THE REPUBLIC OF HUMANITY FAMILY STRUCTURE
The universe has deemed it fit to create a myriad of ways that Sentients gather in what we will, for the purposes of this article call, “Families.” Throughout the known galaxies, there are singles, doubles, triples, quads - an infinite number of variations. And sex has little to do with any of it.
- Minarro-xur, The Wondrous Ways of Sex: A Cross Cultural Examination of Alliance Member Procreation and the Raising of Young
Humanity has arranged its family structure in the vertical, they use the metaphor of a tree. The progenitors of the family stand at its top, their offspring and their mates and their children forming the lower branches. Much is made of a family tree’s Surname - the name that resists the entropic effect of time. Attached to it are Humanity’s trappings of “dreng”, “jendr”, and caste (see related entries for further definitions of those concepts).
Let us first begin with a discussion of galactic technology and how its introduction has changed the Human family structure. Archaeological evidence, as well as their surviving oral tradition, and direct observation from the first Prehson who visited Earth, indicate that much of Humanity was engaged in monogamous relationships between a male and fem of the species.
The introduction of the Iron Womb to the Human species completely removed the physical act of sex as a means of exchanging gametes between two people. It has allowed mate-bonded pairs to have multiple, simultaneous children. Use of the Iron Womb has eliminated the requirement to remove the pregnant female from active duty for the protection of the fetus; indeed, the mother need not even be present for the child’s birth.
As a result, Human society and their concept of “family” and “marriage” has undergone a paradigm shift.
From my observations, Humanity regards marriage more as a financial transaction between families than an act of that indefinable concept “Love”. While it does occur, it is much more the exception than the norm. Human families are concerned with one thing: they want to climb society’s caste ladder. To do so, Elders (the members of a family who have been retired from active duty) scheme to acquire genetic material from higher caste families in an attempt to somehow introduce these new and desirable traits into their family line.
For example, a historically Wei family may “adopt” an individual from the Tercio Caste in the hopes of acquiring some of the Tercio traits. Strength, physical size, stamina, hand-eye coordination are all traits deemed desirable. The physical traits may be somewhat ameliorated by the adoptee’s mental and emotional traits: for a Tercio to find cenself in a position to need adoption by a Wei family, cen has failed to pass some critical test, or proved cenself incapable of handling the stresses associated with a life lived within armor.
When married, a man or woman will leave one family to join the other, however, marriage never results in a net loss in terms of numbers of family members. The marriage is always reciprocated with an adoption from the gaining family, another marriage, or a promise of one of the offspring of the mated pair.
It is rare, but I have seen a forming trend among the Human families whereby the gametes of the dead are traded between families, or combined with great-great-great grandchildren to try to pull certain familial traits into the present.
Every marriage, all meetings of sperm and egg, each adoption and trade is presided over by the Oniwabanshu Office of Family Affairs, an organization that tracks all the various Human lineages to ensure that Humanity doesn’t degenerate.
Iron Wombs and the ubiquitous use of female contraceptives has eliminated the biological necessity for females of the species to bear the physical, emotional, and economic burden of growing and birthing children. With the natural process of impregnation completely eliminated, Human fems are encouraged to copulate with as many men of higher castes as possible.
Indeed, it is now males onto which the duty of protecting the genetic line of the family falls. A male, after a single act of coitus, could father dozens of children. The paternal family has the option to initiate a lengthy legal proceeding to bring the child into their family without the need to supply gametes in return. More often than not, the children of these liaisons are left within the maternal family.
It is not fully clear why, despite continuous lobbying from the general populace, the Oniwabanshu has not introduced the male contraceptive corollary. We speculate that to do so might slow their meteoric population growth; examination of their reproductive records indicate that this type of gravidity accounts for nearly 10% of all yearly Human births.
There have been few instances of the outright theft of gametes from secure facilities holding ova or sperm in frozen stasis.