Men are never sure who is the real father of their offspring. This created the legacy of honour.

Warning! This post is very old and may contain information or opinions that are no longer valid or embarrassing.

I am no expert on this. This is entirely out of my anus.

Primates, like humans, like all organisms are interested in passing down their genes. Both females and males, are programmed, biologically and thus psychologically, to do so.

Females have a critical advantage over males because they own the means of producing offspring. They are always sure that their kids are theirs. That their offspring carry their own genes. Both, however, are not programmed to care much about who was responsible for the other half of the genetic load carried by their child.

Fish don't care much about their offspring. A male fish will fertilize the eggs by spraying some sperm over a collection of fish eggs. A male fish will be proud of its fatherly duties for a second or so.

To ensure their survival, mammals can't produce offspring and leave them to the wilderness. Primates need to nurse their offspring for extended periods of time. This time is at its maximum in humans.

For males, providing for both the mother and the offspring -- the mother to nurse the offspring and whatever is necessary for a father to do in nurturing his child -- is a cost.

Honour, that is women's virtue and chastity, is, in my opinion (I am sure this is not a new thing), an invention by men to make sure they are not raising children that are not their own. It is of their best interest to funnel these costs to children carrying their own genes first.

The social invention of honour is critical to men because they can never be sure if a child is theirs. So they created a social program that they think will work to minimize the number of men a woman can get in contact with. The more strict the better, the more sure they will be that their kids are really their own.

From dress codes to the acceptability of honour killings. Moral mechanisms were put forward by religious people, politicians and law makers across history. Fields that we know, were never really welcoming to women in the past(at least in these parts of the world)

A modest dress or a dress that will not be revealing to a woman's body will, supposedly, be inviting for other males thus increasing the chances that women collectively, in a given society, have a higher risk of being impregnated by someone else. This idea is concealed in a mixture of both honour, religion and acceptance.

Other mechanisms are more twisted, suppressive or bloody.

Female genital mutilation, the concept of virginity and the elusive hymen and may be the inferiority of women or their constant need to be taken care of by a man.

Men decided to be unmoved about men who kill their own wives while she was in an act that 'disturbs the fabric of society' to, indirectly, warn women of how a society ruled by men will not tolerate kids that are not their own.

On the other hand, they will not be available to comment on an equal punishment for if the roles were reversed. In fact they will advocate plural relationships for men only, because they don't care about the other half of the genetic load.

I think that these futile mechanisms (they are futile because men will still not be really sure that the kids are theirs) are more common in societies that find raising a child more costly and ruled by men.


  • Marwa Rakha

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  • nightS

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    what an interesting anus......
    This issue was discussed in a "Civilizations" course I took back in college...The instructor explained this as "what triggered the need of the 4 walls or a house", to keep "their women" away from other "fathers"...ofcourse I agreed and ofcourse most of the class (all men) found it very was a very interesting course :)

    • moftasa

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      Wow, nice. Do you have any references to any books or papers about this?

  • Claire

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    I agree with most of what you say Mostafa, we humans like all organisms are interested in passing down our genes, and that shapes our behaviors. But this is different from the need to know if a male is raising his own offspring. The social organization of most mammals makes this idea unimportant, males want to engage in sex with females in their fertility time to pass their genes, and that's all. And something like infanticide is not exercised as a tool to kill other males' offspring, but rather as a toll to make females available for sex and therefor for pregnancy.
    The idea of "who's the father" exists more in the primarily monogamous species (estimated as 7% to 11% of mammals).
    Even in humans the idea of who's the father (and as a result the concept of chastity) is not prominent in most hunter-gatherer societies, where sexual bonds are not as rigid and children are to a big extent raised communally. For example it is quite common in hunter-gatherer societies to hear folk stories about ferries and spirits who are responsible for pregnancy, it's spirits not female sexual intercourse with men. In some societies it gets really funny, they do see no relation between sex and pregnancy, I'm not kidding!

    Monogamy, chastity, and the need to make sure who is the father appears later, in horticulture and agriculture societies. Finally children are valuable as working power, societies begin to be built around nuclear or extended families instead of clans, and there is property to pass down in the family. women and men live in long term monogamous relations -mostly monogamous from the female side only- and impose on women high moral standards of virginity, Chastity and exclusiveness. And women who break these rules are brutally punished.

    I do not have a specific reading recommendations, but any culture anthropology basic book can give you a feel of how these social norms and ideas evolved.

    • moftasa

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      Thanks, this is a highly informative comment. I agree with what you are saying. I will try to dig for some related readings.

      Cheers :D

  • wandering scarab

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    What you write about in this article is not a new concept. There are books that support that very theory, though their titles escape me at the moment. But I'm going to go one step further and suggest that the entire idea of limiting one group of people to a set of rules was initially introduced by organized religion. I believe that men as a group seeking to control women is a similar aspect. It's no surprise that the more religious a community is the more diminished the roles of women are. And in societies were strict adherence to faith and literal interpretations of scripture are common, violence against women is also common in all it's forms.

    I think the idea of virginity and purity tied hand in hand puts patriarchal societies at ease, as it gives the members of such societies the illusion of having control. When you look at it closely, it seems that gender bonds are much stronger than familial bonds. And I think that is the answer to why Female Genital Mutilation still happens despite the laws that ban it, why rape victims are shunned by their own family members, and why victims of sexual abuse are blamed for the injustices inflicted upon them.

    It's definitely something to ponder...

    -wandering scarab-

    • moftasa

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      When I wrote this I thought it was total BS thanks for telling me that it is nothing new. This means that there are lot to know about and ponder.