Marriage–Even The Dead Are Doing It March 21, 2016Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Great Onely Activities, Look What Google Barfed Up, Uncategorized, We like. . ..
Tags: Atlas Obscura, Buy Me A Bride, Ella Morton, Ellen Schattschneider, Ghost Marriage, Marital Status Discrimination, Rebecca Traister, single people, singles blog, singlism
Even though single people–especially women–are taking the Western world by storm in politics and pop culture, our culture still has an unhealthy (unrealistic) obsession with marriage. Historically, marriage played many different roles in different cultures and this post does not intend to demean all the traditions behind marriages across the world.
Onely.org does, however, feel that marriage’s strong roots in abuse or belittling of women require that we look at the institution closely to see if it still meets our social needs, or how it can be adjusted to be a more equitable institution (IMO: Separ-ate Sex from State!). Or, allow marriage between the dead and the living. Either way, things need to be shaken up.
I am a previously-avowed Sinophile, but I don’t know the current status of the following tradition, so Copious Readers, feel free to weigh in:
The Ghost Marriage tradition (which is supposedly no longer legal, but happens anyway sometimes) developed from (shocker) the patriarchal family structure. When a childless single woman died, she left no one behind to honor her spirit. (Sound familiar? How many of you childfree woman out there have been asked, “But who will care for you when you are old?”) Part of the problem was that the woman’s birth family could not display a memorial for her; it had to be put on an altar in her husband’s home. But no husband, no altar. Solution? Ghost marriage. According to Morton,
A woman’s spirit can be worshipped by bringing her into the family of a husband who has been chosen for her after her death.
I am a new Japanophile (?), having recently started Beginner 101 Japanese and read all about the classic Haiku travelling poets (Issa named himself after the bubble that comes up when you put a teabag in hot water–I plan to rename myself as well a soon as I come up with something half as fantabulous). However, I do not know about the ghost marriage aspect of Japanese history/culture so I’m hoping some Copious Readers can additional provide perspective.
According to Morton, who quotes Bride-Doll Marriage scholar Ellen Schattschneider, people who died early resented the “sexual and emotional fulfillment” they never received through living marriage. (Sound familiar? How many of you unmarried people have been told that you just don’t know what love really is, or that your life is meaningless, or that you aren’t as good at communicating and sharing as married people?) These supposedly repressed, frustrated single dead people took out their frustrations on the living. Says Schattschneider:
Spirit marriage, allowing a ritual completion of the life cycle, placates the dead spirit and turns its malevolent attention away from the living.
A living French person can marry a dead French person, if authorized by the President. You also must have intended to marry before the death of one party. And the deceased’s family has to give the OK.
A bit of a bummer is: the living spouse doesn’t receive the dead spouse’s assets. This seems strange. Why should living married couples be able to share assets, tax benefits, and retirement privileges, but half-living couples NOT have the same rights? Onely.org plans to take on this topic as soon as we solve the problem of marital status discrimination against living single people. Then we will move on to living-dead combos. (Stay tuned in 2020!!)
So far my home country is not doing ghost marriage. Why not? We already make such a big weird to-do over wedding glam and the over 1,000 federal privileges given to couples having (ostensibly) committed consensual state-sanctioned sex. Marrying the dead seems like just another excuse for a shower. (A wedding shower, I mean.) Why not, right?
I can’t wait for the partisan bumper stickers:
Marriage = [Stick figure of a gender-neutral person] + [Stick figure of a gender-neutral person]
Marriage = [Stick figure of a gender-neutral person] + [Stick figure of a gender-neutral person lying prone, with little X’s over the eyes]
Photo credit: VampSavat