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Semiformalishmaybe

Shaking off Hips

I am curious about hip flasks — they seem to have been a pretty popular thing to carry around for a long time (if films about past eras are anything to go by), yet are almost nonexistent in modern times. Did Prohibition lead to lasting changes on perceptions of alcohol that removed them from public acceptability? (FWIW: No, I am not thinking of carrying one around, although it's tempting to have one full of maple syrup for occasional tiny sips)

Recently I saw a National Geographic special on sex and attractiveness. It's very interesting, but some of the conclusions it suggests (for relationship health/fidelity/connectedness between couples) and the things it suggests people naturally look for in a mate feel like inconvenient facts for liberal ideals. If we believe that certain behaviour towards would-be or actual significant others is appropriate, but studies show that behaviour to be suboptimal, it makes one nervous deciding to keep that behaviour (especially if that behaviour is principled and not universally accepted). But then, as humans we expend a lot of effort shaping ourselves beyond what we are by nature, and our society is different enough from that in which we evolved that maybe we don't need to place too much stock in studies that reveal our ancient instincts as being relevant to modern times. Hopefully?

Coincidentally, I'm working my way through the section on marriage in Hallaq's book. It's interesting to get a view on historical societies where the relatively recent western individualism had not yet come into being. On one hand, women in past traditional Islamic societies did not have the rights of men, particularly in marriage, the system did care for them after a fashion and they were by no means helpless (except in the most tribal societies far from Islamic civilisation). Although one of the schools of jurisprudence permits a woman's father to decide marriage for her, for all the rest it seemed that most of the rough bits of an Islamic marriage (in terms of inequality of privilege) could be evened by a marriage contract granting additional privileges to the wife (this would not/could not remove the particular special privileges granted women in marriage). Among the things I would hope women insist upon are:

  • If the wife is beaten by the husband, that is grounds for divorce
  • If the wife is ever forced to have sex with the husband, that is grounds for divorce
  • The wife is a non-revokable agent of the husband on a talaq divorce, permitted to initiate this on his behalf whenever she choses, and should she do so she is still owed the delayed dowry
I would liken marriage under Islam to a piece of software that's configurable to be decent but has fairly bad defaults.

When I was much younger, I used to watch a sitcom called 「Roseanne」. I didn't see the whole series, and recently tracked down the last episode on Youtube, which was a tearjerker, but also very pretty and reflective. (Part 1 (see 12:45 onwards) Part 2 - The episode is called 「Into that Good Night」 for when that video disappears due to a copyright claim)

Comments

I wish I would have seen that National Geographic video earlier! I just taught about that all this week. Funny that they chose as "experts" people who publish together. What kinds of behavior are you referring to? It's not like using all of these "attractiveness" cues will make you the perfect mate for everyone.
The biochemical mechanism proposed for adjusting drives (relating to fidelity), if accurate, would suggest a "sex *will* solve our problems" approach to issues of distance in a relationship, as well as efforts to have sex as early and often as possible in dating to move towards exclusivity.

I am curious as to the credentials on those interviewed; will be good to look that up and get a list of relevant papers.
If you're interested in how human sexuality may have evolved, you may be interested in the book Sex At Dawn.
Among the things I would hope women insist upon

I'm saying this totally without knowing whether this would be a problem in the context or not, but I'd worry that [some] women simply would not know that some of these things were options. If you fundamentally believe that, for example, violence is just a natural/unavoidable part of being an adult male (I'm picking this one because it's not far off from a majority opinion here and now), it would be as ridiculous to say "if the wife is beaten by the husband, that is grounds for divorce" as it would be to say "if the husband snores."
That's a valid concern. Hallaq suggests that at least occasionally marriage contracts included all of these, with the prohibition against beating being more common than the others. The woman's family, having several interests in the wife being treated well, is described as often intervening in cases of spousal abuse (with or without contracy).

Still, the idea of this being a potential issue seems ridiculous to modern eyes.
I think the disappearance of hip flasks has more to do with the proliferation of plastic bottles and paper cups than any social stigma relative to drinking.....