Family means different things to different people.

Some of us love our families, some of us wish we had no family and even some of us don’t have families. For me, family is who you wish to pull close to you, who you turn to when times get hard and you need that cuddle to make everything right again, doesn’t matter if you’re related by blood at all. But for anthropology purposes at the moment, let’s speak of those blood/marriage related families.

Nuclear family: Mom, dad, child(ren).

Extended family: Mom (or step-mom), dad (or step-dad), child(ren) (or step-child(ren)). Can also have grandparents, aunts, uncles, name it.

Family of  origination: the family you are born into. You can’t choose who is in this family.

Family of procreation: the family you create when you go out and chose a spouse and marry if that’s your thing. You don’t even really need to have kids if you don’t want to. But the trying is always fun.

We all have different views of family no matter how you group it. Families grow and sadly shrink; either through marriage, birth, divorce or death. Some are close, some not so much. Today we have the option of sticking “close to home” or “getting the hell out of Dodge” (I’ve never been to Dodge, but I imagine it’s a pretty lonely place with everyone damned and determine to get the hell out).

We also have our own views of who is acceptable to marry and who is off limits. Did you know that biologically it is okay to marry your first cousin? I know that many Americans just got a look of disgust on their face. But you know there are cultures out there that do what us Westerners would consider incest. There is a tribe (that I’ll have to grab my notes to get you the name and location so you can google and not think me making these things up) Yanamamo from South America that believe that cross cousins are okay to marry but not parallel cousins.

Personally I can’t imagine marring any of my cousins…mainly cause they’re all female. But let me explain this cross and parallel cousin thing. If your mother’s sister has a son (and you’re a female) and your mother’s brother has a son, it would be alright to marry your uncle’s son but not your aunt’s son. Or if you have a sister (and you’re still female-sorry guys) your son could not marry her daughter, but if your brother has a daughter, your son could marry her. They believe that when you have two sisters they are more alike than a sister and brother due to their sex. Same with two brothers. But a brother and sister’s children could marry.

Then there are the Lakher (South East Asia) who as long as you do not have the same FATHER you can marry the person, even if you share the same mother. They are a very Patrilocality (male dominated family) society which pretty much ignores the female side of the family. Matrilocality societies are ones that are female dominate in the family where the male side is ignored.

Think about the Royal family. They often accept marring first cousins, because if you added a commoner into the mix, their blood would dilute the royal (Godly if you’re talking Egyptian Pharaohs who also married first cousins) blood, so they have to keep the blood pure in order to rule. If you think about it, it is understandable and knowing that biologically it’s not going to be a three armed baby type thing (and outside of the Enquirer or other rags like that when have you seen something like that because of incest?) it isn’t so icky. Also, it cuts down on that conflict of succession thing. But like I said, I wouldn’t do it and it’s not just because all my known cousins are female (I have one male cousin that I haven’t seen for years), but the fact I’ve grown up with these family member so I mentally put them off limit.

Oh yes, Freud has mentioned that you don’t tend to make sexual advances with the very people you grow up with as those people feel too much like family to think of them in a romantic nature. Sorry guys, you’ll always be just the boy next door. But it is suppose to work both ways, and I personally cannot think of any of the guys I grew up with anything more than brothers and they think of me as a little sister (even when I’m the elder! It’s because I’m fun sized (5’3′)).

So upon marriage, which basically can only be said as an agreement between people. Sometimes more than two. Sometimes not even between man and woman. Like it or not, and personally I do not mind same sex marriage, I see no reason why they should be allowed to get married. This isn’t a religious thing at all marriage or people who are not religious (like myself) would not be allowed to get married and there wouldn’t be civil services. So why throw religion into this mix?

(Also watching the first season of the television series from National Geographic ‘Taboo’ while I am writing this, the Sexuality episode is playing and they’re talking about the third sex. Quite interesting stuff if you are open minded.)

So there are many types of marriages. There are the arranged marriages where there is Bridewealth (gift from husband-to-be (or his family) to the bride-to-be (or her family) to compensate her family for her loss) and the more common Dowry (gift from wife-to-be’s family to husband-to-be for taking responsibility for the woman). These are not always arranged. Bridewealth is a price fixed on a woman by her elders (usually women) on what she is worth and a man agrees to pay it in order to marry her.  Dowry is when a father adds additional things to his daughter in order to marry her off so he no longer has to worry about or have any responsibility for her. It can make even the lowliest of creatures enticing.

There are Plural marriages; polygyny (one man, multiple wives-most common) and polyandry (one woman, multiple husbands). Usually you will have a polyandry marriage in a society (there is only two that still practice this) where only the eldest male is allowed to marry and so if there are any younger brothers sometimes (more often than not) they will join the marriage of their elder brother. Doesn’t always mean that all brothers have the same relationship with the woman. There may or may not be a open sexual relationship. These types of marriages are generally found in areas that cannot support a lot of human life.

Us Westerners are said to be serial monogamists. Meaning we jump from one monogamy relationship to another. I am a firm believer of monogamy as I do not share well with others some things. But with marriage there is divorce, especially here in the States. Las Vegas as a strip mall just around the corner from all the marriage parlors that are nothing but attorney offices who can offer “Divorces while you wait!” even if you only got married a couple days prior. See in good old Las Vegas everything is done by computer so the information gets to where it is needed a lot quicker so you can quickly fix any mistakes you might have made the day before. Also you are not allowed to get married in Las Vegas until you can pass a sobriety test. Which probably isn’t such a hard test to pass.

This is a mix of last Wednesdays’ stuff and todays lecture. Next we’re suppose to watch an episode of Taboo (I imagine the marriage episode as that is what we’ve been lecturing about) and I’ll let you know my thoughts on Wednesday night.

Got to choose next terms classes today. Am taking Evolutionary Anthropology, as Forensics Anthropology wasn’t going to be held anytime I could take as the last “core” classes for my associates need to be taken this next term as it will be my last at CNM.

I am also planning to do NaNoWriMo this month (haven’t written a word yet!) and you are more than welcome to follow me over there and see if I get anymore of a long thought out novel The Black Lioness actually into written form instead of it just floating around in my head.

Until next time, remember if you can’t keep it in your pants…..

Categories: Anthropology | Leave a comment

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