Kinship Organisations and Group Marriage in Australia eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 199 pages of information about Kinship Organisations and Group Marriage in Australia.
in the club-house.  How are we to classify the position of the mother of these children?  The union is obviously fairly permanent, although some of the group enter into sexual relationships of an ordinary type and join the ranks of the married men, and others enter the club-house from the ranks of those hitherto shut out from the enjoyment of the privileges of the adult unmarried male.  But the relationship established with the whole body of unmarried men and indistinguishable, so far as definition goes, from polyandry, hardly seems to be a permanent union of the type which Dr Westermarck had in mind when he framed his definition, much less a marriage in any accepted sense of the term.

For Dr Westermarck’s general term marriage it would be well to substitute game or gamic union, to express all kinds of sexual relationships other than temporary ones.  As sub-heads under this we have: 

(1) Marriage, a union recognised by law or custom, which imposes duties and confers rights on one, both, or all the parties to it.

(2) Free union, a relationship not recognised by the community as conferring rights, but at the same time not punished and not necessarily regarded as immoral.  Temporary unions we may classify as (a) promiscuity where marriage does not exist or is temporarily in abeyance:  (b) free love, the relationships of the unmarried:  (c i.) temporary polyandry or polygyny of married people, where the unions are limited and recognised by custom:  (c ii.) marital licence where the husband is complaisant in the face of public opinion:  (c iii.) adultery where neither the husband nor public opinion permits them.

(3) Liaison, a union in which one or both parties have other ties, which renders them liable to punishment, or to some kind of atonement.

Ten various possible forms of sexual relationship actually found or assumed to have existed may now be classified.


I. Unregulated Promiscuity. (a) Primary unregulated promiscuity is the hypothetical state assumed by Morgan and others to be the primitive state of mankind.  It may be noted that promiscuity de jure, which is all that is implied by Morgan’s hypothesis, is not necessarily also de facto promiscuity.  Unless it be assumed that jealousy was absent at this stage, it is clear that free unions must have been the rule rather than the exception.  But if this be so, the only distinction between Morgan’s promiscuity and the ordinary state of things in an Australian tribe is constituted, intermarrying rules apart, by the fact that the Australian husband is at liberty to reclaim his wife, if he can, without fear of blood feud if perchance he slays his successor in the affections, or perhaps rather in the possession, of his wife, whereas in Morgan’s primitive stage might was right and the abductor was on an equal footing with his predecessor and successor. (b) Secondary unregulated promiscuity is distinguished from primary promiscuity by the co-existence of other forms of sexual relations.  It may temporarily supersede these as in Australia; or it may take their place, as among the Nairs.

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Kinship Organisations and Group Marriage in Australia from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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