Meredith and relationships also shed light on Small’sideas regarding

Meredith Small views marriage as a union that establishes a couple as a family. Smallacknowledges that there are many differences in marriage ceremonies and traditions around theworld, but ultimately she feels that the purpose of marriage is to align two families together andestablish a formal process for the couple to have children together (Small 34-36). While Smalldoesn't discount love in marriage and sexual relations entirely, she supports the idea that loveisn’t necessarily involved in these two actions.In chapter 5 of Nisa, Nisa discuses her experiences with trial marriages and offersevidence that both support and refute Meredith Small’s views. The !Kung people typicallyarrange marriage for daughters at a very young age and offer these young girls to men who areoften 10 years older. Nisa’s family forced several trial marriages on her, but she was often veryresistant to their arrangements. For instance, Nisa’s parents first arranged a marriage with a mannamed Bo. The !Kung marriage ceremony is typically marked by gift giving between thefamilies, the building of a hut for the new couple to sleep in, and an oil rubbing ceremony in themorning. Nisa questioned her parents requests and expressed her disinterest in marrying Bo, buther parents ultimately forced her to marry the man. Nisa would often run away from the hut withBo at night to sleep with her parents, especially when Bo began to make love to another womannamed Nuhka. Her parents finally let the marriage be dissolved once the found out about Bo’sinfidelity. Nisa’s experiences in an arranged marriage with Bo illustrate Small’s idea that loveisn’t necessarily involved in marriage.Marriages among the !Kung people closely parallel the mating system among primatesthat Small describes in her book. Small writes how primates, such as chimpanzees, choose theirmates based on the ability of the male to provide food, protection, and other resources for afamily. Similarly, Nisa’s family chose her second husband Tsaa for his ability to provide meatand other resources for Nisa and her family. However, when Nisa wouldn’t show love towardsTsaa, he became frustrated and began to stop supplying resources to her family. Shostak explainshow Nisa’s father, Gau, became angry when Tsaa refused to provide him with food and said, “Iam her father, and me you don’t refuse…tomorrow, when you wake, you will take all your thingsand you will go” (Shostak 119). Gau’s reaction show how yet again love was not involved in themarriage and the marriage was really only established for Tsaa to provide resources to the family,similar to the primates that Small described.Lastly, Nisa’s experiences with marriage and relationships also shed light on Small’sideas regarding monogamy and polygamy. Meredith Small believes that monogamy is a culturalideal that has evolved from human mating systems, but in reality humans are biologicallydesigned for polygamy. In the !Kung people’s culture it is common for both men and women tohave many different spouses over the course of a lifetime. Additionally, it is also common forpeople to have several lovers at the same time. These cultural behaviors clearly indicatepolygynous tendencies. While Nisa did marry several men over the course of her lifetime, shepreferred to be monogamous in that she only wanted to be married to a man who was devoted toher and not to other co-wives. For instance, Nisa expressed her love for Kantla, but she refusedto marry him because he was married to another young girl at the same time. Nisa’s actionsrefute both Small’s ideas that love isn’t involved in marriage and the idea that humans arenaturally polygynous. Nisa was raised in a society that accepted polygamy, but refused to marrya man that wasn’t interested in monogamy.2. In my mind, Nisa’s stories support Laura Bohannon’s quote that “Human nature is prettymuch the same the whole world over.” Although the life experiences and the tragedies Nisa facedare rather uncommon and extreme, Nisa illustrates how regardless of her upbringing she stilldesired to reproduce, raise a family, experience loving relationships and obtain resources for hersurvival. Nisa’s cultural background involved prearranged marriages, multiple spouses, earlyexposure to sexual behavior and beliefs in a unique spirit world, yet her words and actions showthat she is no different then you and me. It is innate for humans to have a strong desire for sexualbehavior, a will to acquire food and shelter to support a family, and to experience feelings of loveand sadness throughout various life experiences. Shostak writes, “Sex is often referred to as food:just as people cannot survive without eating, the !Kung say, hunger for sex can cause people todie” (211). While the !Kung people’s views regarding sex may be drastic, at the very core ofhuman nature is a desire for sex, which Shostak’s recollection depicts clearly. Nisa’s accounts ofher experiences with !Kung people illustrate that human nature doesn’t vary as a result ofdifferent cultural upbringings and thus supports Laura Bohannons idea that human nature is thesame throughout the world.3. While several aspects of the !Kung people’s culture came as a shock to me, two distinctinstances stood out the most. In the beginning of the book, Nisa’s memory regarding her babybrother came as an instant shock to me. Nisa recalls the day her mother gave birth to her babybrother, Kumsa. After giving birth to the child, Nisa’s mother told her to fetch a digging stick sothey could burry the baby. Nisa’s mother claimed that she wanted to burry the baby so she shouldcontinue to nurse Nisa (54-56). She said, “My heart’s not happy that she hasn't any milk todrink…I want her bones to grow strong” (56). I was shocked by the mother’s willingness to killone child just so she could only focus all of her nurture on the other child. Additionally, not onlywas the brutality of the mother’s intended actions alarming, but the fact that she was not afraid ofthe potential consequences that could arise from killing her own child was shocking as well.Another aspect of Nisa’s life that both amazed and shocked me was how the !Kungpeople exposed their children to sex. Shostak writes from Nisa’s perspective, “At night, when achild lies beside her mother, in front, and her father lies down behind and her mother and fathermake love, the child watches” (97). Essentially, the !Kung people would have sex in front of theirchildren and as the children grow older they became aware of what is actually going on.Additionally, the parents allow the young children to begin to play with each other sexually at avery young age as they begin to understand what their parents are doing at night. Nisa’sexperiences of sex came as shock to me because our society is not nearly as openly expressiveregarding sexual behavior, especially when it comes to children.4. While Nisa has had a variety of life experiences that are drastically different than myown, I still felt that towards the end of the book I began to connect with Nisa on a much morepersonal level. Nisa has experienced a life of hardship and tragedy that I am almost certain I willnever have to face. She was married to 5 different men over the course of her life, she hadseveral additional lovers, she dealt with multiple miscarriages and the deaths of her children, andexperienced cultural ideals that I am not accustomed to. However, in chapter 15, I realized thatNisa truly desired one thing and that is a family that loves and cares for her. I began to empathizewith her desire to raise a family and obtain a significant other who loves her. When discussingher frustration with having children, Nisa said, “God refused to help me with children… I gavebirth many times, but he killed them all. He could have left just one” (260). Although Nisa wasraised in a different culture, she valued family ideals and wanted to raise children of her own,which is something that I value and society as a whole values. Additionally, Nisa also expressedhow she desired someone who loved her and illustrates this when she recalls the time she tried torun away from her husband Bo in the Tswana truck (265). Nisa had become dissatisfied with Bobecause he wasn’t interested in having sex with her anymore, so Nisa decided to make love toDede, a man she loved very much. When Bo found out and fought Dede and Nisa, Nisa decidedto run away. While I have never dealt with the same situation Nisa had, Nisa’s recollectiondisplays her desire to love another individual who shares that same love for her. In theseexperiences, it became apparent that Nisa was very similar to me. Although her life experiencesand culture are very different than mine, Nisa desired to be able to love children of her own andhave a spouse who showed that love back to her.Works CitedShostak, Marjorie. Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman. Routledge, 2015Small, Meredith F. What's Love Got to Do with It?: the Evolution of Human Mating. AnchorBooks/Doubleday, 1996.

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