Nick wrote:
Not that I think those biological "rules" exist.
What none of them? (Though “rules” is probably not the best word to use.)
No, none of them. Unless you can replace the word "rules" with something that is sufficiently unlike "rules" to make some kind of sense! :D

Emma

User avatar
Emma Woolgatherer
Posts: 2976
Joined: February 27th, 2008, 12:17 pm

Re: having a multiple partners

#30 Postby Emma Woolgatherer » October 2nd, 2010, 2:17 pm

And I agree with everything that Gurdur and Paolo have written. Glad that you've both joined the thread!

Emma

User avatar
Nick
Posts: 11027
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 10:10 am

Re: having a multiple partners

#31 Postby Nick » October 2nd, 2010, 5:17 pm

Emma Woolgatherer wrote:And I agree with everything that Gurdur and Paolo have written. Glad that you've both joined the thread!

Emma


Wish I'd written what they had done. Then I wouldn't be getting such a hard time! :laughter:

I too welcome Gurdur and Paolo (and anyone else for that matter). I don't have specialist academic knowledge in this area, and my choice of words may be clumsy, so I'm quite open to challenges. I might even change my mind. It's been known!

Emma and Marian, so many of your comments and objections seems to me to come from you interpreting my posts other than I intended. I acknowledged at the start that I was generalising, but it transpires that I wasn't being clear enough. Oh well, I'll have to address the points you've raised. :)

User avatar
Gurdur
Posts: 610
Joined: July 5th, 2007, 5:00 pm

Re: having a multiple partners

#32 Postby Gurdur » October 2nd, 2010, 6:37 pm

I'm only here to be handled. Seeing you turned it down.

User avatar
Nick
Posts: 11027
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 10:10 am

Re: having a multiple partners

#33 Postby Nick » October 2nd, 2010, 6:41 pm

"Hmmm..." appears a lot in this response. Hope you don't mind.... :)

Emma Woolgatherer wrote:I wasn't suggesting that lust and sexual attraction and companionship and affection are cultural inventions, obviously, and I wasn't even suggesting that romantic love is entirely a cultural invention. But some people have argued that our beliefs and expectations about romantic love, and in particular the expectation that love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage, are very much tied up with how it is portrayed in novels and poems and songs and movies, and that such portrayals date back to 12th-century France, and in particular to the story of Tristan and Iseult (e.g. Love in the Western World, by Denis de Rougemont (1940); and The Hoax of Romance, by Jo Loudin (1981)). Johann Hari has written — rather passionately — about the subject. See "Love is ... not quite what it seems" (also published in the Independent as "The unromantic reality of love"). Though I note that Hari argues that romantic love is an 18th-century English invention, not a 12th-century French one. And he did admit to feeling rather love-sick when he wrote it.

Hmmm... I don’t think that really reflects the history of love and marriage in, say, the last thousand years or so. In essence, marriage was often too important for love, and for the peasantry, I don’t think novels, poems and music played much part in their tough existence. Things have changed hugely in the last 100 years or so.

I’m also not sure that religion played much part in marriages before, say, the sixteenth century. I wonder if church registrations of weddings were used purely because it was the one place where one might find anyone who could write, and with the required geographical spread and hierarchy. It is during that period that we had ‘common law’ marriages. I’ll have to “phone a friend” on this one. My brother is an expert on medieval history, so I’ll see what he has to say.

Nick wrote:Certainly there will be cultural influences and reinforcements, but I don’t see any not based on nature.
I don't understand what that means. Everything is ultimately based on nature.
Quite. The fact that I don’t fancy men is nature, not nurture. A date at a restaurant is cultural, but even here, nature creeps in. Mutual feeding between sweethearts has a biological echo, and you don’t see such things anywhere else, do you?

But culture is a powerful thing. Religion alone is a powerful thing. Yes, that's loosely "based on nature", too, but it can also be seen as distinct from it. And religion has had a huge influence on marriage, in particular.

Hmmm.... I don’t think religion is that distinct from nature. Every civilisation has had religion of one sort or another. Yes, there have been different practices, which have correspondingly different outcomes, but it is no surprise that all religion places restrictions on pair-bonding. It seems to me that the human seeks answers. In the past, these have often been answered by religion (mores the pity).

Nick wrote:And bear in mind that humans have evolved to an extreme extent, so that one might expect to find frayed edges and non-standard responses amongst such a highly tuned animal.
Evolved to an extreme extent? Highly tuned? Hmmm. I'm not sure that's the sort of language that evolutionary biologists would be comfortable with. :wink:
I wish an evolutionary biologist could give me a hand! I was rather scrabbling for the right words. Perhaps “complex” would be a more appropriate word to use. Is that better?

But one could certainly say that humans have developed culturally as well as biologically. So one might expect to find a huge range of responses, and that what we might think of as "standard" in 21st-century Britain or Canada is very different from what biologically identical humans in other parts of the world and at other times might think of as "standard".

Hmmm... What sort of differences did you have in mind? Certainly the organisation of ‘tribes’(including C21st Britain or Canada) will vary according to circumstances, but surely the fundamentals are pretty much the same the world over, and can be traced in our fellow primates too.

Nick wrote:Evolution has yet to catch up with the fact that humans generally live long beyond their reproductive years. A desire to find a mate and seek pleasure may have a second outing when the first round is completed, or when the unusual environment which we have created sparks off such a reaction that evolution did not expect. For example, the opportunity to play the field outside one’s immediate family circle.
Opportunity is key, I think. When you look at differences in behaviour, you can generally find differences in opportunity. Differences in levels of adultery between men and women have a lot to do with differences in opportunity, I suspect. Opportunities for adultery depend largely on the type of work one does.

I wouldn’t disagree with that, but there is a difference between longevity and serial monogamy, and adultery.

As Marian has already noted, having more than one domestic sexual partner is not the same as free love. Free love is simply love unregulated by law, and that seems to be doing pretty well. My own loving relationship has survived for nearly ten years now without any state-recognised marriage contract, which isn't bad.

Ah! We are using the expression free love in radically different senses. I was thinking of ‘free love’ more as 1960’s West Coast hippie communes, with interchangeable partners, not ‘common law’ partnerships (which itself is today a misnomer).

(That’s all I can do for now. More later.)

Marian
Posts: 3985
Joined: August 23rd, 2009, 2:25 pm

Re: having a multiple partners

#34 Postby Marian » October 3rd, 2010, 3:33 am

Gurdur wrote:I'm only here to be handled. Seeing you turned it down.

:laughter: Ok, I'll take you up on that...what do we do about the 5000km between us?
Transformative fire...

User avatar
Gottard
Posts: 1306
Joined: October 3rd, 2008, 3:11 pm

Re: having a multiple partners

#35 Postby Gottard » October 3rd, 2010, 5:44 pm

I know that in the Alaskan society polyandry was (is?) widely practised; the harsh climate with the need to procure food (fish) was such that one husband had to travel for months and was not rare that he died; another husband took care of the family in the while and - if all went right - husbands shifted jobs.
Can anyone confirm?
The only thing I fear of death is regret if I couldn’t complete my learning experience

Marian
Posts: 3985
Joined: August 23rd, 2009, 2:25 pm

Re: having a multiple partners

#36 Postby Marian » October 3rd, 2010, 9:46 pm

Gottard wrote:I know that in the Alaskan society polyandry was (is?) widely practised; the harsh climate with the need to procure food (fish) was such that one husband had to travel for months and was not rare that he died; another husband took care of the family in the while and - if all went right - husbands shifted jobs.
Can anyone confirm?

Not sure about Alaska but the Inuit, pre-colonialization, apparantly did practice polygamy and polyandry. I think now the society has a distinctly christian flavour in terms of marriage, birthdays etc. I don't have much info about it but I'm sure Wiki has something.
Transformative fire...

User avatar
Emma Woolgatherer
Posts: 2976
Joined: February 27th, 2008, 12:17 pm

Re: having a multiple partners

#37 Postby Emma Woolgatherer » October 4th, 2010, 9:59 am

I didn't mean to give you a hard time, Nick, and I realise that I haven't been at all clear myself. Very sorry!
Nick wrote:Hmmm... I don’t think that really reflects the history of love and marriage in, say, the last thousand years or so. In essence, marriage was often too important for love, and for the peasantry, I don’t think novels, poems and music played much part in their tough existence. Things have changed hugely in the last 100 years or so.
Of course. But to clarify: I was not suggesting that French romantic stories had an immediate impact on behaviour and beliefs about marriage and love throughout Europe in the 12th century. I was picking the culture of romance as only one example of cultural factors that have an indirect influence on behaviour and beliefs about marriage and love today. There have, of course, been plenty of other cultural influences historically, many of them, maybe most of them, to do with politics, the law, and economics, as well as religion.
Nick wrote:I’m also not sure that religion played much part in marriages before, say, the sixteenth century. I wonder if church registrations of weddings were used purely because it was the one place where one might find anyone who could write, and with the required geographical spread and hierarchy. It is during that period that we had ‘common law’ marriages. I’ll have to “phone a friend” on this one. My brother is an expert on medieval history, so I’ll see what he has to say.
What immediately pops into my head is Chaucer's Wife of Bath, who says, "Housbondes at chirche dore I have had fyve." And that was written in the late 14th century. In spite of that, though, I think you’re right about formal church involvement in marriage. But even if the church (and the state) did not get formally involved in marriage prior to 1545, that doesn't mean that marriage — which was still marriage even if it didn’t require church approval or registration — and sexual behaviour more generally weren't influenced by the church.
Nick wrote:The fact that I don’t fancy men is nature, not nurture. A date at a restaurant is cultural, but even here, nature creeps in. Mutual feeding between sweethearts has a biological echo, and you don’t see such things anywhere else, do you?
Fortunately I don't see such things anywhere. Euch! I am not denying that nature plays a major role in desire, mating and pair-bonding. I just don’t think we can make assumptions about what is best for individuals, or what works best in human society, on the basis of what we think may have evolved to be the norm among our Pleistocene ancestors. And that, incidentally, is a criticism I would also level at many proponents of polyamory, who are promoting it as a better alternative to monogamy, because, they claim, monogamy isn’t “natural”. I have no desire to defend polyamory as a superior way to live.
Nick wrote:Hmmm.... I don’t think religion is that distinct from nature. Every civilisation has had religion of one sort or another.
I'm sorry, Nick, but I still don't understand. Are you suggesting that religion has (evolutionary) biological roots, and that therefore, if a particular human behaviour is influenced by religion, that doesn't alter the fact that it is determined, ultimately, by biology? Or something like that? If so, I don't find that a particularly useful way of looking at things. It may be practically difficult to distinguish between the effects of biology and the effects of culture over the last ten thousand years or so, but I still think it’s a useful theoretical distinction. And if you don’t mean that .... well, could you be patient with me and try again to explain what you do mean? :smile:
Nick wrote:Yes, there have been different practices, which have correspondingly different outcomes, but it is no surprise that all religion places restrictions on pair-bonding. It seems to me that the human seeks answers. In the past, these have often been answered by religion (mores the pity).
Again, I'm struggling to understand your point. Sorry; I'm probably just not thinking very clearly today. Why do you think it's unsurprising that religions place restrictions on pair-bonding?
Nick wrote:
But one could certainly say that humans have developed culturally as well as biologically. So one might expect to find a huge range of responses, and that what we might think of as "standard" in 21st-century Britain or Canada is very different from what biologically identical humans in other parts of the world and at other times might think of as "standard".
Hmmm... What sort of differences did you have in mind? Certainly the organisation of ‘tribes’(including C21st Britain or Canada) will vary according to circumstances, but surely the fundamentals are pretty much the same the world over, and can be traced in our fellow primates too.
Well, I’m not sure what you mean by the fundamentals. But I was thinking of the sort of things we’ve already mentioned. Mainly arranged marriages as opposed to mainly love marriages; lifelong monogamy as opposed to serial monogamy as opposed to polygyny as opposed to (admittedly rare) polyandry. Acceptance of adultery as opposed to critical tolerance of adultery as opposed to condemnation of it (or critical tolerance of it for men and condemnation of it for women, with punishments to match). Same variations for pre-marital sex, with the addition of approval and encouragement of pre-marital sex. Widely differing attitudes towards homosexuality, for both men and women. Widely differing systems of rights for women, including property rights. Widely differing ideas about the acceptable age for the beginning of sexual activity and/or for marriage. (The wife of Bath was twelve when she married her first housbonde.) Differing attitudes towards pornography, prostitution, the female orgasm, masturbation, oral sex, anal sex. Sex between cousins. Contraception. Abortion. Female genital cutting. Um ... can I stop now?
Nick wrote:Ah! We are using the expression free love in radically different senses. I was thinking of ‘free love’ more as 1960’s West Coast hippie communes, with interchangeable partners, not ‘common law’ partnerships (which itself is today a misnomer).
I'm sorry, Nick. This is where I was being deliberately unclear. I did understand what you meant by free love, but I was being mischievously pedantic because that's not what free love originally meant, and ... probably because I’ve read too much anarchist writing. But the 1960s kind of free love is also rather different from what they're now calling polyamory. I get the impression that polyamorists feel that they've learned from the mistakes of the 1960s. Whether that's true is another matter.

Emma

P.S. Should I go back and put asterisks in certain words so that Coffee can still access this thread?

User avatar
Emma Woolgatherer
Posts: 2976
Joined: February 27th, 2008, 12:17 pm

Re: having a multiple partners

#38 Postby Emma Woolgatherer » October 4th, 2010, 12:17 pm

Emma Woolgatherer wrote:I was thinking of ... arranged marriages as opposed to mainly love marriages ... Differing attitudes towards pornography, prostitution ... Contraception. Abortion ...
I can't believe I missed out the most important one: divorce!

Emma

User avatar
Gottard
Posts: 1306
Joined: October 3rd, 2008, 3:11 pm

Re: having a multiple partners

#39 Postby Gottard » October 5th, 2010, 3:07 pm

Marian wrote:
Gottard wrote:I know that in the Alaskan society polyandry was (is?) widely practised; the harsh climate with the need to procure food (fish) was such that one husband had to travel for months and was not rare that he died; another husband took care of the family in the while and - if all went right - husbands shifted jobs.
Can anyone confirm?

Not sure about Alaska but the Inuit, pre-colonialization, apparantly did practice polygamy and polyandry. I think now the society has a distinctly christian flavour in terms of marriage, birthdays etc. I don't have much info about it but I'm sure Wiki has something.

Wiki confirms!
The only thing I fear of death is regret if I couldn’t complete my learning experience

Wilson
Posts: 184
Joined: November 10th, 2010, 7:25 pm

Re: having a multiple partners

#40 Postby Wilson » November 13th, 2010, 7:30 pm

If I may jump in here, let me suggest that Nick's original premise had nothing to do with the morality of multiple partners, homosexual or otherwise. He stated an obvious fact - that women are the child bearers, men aren't, and therefore evolution, being so intelligent and all, might devise slightly different strategies for the two sexes. At the time our species first appeared and was evolving most rapidly, human babies, taking so long to develop into self-sufficiency, had to have protection and had to be supplied with all its needs. Without a mechanism in place to allow those babies to survive, our species was going to die out. So evolution gave mothers a deep empathy for their children, so deep that the mother saw the child as a part of herself (which it had been not so long before), and would protect it fiercely and feed it and keep it warm and so on. This was such a critical part of ensuring the survival of the species that it overrode almost everything else. The mother needed help in providing for the child, so it was in her best interest to mate with and live with a male who would stay with her and become a family man. In general, it was not in the best interest of her child or the species for her to sleep around and piss off her main man.

On the other hand, each man's genes would have a better chance of being carried forward if he spread them around to multiple partners. On the other hand, unless he helped ensure the survival of his progeny and other babies, the species would be at risk of dying out. So evolution's solution was to develop an imperfect capacity for love and monogamy, in which the male mostly stayed home but still wanted to spread his seed around.

Wilson
Posts: 184
Joined: November 10th, 2010, 7:25 pm

Re: having a multiple partners

#41 Postby Wilson » November 13th, 2010, 7:45 pm

And so we still have tendencies that have been handed down all the way from that distant past. While both men and women enjoy sex, obviously, there is a big difference in the drives toward it. Pornography is mostly a male obsession, and there's a huge difference in the responses to live nudity. It's been pointed out that at a titty bar, men mostly are dead serious and their concentration is focused. At a Chippendales' performance, the women are laughing and having fun and tittilation is secondary to the social occasion. Most men would be very happy to have sex with a succession of pretty girls about whom they know nothing, if they could do so without wrecking their serious relationships, and most women wouldn't be interested in such impersonal sex.

So it's not all societal convention. We are still distant relatives of those hunter-gatherers.


Return to “Humanist Ethics & Morality”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests