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Here is a sticky wicket.

Should respect for cultural differences go both ways? Or better yet, where do we draw the line between respecting another's cultural differences, as opposed to allowing them to disrespect yours?

Yesterday I was channel surfing. I have had a long week on swarm call. I have been out in the heat in my suit, wrangling stinging insects, and yesterday was the day that I was sore, and dehydrated, and needed to vegetate.

So I popped on the idiot box and proceeded to channel surf.

I came across a show called, "My Big Fat American-Gypsy Wedding" or some such and I thought hmmmm, a show about authentic Gypsies, cool!

So I learned some things.

Their girls get married early, they are expected to be virgins, are kept in total ignorance of sex to the point that some are removed from school [whether temporarily or permanently I cannot say--it wasn't that specific]. The girls are never allowed out of the house without a chaperone of some sort, and are not allowed to talk to boys unless they are at a chaperoned party. No kissing!

Basically they date a couple times and then decide to marry.

Not my bag of chips--but hey, if it works for them, whatever.

Here is what chapped my hide:

While interviewing the young men, there was a theme, a motif if you will about the significance of a virgin and what she should act like, as opposed to a "dirty" girl that has been around.

The young men made it very clear that you have sex with the townies, but you don't touch the Gypsy girls, because you know, you want a good clean girl to marry.

I have to say, I liked to come unglued when I heard this part.  Seriously? So basically these little boys like to ahem--Play around, but they make it very clear that if a young woman says yes to them, that the sexual act sullies the woman and not the young man. And that makes her dirty, but not him.

*He isn't expected to be a virgin, only *She is, and btw it's perfectly acceptable to get your ya yas out on the local non Gypsy girls--use them like disposable diapers apparently. To me, that is the Gypsies, disrespecting our cultural differences. They cannot complain about prejudice and bigotry, if they are just as guilty in perpetuating such ugly practices, even if it is against "only" the women.

One quote from one young Gypsy-man just chapped my hide:

"I wanted something new, not something used."
*gasp! Sputter! Some-THING?

Women are not THINGS! And you don't USE THEM! That beautiful, sweet young woman you are marrying is a human being, and she is not a THING. She is not a car or a sidewalk or a garbage bag, or a hammer. She is an animate, being with a soul, just like all the other WOMEN out there in the world!

It just makes me want to scream!

If you want to screw a *THING, buy a canteloupe!

This isn't the first time I have witnessed this attitude, we see it all the time--all over the place. And I will offer the reader that this is one of the underlying attitudes that perpetuates the culture of rape.

When you have to operate in a situation that is constructed around such a glaring sexual double standard, you are in a place where:

Clean Girls get married


Dirty Girls get what they deserve.

This is something that I have never understood. If an adult person consents to have sex with you, and give you pleasure, then you should at least respect their humanity, and the fact that they were willing to be vulnerable with you in that moment of intimacy.

You don't have to be in love or married, to appreciate what the other person is doing for you. And from a woman's point of view in this culture, males cannot have it both ways.

You cannot be the "clean one" if you are sleeping with quote: "Dirty girls".

It takes two.

If she consents to make your sexual fantasies come true, then treating her poorly and talking smack about her after the fact is more a reflection on you, and not her. She was generous--You on the other hand are being a pig.

If you are male and think that sex for women outside of marriage is bad, then you owe it us all, to stop having sex with women you don't intend to marry. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. In fact, you owe it to us all to not have sex until you are married! Preferably, you should have sex with the one you did marry!

Although rape was never mentioned, it is clear to me from personal experience what happens to a woman deemed improper or "dirty". She is denied even the bit of social protection that society *claims to offer "clean girls" in order to shelter them from sexual harassment and sexual violence. [but we all know how that doesn't really work]

 So while I am not saying that these young men advocated rape, I am saying I interpreted their tone and their intent to be one that was punitive against so-called "dirty girls", and I would predict their response to a "dirty girl" being raped or harassed, or ostracized, would be disinterest and even a bit of schadenfreude?

After all, what did she expect [hypothetically speaking]?

No one [absolutely NO ONE]  "deserves" to be harassed, raped or ostracized for having consentual sex, and most especially, no one deserves to be harassed, raped or ostracized because you or your culture imagined that the townies or those "other" girls had, or have consentual sex.

I cannot believe that we still have to have this discussion.

I intend to get a copy of that video, and add it to my collection of examples for our in-house sex-education course work. It was jaw dropping. I spent the rest of the night pissed off!

However the whole scenario reminded me of this golden oldie from youtube.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good stuff as always... (6+ / 0-)

    ...GreenMother.  Keep kicking!

    Freedom isn't "on the march." Freedom dances.

    by WarrenS on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 09:11:09 AM PDT

    •  No doubt! That's how you know I aint dead yet! (5+ / 0-)


      •  This is pretty typical in the East & West Indian (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        culture as well.  My family is Indian from Guyana.  I was the first born in the States and am so different from them.  My male cousins did the same, screwed around with women, even had kids with some of the women, but never saw fit to marry the woman they had a kid with, because she was considered "dirty" because she opened her legs for em without being married. Then when it was time to find a wife, it had to be someone "virtuous".

        Sickens me that this was my family, but thankfully I wasn't that close to them and haven't lived near them for 20+ years and couldn't be happier to not be around their hypocracy

  •  One of the thing that struck me about (6+ / 0-)

    the show and original British version is how slutty the "pure, innocent" girls dressed.  Their families had no problem with them dressing like prostitutes but expected vaginal purity.  

    I don't see anything wrong with women showing and celebrating their sexuality.  It's not my style - unless you consider LLBean apparel smexy.   But it seems really odd to allow girls barely out of their teens to dress provocatively but to expect that they will not take part in sexual acts.

    The culture being portrayed seems to aggressively demand respect without showing it for others or oneself.  In one episode, a bride expressed anger that her mother wouldn't support her marriage, yelling some equivalent of "why won't you support me you dumb f*king b*tch?!?"  

    And it seems the overblown, over-the-top wedding is a girl's last hurrah before a lifetime of keeping a mobile home clean.  So depressing.

    The whole show is sad exploitation of people who are living marginal lives.    I much prefer the harmless over-the-top silliness of Say Yes to the Dress.

    We do not forgive. We do not forget. The whole world is watching.

    by Tracker on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 09:20:30 AM PDT

    •  But that Slutty theme is part of the problem (8+ / 0-)
      Although rape was never mentioned, it is clear to me from personal experience what happens to a woman deemed improper or "dirty". She is denied even the bit of social protection that society *claims to offer "clean girls" in order to shelter them from sexual harassment and sexual violence. [but we all know how that doesn't really work]
      When we say someone looks slutty, we are saying that she appears dirty or available [and possibly without the power to withhold consent].

      Their type of dress makes me uncomfortable, esp given the age of the young women, but... I am not one of them, so that is not normal to me. What we are seeing is a form of tribalism.


      But they shouldn't get to use and then demean the women who are generous enough to help their men get sexual experience.

      That is just effed up!

  •  'anachronism' is the kindest word I can dredge up (6+ / 0-)

    for these types.  

    Too bad they get so much airtime.  Hell, they even have their own political party & presidential candidate!    Had to double-check my underwear drawer during the GOP primaries to make sure those nasty girdles, crinolines, and long-line bras hadn't crept back in :)  

    Been there - it was called the 1950's - and I'm not going back.

    Comfort the afflicted. Afflict the comfortable.

    by FindingMyVoice on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 09:22:01 AM PDT

  •  So there's a patriarchal society somewhere, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, Clem Yeobright

    ...and you let that grind your gears?  Attitudes like this have been the norm throughout human history.  If you let that upset you, you'd better not read history.  Like, any of it.

    Save your passion for areas where you can make a difference.  Gypsies on TV is not one.

    Early to rise and early to bed Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and dead. --Not Benjamin Franklin

    by Boundegar on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 09:40:48 AM PDT

    •  Thats for minimizing a very real and present (5+ / 0-)

      problem for women globally.

      What a guy.

      I am surprised though that you took the time to read this diary, much less to comment. One might think that my audacity to speak up, might have ground your gears.

      •  You misunderstood. (0+ / 0-)

        I agree it's a real problem.  I just don't think getting mad at the TV helps.  Make a difference in your family, in your community, in places where you can do some good.

        I'm on your side here.

        Early to rise and early to bed Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and dead. --Not Benjamin Franklin

        by Boundegar on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 09:55:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You are still minimizing. (4+ / 0-)

          If it's a real problem that has and still affects me directly, then why on earth wouldn't I get mad?

          And who are you to tell me when or if I should get mad?

          Doesn't that seem like an extension of the problem here?

          •  [snark] (4+ / 0-)

            Silly Green Mother!  Don't you know that "good" women don't get mad?  Why, "good" women are incapable of getting mad.  Only those nasty, slutty, "dirty" women who think they should be treated like human beings get mad.[/snark]

            That's why it pisses me off to have some guy telling me what I should or should not feel - like I'm too stupid or childish to have an honest-to-God emotion of MY VERY OWN.

            Good for you to keep the clip for educational purposes, so you can show what a double-standard looks like.

          •  I apologize. (0+ / 0-)

            I shouldn't have offered unsolicited advice, and I didn't intend to make your problem worse.

            Early to rise and early to bed Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and dead. --Not Benjamin Franklin

            by Boundegar on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 04:59:38 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's not just *My Problem (0+ / 0-)
            •  I am going to try hard, to imagine that you (0+ / 0-)

              might possibly want to understand what it is, that I am communicating, that that you actually took time to read this diary entry and make a comment in that spirit.

              I have observed a prevalent social construct at work, in the television show named above. It is a construct that saturates Western Culture, despite our claims of being enlightened or advanced, or egalitarian.

              And I saw this construct, dissembled using the excuse that justifies this practice, this mindset--that because certain girls [foreign girls, outgroup-girls] are not *ritually clean, and do not live in a manner that satisfies this *group's religious cosmology, and therefore it is okay to treat those "Other-ed" women in a fashion that suggests that they are less than, human, less than deserving of happiness, true love, respect, or even the truth.

              And in understanding that this attitude, this paradigm is prevalent in our meta-culture, I saw this as a means to show this as an example, a reference point, and to make a critique of said behaviors and mentalities while simultaneously breaking them down in a manner that illustrates the unfortunate, and unequal and unjust end results of said construct.

              I could have just gotten angry and cursed. But instead, I took the time, to really think about this. I made the effort to carefully state my objections in a sensitive and deliberate manner in the hopes of making a connection-not just with women, but also with men.

              Your failure to grasp that part of this conversation is on you.

      •  If you're into spotlighting "real and present (0+ / 0-)

        problem[s] for women globally" one might think certain Islamic practices would me more worthy of attention than Gypsy customs, since women actually die.

        •  So only Islamic (4+ / 0-)

          practices towards women deserve spotlighting, and all the other groups that present real and present problems for women get a free pass?

          •  That's not what I said or implied, (0+ / 0-)

            and you know it.

            •  Looks like to me, that is what you typed (0+ / 0-)
              problem[s] for women globally" one might think certain Islamic practices would me more worthy of attention than Gypsy customs, since women actually die.
              And I see no mention of "Global" in my entire diary. At all. This was about an attitude that is prevalent in the US, that was perfectly expressed and illustrated on this television show by American Gypsies.

              Good Gods, go back and read before you pull up your keyboard.

              You are the one that is going "global" by bringing the whole world into it.

        •  I am not sure how to even respond to that (0+ / 0-)

          I live in a country right now, where Catholic Hierarchy encourages people to take extreme acts against women who need an abortion or birth control pills. I live in a country where no women were allowed to testify before a congressional hearing regarding the need and use of family planning services and devices.

          Women die of that too. Oh sure it may not be as dramatic or at least portrayed in such a dramatic manner, but women die.

          I could aim my anger at other groups that hold much less power in my own country and blame them for being different and a minority, while simultaneously ignoring the *MAN behind the curtain right now, who is trying to deprive me and every other American citizen of reproductive self determination, while they also redefine rape, and consistently fail to enforce laws that are supposed to guarantee me equal rights and equal pay.

          If any  minority group acts poorly towards women in the US, it will be because the dominant cultures and religions in this country have already set the precedent in that regard.

          All the other little groups are simply emulating, and embellishing shitty attitudes that already exist toward women, actions that are already being taken against women.

    •  You kidding me? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JVolvo, jan4insight, Gemina13

      I was in a store the other day, and they were selling T-Shirts for Father's Day. One of them had on it Dads Against Daughters Dating, with a picture of a gun. It's the same damn mindset, and it's sickening.

      And, yes, before you ask, I'm the father of two daughters, one of them 16. And her dating (and sex) life is her own damn business. I'm not the keeper of the receptacle.

      "Maybe: it's a vicious little word that could slay me"--Sara Bareilles

      by ChurchofBruce on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 10:31:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The part that really upsets me (7+ / 0-)

    is the worldview a culture has for women if they obsess on whether a woman is clean or dirty. The word receptacle comes to mind. The men have a need and the women are there to fill that need. You can say whatever flowery crap you need to say in order to make that reality palatable, but that is what it reduces to.

    Poverty = politics.

    by Renee on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 10:00:25 AM PDT

  •  Without diminishing your very valid point (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JVolvo, DrLori, highacidity, Gemina13

    Remember that "reality shows" like this bear much the same relationship to reality that "plastic flowers" bear to flowers -- form but not substance.

    These boys may have been coached or even scripted -- because from my understanding of Gypsy culture, a boy/man who "pollutes" himself with gajo women is machimre (unclean) himself until cleansing/amends are made.   This is one of the reasons why both the boys and the girls are being married off in their early- to mid-teens:  to keep them from going off on adventures outside the kompani.

    Now, of course, some have, and some non-Gypsies have come into the tribes, which is how you have Roma with blond or red hair and blue eyes when the tribal origins are northern India.  But the ideal and the rule is that sexual relations with outsiders is a form of unclean behavior -- which makes a lot of sense if you are trying to keep STDs out of a small and insulated population.

    Yes, there are stereotypes about the Roma, and some of them are based on reality -- just as there are stereotypes about Southerns, urbanites, or what have you, which may also have some basis in reality.  But I would take anything I see on a "reality" show with a small Siberian salt mine...

    "There isn't a way things should be. There's just what happens, and what we do." — Terry Pratchett (A Hat Full of Sky)

    by stormicats on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 10:36:56 AM PDT

    •  I really do not know. I am only reporting what (0+ / 0-)

      I witnessed. I know nothing about Gypsies. I will say the phraseology was common enough because although I quoted one guy in particular, several expressed very similar sentiments, even using the same terms in context at separate interviews.

      Make of that what you will.

      As for STDs, I don't see how they can keep that from spreading if the ladies don't know which end of that dog is barking, even with the lights on.

      If they are kept as ignorant as the show alludes, then short of a shanker the size of New Orleans, I doubt they would know what health or illness looks like in that regard, or how it spreads or what that could do to their fertility or health.

  •  All these freak shows are disgusting (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JVolvo, highacidity

    It's no different from the old carnival shows "come see the elephant man" crap.  Whether its this one, the little people, Kate + 8, toddlers and tiaras - it's all vile crap.

    Yes, this "gypsy" culture has a backwards, ignorant view of women. Hopefully more and more of their women are leaving for the real world and one day it will die out.

    Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

    by absdoggy on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 10:37:51 AM PDT

  •  What jumped out at me about your diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is that by tradition girls go to their weddings without any sex education and, consequently, I assume that means they're armed with what is at best misinformation about sexual relationships.

    Which makes the consummation a rape event.

    Or am I misreading?

    "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

    by DrLori on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 11:20:46 AM PDT

    •  Only if you think that they are not willing (0+ / 0-)

      They picked the boy that they "Run off" with [i.e., marry], and because the camera doesn't go into the bedroom, I could not say one way or the other. I did notice a clip of a mother saying that the wedding would not be consummated the first night, because the girl was a virgin. How common that is or what happens is beyond me.

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