Monday, June 10, 2013

Politics II: Marriage

Recently the topic of same-sex marriages has become more and more popular. Many countries have changed their family laws in order to allow homosexual couples to be able to marry just like heterosexual couples. For some it is an advancement towards equality and against discrimination based on sexual orientation. For others it undermines the basic principles on which human society is built on.
This controversy is caused by the fact that marriage has a totally different meaning for people depending on their educational and cultural background.

Marriage as Partnership or Slavery?

In the Western society marriage means a kind of partnership between two people. It is historically derived from Hellenic/Roman and Germanic customs that paired one man and one woman together for reproduction purposes. Following the frequent contact among different civilizations, this European understanding of marriage has been paralleled with a completely different phenomenon in Middle Eastern and African societies. 
Such a concept of partnership between a man and a woman did not exist there. But the concept of slavery existed there. And women were considered natural slaves. They were purchased and became part of the household of their owner. Depending on personal wealth a master could have either one or many female slaves.
When Europeans made contact with these cultures, they misunderstood the nature of this relationship and mistranslated it as marriage. What was translated "wife" into English actually meant "female slave". This mistake in translation is first of all visible in the fact that for these cultures it was quite natural that a man could purchase as many women as his wealth allowed, while no female slave could of course have several masters. But even this observation did not make Europeans reconsidering their wrong translation, so up to the present day female slavery is totally legal in Arab and African countries, because it is not translated as such. However women are still exchanged against a certain amount of money or cattle and nobody considers this to be ethically wrong or thinks of human trafficking.

Even in the grammar of Bantu languages, we can still see how this misunderstanding is based on a wrong translation.
In Swaheli the sentence "Ali marries Sheila" means "Ali alimwoa Sheila".
So we should assume that "Sheila marries Ali" would mean "Sheila alimwoa Ali." But this is not the case.
The correct sentence is "Sheila aliolewa na Ali". "Aliolewa" is actually the passive form of "alimwoa" So the literal translation into English is "Sheila was married by Ali". It is grammatically impossible that a woman marries a man, she can only be married by a man.
The reason is that the verb "-oa" doesn'√Ąt mean "to marry" in the first place. It means "to purchase a slave girl".
Therefore the correct English translation for "Ali alimwoa Sheila" is "Ali purchases Sheila". And "Sheila aliolewa Ali" is "Sheila is purchased by Ali." It is quite logical that you cannot say Sheila purchases Ali, because Sheila is the slave, and a slave girl doesn't buy her master.

This is the actual understanding of "marriage" in many non-Western cultures. It is not a mutual relationship between two equal partners. It is the relationship between a master and a slave, two different roles that are not equal in any way.
This is why same-sex marriage is so radically opposed in those primitive patriarchal societies. It is unthinkable that two persons of the same gender could marry, because who would be the master and who would be the slave? A marriage has to be an unilateral relationship between two complementary social roles.
But even in Western countries there is a strong opposition against same-sex marriage, but mostly by religious conservative persons. The reason for it is obvious: Their understanding of marriage is based on the bible, which is a scripture of Middle Eastern, not European origin. Therefore the bible doesn't have the European concept of marriage as a partnership, but marriage as a master/servant-relationship.

Biological Concept of Marriage

Another argument against same-sex marriage is based on biology. Its main purpose is considered to be reproduction. Therefore it has to be between a man and a woman. The nuclear family is supposed to be the basic reproductive unit of the human society. This nuclear family is believed to consist of two parents (father and mother) and the children. This idea is based on the biological model that the father produces sperm cells and the mother produces egg cells. The fusion of the sperm cell and the egg cell becomes an embryo, which eventually develops into a child made of the two cells from both parents, mother and father.
Unfortunately this model is based on a misunderstanding of the fertilization process. The zygote (embryo cell) is not the result of the fusion of two cells (sperm and ovum). It is only the egg cell that develops into the embryo after the sperm cell injects its genetic data into it. The sperm cell itself dies after this process. The resulting embryo does not contain a single molecule from its father. All of its substance including all cell organelles are product of the mother. What remains from the original paternal chromosomes are only copies of their DNA sequence. The original DNA gets lost during the further development of the embryo, either metabolized or left in the placenta cells. There is no material link between the father and the child. They have only genetic information in common.
In other words the father only has the the copyright of a little less than 50% of the genetic information of the child. He makes no physical contribution to the child.
To fully understand what this means we have to take a closer look at the following situation:
If one of two monozygotic male twins impregnates a woman and she gives birth to a child, then both twins are equally fathers of the child. The one twin who had intercourse with the woman is not "more father" than his twin brother who might not even know the woman. The child has approx. 50% of the genetic information of these twins without any difference between them. There is no way to determine, which of the twins was the one who had sexual intercourse with the woman. There is in fact no biological distinction between these two fathers.
We have to understand that the term "father" is an abstract concept. It does not refer to a physical link between father and child. It only means that the father has provided about 50% of the genetic information of the child. He contributed information, not physical substance.
A child has actually only one parent - the mother.
Therefore in a biological sense the nuclear family only consists of mother and children, no father.
The single mother/child family therefore reflects much more the biological background than the father/mother/child family, which is only a cultural construct. And in many countries the single mother/child family becomes more and more the reality in the society.
This is the true basic unit of the human society.There is no biological justification to include a father in the nuclear family unit. The laws of our society should reflect this biological reality. Children belong to their mother, and their mother only. There is no biological justification to grant any privileges or authority to fathers. And therefore marriage between a father and the mother of a child is totally meaningless.
The relationship between a man and a woman should not be subject to any law. And it should not be allowed that anybody can claim any legal privileges from such an arrangement.

Why Marriage?

We have seen that marriage between a man and a woman has no biological justification. Furthermore we have seen that the concept of marriage has been abused to justify ethically questionable practices like female slavery. Marriage is therefore an immoral concept that is incompatible with human dignity and has been instrumental for the institutionalized oppression of women and children. It is the cause of many ills in our society. It should therefore be abolished.
It is unacceptable that our modern state recognizes this primitive and immoral practice.
Marriage should not be extended to same-sex couples. It should be outlawed even for heterosexual couples.

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