Contrary to romanticist vulgarisation, marriage does not either yield lifelong love and partnership, nor does it exclude such a relationship. Marriage is a contractual, social mechanism that povides the weft to the warp of kinship systems.
Italians, which really means Roman law, say always that we know who our mother is. Fathers are socially determined. Whatever web of kinship used to shape a society, men are invariably associated within it by social categorisation. Supposed to marry your mother's brother's son? Then that is where your husband (in the sense of recognized father of the familial descendant generation) will be located. Sometimes he might even be that, but more usually that is just a part of his socially ascribed role.
Essentially, groups of men exchange women (and, variously, associated property), in the interest of maintaining their command of that most fundamental economic good, human reproduction. The next generation is ultimate wealth.
Women resent this. Well, you would, wouldn't you? Dress it up any way you like, kinship groups, dominated by males, exchange women. They do so because exchange generates society, and from social order springs power that is institutionally embedded, rather than constantly reasserted by force of arms.
These bald and unnuanced assertions of fought-over theory (oh yes, it looks like Flanders Fields out there), provides some explanation of what is being reasserted in the reality of Brown's Britain. Women are exchanging themselves, without reference to established structures and norms, in their regime-provided shelter and subsistence. It may feel like 'liberation' but in the end, when the assertions of brute force are played out, they will find out who is the 'father' of their children.
And there will be a new understanding of the meaning of to cheapen oneself. What group will make an exchange for those without a constellation of connection, sent into the world naked, without fathers, uncles, grandparents...
Those who seem to be unmarried but are surrounded by appropriate adjoined kinship groups are merely playing with the formalities and in no real danger. But those who have tried to negotiate their own exchange without understanding of contract have condemned themselves and their children to a terrible status.
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