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Re: Many wives and other questions : Arranging marriages.

[ Edited ]
I think there is quite a lot of 'arranging' goes on in our societies but in a more underhand way. If our parents don't like the partners we choose they soon find a way to discourage the liaison! I know I gave the cold shoulder to a couple of my younger daughter's boy friends:smileyhappy:. In novels like Pride & Prejudice eligible sons and daughters only got to meet at certain places where the 'right' sort of people would be and when I was young in the 50s I was only encouraged to go to the 'right' sort of dances or to the 'right' sort of parties. Most people still end up circulating with a fairly narrow group of people from which they eventually choose a partner.

JesseBC wrote:
Even arranged marriages are evolving, especially among Muslims who have immigrated West or in urban areas like Tehran that have been heavily influenced by Western norms.

It's pretty common for a marriage to be "arranged" by the families, but leaving the kids with the option of saying no if they don't want to marry the person their families picked out. Or for the kids to pick each other out and then approach their families for approval (not much different than asking Dad for "her hand in marriage").

The lines get blurry. My mother-in-law (quite literally) chose all her children's spouses, except me (a fact for which she makes our lives miserable every opportunity she gets).

Were those "arranged marriages"? They would say no, but it might as well be.

And while she's extreme, she's hardly uncommon. The overbearing mother-in-law is an archetype in Western culture.

I think one perfectly normal tendency that makes these things so fuzzy is that it's easy to view foreign cultural norms as black-and-white, while the familiarity of one's own cultural norms allows for all the shades of grey that are far more realistic.

Message Edited by Choisya on 12-29-2007 05:58 PM
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Re: Many wives and other questions

Interesting, isn't it, that the UN feels the need to "warn" us about this. Like it's SARS or avian flu or something. (Would they feel the same need to "warn" about polygyny? Or is it only a threat when a woman has multiple male partners?)

On a related note, there's an interesting debate going on over the UN's selection for photo of the year that touches on a lot of these issues of different kinds of families, of cultural imperialism, and the merits and drawbacks of cultural relativism.

I didn't find the discussion on Feministe all that useful. It devolved into sniping pretty quickly. But they link to a lot of other sources with a variety of different and interesting perspectives that I think could contribute to this discussion.

Choisya wrote:
To add my proverbial "two cents' worth" on the subject of jealousy: I have long thought that polygamy was simply a tool men used boost their own egos, status, etc.

Polygamy is usually practiced where there are far more women than men in a society, often due to prolonged wars. It then becomes custom and practice. Similarly, polyandry occurs where more men are born than women, or where women die early in childbirth etc. Polyandry is currently on the increase in both China and India because the custom of either killing or aborting female children, due to certain birth control legislation and cultural preferences, has led to a shortage of women.

One of the strange things about population trends is that in general the numbers of males and females born to a society is usually in balance but every so often something happens to send it out of kilter. In the Great Depression in the UK, for instance, certain 'female trades' prospered, like shoe and shirtmaking, and women who followed those trades became more healthy and prosperous. Over a couple of generations this led to a predominance of girls being born in the counties where these trades dominated. Similarly, the wholesale slaughter of young men during WWI led not to polygamy, because that was not a Western custom, but to an increase in various forms of promiscuity and to more boys being born to the succeeding generation.

steelmagnolia wrote:
To add my proverbial "two cents' worth" on the subject of jealousy: I have long thought that polygamy was simply a tool men used boost their own egos, status, etc. Someone commented on polygamy being an okay arrangement for women if we could manage to control our own jealousy, sense of competition, whatever. I wonder how often jealousy enters the picture for the husband in such arrangements. Is he ever jealous of the genuine affection the women feel toward each other? Jealous of time they spend together in communion/companionship?...........Just a thought.

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Re: Many wives and other questions

I think that by reading books about a specfic topic (Like this one) can help a person better understand the ways of the culture, as for suggested reading I would say that Escape by Carrolynn Jessop and Stolen Innocence are great pieces of liturature to read that further explore the topic of polygamy. Hope it helped, feel free to reply - 
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