Tuesday, February 21, 2006

divorce and CMC

for all the SMS fans in the crowd:

in saudi, traditional law dictates that should a man desire to divorce his wife, he does so by telling her, thrice, that he divorces her. it's your prototypical performative. apparently there's been a string of men texting this divorce message to their wives, thrice, and the law has no idea whether to allow it.

i can't find any articles on the topic that aren't written in arabic, but malaysia and singapore, who have similar divorce procedures, have already had to consider this in the courts.

i don't want to belittle the issue by comparing it to dumping your girlfriend over myspace, so i won't.

Comments:
i'm actually kind of surprised that such a traditional act is performed through such a contemporary medium.
 
Well, in a way it seems like it should be just as legitimate as saying it to their face - it's still a direct line of communication. Which is where it's different from the myspace dump - because I assume you're referring to dumping someone by changing your relationship status, presumably without telling them? Or do you mean actually sending them a myspace message/comment?

Anyway, if you can end a divorce just by telling someone 3 times that you want to and then you magically end up in happy divorceland Kansas, I don't see why it should be different to text someone 3 times the same message. Actually, it becomes more tangible and proveable (? a word?) that way; maybe some women are frightened of the possibilities because of its permanence.

Of course, I don't know anything about lots of cultural issues concerning marriage/sex roles/textiquette that I'm sure are heavily at play.
 
oh, using the myspace instant message/email function - the "your ex was last logged in at x time/date" message letting you know just when they got the message.

putting it into actual text *does* seem like it would legitimate it even more. to me, anyway. i think what's more at play is how SMS brings with it ideas of modernity, and certainly of the west, that might not mesh so well with the traditional practice.
 
myspace also tells you whether a message has been read or not, point blank. major potential for shouting "snap!" there.
 
no way, really?

well then. that too.
 
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