The History of Human Marriage - Vol. 1

By Edward Westermarck | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
A CRITICISM OF THE HYPOTHESIS PROMISCUITY: PRE-NUPTIAL UNCHASTITY

IT is argued that promiscuity is by no means restricted to those peoples who are said to have nothing else. Side by side with marriage it is found among savages in all parts of the world, and very frequently not as a mere fact but as a practice permitted by custom. This, we are told, shows that sexual intercourse must originally have been unchecked.1

It is a well-known fact that among many uncivilised peoples both sexes enjoy perfect freedom previous to marriage. Instances of this have been given by myself2 as well as by other writers,3 and I could fill pages with fresh materials at my disposal. If we look at the facts a little more closely, however, we soon find that many of them could not, in any circumstances, be regarded as relics of primitive promiscuity--either because they are known to be of later growth, or because they do not represent promiscuity at all.

____________________
1
Post, Die Grundlagen des Rechts, p. 187. Wilken, "'Over de primitieve vormen van her huwelijk en den oorsprong van het gezin,'" in De Indische Gids, 1880, vol. ii. 1195. Wilutzky, Vorgeschichte des Rechts, i. 26sqq. Bloch, Sexual Life of Our Time, p. 189 sqq. Corin, Mating, Marriage, and the Status of Woman, p. 111sq.
2
Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas, ii. 422sqq.
3
See, e.g., Post, Grundriss der ethnologischen Jurisprudenz, i. 21sqq.; Hartland, Primitive Paternity, ch. vi.; Hobhouse, Wheeler, and Ginsberg, Material Culture and Social Institutions of the Simpler Peoples, p. 176sqq.

-126-

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