Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Option C Doesn't Exist

And now, a parable-ish-type thing.

A woman lives in a culture which features arranged marriages, and in January of next year she will be getting married. Two men have been selected as possible husbands; one of them would be the default winner, but if she appeals to the elders, the alternate will be chosen.

Now the alternate - well, he's nothing special. Kind of bland, not particularly exciting, he has some weird things about him, and some stuff in his past that's actually pretty bad. He'd be an OK husband, I guess, but nothing special. Just kinda meh.

The favorite, on the other hand, is a real standout - and not in a good way. He has promised that if he is chosen, he'll do all manner of horrible things to her. He's threatened the most horrific abuses imaginable (and some you can't imagine), and when he gets bored with that, he'll kill her.

What should this woman do? If she says nothing, she will be forced to marry the utterly horrible one. If she requests, she would be allowed to marry the not-great-but-might-be-OK one. If those are the only two choices, the smart thing to do is obviously to go with the tolerable one.

Well, how about other options? How about if she says she really wants to marry some other guy who is, she thinks, absolutely perfect in every way and can do no wrong? Sorry - Mr Dreamboat didn't get past the first round of nominations. The village elders have made it clear he won't be it. Begging for him will be inseparable from a vote for the utterly horrible one.

How about just leaving? Maybe, but a quick look at the other villages around and she decides against it. She can't find any place that's significantly better, and most are almost unspeakably worse.

So there are the four options. To wit:
1) Refuse to participate, maybe make noise about leaving - and wind up married to the horrible one.
2) Insist on marrying the fantasy man - and wind up marrying the horrible one.
3) Agree to marry the horrible one, and get it.
4) Ask for the tolerable one, and get him.

There's only one choice a thinking adult could make. It would make no sense to insist on some high-minded principles if it leaves her married to the sleazeball who will abuse and kill her. It's childish and foolish to so completely pine for what-can-never-be that you surrender any say over what will actually be.

No comments: