Traditional family vs the harem, a comparative study
I find I have to translate an 2010 article. Here goes :
In the traditional model, the head of the future family (always male) will choose one single partner, through direct negotiation with the other family heads (generally male, but sometimes also female through the working of time and patience). The arrangement often includes a patrimonial transaction as well, either from the nascent family towards the one owning marriageable daughters or the other way around. The role and function of this transaction have been the object of respectable scholarship, which we won't restate here, but will recommend to your eye (La Vie familiale et sociale des Indiens Nambikwara etc). Let's not exaggerate by regarding it narrowly and outside of proper context as a sort of noxious tax on the future or as a subsidy towards its support -- it can work various mechanisms of social balancing, for instance as sui-generis social security (because the married female is no longer held to care for her natural parents in their old age, but those of her husband, for instance) or that of ransom for the statu-quo (since all the land is already taken, he who starts a new family shouldn't simply take land into possession, even though he very well could) and so on.
Let us mention in passing that the female partner-to-be does not generally speaking have any word in the settling of the future partnership, at least not formally, which may seem to give way to certain objections as to the propriety of terms. Nevertheless, in practice it's rarely seen that the female doesn't exercise a certain informal influence, by opening / managing conflict between divers pretendents or by making use of various social norms of comparable strength. Besides, given on one hand the social structure of her gender, organised principally as a sort of union aiming at the common protection of rights (while the male gender is socially organised rather adversarially, towards division of various resources), and on the other hand the great abundance of norms aimed generally against the male with the intent of the protection of the wife seen in most traditional cultures, it would be my opinion that the situation is sufficiently even in its course and sufficiently voluntary and free of constraint initially so as to be properly called partnership ; a view based in part on the observations that partnership entirely devoid of constraint can not exist nor has ever existed, and that the notion of partnership does not in the slightest demand equality.
The principal qualities of the female object in the partnership called traditional marriage are diligence and fertility, in this order. Intelligence helps, but it is an ambiquous property, that may add value but may just as well bring disaster, and as such it's not necessarily included in the accounting. Diligence allows the female to increase the patrimony of the marriage through the work of her hands, generally light manufacture -- textiles, foodstuffs, and (together with the other dumb beasts of burden) as a lieutenant to the man's efforts towards productive activities, from pushing on the forge fan to picking up sheaves. Fertility allows the female to increase the family patrimony by adding new members, and this is the side of particular interest in our discussion.
In general biology would seem to indicate sexuate reproduction requires two genders, with progeny the necessary result of their interaction. In traditional terms, however, the production of children is entirely the contribution of the womani (a simplifying view that brought enough trouble to women misfortunate enough to be paired with impotent males, from queens to the last plebeian). As such, the female is the only one able to increase the family headcount.
The particular manner in which the female exercises this monopoly, which is to say giving birth, adds its own particularities, with specific effects. For a period the life of the new family member is a liability, patrimonially speaking, as it will be consuming unilaterally, without answering in counterparty. This particularity of the method chosen by the traditional family to expand itself brings along some obligations, passive and unconsented, upon the progeny. There's an imaginary debt brought about by its apparition!
As a result, traditional families expand in a most inefficient and rather painful (for all parties) manner, adding unconsented passives and then employing to repay them the only resource of the newcomer -- the sweat of his brow, the work of his hands -- evaluated by untransparent and fundamentally authoritarian criteria.ii There is no representational difference between slaves taken in war and children born to traditional families, they're all the same thing -- people chained by their captors to imaginary debts they didn't undersign.
As the progeny is no part of the partnership, but rather finds itself in the position of the zek, as the individual gathers power and ability, self confidence and courage, he will rise against the absurdist organisation, breaking off, in harsher or friendlier terms but always adversarially, from his previous "family"/jail. Of course, with the well documented perversity of human society in all times and places, this obvious dysfunction will be linguistically treated in fatalistic terms, unless they go as far as to misrepresent it as an advantage, in the vein of "how'd you have gotten splints if you didn't break your arm ?!".
In strict opposition to this bizarre and at least seemingly diseased model of social organisation, the harem offers some clear advantages.
Let us point out from the get-go that the harem is not, as beta/virgin bois generally imagine, an entity with a principally sexual function. Even if in terms of sexual abundance it readily overwhelms "serial monogamy", for instance (that thing when you pick up chicks in bars), nevertheless when it comes to variety (the principal sexual need of the male) it can't compare. It should perhaps be noted that for the same sort of onanists, traditional marriage was until recentlyiii, exactly the same "key to the door to the paradise of sexual life". Everything is a nail to the man holding a hammer, and just so everything's sexual paradise of unbridled accuplation to the boi holding his own penis. Ahh, the naive imagination of the inexperienced drones, the only way traditional marriage can possibly end up anywhere remotely near any kind of sex worth the mention.
Rather than all that nonsense, the harem is a fundamentally simpler and more direct answer to the issue of extending the family. Instead of putting in the hand of the female a generative monopoly by virtue of the largely irrelevant circumstance that she is capable, under some conditions, of some sort of generation, in the harem expansion stands in the hand of the man. Ideally this option is exercised rather as an act of communion rather than as an act of force, and the other females contribute actively to the expansion as they contribute actively to everything else. In practice this ideal finds form more or less, like any ideal in any practice.
This manner of expanding the family has some remarkable advantages. First of all, the newcomer is not a liability, but a value. Nobody adds to their harem a snotty girly that shits everywhere and can't walk. As a necessary direct result, the newcomer is not anyone's loss, and to the degree she's well chosen she's actually a gain for each and everyone.
Besides, the newcomer joins the harem as her choice, and in the sense of achievement, of finding her luck, her groove in the world. The extension of the harem is, for the newcomer that extends it, a fullfillment of her being ; the exact opposite of the situation in the traditional family, wherein the nubile newcomer has to leave in order to seek out his destiny, his life's quest or whatever may be waiting at crossroads. Death.
Of course, not everyone can afford to put in practice the superior method, just as "dressing in the finest silks" can't possibly be the preoccupation of the entire populace, there's just not that much "finest", willy-nilly some will be finer than others. But, for the perfectionist mind with great standards (for the environment at least, if not for itself), the traditional implementation of family appears as at best bizarre, if not outright equal to a decision to henceforth eat nothing but roadkill.
From this conflict between quality and cost spawned then the various harem implementations as known to history, from Asia Minor to Asia Major, generally a kind of hybrid between the ideal harem described above and the equally ideal traditional family, described even above-er. The risk involved in using synthetic products is that they may well inherit the defects of both parents, and in practice I've seen this occur, at least occasionally. Nevertheless, I can't possibly see why I'd eat roadkill ; but I'd certainly switch to that diet before I'd switch my private arrangements to closer match the idiocy of primitive minds and the capacities of the poor.
As far as family is concerned, the only respectable arrangement for the rich and intelligent is the harem family. Anyone else is very likely ill advised to attempt families at all, as the Inca is dead set on denying them the traditional family model (which is what they'd need), and instead supply them a sort of nonsense that's painfully untenable and, as best I can discern, the shortest available path to depression, insanity and suicide.———
- Sovata ? [↩]
- The "alternative" pantsuit family simply denies the passive, true to their fundamental belief that existence is built of their say-so. But we're not here to point and laugh at narcisiac idiots this time, so let's lightly move on. [↩]
- "Does your wife go ? Is she a sport ? A wink is as good as a slap for a blind bat!" [↩]