Sex and Marriage in Utopian Communities in Nineteenth Century America
Nineteenth-Century America

Muncy, Raymond Lee
Publisher:  Penguin, USA
Year Published:  1973  
Pages:  270pp   ISBN:  0-14-02-1860-2
Dewey:  335.02
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX6557

A look at original approaches to sex and marraige in the utopian communities of nineteenth-century America. Many of these communities abolished monogamy and individualism and sought ways of dealing with the sexual life of the group as a whole.

Abstract:  Raymond Lee Muncy looks at the construction of norms of family life in communes. He explores new forms of marriage and living situations from various Utopian communities. Such forms range from celibacy to polygamy and free love.

Many communes of people choose to live together in America to pool resources and make their own governing rules in anti-capitalist societies. These people reject the traditional idea of the family being made up of only blood and legal relatives. They choose to live together and consider one another family. Redefining the family, they smash down the walls separating their residences and their lives and share livelihoods collectively. This requires a different definition of the family because it is believed that monogamy promotes self-interest, as opposed to interest for the benefit of the community.

The current social system is an artificial construction, according to Lee Muncy. In Sex and Marriage in Utopian Communities, he studies the various attempts to look at family structures in a different light and change our perceptions on what makes a family. Many different communes and their approaches to family life are explored. The communes are also studied to reveal their political, religious and ideological standpoints and how these relate to their ideas about sex and marriage.

An historical report and a resource for the debate on the future of family life, this book is a detailed look at those groups experimenting with social norms. Many viewpoints are presented and explained in detail. In 16 chapters Lee Muncy reveals several attempts to replace the traditional family with a more human and natural alternative.

[Abstract by Mia Manns]



Table of Contents

Prologue
1. Germs of New Institutions and New Modes of Action
2. They Neither Marry Nor Are Given in Marriage
3. It is Good for a Man Not to Touch a Woman
4. Separate Firesides: The Owenites
5. Family Life in a Phalanx: The Fourierites
6. And Fools Rush In
7. Godly Communes and Saintly Families
8. A Better Tomorrow
9. Celestial Marriage: An Experiment in Polygyny
10. No Cross, No Crown
11. Complex Marriage at Oneida
12. On to Perfection
13. Unusual Sexual Practices, Fact and Rumour
14. Women's Rights in Utopian Communities
Epilogue
Notes
Index

Subject Headings