The problem with the concept of arranged marriages is that it’s not a panacea, no more so than marriages made for love. Arranged marriages have a bad reputation because there have been and still are many people who feel obligated or trapped by the arrangements made on their behalf. An arranged marriage does have it’s pros but it only works if the people getting married have a choice and a voice in all aspects of the situation. As Asians, it is right to respect a tradition that has resulted in many successful relationships, but as Asian-Americans, we must also remember that there are a great deal of different options outside of our inherent cultures.
Nowadays, there are still Asian-Americans whose parents believe in tradition and silent offspring. I have peers who trust their parents to make the right choices, and other peers whose parents do not bother to consult their children before offering a narrow selection of suitors.
And of course, an arranged marriage doesn’t compare to girls being sold into slavery, but it doesn’t diminish the suffering of those who are locked into marriages by the possible ostracization and utter disapproval of their entire cultural communities, let alone their families.
Arranged marriages are hardly unique. They’ve been occurring all over the world since the beginning of the concept of marriage.They’re still occurring in much of Africa and the Middle East. Asian culture is not alone in carrying this tradition to the 21st century.
And as I pointed out to someone else, just because a marriage does not end in divorce does not mean the marriage is necessarily successful. If one or both spouses are continually unhappy in the relationship, I would mark that marriage as failed. Also, many arranged marriages in which a spouse is not fully committed do not end in divorce because the extent of stigma attached to the concept in his/her culture or community. I know girls who marryied immediately after graduating from high school into marriages with older men w/o the chance to discover their interests or abilities. The concept and tradition of arranged marriages should be respected but it should not be waved around as a cure-all or a good idea based on its status as a tradition. It was tradition to bind the feet of girls in Asia, thus crippling them, and it was tradition to place various items into the genitalia of men in certain South Asian countries centuries ago (for the pleasure of women). I doubt tradition is a good enough reason to support the binding of feet or people into painful positions.
There is no good call for arranged marriages.