Yes, a trap it is, no matter how well disguised. Not only disguised but even glorified as something which is made in heaven.
It was not always like this. In primitive times, when human civilization was just born, the first communities were those of the hunter-gatherers. Our pre-historic forefathers hunted for day to day existence and moved from one place to another in the lookout for newer resources, for survival. Neither fire, nor metal was discovered, agriculture as a practice wasn’t born and concepts of surplus or storage was non-existent.
Human society in this primitive form was egalitarian in nature, conceptualized and lived through the principles of utilitarian equality. Community living in its most egalitarian form was present and private property as a concept did not exist. There was no surplus and hence no property. Nothing could be stored so people never settled down anywhere. The nomadic community lived together, hunted and moved together. Nothing belonged to anybody…neither in material nor in person.
Marriage as a concept was not required
There was no concept of marriage and people loved freely and engaged in sexual relations freely. Children being born belonged to the entire community and were reared by all the women together. Hence, no woman belonged to a particular man as his wife and no child belonged to a particular woman. All women were collectively the mothers of all children. Marriage as a concept was not natural, not required, and hence was not invented.
With the discovery of bronze, tools were invented and the age of agriculture started. Nomadic communities finally settled down on the banks of the ancient rivers. Bronze tools were still shallow and production was still less, question of surplus still didn’t arise.
With the advent of the Iron Age, stronger tools and equipments were built. Stronger bodies became more important in using stronger tools and men gained advantage in the function of production over women. Gradually men went out for work and women stayed back home. Agricultural production gained impetus, and for the first time, people produced more than they consumed per day. The idea and reality of ‘surplus’ came into existence. And this was the turning point of human civilization which changed mankind’s way of living forever.
Whose surplus, whose land
When surplus food was possible to be produced and stored, there came the question of whose surplus, whose land – The birth of the concept of private property. When people started owning property privately, the next question which came was ‘who will the land belong to after me?’ and it is at this juncture where people realized the need to ‘own’ their children…sons and daughters who are only ‘theirs’ and not ‘everyone’s. And how would that be possible?
In a society where love and sex was free, where children born out of women belonged to all women together, how could the producer, the man, own children and assure the ownership on its surplus and his land?
Ownership of women
The answer lay in establishing a link between the men and the children, and establishing ownership of this link…in simpler words, ownership of women, ownership and control on their sexuality. The only way men could own children was by ‘owning’ women like private property so that children born out of that woman are considered his alone. This is the birth of the concept of marriage – unnatural, artificial and economical in its core essence.
For centuries after that the image of ‘marriage’ has been glorified to be the most natural, the most divine, a god-made bond which communities, races and civilizations have fallen for. It is perhaps the world’s most well disguised trap, the biggest deceives of all times! Thousand years of patriarchal control has made it into a glorified glamorous ritual without which a person’s existence is never complete enough.
Marriage in the digital world
So what does all this have to do with the current world, and specifically the digital world? Think about it…the world of social networking, isn’t it the only avenue that somewhere gives us a glimpse of our previous egalitarian existence? Virtual reality is not reality and in the digital space, people meet new people, have new relationships and love freely.
It is a known fact and there are ample studies to prove that extra marital affairs and divorces are at an all time rise globally owing to the growth of social networking on the internet. I do not disagree at all. My only questions is this – Is it that marriages are getting broken due to the social networking sites or is it that a virtual free and egalitarian world has finally shaken and threatened the century old established artificial and unreal concept of marriage?
Can’t a person love hundreds?
Is it really true that one man has to love one woman or is it possible for a person to love hundreds, irrespective of gender or anything else? Marriage by itself is a patriarchy imposed, intentional, artificial, man-made rule that falls flat on its face to the least of temptations. Some have the courage to realize, take a step back and divorce, some go on and on, torturing themselves in the pursuit of false happiness, fearing the social stigma. It is the tortured who live on with the tag of ‘normal’ and the divorcees who get a bad name.
To conclude I want to say that it is perhaps time to change the past towards a better future. Post 2010, the internet revolution, the rise of the digital space has made it possible for many to throw off the ties of the unreal artificial past. To combat the steel shackles of century old beliefs and rigidities that has kept people from being who they really are inside.
The true revolution is almost at our doorstep of the world finally…but not within states or amidst countries this time. This time, the revolution will be in thoughts, within human minds…unsettling its very core, hopefully to finally find peace in living and loving.