“Who gives this woman away to be married?”
“I do,” replies a self-satisfied father, having cashed in his investment…sorry, daughter, for a lucrative position at court. No, this is not a scene from a Jane Austen novel – look for it in your local TV guide, under “Arranged Marriage“, please.
I wonder, ARE there any women execs at CBS? And if there are, are they perfectly fine with reverting to…I don’t know, pre-suffragette days?
Even modern Yemeni courts grant divorces to 8-year old girls given in unlawful marriages to 28-year old grooms. “I am happy that I am divorced now. I will be able to go back to school,” one Nojud Mohammed Ali beamed after a public hearing in Sanaa’s court of first instance. In a fit of magnanimity, the jilted husband decided not to contest the ruling — after earnestly responding to a judge’s question with a “marriage was consummated, but I did not beat her”. What’s gotten into that girl, anyway, the man was a gem?!
But hey, don’t get me wrong, arranged marriages worked. So does farming. You only need a docile cow, a dependable cowherd, and you’re set.
Oh, a small percentage of those unions blossomed, and flourished, and eventually borne a fruit of true love. A somewhat bigger percentage simply learned to coexist in an uncomplicated roommate/servant/fuckbuddy/friend/companion of waning years kind of way.
But on the whole… Isn’t it telling that arranged marriages were the norm when one half, more recently female, had no more status than a favored household pet that is expected to run said household? And then, push comes to shove, there was always an option of really teaching the beast to play dead.
Certainly, it wasn’t for eternal love or even minimal trust that chastity belts became the fashion statement du jour. Nor, for that matter, a law that if a woman crosses the line, she should hope there’s a nunnery at the end of the road.
Seriously, can those lady execs tell me — if these types of arrangements worked, why were females made to stay in their quarters while their lords and masters tomcatted their way through the keep dairymaids? Why, in the slightly more enlightened times, were wives only expected to produce an heir and a spare before being allowed the freedom of the same questionable sort? Why even nineteenth-century couples had to bear a dark-of-night, no-foreplay, hole-in-the-bedsheet-for-access, thank-you-ma’am, going-back-to-my-own-lair kind of thing, while when cheating with equally highbrow partners, that hole-in-the-bedsheet technique never came up? Why, among the modern old-money elite, only a very few (before you bring them up, Paris Hilton’s parental units so glaring an exception that they exist merely to prove a rule) don’t end up going their separate ways while keeping unto each other only in the eyes of the boards of directors and the properly awed interns at Page 6?
How exactly is it that there’s still thinking that Arranged Marriage could and SHOULD work? Heck, how many of us didn’t, at least, once cringe, and count the minutes, and resort to the emergency “call me up so I can get the hell outta here” services, and dreamed of suffocating our well-meaning friends / parents /insert your own matchmaker of choice for settling us with this barbie-wannabe / pompous buffoon? Yes, I am talking about blind dates.
So, unlike a two-week long Wife Swap, how is a lifetime of this supposed to be all right — and filmed, to boot?! Consider the Bachelor’s rate of success. But, at least, its cameras stop rolling at the “will you accept this ring” part.
Because doesn’t a reality show of such a narrative, protracted format actually sheds its definition by the very virtue of what it’s trying to portray? If you are looking at something, it’s going to behave differently. I understand a rightfully disgraced quantum physicist by the name of Shroedinger proved just that with his unfortunate cats.
And, finally, a warning for CBS, the late and very unlamented Kid Nation was a dud. If this one wants my share of the Nielsen ratings come sweeps-time, it had better deliver something to make me believe marriages are made not in heavens, but in the high-tech cutting rooms.