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Make husbands their wives' property

For S&M and anti-patriarchal purposes
  (+1, -14)(+1, -14)(+1, -14)
(+1, -14)
  [vote for,

The institution of marriage has been in trouble for quite some time in the West, partly because it's seen as essentially oppressive to women. Domestic violence and the restriction of roles are big problems. At the same time, there are people out there who are really into being treated "badly", and there are those who would understandably wish to put marriage on the same basis regardless of the gender of the partners.

My solution is to divide marriage into two institutions. One is a purely ceremonial institution involving commitment which is the result of a secular or religious ritual depending on one's preference. It has no legal status and since it's purely custom is open to anyone who wants to avail themselves of it. In a sense, this already exists: anyone who wants to solemnise their relationship can stand up in front of their relatives and friends and make a commitment to each other. That's the romantic side of it. Just as an aside, the problem of next of kin can be dealt with by case law at some point - someone who agrees to do this in a sense has indicated who their next of kin is by witnessing to it in front of others. There's evidence for it.

The other is the legal institution of marriage. Make a man the legal property of his wife on marriage. In a homosexual relationship, allow the nomination of who should become whose at the time. This gives homosexual marriage a higher status than heterosexual because it allows more initial freedom.

The husband should remain criminally responsible as before, but all of his property becomes his wife's and she is permitted, within the kind of limits provided for by animal welfare legislation, to do as she pleases with him. This would please masochistic men while acting as a deterrent for people who don't take marriage seriously, and making it harder for a man to force his wife to do things. For instance, since he's her property, she can simply kill him if he assaults her without it being murder or manslaughter - she can kill him when she wants anyway. She can also kill him if he's terminally ill and there are no probate or divorce problems: all of his stuff is purely and simply hers when he dies, and there is no divorce as such, though it would be possible to sell him or give him away. Also, marriages for immigration are less problematic because it would be no different than buying something in another country and bringing it back with one. Maybe duty could be paid on importing husbands though. Those who wish to buy foreign brides are effectively selling themselves into slavery.

The main point of this is to make marriage less attractive and less culturally biassed in favour of the man. It's freely entered into, there's a less binding alternative which is more attractive, and it can no longer be accused of bolstering sexism. It also makes marriage look a bit pervy, which may attract some people and put others off who would otherwise enter into it more or less willingly.

There are of course a couple of teeny problems with it. One is that of interracial marriages in certain circumstances looking really dodgy - a white woman with a black slave. The other is abusive relationships where women abuse men. I have no answer to either of those right now except to emphasise that marriage is freely entered into and this could constitute a deterrent.

nineteenthly, Aug 31 2010

Live Organ Transplants http://montypython....aning_of_Life/9.htm
"Hello. Uhh, can we have your liver? " [8th of 7, Aug 31 2010]


       We can clearly hear the thunder of feet as male legislators all over your planet charge past in their rush to pass this into law ....
8th of 7, Aug 31 2010

       Well, consider the occasional tendency for certain men in positions of authority to be found in compromising positions after certain erotic experiments which went wrong, or for the purposes of blackmail, then get back to me, [ of ].
nineteenthly, Aug 31 2010

       are we calling it [of] now?
po, Aug 31 2010

       I always call him [ of ] because on here, as opposed to elsewhere, i type all numbers out in full and that would make his name long and disrespect the form he's chosen for it, i.e. digits. Or rather, the Borg Collective's choice of name for that unit.
nineteenthly, Aug 31 2010

       I guess I'm missing the humor here, but I think the better question is what was the REAL genesis of this idea?   

       I live in the US which is usually considered western "culture" though I'm sure some will disagree and I can tell you marriage is already heavily biased towards women (if you don't believe me get a divorce and try to get custody of your kids) so why would anyone want to make it more so? And you say that marriage has been in trouble for some time now???? "The rule of thumb" no longer applies, anyone can just pick up, move to California and take half your stuff and all your kids.   

       I'm obviously missing the joke.
MisterQED, Aug 31 2010

       In that case, making marriage a more forbidding prospect would be fair warning, wouldn't it?
nineteenthly, Aug 31 2010

       //she can kill him when she wants// No requirement of disclosure to second husband?
lurch, Aug 31 2010

       Nope. I envisage marriage to be very much a minority pursuit if this were to happen anyway, so a second marriage is unlikely.
nineteenthly, Aug 31 2010

       // so a second marriage is unlikely //   

       For the husband, certainy.   

       For the grieving widow, "serial monandry" and "serial killing" would be essentially the same ...
8th of 7, Aug 31 2010

       // For the husband, certainy //   

       Not if he's a Mormon. They're allowed to marry during death.   

       You don't like this, do you? I can tell.
nineteenthly, Aug 31 2010

       *Nominated for worst idea on HB
DIYMatt, Aug 31 2010

       // allowed to marry during death //   

8th of 7, Aug 31 2010

       If it's seen as a bad idea, it might be quite off-putting if one was confronted with it in real life, which might make it a good idea.
nineteenthly, Aug 31 2010

       // confronted with it in real life //   

       Like organ donation ?   

8th of 7, Aug 31 2010

       Maybe people should only be allowed to marry after both people are dead then.
nineteenthly, Aug 31 2010

       Has your wife read this?
lurch, Aug 31 2010

       Nineteenthly, is this going as well as you'd expected?
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 31 2010

       [marked-for-deletion] not an invention.
WcW, Sep 01 2010

       Yes, [MB], seems to be working out fine.   

       [WcW], this brings up a frequent issue, for me, of what an invention is. A new process or mechanism or something fictional created for a particular purpose. This is a new process, a way of deterring people from getting married and improving relationships among those who go through with it nevertheless. A checkout where people pay ten percent more is an invention, and a good one too in my opinion, but involves no new mechanical contrivance. This is also an invention, possibly a bad one, but it is one even so.
nineteenthly, Sep 01 2010

       Not entirely a bad idea. This would at least clarify the current legal position.
Twizz, Sep 01 2010

       I don't really get this one [nineteenthly].
How is anyone owning anyone else 'ever' going to be a good thing.

       If you want to deter marriage, outlaw pre-nups. That'd do it.   

       I think there are some shaky premises behind the formulation of the idea.
1) //The institution of marriage has been in trouble for quite some time in the West// - <pantomime> Oh no it hasn't!
2) //partly because it's seen as essentially oppressive to women// - More likely, this decline is due to the modernisation of the "family" - affording additional rights afforded to women (for the first time in 000's of years) - the continuing enblurment of gender-specific roles over the last century may have also made it less attractive - and less necessary - to both men and women. Though, from the female perspective, what with all the recent anti-repression stuff that's been going on since Universal Suffrage in the early 20th Century - women, really have never had it so good. That's not to say no further improvements can be made - but to argue that marriage is *less* attractive over the last 50 years due to women's *oppression* during a time of unprecedented liberation in terms of women's rights over the same period, is just silly. It's more likely that marriage is less interesting to women these days because the freedoms now afforded them mean that they are now able to go out and earn their own living without being regarded as unusual. In the days when an unmarried woman had little prospect of earning an income there was certainly a greater economic incentive for them to marry.
3) //Domestic violence and the restriction of roles are big problems// - well, sort of - but they're not problems directly correlated to marriage - plenty of violence (possibly more?) carried out within non-married co-habiting couples. Same thing goes for the 'restriction of roles' - whatever that might mean.

       I also see other issues with the provisioning of Married Men with the legal rights of pets:   

       1) Abandonment - once the husband is discarded, or gets lost, they may have to be housed in a place such as Battersea Husband's Home, where they might be adopted by kindly wives or, humanely destroyed.   

       2) Mormons - will need to figure out an equitable way for a number of women to take equal shares of a man's person, and property upon marriage. Should the initial wife take precedence, or should each wife take an equal share? Should the man be lucky enough to marry more than 100 wives, it may become impractical to manage a one-woman-one-vote scheme, and require trade-union style block-voting in order to make sensible decisions.
zen_tom, Sep 01 2010

       Ownership structure issues can be easily smoothed out by ensuring that the incorporation takes place of a company, owned by the wife from the instant of marriage, and owning from some point prior, all of the assets and liabilities of the male. Equally, it should not be beyond the wit of the legislature to propose, debate and enact legislation that would impose upon proprietrices statutory restrictions on the use and misuse of their newly acquired property (e.g. specific prohibition on human centipeding as a means of legitimising bigamy, or a more general minimum standard of care required). Yeah, the law can make this work. We just need to decide if we want it to.
calum, Sep 01 2010

       //This is a new process// I would beg to differ. Slavery has been practiced for most of history, and probably through much of human prehistory. While the majority of slave owners may have been male, a female owning a male slave is far from novel.
lurch, Sep 01 2010

       Glad you're willing to get on board conceptually, [calum].   


       Firstly, oh yes it does! That's not going to get me anywhere, is it? However, more people cohabit than before, more people divorce than before, there are more pre-nuptial agreements than before, and so on. The reason may be that people are less hypocritical than before or that they have more options economically, but i would still say that the institution of marriage is in trouble. It might not be a bad thing that it is.   

       Secondly, while it may not be a majority view that it's oppressive to women, that view is nonetheless popular. It is _seen_ as oppressive to women whether or not it really is. This modification would make it harder to view it in that way. I'm not suggesting that people should actually get legally married. I'm suggesting this as a way of getting people to take the step more seriously, recognise how daunting it might be and how it might become a prison. Slavery is like prison.   

       Domestic violence is probably the shakiest part of this possibly already very unstable argument. However, marriage might be seen as giving some spurious legitimacy to violence. The main problem to me seems to be the possibility of women being violent to men.   

       As to abandonment, anything which can be considered a possible threat to the husband's well-being is going to concentrate his mind wonderfully before or during the marriage. I do like the image of Battersea Husbands' Home though.   

       Concerning Mormons, only breakaway groups do that and they lack legal backing for it. The main thing which interests me about them is that they can marry dead people, which it seems the French are also able to do.   

       [Lurch], the legal identification of marriage as an institution with male enslavement is new.
nineteenthly, Sep 01 2010

       simply stacking two previously existing social structures (marriage, human bondage) and flavoring one of them (women in charge) and THEN IGNORING the fact that quite a few people already play that way and that your quasi invention is already quite baked (need I post links?). I assert that the non-invention status is rock solid. This is flakier than the undeserved croissant it has received. y'all know the difference between an invention and baiting a debate and clearly this is the later. "MAKE WOMEN INTO SLAVES TO FIX MARRIAGE" wouldn't have survived a nanosecond.
WcW, Sep 01 2010

       I don't understand. S&M relationships are mutually consensual - no? There should be no need to legislate some kind of separate 'marriage'. Just have the slave in the relationship willingly give all property to the master/mistress. If it's not mutually consensual, then it might actually be slavery and oppression.
Jinbish, Sep 01 2010

       To address the S&M bit, it could go one way or the other. It could mean the reality of the situation would kill the fun, or the result might be that the weight of legal authority behind it adds to it.   

       [WcW], no, i'm sure it wouldn't, but a bad invention is still an invention. An incoherent invention probably isn't, but i think this is coherent, bad and new. S&M is a sexual orientation, as are homosexuality and heterosexuality. If this wasn't a putative invention, homosexual marriage would already exist by the same token and the recent debate wouldn't've happened.   

       So: this invention is bad but coherent.
nineteenthly, Sep 01 2010

       What's new here??   

       Marraige already is about men giving it all up to women.
sstvp, Sep 02 2010

       //Secondly, while it may not be a majority view that it's oppressive to women, that view is nonetheless popular. It is _seen_ as oppressive to women whether or not it really is. This modification would make it harder to view it in that way.//   

       And that, I suppose would be the root of my objection. Here you are proposing a motion that addresses a flawed perception (that marriage is essentially a power-relationship) by reinforcing it, just in a different direction to the one normally perceived. I'd prefer to solve that problem of perception (if it is indeed a problem) directly by allowing it to evaporate under the shunshine of scrutiny.   

       The problem caused by looking at the world exclusively in terms of power-relationships is that there are always winners and losers - and since the chain is so long, and the mutating intentions so diverse, it never ends and everyone ultimately turns out to be a loser.   

       So you're not actually solving the root cause of the problem (viewing marriage in terms of a power-relationship - which will always have winners and losers and never be equitable) you're instead concentrating on switching the flawed conclusion (that marriage is oppressive to women) that is reached by some when marriage is viewed the through the grim lens of power-politics, to an arbitrarily (if more certainly) different one (that marriage is oppressive to men).   

       You are in effect *reinforcing* the root cause of the problem by legitimising the same analytical process (a kind of binary, regressive, black-and-white, winner/loser, power-based gender-political viewpoint) that arrived at (and will always arrive at) this dodgy perception in the first place.   

       Much better to do away with emotive thoughts of oppression altogether and concentrate on the benefits to both parties - and, if necessary, measure them against the costs and determine whether the arrangement is mutually beneficial to both. (Note costs and benefits are not necessarily monetary, just described in those terms for convenience and analytical expedition)   

       If there is not a mutually beneficial arrangement, then since marriage today can be entered into (at a cost) and exited from (at another cost) - one or both parties can now perform a final calculation to determine whether the exit cost outweights the cost of maintaining the status quo, and then, depending on that result, a sensible decision can be achieved.   

       No oppression anywhere, just pure, simple, economics. (Let's just hope my fiance never gets to read this - love you babyface!)
zen_tom, Sep 02 2010

       The real aim here seems to be to reduce the number of people getting married, which is laudable enough, given the trauma and upset that comes with having to get lawyers involved in domestic strife. The difference between this flip-reverse of the marriage power structure is that it reveals (or at least highlights) the disparity that exists between the sexes, prior to getting married. During the period of Yore, women were, in the political, economic and social spheres, untermenschen and marriage offered a means of gathering a measure of power (not enough to redress the imbalance, but an improvement nonetheless). This disparity does still exist, though to a lesser degree than pre-Pankhurst etc. And it is the existence of this disparity that makes ninetheenthly's proposition seem ugly and absurd to present day males, as who would step down from an already elevated position to a position which places limits on liberty? So this is the mechanism by which the divorce rate is reduced. All the S&M stuff is pure distraction.
calum, Sep 02 2010

       [Zen_tom], that was a fantastic anno! Bravo for you!   

       OK, you could look at it in terms of duty - what are your obligations to your partner? That would probably help, particularly if those duties included helping them to grow out of the need to possess another or something similar. Marriage has been an economic institution historically and perhaps only secondarily a romantic one.   

       I have to confess to being a bit slippery about this because although a major motive for proposing this, apart from a puerile desire to annoy everyone, was for it to act as a deterrent, the S&M bit is significant too. It might be quite nice for a sadist and a masochist to feel that they had their own slave or were enslaved, with a sexual element, and the thing is, if you support the idea of gay marriage, why not also support this? There are people out there who live like this but without official sanction, just as there are gay life partners who can't get to be recognised as next of kin.   

       But [calum], yes that is part of my aim and thanks for acknowledging that. I do have a bit of a bone to pick with you about that though, which is that i think S&M is not a distraction but possibly historically a lot more central than it might seem, at least as far as the S is concerned. For instance, if one were to adopt a fundamentalist Christian approach to sexual morality, various things would be ruled out, such as homosexuality, bestiality, masturbation, transvestism, fetishism and so on, but sadism, perhaps unfairly, really isn't, and if sex is sometimes about power, this makes it explicit, albeit one-sided.   

       Incidentally, to answer an earlier question, my wife would undoubtedly consider this a really bad idea and symptomatic of my male guilt.
nineteenthly, Sep 02 2010


Successful institutions regard issuing marriage licenses as investing in a couple (or in some cases an assemblage) which then produce and raise children to become members of the society who are capable of actively supporting the structure. Rinse & repeat.

       "S & M" is a lifestyle choice/orientation which has no biological or traditional roots to use in childrearing.   

       I can see such a relationship, if stable and devoted, being regarded as a "domestic partnership", with attendant legal rights and obligations, albeit a stretching of the definition.   

       Of course arguably there are also more adoptive kids than there are adoptive parents. </sb>
FlyingToaster, Sep 02 2010

       I think i can probably agree with that.
nineteenthly, Sep 02 2010

       I think that the S&M angle is a red herring, it doesn't need institutions or government backing and they would serve little purpose as well as being impossible to enforce.   

       1) Should the government have a role in enforcing heterosexual monogamy as a licensed and obliged institution. 2) If so should the partners in that institution be obliged differently [ostensibly constructing an artificial A and B role].   

       If you answered "Yes!" to both above then get ready for an ethical quagmire. If you answered 1)No! then 2)Yes! then the only answer that really works is a domestic partnership law that basically ignores the gender of the individuals.   

       If you answered No! to question 1) then the whole discussion is moot. That would be me.
WcW, Sep 03 2010

       What if you answered "enforcing ?" to Q.1 ?
FlyingToaster, Sep 03 2010

       In a sense, S&M could benefit in a couple of ways from institutions because it could make it more "oppressive" and act as advocacy for it, and this has already happened to some degree. The answer to your first question is basically no. Marriage should be largely a custom, not an institution, which could help equalise the status of same-sex and different-sex couples without the government appearing to take a position on gay marriage, but a problem then emerges of inappropriate next of kin. There would still need to be some way of nominating that before becoming incapacitated. It would also presumably mean that there would be more pressure for people to make a will. I don't know if that would be good or bad.   

       How about this then: there should be a real Institution Of Marriage. People can get married as a custom. If they want to make a further commitment, they can join a professional association of spouses whose function is to enforce marriage. Actually, i'm going on to that.
nineteenthly, Sep 03 2010

       Move along, nothing to see here, kiss of death.
nineteenthly, Sep 03 2010

       <snip> angry reply
Voice, Sep 06 2010

       <snip>Attempt at witty rejoinder.
nineteenthly, Sep 06 2010

       <snip> pointless irony based on long-forgotten anno.
8th of 7, Sep 06 2010


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