[ExI] dna ethics question

Tara Maya tara at taramayastales.com
Mon May 5 23:20:35 UTC 2014

On May 5, 2014, at 12:54 PM, spike <spike66 at att.net> wrote:

> The notion of paternity uncertainty is nearly trivial compared to the much more fundamental issue of joint property.

Let me explain further why I believe that paternity uncertainty is at the root of what in the eighties feminists liked to call "the Patriarchy." Of course, there is not one Patriarchy, so the term is a bit quaint, but historically, around the world, there have been two kinds of civilizations. (Yes, I'm greatly simplifying a huge spectrum, but bear with me for the sake of argument). 

Type One, civilizations which highly restrict women's sexuality. Women are property passed from fathers to husbands, often kept covered and secluded, almost imprisoned by their families their whole lives. The trade-off is that men support their wives and children inherit their father's property. Mothers of the male heirs of the largest estates can be extremely powerful. Examples are the Middle East and East Asia. 

Type Two, civilizations allow women great sexual freedom… but men provide little paternal support. Women and maternal grandmothers raise the children and husbands and lovers may come and go. Examples are found in Africa and Polynesia. 

I submit the theory that the reason so many cultures have fallen into one of these two patterns is because of paternity uncertainty. Type Two civilization is actually the common Mammal Pattern, in which families center on females and their offspring, with males competing amongst themselves but contributing little directly to childcare. The dominant males insure that they have a lot of offspring by having a lot of mates, not by caring for children directly.

In human societies, where property inheritance ensures the success of children, grandchildren and even many generations of great-grandchildren, males have had to be much more diligent about ensuring that these descendants are biological offspring. Actually, this is not a male vs female thing, because the Paternal Grandmother (for instance) has as much invested in knowing that her daughter-in-law is faithful as her son does. In fact, she may be much more critical and suspicious, because she isn't getting sex out of it. All she's getting is grandchildren, so of course she wants to know her daughter-in-law is a tramp. This is one of many reasons that it's hard to get women in cultures with thinks like the Veil or Honor Killings to all unite against it. They don't all have the same genetic interest in ending the system that restricts women's sexual freedom.

Paternal grandmothers in Type Two civilizations are just a ruthless. A study of AIDS orphans in Africa found that almost all orphans who went to live with a grandparent went to live with their Maternal Grandmother. Paternal Grandmothers weren't *certain* the grandchildren were theirs and wouldn't take them.

It's arguable that current "Western Civilization" is moving from type One to type Two. Yes, modern women have greater equality and freedom, but at the same time, traditional marriage has fallen apart and many women raise their children on their own, with male companions moving in and out of the picture rather randomly.

The modern ideal of two partners, both with equal sexual freedom before marriage, and equal monogamy and child support after marriage is quite rare. 

Do you see how all of this changes if paternity certainty can be achieved by a simple test rather than cradle-to-grave imprisonment of women?

Tara Maya
Blog  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Amazon  |  Goodreads

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20140505/9be1c516/attachment.html>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list