A brief history of ‘marriage,’ part 24 | Sex History | Scoop.it

The ruling classes of the early state societies had written legal codes that “legitimized” their power, property and privileges, and that circumscribed and curtailed the rights of their subjects. Behind these legal documents stood what gave the laws their teeth: the threat of physical force, up to and including death, for violations. The mere existence of the rulers’ “armed bodies of men” was usually sufficient to guarantee “obedience” by the masses. But history also records examples of popular armed rebellions against the king’s bullies.

 

In Part 21 of this series we noted that the tenets of patriarchal religions brought a message to the masses that male supremacy and economic and social inequality were the natural order of things. A separate but similarly motivated message had to do with sexual relations. Religious challenges to the idea that sexual relations were a natural part of life and something to be enjoyed figure most prominently in the history of Christianity as it evolved from a rebellious sect into a powerful instrument of exploitation and repression for use by the European ruling classes...