Friday, April 01, 2016

A female reader replies

I enjoy receiving interesting dissenting comments from readers. One female reader, calling herself Kate, wrote in to defend Laurie Penny's anti-maternalism. Kate's argument, in brief, is that it is a sign of intelligence to be able to override natural imperatives to have children and that it is logical for intelligent women to seek to have the least number of children. Here is her comment:
Higher IQ and more intellectualism sharply, sharply decreases the likelihood that a woman wants to have any children, once you get into the high IQ categories:

Intellectualism/higher IQ increases the likelihood that one is capable of conceiving of the difference between their subjective individual interests and the interests of their genes. And high IQ also sharply increases the likelihood that one decides to serve their own subjective interests rather than mindlessly and slavishly serving the interests of their genes, like all other animals.

It's no surprise that men are less likely to recognize the discrepancy between their own interests and the interests their genes have in reproducing, since they're not generally at odds. A man experiences an orgasm and thus replicates his genes, thus serving both his subjective interests and the interests of his genes in reproducing in the same action, with no conflict.

On the other hand, reproducing and serving the interests of her genes is extremely detrimental to the individual female. She risks death, drastically decreases her future ability to attract mates, becomes extremely sick and physically vulnerable, and suffers a whole host of detriments.

In all species, investing in the individual comes as a cost trade-off with investing in reproduction, and in some species reproduction automatically means death, imposing the highest possible cost. Luckily that is not so for humans, but there is a HUGE difference between the natural costs imposed for men versus women. The law tries to even it out a bit, but it's clear that most women, when given the choice, choose to invest the minimum possible amount in reproduction in order to get one set of genes into the future, which is exactly what we would expect given the high costs nature imposes on her. Men are naturally capable of investing the minimum amount and therefore we don't see the same strong drive to avoid reproduction. The more intellect a woman has and the more self-awareness and control over her destiny, the more likely she is to not want to have children at all, and why should she?

Serious question for the author: would you still be so enthusiastic about serving the interests of your genes in replicating, if doing so would make you very weak and ill for months or years at a time, make you MUCH less attractive to women, present a 25% chance of death (we're talking pre-modern medicine), require a day of excruciating pain and ripping open your genitals, and require your constant attention and investment of resources and energy for two decades? I'm guessing you would not.

I mostly disagree with this. Kate has referenced research by an evolutionary psychologist, Satoshi Kanazawa. It is true that Kanazawa argues that highly intelligent people are more likely to adopt evolutionarily novel values. At the same time, he argues in his paper that voluntary childlessness by intelligent women, though a novel value, is highly maladaptive. Kanazawa is particularly concerned that intelligence is largely inherited through mothers and that if the trend for the most intelligent mothers to be childless continues, that average levels of IQ will decline.

He could also have pointed to other reasons why the choice is maladaptive. German women, for instance, have a remarkably low birth rate and this speeds the process by which the existing German population and culture is replaced by a Muslim one. In other words, German women may not be thinking ahead clearly even when it comes to what Kate calls their "own subjective interests" - and foresight is surely an indicator of intelligence, is it not?

Here's a further problem. There is at least some evidence that feminist women like Laurie Penny are not so much pioneering "evolutionarily novel" values, as much as wanting a return to prehistoric ones. Civilisation was built on the monogamous family, as this was the model that gave to the largest number of men a high level of motivation to invest productively in society. But it required the suppression of other, more ancient evolutionary "values", such as female hypergamy, in which women were free to mate with the most successful male in the tribe.

The hypergamous instinct is going to be especially problematic for highly intelligent women, as the numbers of men more intelligent than them will be limited and as they will have to compete with other women for them. The problem is compounded by the fact that highly intelligent women in modern societies will have been indoctrinated with ideologies that are hostile to men, to femininity and to family life - making such women less attractive as mates to the men who might otherwise be their partners.

This might help to explain why highly intelligent men do end up having children at an expected rate, whereas highly intelligent women do not.

Just to underline this point, it does seem as if one element of the feminist sexual revolution was to free women to pursue their ancient hypergamous instincts, rather than having to "settle" for a man of middle-ranking or low status. But this too is maladaptive in various ways. It means that the highest status men are flooded with female attention; these men grow confident in having a surplus of female interest and have the upper hand in relationships. They do not need to settle anytime soon. So the hypergamous women are not exactly getting what they want either, i.e. commitment from a high status male. Many will spend their years of peak attractiveness managing only to succeed in coaxing short term commitments out of these men.

And this relates to my next point. It is a sign of intelligence to be able to order the different instincts and experiences we have in life. For instance, a young man might face a choice between his instinct toward promiscuity and his instinct toward love and fidelity with just one woman. He can't have both in full measure; most men for some centuries now have ordered their lives by giving preference to love and fidelity, though no doubt hoping that their sexual impulses might be at least partially met within marriage.

To me, it is a sign of intelligence if a person is ordered towards the higher goods of family life, as these have a higher quality than the other goods that are necessarily compromised. Within a well-functioning family life we are best able to fulfil our natures as men and women by undertaking the roles of father and mother, husband and wife; we create our own unique family environment, one that is hopefully founded on love and care; we are best able to transmit our own culture and tradition into the future, thereby acting in defence of our own inner identity and of the communities and culture that we love and wish to defend.

Another issue I have with Kate's comment is that she jumps between what exists in a state of nature and what exists within civilisation. For instance, the costs of having children in a state of nature might well be heavier for women than for men - until recent times, the risk to a mother's health was considerable.

But in modern times? I'm not sure it's true anymore. A man who commits to marriage and children locks himself into a relationship as much as a woman does. He takes on the main responsibility for providing, with all the investment of time and energy this requires. He is legally vulnerable if the marriage ends, and will have to accept most of the negative consequences of this outcome, including loss of home, children and income. He will be under considerable pressure to make the marriage work and his wife therefore has much leverage over him in the relationship. From my own experience, when the children are small it might be true that the mother is under more pressure, but at other times it is likely that the father will be the one taking on the heaviest burden.

Finally, Kate asks some specific questions to me at the end of her comment. It is a bit artificial answering these questions, because I am answering them as a man with a man's priorities. For instance, the idea of maintaining my own tradition is very important to me, so when Kate asks if I would be willing to undergo hardships in order to have more children, then the answer would be yes.

One question I can answer as a man is the one about pregnancy and attractiveness. Pregnancy does not make a woman ugly to men. There is something quite beautiful about a woman who is carrying a child. And afterwards women don't necessarily lose their looks. There are millions of beautiful mothers out there - believe me, the male libido is more than strong enough to render this issue relatively unimportant. The real issue is that many men are not keen on raising other men's children - that is what might make a woman with children at least somewhat less attractive to a new partner.

I suppose it all depends on what a woman sets out to do. If a woman wants to play revolving relationships, then having children might be detrimental to her interests. But if she expects to live within a stable marital relationship, then I don't see that children are as detrimental as Kate describes them as being.


  1. Women who end up without husband & children are prioritising their short term interests in hedonism and pain avoidance over their long term interests in a satisfying life well lived - at the end of their lives they have nothing. That doesn't look like a sign of high intelligence to me - or at least it may be a sign of high intelligence combined with low wisdom. Wiser women look for long term commitment, marriage and their own children - the State is ultimately not a satisfying life partner.

    1. Yes, the ability to take measures in the present in order to secure important goods in the future is surely one indicator of intelligence. Which makes me think that being an intellectual does not always correlate to intelligence - not in all aspects of life anyway.

    2. Women who end up without husband & children are prioritising their short term interests in hedonism and pain avoidance over their long term interests in a satisfying life well lived - at the end of their lives they have nothing

      It's a matter of time preference rates. High time preference rates always end disastrously for both individuals and society. We have become a very very high time preference rate society.

      Women should naturally have low time preference rates. Thanks to feminism they now have extremely high time preference rates. It's another example of the feminist war on women.

    3. The concept of time preference rates is a good one that not all readers may be familiar with. A definition:

      "Someone with a high time preference is focused substantially on his well-being in the present and the immediate future relative to the average person, while someone with low time preference places more emphasis than average on their well-being in the further future."

    4. Conservatism understands that human weakness leads to short-term thinking, and therefore society (including laws) must be structured to encourage doing what is best in the long term rather than the short term.

      Libertarians refer to this as "paternalism" and so on. Libertarianism does not recognize the weaknesses of human nature and promotes "liberty" which generally translates into short-term thinking and long-term loss.

      Conservatism favors "ordered liberty" which means that liberty is restricted for the long-term interests of society in regards to matters such as family formation, child rearing, monogamy, and other non-family, non-sexual matters as well.

      Libertarianism rejects restrictions on liberty except for preventing immediate harm to others. In other words, long-term harm to others is fine, just not short-term harm.

    5. The concept of time preference rates is a good one

      It's also one of the most telling arguments against democracy. Democracy is the ultimate in high time preference rate thinking. Kings on the other hand cannot have high time preference rates. They have to consider the long term. The state of the country twenty years from now is irrelevant to a democratic politician - by that time he'll be long since retired. But the state of the country twenty years from now is of vital concern to a king. He might well be still king twenty years from now. If not he hopes his son will be king.

      A true constitutional monarchy with a proper balance between the powers of Parliament and the Crown might well have prevented many of the follies of the past century.

    6. Dfordoom, good point. When I was 30 I asked someone who was about 50 about trends in society that would lead over time to social decline. He answered: "I don't care, I'll be dead by then." (He is right-liberal in politics). It makes me wonder if some of these traits can be tested for in some way.

    7. No these traits are not actually traits. The latter being personality characteristics, they do not relate to ability to predict future trends which is a function of IQ and development of capacity for abstract thought.

      Disregard for the future is pretty universal particularly in the lower IQ groups who lack ability for abstract thought. The majority of the population are concrete thinkers whose limited intellectual abilities lead to a predominant focus on the here and now and immediate material security.

      A stable society with long term vision requires a monarch and landed aristocracy who have a sound long term interest in maintaining territorial integrity and economic prosperity and at the same time have sufficient wealth that they do not have to resort to financial shenanigans to keep their position. The combination of long term national interest and financial security permits them time to plan the future of the nation in a direction which is advantageous to all classes and affords economic and social stability.

      A land without monarchy is ruled by oligarchs who place short term and rapid accumulation and expropriation of wealth in their own hands at the expense of the population who become impoverished and ultimately enslaved. National borders, traditions and rights are rapidly destroyed.

      Politicians likewise have short term financial goals and are easily corrupted into obedience to oligarchic demands whose wishes they ultimately serve meaning that the majority populations are to all intents and purposes disenfranchised.

    8. Simon, you do realize that unmarried women (spinsters) have always existed in society? That through many different circumstances both men and women can get to the end of their lives with "nothing". Sorry, but this comment struck me as a sign of low intelligence.

    9. Anon (above), look at it this way. Until recent times, the overwhelming majority of young women at age 18 reported wanting in the future to have a husband and children (more than 90% as I recollect from a survey about 15 years ago). In the 1950s, pretty much all of these women managed to achieve the goal. Nowadays, an increasing number aren't, despite the fact that when they are young they have some considerable power in attracting the interest of men. Part of the reason is that they are not using their advantages in a wise or timely manner. Sometimes they are rejecting men who would make good husbands because they are in a party girl phase and chasing excitement; or because they have deferred the idea of marriage and children to some impossibly late time in their life; or because they have rejected assortative mating (finding a man at their level) in order to chase occasional gratification with a high status man. Finally, I'd like to come back to the point I made originally. The goods of family life are of a higher quality and distinction than a freedom to watch True Detective whenever you want to. It is certainly a sign of intelligence and character to commit to the higher goods rather than the lower ones of lesser value. In other words, Amanda Marcotte is not committing to spinsterhood because she feels a religious vocation to deepen her piety within a religious order; nor even a humanitarian urge to serve the less fortunate. What did she say? She wants a freedom to have sex in any room of the house and a baby might complicate this. Not very deep.

    10. I see what you mean. It can be hard as a woman to give your good years over to caring for older family members and even though you are accepting of your lesser circumstances still be lumped in with the Marcottes of the world. At least in the past you could be treated with basic decency. I now see how these women have caused this.

    11. Mark your response has a severe weakness in that the responsibility for this situation lies with men. It is a mark of low IQ to fail to analyse the situation in full with a balanced approach. Your comments lead one the inevitable deductive conclusion of male perfection confronted with female disorder. The reverse is the reality.

      Male effeminacy is the cause of female empowerment. Nature abhors a vacuum. Women seek protection and financial security. When males cannot provide this due to moral and spiritual degeneracy, then females will loose confidence in them and respect for them.

      It is men, not women who drafted and passed Divorce Laws, and Abortion Laws. It is men who are head of the home hence responsible for the baptism and religious instruction of children. However the majority fail in this crucial duty, abrogating parental responsibility to women.

      The majority of the human race have no concept of the common good and no ability to predict the long term outcome of trends. They live in the here and now and it is the responsibility of the elder and wiser members of society to set up and maintain laws and traditions which enforce people to conform to standards.

      The majority of men today are weak, indecisive and effeminate. Many of them are readily exploiting young women, reluctant to commit to marriage and quite frankly quite unsuited to the institution which they readily abandon as soon as another younger romantic prospect comes on the scene. The much lauded Trump is an example of this behaviour having dumped 2 or is it 3 wives like cars to be traded in for newer models.

      You state "rejected assortative mating (finding a man at their level) in order to chase occasional gratification with a high status man" - of course, women will never reject the chance of a better deal. Would you drive a mini if you could get a Mercedes? Every woman no doubt thinks she will be the one to be successful, rejecting the statistics in the manner of a chain smoker who rejects the evidence he will get lung cancer.

      Human beings are not rational and perceive the world with bias ignoring the facts that do not fit their world view. Your selective and exclusive focus on feminism whilst ignoring its prime aetiological factor effimancy is a manifestation of that tendency.

      It is impossible to change human nature.

    12. Anon (above), I have tried to explain that it doesn't work to encourage men to the view that they and they alone are responsible for what happens in society. That then undermines the effective male leadership we are looking for, a leadership which must hold women accountable and which must seek to raise women to their higher, rather than their lower, potential as women.

      Human beings are a mixture of things. We are influenced by culture; we are influenced by the opinions of people who matter to us; we are influenced by theologies and ideologies; we are influenced by higher instincts; we are influenced by the promptings of our hind brains; we are influenced by our upbringing; we are influenced by self-interest; we are influenced by the experience of pleasure and pain; we are influenced by our education. There is a complex order to reality. We can take all of this into account in what we appeal to, in what we think is realistic, in what we think can work in the ordering of society.

    13. Men are the dominant force in society with women followers. Hence logic dictates that the major problem is with men and until that is sorted, the problem with women will not be dealt with.

      "a leadership which must hold women accountable and which must seek to raise women to their higher, rather than their lower, potential as women" Why would women agree to be accountable to degenerate effminate men?

      The first step is to assert male leadership of society and then allow the older men to control the younger ones as they did in the past. The present situation of elders deferring to the opinions and values of the young is revolutionary and socially destructive.

      "promptings of our hind brains" - what kind of prompting is this? Are you referring to the cerebellum?

      The remainder of your comment is irrelevant to the point of restoring a traditional order.

    14. Anon, why the resistance to holding women accountable for their faults? It's like a mental block with some conservatives. It's not helpful because it feeds into an enduring, but false, part of the Western tradition, one which MRAs call "the feminine imperative" - by which they mean that women are never held accountable for acts they commit which do harm to society. It's always, instead, the fault of some man somewhere. Men will be less effeminate and less feeble when they are willing to hold women to account. That doesn't mean doing the reverse to what happens today and blaming women for everything - it means holding women to account for poor decisions and behaviour.

    15. Logical deduction means that there are no standards to which they can be held accountable until these are defined by men. Hence solving the male problem is an imperative.

      How can women be held accountable for sexual promiscuity if it is still encouraged by men. If men repeller promiscuous women then women would not be promiscuous. The mark of manliness is sexual restraint not childish self indulgence.

      If men did not draft and pass divorce laws, women would not divorce. Women can be held accountable only after the standards to which they must be accountable have been clearly defined.

    16. Anon, it still concerns me that you are finding ways to let women off the hook for their negative behaviours. What is the problem with saying to a woman "you did the wrong thing, you shouldn't have done it". Instead, the message you are sending to women is "you did the wrong thing, a man somewhere is to blame for it." This feeds into a larger problematic trend within the Western tradition, one that is still causing problems today.

    17. "What is the problem with saying to a woman "you did the wrong thing, you shouldn't have done it". "

      And then what?

      There is nothing wrong with telling someone they did something wrong but the aim of responsible people is to correct the disorder and not simply tell off people which is, more often then not, futile.

      To cure a disease one must eradicate the cause of the disease and not simply treat the symptoms. Your approach to social problems is far too shallow and superficial and has no chance of effectiveness.

    18. Anon, the first step is to be willing to hold women to account. After that it becomes possible to establish a frame which aims to draw women to virtue.

    19. Mark, you evidently have no experience of the real world and very little capacity for serious intellectual analysis. Frameworks must first be established to define the standards to which people are to be held accountable. Without a framework, there are no consistent standards and holding people to account to vague standards descends into a witch hunt.

      Your problem is the typical one of male effeminacy and weakness which encourages hostility towards women and a failure to uphold traditional morality and standards among men.

    20. Anon, it is a silly rhetorical ploy to begin your points as you do with comments like "you evidently have no experience of the real world..." I would like you to actually bring the discussion down to logic and facts rather than bald claims and rhetorical ploys, otherwise we get nowhere. On this particular issue we are going to have to agree to disagree - I am not going to keep responding to comments that are going nowhere. I will simply restate the point I have been making. We have a serious problem, namely that even conservative men will go to significant lengths to avoid holding women accountable for their vices. There is a clinging, even on the right, to a "man is perpetrator, woman is victim" analysis. It is a mindset that needs to change. By the way, there is a good response to the idea that if only men would be virtuous that women would automatically follow suit here:

  2. German women may not be thinking ahead clearly even when it comes to what Kate calls their "own subjective interests" - and foresight is surely an indicator of intelligence, is it not?

    Women personalise everything. For a woman looking ahead means considering her own narrow personal self-interest. For a man looking ahead means considering the wider implications - like the possibility that selfishness might end up destroying the very society we live in. It's just one of the ways men and women differ, and it's one of the reasons women should not be allowed to vote.

    When you look at the response to the refugee crisis it's clear that women react to it emotionally and don't consider the long-term consequences unless those consequences impact on them personally. They don't care if thousands of German women get raped as long as they personally don't get raped. On the other hand men are more likely to realise that the crisis could impact on society as a whole.

    Kate's arguments are a perfect illustration. Essentially she's saying that she feels that she personally would be better off not reproducing and she doesn't care if society goes down the toilet.

    1. Women personalise everything. I agree with this as a generalisation, though we have to explain the exceptions - women who share the same concerns as men about the wider implications on society (e.g. Tiberge at Gallia Watch, or political leaders like Marine le Pen and Frauke Petry).

      I can give you an example of how women react emotionally to the refugee crisis. I know a young German woman who is currently living here in Melbourne. She is feeling very insecure now about what is happening in Germany. On the one hand, her young female friends are messaging her about their experiences of being harassed on public transport. On the other hand, she is alarmed by the growing popularity of AfD. When she talks to me about all this she has a genuine look of anxiety and insecurity. I tried to reassure her that by the standards of most countries AfD was a centrist party and that the open borders policy of Merkel was creating the issues of migrant harassment of women. But she didn't seem persuaded - she remained equally fearful of the migrant influx and the AfD.

    2. Men personalise everything too. What evidence is there that German men have taken action to restore territorial integrity and remove the invaders? Absolutely none save a few on the extreme right burning hostels which has had no significant effect as the hordes pour in continuously.

      Women don't actually have the means to resolve this matter but men do have and could do it easily if they wished. 20 million German men could drive out 1 million Muslims in short shift. The German Army could not stop them. Why don't the men do it? Because they don't care about their society, their women as long as they personally are safe and comfortable.

    3. Anon (above), one of the problems with men is that men are more likely to discipline themselves to an abstract principle, but if that abstract principle is wrong, then it only serves to makes things worse. Classical liberalism was built on the idea that if people act for their own selfish interests, and leave others to do the same, then society would benefit in the long run. The philosophy suited life in a competitive market environment, at least for the better off and for the aspirational classes and so it took hold. But it did denature men to a degree. It took away substantive principles from the public square, leaving them as mere private opinions. It "domesticated" men - men could still work for their own private domestic sphere but not for any larger communal tradition. Men lost the sense that public service was an integral aspect of manhood (in stark culture to the ancients). Men could still be unselfish in the domestic sphere, but came to believe that the public square was nothing to do with them. I remember once challenging a right-liberal man about the future calamity looming because of liberal politics. He didn't deny where society was headed but simply shrugged his shoulders and said "I'll be dead by then". It has taken many generations for liberalism to get men to such a state, but there you have it.

      I do believe that women personalise things more than men (i.e. as a generalisation). I'll give one small example. I have been to many staff meetings where a male principal has addressed the staff to outline what he saw as the challenges facing the school. I have usually listened with interest and thought he made some good suggestions. But on returning to the staff office, several of the female teachers have broken out into an angry denunciation of the principal, not for any of his ideas, but because of the tone he used, or the words he used to address the staff. This has happened often enough for me to wonder about it - I have just put it down to differences between men and women.

    4. 20 million German men could drive out 1 million Muslims in short shift.

      German men today won't do it because they've been emasculated. For seventy years they've been told that even the vaguest manifestation of patriotism makes you an evil Nazi. They've been told that wanting to defend women makes you a sexist misogynistic fascist. They've been trained into female ways of thinking and reacting.

      That's happened throughout the West but it's worse in Europe and it's worst of all in Germany because of the crippling war guilt. If you believe in defending yourself or your nation (or your women) you must be a Nazi.

      If German women want to be saved they'd be well advised to change their attitudes towards men. Girly-men aren't going to save anybody. There's a lot less testosterone in 20 million German men than there is in 1 million Muslim men. If I were a betting man my money would be on the Muslims. Numbers are not what matters. If you have enough female thinking and enough defeatism numbers won't help.

    5. Dfordoom, you are right of course that Germans have been especially pummelled into passivity. That's why the AfD breakthrough is so important. I think it's possible that some German women, especially more conservative women, will start to change the message they send to men. They will start to signal a female outrage that they aren't being adequately protected. Given that the German state seems far more oriented to protecting the immigrants rather than German women, this may eventually have some effect.

  3. Evolutionary psychologists, accepting the Darwinian view of humans being the direct descendants of monkeys, study human behaviour in the light of veterinary comparison. They fail to consider other subtle aspects which are absent in the animal kingdom. The latter is devoted first and foremost to survival. Humans, on the contrary are made in the image of God and have free will. They have also been granted by God mastery over the temporal sphere.

    Human societies living in accordance with God's plan multiply and prosper and those who reject God die out or are finished off by invaders. The natural tendency of humans is to idolatry, pride and self regard. Therefore order and authority must be imposed.

    People are not geared naturally towards family life and monogamous marriage which incidentally is Christian, and did not develop in order to allow "civilisation to modernise" . Most civilisations are not monogamous. Christendom is counter cultural and the life long monogamous marriage is contingent upon the fact that both husband and wife will not get what they want most of the time and will require constant compromise and adjustment. This means that females' natural tendency to desire high status men has to be constrained within a social hierarchy which restricts marriage and social interactions to people within the same social class.

    The concept of competition for marriage partners is another behavioural adoption from the monkey kingdom. As humans have lost religious belief and accepted bizarre evolutionary theories of their emergence from the animal world, they have begun to behave like animals. Any doctor or lawyer today is the target of aggressive, predatory female attention and that applies regardless of marital status. There are many, many women who are very happy to break up marriages and destroy children's lives to achieve the status of being a doctor's partner or wife, even for a short time. They will degrade themselves to any level, sleep with as many prospects as possible in the hope that some poor soul, driven by lust will make the foolish decision to marry them. They will sleep with any nationality and any colour of MD so long as he has the title Dr. It's a source of amazement and shock to foreign doctors. The blacks join this readily, the Asian doctors do not, even the Muslims who one may think are used to having harems.

    Most of these women fail in their ultimate goal and go off vicious and resentful to reluctantly marry other men to whom they never wholly commit as they look down on these men and aim to use them as collateral security until a richer man may come along. These marriages are unstable, female dominated and poisoned by comtempt for a reduced lifestyle compared to what was unrealistically desired.

    1. Anon, there are parts of this I agree with. But one quibble: there is evidence that monogamous marriage was common throughout northern Europe in pre-Christian times (I do accept, though, that the monogamous marriage that was characteristic of Europe until recent times was undergirded by Christianity.)

      One interesting point you make is that class barriers did serve a positive goal in one sense: they meant that it was pointless for the majority of women to reach for extreme forms of hypergamy (i.e. they strongly encouraged assortative mating). The fact that a woman from the lower gentry was unlikely to be accepted as a marital candidate for a man from the higher aristocracy meant that the men of her own social class were not rejected as inferior - they would have appeared to her as the uppermost of what was attainable to her.

    2. Pre Christian and non Christian societies' monogamous marriages are not the same as Christian marriage as they do not have sexual exclusivity or lifelong requirements. A Budhist can marry one woman at a time but can have a harem of mitresses hence the Geishas and comfort women of the East Asian nations. Similarly there is no religious barrier to divorce although it is often culturally unacceptable.

      Class barriers still exist today in most of Europe and hyper gamy seen today is an Anglo Saxon phenomenon predominantly. However elite Angos still have strong class barriers in many families. The quite bizarre marriage of the Queen's grandson to the daughter of a pair of waiters was something which was strongly opposed by most of the old guard and is still not widely accepted. Most high ranking aristicrats even in this debauched age would not consider a marriage with some one of lower social rank.

      The main problem is with the professional class and lower social classes which are being destroyed financially and socially by this idiocy. Most professional men can run a harem with exploitable and ultimately expendible women whilst the lower ranking males are rejected.

      Class barriers are essential to social stability, without them society collapses.

    3. Again anon, a quibble. It is difficult to know exactly what the social mores were in pre-Christian northern Europe as the written sources are sparse. However, the Roman historian Tacitus in his Germania did claim that all but the highest ranking within the Germanic tribes were expected to be monogamous and that there were strict punishments for adultery. Counter-evidence is that some Viking legal codes did allow for divorce in certain circumstances.

    4. Nonsense, there is sufficient historical material describing the various tribes of pre Christian Europe and monogamy was not life long in any.

      The wealthy had mistresses and affairs. The character of marriage was profoundly different from that of Christian marriage.

    5. Anon, overconfidence. Evidence for the Germanic tribes of northern Europe is limited to Tacitus; various remnant legal codes (transcribed into Latin); a few commentaries; the Icelandic sagas. Analysis of the sagas suggests that monogamy was stronger during the pagan era than the Christian one (even the Icelandic Christian bishops kept concubines). At any rate, it's not as straightforward as you imagine.

    6. Review your sources of literature - there is substantially more evidence than what you are talking about.

      " monogamy was stronger during the pagan era than the Christian one (even the Icelandic Christian bishops kept concubines). At any rate, it's not as straightforward as you imagine."

      That's a joke surely?

    7. Anon, the laxity of Christian monogamy in northern Europe lasted for a long time - the last Catholic bishop of Iceland, for instance, Jon Arason, was a brave leader who fought against the Reformation with his sons - he sired six children.

  4. Bishops prior to the reformation were not married hence what is your point? If there is no marriage there is no monogamy.

    1. The point is that sexual morality was lax in the church at this point in time.

  5. You haven't actually proved that. The behaviour of a single errant cleric in a remote island does not make a trend.

    1. Anon, try reading "Sexual behaviour in later Anglo-Saxon England" by Anthony Davies. It gives the complexity of the situation. In parts of Anglo-Saxon England, the church law was notably stricter on sexual morality than anything existing now; but in Northumbria, in contrast, it was accepted that clergymen would have concubines. The civil law was a bit different again, being based on the older wergild system. Anglo-Saxon Kings were generally willing to cast off one wife for another. Stricter in some respects; more lax in others.

    2. The points which you make are irrelevant to the laity, the general population about whom the comments above were written. The Clergy were unmarried hence your repeated comments about the escapades of single men in religious orders have nothing to do with the marriages of the ordinary people of a nation.

      There is no Civil Law in England. That is a term derived from Roman Law which is applicable in Europe but not England which has an entirely different Common Law system.

      The Wergild System was a form of blood money and payable for murder and bodily crimes. It had nothing to do with marriage and it ended with the Chirstianization of England hence entirely irrelevant to Christian England.

      Divorce started with Henry VIII.

      You are evidently very confused about historical periods or are fabricating information in an attempt to discredit Christianity.

    3. Anon, I am not confused about historical periods. The wergild system was most definitely in place during the Christian Anglo-Saxon period. It was not limited to murder, but was applied to sexual morality as well. For instance, if a man slept (i.e. fornicated) with another man's wife, daughter or sister then he had to pay the man a certain amount of money in compensation. As for the kings divorcing, they didn't bother to divorce so much as simply put one wife away in order to marry another. There was a system of multiple marriages, based on the dynastic need to produce many sons and to form wide alliances.

    4. You are indeed confused. Check from Prof Anthony Musson, Professor of Legal History - vergild was used in murder cases and replaced in AD 9 by Capital punishment as England was Christianised. No use after AD 9 and not used for adultery.

      Putting away a wife is polygamy and was illegal during the Anglo Saxon period. The issue of relevance to the blog is the behaviour of the general population and not the occasional errant King or Cleric.

    5. Anon, England was not occupied by the Anglo-Saxons until the fifth century AD so I'm not sure where "AD 9" comes from. King Alfred was still using a wergild system in the ninth century AD. Here is an excerpt of a law from Alfred:

      "Cap. 27. If a man, kinless of paternal relatives, fight and slay a man, and then if he have maternal relatives, let them pay a third of the 'wer;' his guild-brethren a third part; for a third let him flee. If he have no maternal relatives, let his guild-brethren pay half, for half let him flee."