For the record, I am a white, early twenties, female. I have a tertiary education. I am, for all intents and purposes, healthy. I come from a financially stable family, with parents who are celebrating their 26th wedding anniversary today. I have freedom of choice and freedom to marry whomever I want. I probably have no voice worthy of these following comments, but this is my blog so =P
Today I read this article – http://www.3news.co.nz/Forced-to-drink-drain-cleaner-alleges-young-migrant/tabid/1771/articleID/306180/Default.aspx because it came up in my Facebook Newsfeed. It’s a reporter’s article about a woman allegedly abused by her husband, to the point where she is physically disabled, because of dowry and subsequent arranged marriage abuse (there probably is no dissimilar abuse found in unarranged marriages, but for purpose of writing I say arranged marriage abuse).
Within the paragraphs there is this quote, “In 2011 more than 8500 were killed because of dowry – that’s one bride murdered every hour. Incredibly though, the practice of dowry is not illegal in New Zealand.”
The practice of dowry is not illegal in New Zealand.
A dowry is payment for a bride. It is money, goods, or property the bride (and family) give to the groom (and family).
Initially I was very angry. What goods quantify a marriage? What set price do you reach for a woman? One cow? Two cows? What stock market are these prices set against? Is it more valuable if one party does not want the arranged marriage? If inflation for women goes up, what sort of abuse will follow if she doesn’t meet this elevated price tag set upon her? And you can’t really return human goods, can you?
Then (after posting my outrage on FB) a friend, Kyreena, gave me this nugget,” To be fair, the traditional (straight marriage) system we utilise is very much a dowry system: man must pay for rings and offer to woman in order to propose marriage. The rings are dowry.”
Holy crap, she’s right.
I have always wanted to fall in love, and give someone a ring, and make them mine. And now I hear myself say ‘make them mine’ and I feel as dirty as a dowry accepter. But the thought that rings=marriage is so ingrained into me, thinking of it as a dowry feels wrong.
I didn’t think a ring would quantify marriage.
But it bloody well does.
I want to have a partner, but how do I feel like I’m not paying for them now?
Is the feminist voice inside that preaches ‘women have irreplaceable value’, actually making me choke on my own words?
Do I have a right to argue that I don’t want marriage? Probably not, considering the recent law change in NZ allowing for me to marry anyone (well, anyone who’s consenting, haha).
Do I have a right to say a dowry feels dirty and disgusting, knowing that I find the idea of giving a ring attractive and substantial emotional investment?
At what point are you allowed to be angry at ideas, when the horrific outcomes of some don’t actually affect you?