Saturday, August 29, 2020

Wakanreo, world without castes

One reason I enjoy setting my stories in fantasy worlds, or in the far future is that it lets me create the world itself-- not only the geography, but the culture. I especially like to try different dynamics as far as gender, sometimes making men and women equal and sometimes giving more power to one sex or the other. 

But when I created the Wakanreo trilogy that begins with Alien Bonds, I took my world building to a new level. The aliens known as Wakanreans are unique in my far future universe because they mate for life from a pure biological reaction. I was reminded of this recently when I was reading a couple of recent articles about the new Netflix show "Indian Matchmaking." I saw the first one in the Washington Post. It described how many Indian families still rely on old-style matchmakers who connect people looking for spouses. In fact, 90 percent of marriages in India are arranged, I found that statistic amazing. 

The thing is, when these marriages are arranged, they almost always result in couples from the same caste marrying, which reinforces India's strict caste system. Many countries have stratified levels of society based on wealth, occupation, and such, but India's system comes from the Hindu religion and not only assigns names to castes but treats the stratification as being justified by the will of their gods,

Then I saw a second article in my news feed; this one, from Al Jazeera was also about the same Netflix show but it mentioned that Indian Muslims practice arranged marriages and that they use them to also practice "classism, ethnocentrism, and colourism."  So, even though it wasn't part of their religion, these folks were relying on arranged marriages to maintain the same kind of stratification that a caste system imposes.

And of course, in the Western world, many people use online dating apps to screen prospective partners for compatibility, not only of temperament but also income, race, and looks, so I can't claim it's purely an Indian thing. 

Finding a life partner is a serious matter, Some people stay single from choice, some from despair after a bad relationship, and some because they're waiting for the right person to walk into their lives. In Alien Bonds, I created a society where every adult is either paired off  (or every now and then, in a permanent threesome) or waiting to be paired off, based on a reaction beyond his or her control. This system has advantages and disadvantages for individuals, but one side effect is, there are no castes, no aristocrats, no stratification of society.


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