Friday, November 1, 2013

The $ Worth of a Wife

If corporations are now legally categorized as people by the IRS, then cultures could be listed as one entity as well, thus reflecting a singular human psyche with unique characteristics. 

Recently, a modern day professional wrote to me from an African nation of his birth. He and his wife live in an urban city and work in the 21st century environment. Although they have been married for several years, he is still paying off the "bride price," which is money that must be paid to the family of the woman in order to part with her. Boiled down to its essence, one must compensate the woman's family for their loss of a valuable asset.

In constrast, the European custom of a "dowry" is the exact opposite. In this case, the woman's family must offer riches to the man's family in order for them to take the young lady off their hands. An eligible lady will be without a good man if her family can't pony up enough spoils for her supposed virginity. In this scenario, the bride's family has to pay dearly to get rid of her.

So what does this say about European culture versus African culture? Granted the nations within both these continents have cultures that can be vastly different, including language, customs, and costume. But "bride price" and "dowries" seem to permeate intra-continental boundaries.

In either case, the female of the species is the one bought or sold, depending on which part of the world one hails from and how one interprets these archaic cultural norms. Human rituals, customs, and a cultural heritage often times give meaning and value to the lives of a people. But when, please tell me, will women stop being viewed as a commodity instead of an independent spirit of free will?

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