Saturday, March 27, 2010

owning the womb

The first 29 pgs of Stephanie Coontz's Marriage, a History has been a refreshing reminder that once you look outside the box of Judeo-Christian History, there's a good collection of culturally acceptable couplings that are NOT about controlling female sexuality (with the incumbent taboos for feminine virginity/fidelity etc).

Hope to write more about the book later, but wanted to share this segment:

"When Jesuit missionaries from France first encountered the North American Montagnais-Naskapi Inidans in the early seventeenth century, they were shocked by the native women's sexual freedom. One missionary warned a Naskapi man that if he did not impose tighter controls on his wife, he would never know for sure which of the children she bore belonged to him. The Indian was equally shocked that this mattered to the Europeans. 'You French people,' he replied, 'love only your own children; but we love all the children of our tribe.' " (pg 28)

5 comments:

Chandelle said...

God, I love that.

G said...

exactly :)

jana said...

It's why matrilineality makes so much more sense than patrilineality.

G said...

exACTly! :)

(random update: now, closer to 100pgs into the book, the author is making the case for the introduction of time-saving tools and the shift from communal wealth pools to individual/family-unit wealth pools as the main cause for the devaluing/limiting of what a woman's contribution was.)

Lessie said...

Don't even get me started on marriage, monogamy etc. All the ideas I have about it are mostly hypothetical, nothing I've actually put into practice, but I definitely feel the way we in the U.S have structured marriage needs to go the way of the dinosaur. Have you read Marilyn Yalom's "History of the Wife" (she also wrote History of the Breast, which I know you've read ;)?

At any rate, I'll have to read this book now too :)