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Love or mate selection or both November 5, 2006

Posted by Sharath Rao in economics, ideas, life.
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More on sex ratios now.

Lebanese women are considered as being one in their class. Here is an article that seeks to explain why.

For a few weeks twice a year, after Ramadan and before Christmas, thousands of Lebanon’s young men return from jobs abroad — and run smack into one of the world’s most aggressive cultures of female display. Young women of means have spent weeks primping and planning how to sift through as many men as possible in the short time available. The austere month of Ramadan ended a week ago.

The country’s high rate of unemployment pushes the young men to seek work elsewhere, sometimes in Western countries like France and Canada, but mainly in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and the other oil states on the Persian Gulf. The women, inhibited by family pressures, are generally left behind.

“The social pressures on young women are just huge,” Ms. Yazbek continued. “The focus is more and more on being beautiful, on pleasing other people. The competition is intense, conformity is a big thing, and everyone, rich and poor, gets plastic surgery. You can go to parts of Beirut where almost every young woman has the same little nose.”

Its the sentence that I have boldfaced that gets me wondering. How come do the women face no family pressures against being “world’s most aggressive cultures of female display”, but do face pressures when it comes to seeking jobs abroad. Strikes me as being something quite weird and something that the article should have addressed. Or perhaps I dont understand Lebanese mores well enough to comment.

And finally, this is quite striking as well.

“The guys that remain in Lebanon are the stupid ones!” exclaimed Nayiri Kalayjian, 19, who was hitting the bars on Monot Street, in central Beirut, with three girlfriends.“We’re too good for them,” she said. “The ones who remain in Lebanon are the ones with closed mentalities, the ones who just want a virgin girl. You start to feel that the men who stay in Lebanon are the ones with no ambition in their work, and so you wonder, why are they still here?”

I agree that this is just an instance but stuff like this gets one to give a second thought to theories that seek to de-romantisize romantic love and argue that while higher, finer, more spiritual purposes may be atrributed to romantic love, it still has very strong remnants of calculative mate selection that evolution has built into us.

In short, love being blind is probably an exception, not a rule. And arranged marriages is formalizing and institutionalizing the non-blind variety of love !

[ Thanks to Marginal Revolution for the pointer ]

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