JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS

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Monday, February 24, 2003
 
Another must read

From yesterday's Washington Post... about arranged marriages among ABCDs (American Born Confused Desis).

It's really well done. I have three minor problems with it, though:

1. The author didn't call me. (Sure, I'd have called Karen Leonard, too... her book Making Ethnic Choices is just top-notch. For what it's worth, Johanna Lessinger's From Ganges to the Hudson didn't leave me wowed. I don't know Maitrayee Bhattacharyya's work; it sounds facinating. The Philadelphia Inquirer knows to call when investigating Indian American youth culture. ;) )

2. In discussing why divorce rates are so much lower in Indians/Indian-Americans compared to those of non-Indian-Americans, the author resorts to the usual (and unsatisfying) explaination: "Divorce reflects poorly on an Indian family, and some proportion of arranged marriages endure not because they are successful or rewarding, but because leaving them would bring such shame." It would have been profitiable, I think, to take a look at the economic basis of these marriages... or, in other words, in situations where the wife earns much less than her husband, where is she supposed to go if she leaves? Especially, if she does leave, she's expected to take the children with her? A lot of unhappy marriages stay together not just because there would be shame if there were a divorce but because the woman has no other viable option.

3. There is an implied assumption throughout the article that non-immigrant American parents do not actively set their children up nor do take an active role in who their children date. And, we all know that's not true. (I mean, cripes, lots of high school kids -- both boys and girls -- can identify with aspects of Romeo and Juliet when they read it in 9th grade. Everybody's parents care about their children's prospective marriage partner's parents. It's not just Indians.)

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