Reader Submission: Sociology Findings

Bill Kuhl submitted a short writing on the sociology of the Nayar Indian culture, to demonstrate how men have also been marginalized in various world cultures throughout history (to contrast with the feminist party line that only men dominate and oppress). This is an interesting topic that doesn't get much attention today. Click "Read More..." to read his short essay. The media does it's darndest to tell us about
cultures and societies around the world where women
appear to get the short end of the stick (that is, if
you just take a superficial look at that particular
society's customs). But they never tell us about
society's in which the customs are such that men
appear to get a raw deal. The Nayar people of India
are a good example. According to "The Encyclopedia of
World Cultures (South Asia edition)," in Nayar
culture, "Traditional inheritance was in the matriline
only. Any property a man possessed went to his sisters
and their children. As men took to modern, Western
professions and started accumulating personal wealth
as opposed to family property, they began passing it
on to their own biological children. As a result,
there are today slightly different laws regulating
inherited and acquired wealth. However, even today it
is customary for a man to put his self-acquired
property in his wife's name so that it can then be
inherited matrilineally. Furthermore, a man feels
greater responsibility for his sister's children than
for his brothers children. Even men living away from
Kerala (the Nayar's home state) in Delhi or New York
are more likely to sponsor a sister's son or daughter
than a brother's."

To add, the Nayar people also have complex marriage
customs in which, at least as of the turn of the
century in subgroups of the Nayar, it was acceptable
for a wife to have more than one husband, in a sense.
Again from the book mention above: "Sambandan involved
a man having a "visiting husband" relationship with a
woman. While such relationships were considered to be
marriages by the woman's family, especially when they
occurred with males of higher subcastses or castes,
the males tended to view the relationships as
concubinage. Traditionally Nayar women were allowed to
have more than one "visiting husband" either
simultaneously or serially."

This is the kind of stuff you'll never see in "Time"
or on "The Today Show". As a former ESL (English as a
Second Language) teacher, I've met many women from
cultures that are supposed to be oppressive to women.
When I've asked these women about their lot in life,
none of them have suggested for a moment that they
would prefer to trade places with men in their

Bill Kuhl

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