Let me start by offering my deepest to apologies for being a bit AWOL recently. In part this absence from the blogosphere was simply due to a severe case of writers block as a result of being removed from the Tinderverse and subsequently not having as much to bitch and moan about. In addition to this I was also away exploring other parts of deepest darkest Africa with limited internet connectivity. And this dear Rinsers leads me to the topic of today’s blog post …
Spending two weeks in Kenya where lions (and tigers and bears and of course the elusive Kenyan unicorn) really do roam free was certainly a magical experience and even though I’m heartbroken to be back in humdrum I am pleased to say that I managed to collect a lot of blog matter for all of y’all! On my travels I witnessed a lot of weird and wonderful things, the most exciting of which were lions having passionate sex while jeep loads of pervy safari junkies aka voyeurs looked on in awe. But enough from the animal kingdom for now (I shot some lion porn if any of our more animal inclined readers is interested!). Aside from the safari’ing, I also visited a Maasai village where we got to check out a bit of tribal life. Learning how these folks kill lions to demonstrate manhood (poor kitties!), start fires with nothing more than some sharp sticks and can jump higher than most of us could ever dream off (just to get a discounted price on a bride) was interesting and all but what I though was most relevant for the purposes of this blog was how the Maasai people view relationships,etc.
Forgive me for what may come across as a bit of reductionist account of what is a probably quite a complicated subject matter and something that people have slaved for years writing PhD theses on but my comments are based solely on my observations (and me just generally speaking out loud) and with really, really limited internet I don’t really have the chance do more detailed research/fact-checking. Anyway here are some things that my interactions with the Maasai warriors got me thinking about.
Monogamy vs Polygamy
So as is the case in quite a few cultures these Maasai guys tend to be polygamous. The one that was showing us around had two wives (neither of which was his favourite!) but he said he knew of cases where a Maasai had ten wives. Apparently, there really is no limit to how many wives they can have just as long as they are capable of providing for all of them (and subsequently the multiple kids that they are sure to produce) sufficiently. (Guess it’s not that different from our beloved chavs back in my homeland except they just tend to knock up multiple women and get the state to foot the bill)
While polygamy is pretty much an alien concept to a girl who grew up reading too many fairy tales and since developed slight feminist leanings, there are people (even so-called progressive liberal types) who claim that such a system has it’s advantages over monogamy. Hmm…I’m not convinced. Perhaps it’s the only child in me that doesn’t like sharing my toys (read: boys) but I really don’t see how it can work on anything but a superficial level. Sure, for the Maasai people there are certain benefits such as a division of labour (one wife goes out to trade things while the another one stays home to take care of their collective kids!) but surely jealously and competition are common human emotions/behaviours that transcend cultures. I just can’t deal.
That said, it’s really probably not all that different than phenomena going on closer to home – threesomes? Open relationships? Philandering scumbags? At least the Maasai ladies know what they are in for, right?
A Woman’s Worth
In Maasai culture before a man can get married, it is standard to for him to give his future wife’s family ten cows, essentially putting a price on her head. As I mentioned before, if a dude is particularly athletic and can jump really high then the number of cows he is required to exchange for his chick can be reduced down.
As a hopeless romantic (see even Tinder couldn’t take away my sparkle and turn me into a jaded old hag) who believes love makes the world go round this type of dowry system where even an elderly man can buy a girl young enough to be his great granddaughter as long as he can get his hands on those all important cows does make me pewk in my mouth A LOT !
But then again things could be worse, at least these women have some worth (calculated in cows), the dowry system still in operation in parts of the Indian sub-continent see the chick’s family literally paying men to take the daughters off their hands. Again, I just can’t deal.
Should we just keep our noses out of other people’s business?
Finally, as we are all well aware we live in an increasingly globalised world where we are all more likely to be exposed to different people and cultures (I mean, a few centuries ago I very much doubt that the heir to a Maasai empire would be chatting up a Brit girl and telling her that he’d like to be monogomous for her, now would he? True story!) Living in more connected world is great in many ways because it opens our minds to new perspectives/ideas. But on the other hand, it could also lead the erosion of different cultures as well and perhaps that’s not necessarily a good thing.
Our guide told us that there are something like 42 different tribes in Kenya but the Maasai are pretty much the only ones that have managed to keep their culture intact. But even with them as they become more educated (in the conventional sense) more of them end up leaving their tribes. It’s kinda of sad, I guess.
Then there we are (in many ways not so different from our colonial ancestors) wandering into their villages and getting all judgey about the way they do things. A younger, more idealistic/naive version of myself would have probably spent days ranting about women’s rights after my encounters but I’m starting to see things a little differently in my old age. Sure, I would like to think I’m worth more than 10 cows (although my Dad would probably trade me for a dog and a free gelato) but maybe other women are OK with being treated like a commodity? Maybe they have bigger problems to deal with? Perhaps they look at as mindlessly swiping away on Tinder and pity our existence? Either way, I don’t think any of us should be judging and commenting. Whichever perspective you look at things from things on both sides are going to change eventually but it should only happen when people are ready to make the changes themselves rather than because of external interference.
Anyway, enough from me lets in the comments below Rinsers. What are your thoughts of polygamy vs monogomy? Do you think dowry systems are archaic and should be abolished from this world? And do you think we should even be commenting on the way other people do things? Go wild like the lions in the comments below.
This was #englishrosiee reporting for #rinsebeforeuse! Good night!