One wife – one problem, and two wives…, Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonesia

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Some say that all men are the same. I don’t think so. Uprising and culture sometimes win with the DNA. I love listening how in different countries people talk about gender issues. Semantics says a lot about the true attitude to the person of the other sex, e.g. while the use of words “concubine” and “lover” is quite common for us, in the vocabulary of the Toraja people these terms don’t exist.
When I was on Sulawesi, perhaps the hardest accessible place I visited in my life, my guide with a very exotic name of Josef explained me the intricacies of the family connections of Toraja on the example of his grandfather.
– My grandfather had 23 children, because he had 5 wives. 3 official ones and 2 unofficial.
– What does it mean unofficial?
– Those that had different husbands.
– So they were lovers?
– You call them that. For use they are wives. He loves her, spends nights with her – so it’s a wife.
– And what do the official husband and official wife say to this?
– When the husband has a different wife, the wife can have a different husband. No one holds grudges against anyone.
This is what is called equality! (We recognise the right to equal vote, but what about the right to… lecherous behaviour? J)
– And how many of such wives can he have?
– As many as he can. Do you know how the saying goes? One wife – one problem. Two wives – two problems. But no wife means a thousand problems.
I wonder whether such approach is just as true in all other cultures, only the awareness of this is raised to a different degree… Yes – everywhere there are jokes related to the loss of freedom and the end of carefree life at the time of a wedding. However, in many Asian cultures there is a very strong belief that these problems are NOTHING comparing to the situation where you have no wife or no husband…
Toraja believe that not having a wife is only for the brave and those who like challenges. I find it interesting that also on Rapa Nui, i.e. in the Polynesian culture (even though the island officially belongs to Chile) lack of husband is considered a bad luck, but lack of a wife – as madness. Because the wife is a “rock” and “someone who pushes you in the right direction”.
Rapa Nui people think that without a woman a man is completely disorganised – will spend all he earns on drinks, and he will not earn much, because all day he is just having a good time.
And in Poland? How is a man’s situation perceived when he is not married?
I still have a feeling that the gender equality is present mostly in the “High Heels” magazine. Often a woman without a husband at a certain age (depending on the environment that certain age varies) is seen as a bit “damaged”, like something is wrong with her, nobody wants her. And the man? He’s a hero!
I do not know why people rarely realise that it was the woman’s CHOICE, that she decided that no one fits her. And that a man without a woman may also happen by ACCIDENT – because he didn’t have enough luck to meet one he would wish to stay with, and his “heroism” is a little forced by the circumstances.
I very much enjoy observing the views regarding the gender roles and characteristics, because they show me that there isn’t one right or applicable to everywhere. And that (this will be the trivial part) both women and men may not be happy with their current situation (regardless whether they are single or with someone). But most often the woman is additionally burdened by the social  discontent or criticism. Because others know best what’s good for her…
It was supposed to be about Toraja, but once again it turned out to be about women…

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