As singer Haddaway put it, ‘What is Love?’ We know for sure that love comes in a variety of forms, whether it is platonic, romantic, familial or devotion of religion it all boils down to affection. But today I want to focus on romantic love, more specifically the culture that surrounds it.
As the reader of The Rock, would it be wrong to assume that you all understand romantic love, whatever gender, to be between two people. Our western culture typically set out our love lives following the rules of serial monogamy – the practice of only having one partner at a time until the next person comes along or you’ve found someone you plan on sticking around for.
Without thinking about it for most this is common sense, it’s something you’re taught from such a long time ago, it is difficult to imagine a different way of thinking. Deviance from serial monogamy, labelled as cheating or being a ‘player’ isn’t generally acceptable. Even the law is on side of those who do not become grifters of the love world – with bigamy, to be married multiple people, as legal offence.
We all know this; however we are all perfectly aware that in other countries and cultures they don’t play by the same rules. With polyandry and polygyny being legal across many parts of the world, we accept that other cultures are different.
But what happens when two people from other cultures cross paths, and find love despite their lifestyle differences.
I have a friend who fell into this situation. We shall call Jane.
Jane was taking a gap year in Tanzania, and during this time worked closely with members of the Massai tribesmen. After over a year of working with one man in particular, let’s call him John, Jane and John became very close and fell for each other. For most, this should be a time of celebration. But with both of them risking their jobs to be with each other, only if they were deadly serious, and marriage was on the cards, would this be acceptable.
This is where the cracks began to show.
As a Massai tribesman, who had already married once, he would have taken Jane on as an additional wife. If Jane committed to John then she would already be committing herself to the entire family. This includes the first wife and their children, John’s old mother, the potential for another wife to join in the fun, and last, but not least, the chance of John having more children with new wives.
This proposes the life changing situation where cultural sides are taken, or a compromise is made. Unfortunately this is problem situation leaves almost only black and white options, so a middle ground is going to be difficult to find.
What would you do?
Jane chose her culture. The differences between love, marriage and sex were very different concepts for John, whereas for Jane, and most westernised people, they are far too intertwined to separate. This begs the question, can cross a cultural relationship ever exist without someone having to give up part of themselves? And is it too much to ask?
It would take a very strong person to be able to do that, and it is a life changing question to be put forward to anyone. Of course, circumstances are vital, but I couldn’t do it – and now I’ve said that I am destined to fall for a smart handsome tribesman myself.
The Bournemouth Rock student paper.
See original copy below:
I don’t shop in Hollister. This could be because there aren’t any outlets in the whole of the South West. It could be because I didn’t buy that many branded clothes because I couldn’t afford them. Either way, why do I know so many people care about a shop that I hadn’t even heard of until my college years?
I also know people will hand over a sizable amount of their cash just to have the nine letter word splashed across their body. There is the obvious theory, to wear a brand because it’s expensive and you want people to know that you live in luxury so you cover the product in this label to make sure it’s clear everybody can see it.
Obviously, businesses need their branding, and if we are so taken by it – well done marketing, your job here is done. The question is, when has a company’s brand been taken too far. The brand no longer becomes an aspiration but a real life inequality.
Walking into many high street shops, whether clothing or technology, the store workers are likely to be covered in their products. This is understandable that once starting, as a business you want your employees to do their best for the company, but it is right to start hiring like this.
Hollister is known for their attractive store attendants with many shoppers referring to them more like super models than shelf stackers. These beautiful creatures amongst us mere mortals, display the stunning life you could lead, if only you were slathered in our branded clothing. But let’s back up a minute, why are only the ‘beautiful’ hired while the rest of us look on longingly? As much as keeping in tone with the brand, why are the lookers the only ones hired? Is this not discrimination? In any other working environment you must not hire on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, age or race – so surely attractiveness must also not be seen as a legitimate reason not to hire somebody?
Emma Hawksworth was recently approached whilst shopping in a Hollister outlet in Brighton.
“I went in the store as a customer and was at the tills when one of the store managers asked if I was interested in a job there. He gave me his name and store details and took my phone number. I had been at my other job all day and was still in my uniform”
Now Emma is an attractive young woman, but for a store to approach her, even in her supermarket work uniform, and offer the opportunity of a job without any prior knowledge of her previous experience or work ethic s– seems a bit unjust, no?
The same happened for Student Room user Arielle; “I was asked to work in Hollister over Christmas for no reason whatsoever. They just said they’d seen me in the shop and they were wondering if I could work with them as I looked like I would fit in.”
You’d think somewhere along the lines, Hollister would get a slap on the wrist for this type of employment policy but there is a loophole. As a parent company to Hollister, Abercrombie and Fitch define their staff members as ‘models’, allowing them to use an employee’s looks to their advantage. Models protect and project the image of the brand through personal style, providing customer service and maintaining presentation standards. It is this ‘look policy’ which has saved its bacon a few times now.
Back in June 2009, a disabled girl successfully sued Abercrombie and Fitch for a store manager trying to cover up her prosthetic arm – as it did not fit in with their ‘look policy’. Riam Dean, a 22-year-old law student from west London, told the tribunal she was removed from the shop floor at the company’s Savile Row branch when management became aware of her disability. Riam consequentially left A&F because of the ill treatment she received.
The way somebody looks should not be a justifiable excuse to discriminate, we all know this, and it’s a human right!
Admittedly, the hiring process does not only work on an immediate employment. As noted by recent employee Emma Hawksworth “I don’t feel they hire staff purely on looks – a firm needs people who can competently do the job required or else they would get nowhere.”
I can’t disagree with Emma, of course if these ‘models’ were only competent for their looks the company would probably run itself into the ground. Nevertheless, the interview procedure is profoundly started on hiring because of somebody’s appearance, and in Riam’s case, the reason why she left.
The Rock is the Bournemouth University’s new newspaper. It has been completely
remodelled from the earlier paper that was circulated around the campus last year. I hope to be a regular columnist for The Rock and help out with some editorial roles. I’ll put the link for the website up as soon it’s finalised.