Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Dating Caste System

I'm afraid that the clichė “all is fair in love” does not always apply in love's very own prerequisite: dating.

When Carrie said in a SATC episode that New York's class system has been replaced by the Caste System, I cannot help but partly agree on behalf of the Philippine society.

How many guys have forgone chances of asking out the girl of their dreams by saying “she's out of my league”? And just how many girls have stuck up their noses and shunned the baduy, the nerdy and most especially, the poor boy?

As dating is a venue for both parties to get to know each other, lifestyles play a big role in compatibility. Compatibility usually determines whether the parties will move on to the next level, stay behind or just stop dating. Doesn't social status have something to do with our ways of life?

In the Philippine version of the caste system, the difficulty lies more on the shoulders of men than in women. Given that the role of the chief provider has been given to men, more pressure is put on them to meet, if not exceed, the lifestyle that the woman's father was able to provide her. That is why we hear men saying “I cannot date her because I cannot afford her.”
It may be easier for women since family names and income is determined by the man. There may be whispering and eyebrow-raising behind but still, if the man fights for her, then so be it. What the disapproving parents can only do is to take away his trust fund or refuse to give his inheritance.

But earlier, I stressed that I only partly agree that the Caste System exists in the Philippines. Let me explain why. defines Caste System as:

“A system of social stratification in which social position is determined by the family into which a person is born, and change in that position is usually not possible during an individual's lifetime.”

The Caste System was originally part of the ancient Hindu culture. It is very discriminating such that persons of higher castes cannot associate themselves with those of lower castes. The Brahmins, Kshatriyas and the Vaishyas cannot even touch the Shudras (lowest caste performing the most menial of jobs) and much more that they cannot marry them.

Though discrimination based on Caste has been prohibited in India since the late 40s, it's effect is still deeply ingrained in India's culture.

Caste is determined by birth. It doesn't have anything to do with achievements outside of the dictates of one's caste.

This is where I disagree.

Perhaps the Caste System exists in Philippines' upper class society where the Elizaldes marry the Aranetas or the Prietos marry the Lagdameos. These families usually marry those who are born of the same status. Besides, they are not likely to mingle with those belonging to lower classes due to differences in lifestyles. (One is usually labeled a freeloader when seen hanging out with those whose lifestyles he or she cannot afford.)

But in high middle class societies and down to the lowest ones, birth-based castes are loosely observed. It is in these classes where achievements in life matter and where mixed society mingling is possible. This is where self-made millionaires with rags to riches stories end up marrying their Belles. This is where having a Bongkinki or a Bagonggahasa last name will not matter. On second thought, hmm...

I hate the fact that relationships are affected by economic stature but sometimes, it really has something to do with friendships, dating and marriage.

Like, will you ever date someone who dresses like Soulja Boy and brings you to 3 Pinoy Big Sisters Carinderia at Balintawak for dinner?

I'm afraid I won't.

Credits:How does the Hindu Caste System work?
Caste System definition

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