"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Thursday, September 25, 2003 An anthropologist vindicates the traditional family: Peter Wood of Boston University suggests useful lessons in human behavior may be taken from the examples of societies that have normalized male homosexuality or have incorporated forms of plural marriage:
Of course, you don’t really need an anthropologist to see that a breakdown in social rules governing marriage and the family has disastrous consequences. Consider some statistics: 1.35 million children in the U.S. born outside of marriage in 2001—33.5 percent of the total; 947,384 divorces in 2000, excluding those in California, Colorado, Indiana, and Louisiana, states that don’t count divorces; by age 14, 14-20 percent of American girls and 20-22 percent of American boys are “sexually experienced”; about five million Americans are addicted to drugs, and 52,000 die each year from their addictions; 15 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases occur in the U.S. each year, a quarter of them among teenagers; about 100,000 American children engage in prostitution, and about 85 percent of street prostitutes report being incestuously molested by a male family-member as a child.
The breakdown in the family is also a sadly familiar part of everyday life for most us. Who doesn’t know a single mom struggling to do her best for her children but inevitably coming up short? Who doesn’t know of couples sundered by the small difficulties that, in previous generations, would have been taken in stride? And you don’t need an anthropologist to sense the transformation of America from a family-friendly culture to a culture of me-first.
But if you want to see where these social trends are leading, anthropology has some answers. Humanity has been experimenting with ways to organize itself into viable social groups for many millennia. Almost any combination of sexual partners has been institutionalized somewhere and often in multiple places. We can and should read that record as a realistic check against the dreams of consequence-free sexual liberation that have seized the imaginations of so many of our fellow citizens.
Read this compelling piece and be thankful you do not live among the Etoro tribe of Papua New Guinea. (Via ELC)