Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Comment: IMAPP's 2/6/07 "Customs" Post

Read the original Customs article, for full context of the comment below:

It strikes me as profoundly interesting that love is considered such a strong factor in the marriages within this culture, and when there's so little choice involved for the man in his engagement. That love is understood to leap from the woman's heart into the chosen man's is such an oddly romantic concept--and it seems to remove a significant amount of conflict if this is the belief with no question and no uprising from the males, even in the duration of the union.

I just can't imagine such a custom in our own country: there would be a mad scramble for million dollar athletes and CEOs, and to remove choice from the realm of their possibility seems absurd... Does it thus become a matter of whomever gets to them first? Does this custom work in their culture because there's significantly less class variation, or no? If not, what would be the way of dealing with superficially driven engagements that had nothing, in fact, to do with love...?
It's amazing to me how difficult it is to wrap my American mind around such a concept as is their custom, as feasible. It sounds so grand, utopian, in a sense, with me being a woman and all--(well, if only I could actually prepare fish, it might be)--yet just so doggone impractical. I'm deeply intrigued.

It's so beautiful that in this institution love does play such a significant role, but actually serves the contruction rather than ultimately interfere with it in counterproductive ways as it seems to do with the understanding of marriage in our own culture.

It's even more intriguing that their divorce problem seems opposite that which arose in our own country's history--the more control a woman had in the institution, the more our divorce rate seemed to increase; but with this group, the men's increasing say seems responsible for the divorce increase.

And this also makes me wonder to what extent the women are actually considered as providers in their culture beyond building the house that their living in will make the marriage official, and whether men's understood lack of option puts him in a position to be subjective to any level of "abuse," if that makes sense, or whether they do live more or less "happily ever after".... particularly in comparison to us and our own understanding of the institution.


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