Agreed on blaming the social system, not individuals in this case. I hate to get all academic, but the roots of the idea of a "lord's right to his bride" is rooted in the way humans created ideas of kinship in the ancient past. I'm going to quote an anthropologist, Gail Rubin, on the subject of bride exchange, who has made the "rape" question very clear to me:
If it is women who are being transacted, then it is the men who give and take them who are linked, the women being a conduit of a relationship rather than a partner to it. The exchange of women does not necessarily imply that women are objectified, in the modern sense, since objects in the primitive world are imbued with highly personal qualities. But it does imply a distinction between gift and giver. If women are the gifts, then it is men who are the exchange partners. And it is the partners, not the presents, upon whom reciprocal exchange confers its quasi-mystical power of social linkage. The relations of such a system are such that women are in no position to realize the benefits of their own circulation...
In other words, women are in no position to give themselves away. She says we should denounce what these systems do to women, and be sure not to talk about one "of the greatest rip-offs of all time" as romantic
. Calling it "rape" or "objectification" is painting with too broad a brush, however.
She goes on to explain how this concept relates to our modern day society,
The "exchange of women" is a seductive and powerful concept...Women are given in marriage, taken in battle, exchanged for favors, sent as tribute, traded, bought, and sold. Far from being confined to the "primitive" world, these practices seem only to become more pronounced and commercialized in more "civilized" societies. Men are of course also trafficked--but as slaves, hustlers, athletic stars, serfs, or as some other catastrophic social status, rather than as men.
In other words, men are exchanged as "other people," women are exchanged as women.
(Quotes from Gail Rubin, The Traffic in Women
, 1975; note to the mods, if this is too much quoting, I will summarize)
Edited by Keep Shelly in Athens, 01 March 2012 - 09:01 PM.