12-29-2007 05:57 PM - edited 12-29-2007 05:58 PM
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
12-30-2007 05:52 PM
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.
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.
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.
05-29-2009 04:36 PM