In the documentary Match Made, the form of mate selection depicted is technically an arranged marriage.(Ang ‘Match Made’ 2006) From what we saw in the documentary, there were some oddities compared to the more typical arranged marriage. We saw a major gender inequality. The man (groom to be) seems to have his pick of woman that he wants based on mostly appearance, asking minor questions that didn’t really seem to matter in the end decision. The women in the documentary were not given much of a choice, but it seemed like the matchmakers wanted the appearance of a choice. There was no evidence of family interference in the process. (Ang ‘Match Made’ 2006) Arranged marriages are usually more common for cultures who place importance on kin groups that are strong and important. However, there were mentions of family in the video. The man had given the family of his bride a bride-price or monetary compensation for the loss labor and other services.
The peculiar form of mate selection seen in the documentary is disempowering to women in many forms such as attitude and arrangement. Since the groom will be coming from a reputable country and will be well off financially, the women in the selection process do not have much (if any) say. It seemed the Ma Noui, or the guardian mother, would inform the girls of the circumstances of a possible marriage. (Ang ‘Match Made’ 2006) Although they are sometimes asked if a certain circumstance is okay, the women have no real choice. They are on the clock as soon as they arrive to get married. If they are seen as too difficult or picky, the matchmaking service may refuse to continue working with them. Arranged marriages are usually more family centered. In traditional arranged marriages, families are much more involved in the process. They look for compatibility for their son or daughter, but the process is much more amicable and mutually exclusive. (Ingoldsby ‘Chapter 8: Mate Selection and Marriage’ 133-139) In Meet the Patels, Ravi was turned down by a few women who were looking for an arranged marriage in the United States. Although that example comes from a more Westernized version of the practice, women in traditional arranged marriages normally have more say than the women depicted in Match Made. (Ang ‘Match Made’ 2006)
To increase the power of the women in Match Made, there needs to be a complete recreation of their system. Instead of asking rhetorical questions and handing women over to the men who chose them, I believe a more honest process would help both sides. First of all, a medical pre-check should be required for both men and women before the process begins. Secondly, I believe these women should be asked a handful of questions beforehand. Questions revolving around things men in that area of the world typically look for. These questions can go from the ability to speak other languages, to work ability, or any special talents or requirements they must have. Therefore, after this process is over with, men can select from a group of women that already matches their interests and have truly agreed to the man’s particular circumstances. The same must be done for the men. They must take a test or respond to questions that will match them up with women who look for these answers. If the process was more equal for both genders, it would take longer, but the matches would have a much better track record.
The most empowering method for both men and women is the matchmaking method. In Meet the Patels, the method used by Ravi Patel towards the end of the film seemed to combine the idea of arranged marriages via the caste system and the idea of dating from the Western culture. Using the matchmaking site for arranged marriages seemed to give both parties a chance to have a say in what they wanted to do going forward, while keeping cultural traditions modernized. I would personally use this method of arranged marriage myself. I like the idea of having women judge you on more than just physical looks. If they can see what I have accomplished, where I come from and what I hope to achieve in the future, I feel that they will have a better understanding of me as a person than dating normally entails.
Marital structures have been dictated by social norms and law. In the United States, monogamy is the only form of marital structure allowed by law. Partners who have not abided by monogamy usually develop a negative reputation and are looked down upon by society. (Ingoldsby ‘Chapter 6: Marital Structure’ 2006) Emotional security is something almost guaranteed with monogamy. These couples promise themselves to each other and no one else, so jealousy is not normally an issue. Being sexually active with one partner also lowers risk for sexually transmitted diseases. However, in many cases, monogamy is not the healthiest marital structure. People tend to get bored with others they have spent years, with years they tend to grow apart, both mentally and physically. Monogamy also makes harder for labor and the financial situation. If the family has routine labor keeping the household steady, only one person can help with the labor. Only two people in the household can contribute.
Both polygyny and polyandry are outlawed in the United States, but have shown success in different parts of the world. (Ingoldsby ‘Chapter 6: Marital Structure’ 2006) Having more than one husband or more than one wife has both its merits and its challenges. Of course, one of the best attributes of both of these marital structures is the freedom of choice. If it makes people happy to choose their own partners, however many it may be, then I see it as a positive choice, a choice the United States denies outright. Financial stability is much easier and less stressful for people in these relationships. Having more dependable people in a relationship distributes responsibility among the household. It also helps prevent adultery. Women or men engaged in polyamorous relationships do not have the need to look for others. They don’t get bored of one person if they have spent their life with more than one. On the downside, these relationships can lead to very imbalanced households in terms of gender. Power can become a major theme in these relationships, leading to abuse. A man having to share himself with all his wives could leave some feeling neglected if they are not all treated fairly or evenly.
Should it be legalized? I am personally neutral to this matter. I believe that polygyny/polyandry is something that is hard for Western culture to wrap its head around. However, in the United States, there were laws made to protect those who are practicing a religion. I do not agree with having this choice taken away. I also do not agree with the cons of these marital structures because I feel they are sufficient enough to keep them illegal. If legalizing this method increases domestic abuse in any way, shape or form, then it should not be done. However, special consideration should be given to those in the appropriate religious circumstances.
Jealousy among co-wives is not something typically experienced by the Nyinba and Nayar. These cultures do not meet the general characteristics that are found in most polyandrous societies. Due to their jarring environments and meager resources, these tribes have adapted to using this marital structure as a form of survival. Husbands in these tribes are more often busy with surviving these harsh conditions. These group marriages are rare and do not meet the characteristics of the majority of polyandrous societies.