Marriage In Nisa Essay, Research Paper
Marriage in Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman
Marriage is something that is sacred in all cultures. Everyone gets married in some way or another. In American culture, a man marries one woman, and together, they eventually raise a family. In some places, marriages are arranged. There are other places where people marry their cousins and others where men marry more then one woman. All of these types of marriages are discussed in Anthropology: An Applied Perspective. Many different cultures have many different ways to go about marrying and having families.
In Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman, Nisa speaks of her many marriages and how they worked out and why they turned out that way. Nisa was married for the first time at a very young age. She had not even menstruated yet. That is the way that it is in her culture. A woman marries an older man when she is very young. Often, the girl is frightened to stay in their new home alone together right away, so a nurse comes and stays with them for a short period of time.
Nisa s marriage ceremony was very different from a marriage ceremony that we would have here in America. The women wear beads and decorations, like we do, but that is only part of the ceremony. A main part of the marriage is that the husband s family and the wife s family band together and make a marriage hut for the new couple. Here is where the two are supposed to live and sleep together. Very rarely does a young girl actually stay in the hut at night though. Nisa ran back to her parents hut everytime that her husband would fall asleep.
Nisa also had many husbands. Which is normal in her culture. Polygamy is also normal. Men are aloud to marry more then one woman, but often it does not work out. Nisa was going to marry a man that had another wife, but it did not feel right to her so she did not do it. The !Kung people call their multiple wives, co-wives. In many instances, the first wife gets very jealous, and that is what causes the second one to leave. Being in a polygamous marriage is very difficult for people who care a lot about their spouse.
!Kung people also sometimes marry their cousins or distant relatives. This is normal to them and is normal in some other cultures as well. When people are young, the parents arrange their marriages but once they are older, they can pick their own spouses.
The textbook discusses the functions of marriage, and they are the same in basically all cultures. Marriage is a way to divide labor between the sexes, to control sexual competition and to create a family and a set of family relationships, in order to provide for each other. Nisa speaks about how their families share everything with each other. If one person has food, they have to share the extra food with everyone else, rather then save it for themselves. In many instances, a husband or a lover will bring the food to their wife, or mistress.
In exchange for the woman that a !Kung man marries, the man has to help to take care of her and her family. He has to share his meat and food and give all that he can. One of Nisa s husbands refused to share meat with her and her family and so her father made him leave their area.
Divorce is also very different in the !Kung lifestyle. If a man leaves a woman, they are almost immediately considered divorced. That is quite different as opposed to a divorce in America, where there are all sorts of legal repercussions. All that they have to do is go see the headman of the village to get permission to remarry. Nisa had to do this once with her husband Besa, who had left her when she was pregnant in a strange village.
Marriage is something that all cultures have and need, In Nisa s culture they thrive off of it in order to have families and sexual pleasure, though they sometimes have lovers. Marriage is different wherever people go, and can not expect for it to be the same as in other cultures. Marriage and family is very important for the cycle of life.