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Gypsy Wedding


duplessis3

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I''ve been watching the series via Youtube and I am struck about how, even though the girls dress sexy, their lives in every aspect are as constrained as any other woman living in a patriarchal system. The girls that work are rare and wonderful. And I have never seen anything as heartbreaking as a 13 yr old girl, pulled out of school because her older sisters got married, so that she can raise the children, cook and clean, weeping her eyes out. (And the idea of trying to fit her sister's enormous wedding dress into her trailer...)

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I know. It's very disturbing that they willfully keep the children ignorant by forcing them to drop out of school. On tonight's episode one woman said she considered it alright for cousins to marry. I thought, "Hang on. Did we time travel back to the 19th century?."

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I've been totally GLUED to that show for the past few weeks! I mean, I know they keep it under the radar and they move all the time so it's hard to keep records, but how is it even possible to keep 11, 12, 13-year-old kids out of school?! I just love how they're pretty much fundie with defrauding clothes. It's just... hard to process all the dissonance! :shock:

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I've been getting into it via YouTube. The level of illiteracy was another thing that shocked me. On bride-to-be mentioned that she didn't feel it particularly necessary to be able to read or write beyond perhaps noting down the time and date of a doctor's appointment. Cut to another girl who had a job and had been allowed to continue school who took her friends out to play paintball. She was left with the task of filling out everybody's forms as she was the only one who had the ability to do so.

Another thing was the grabbing ritual, wherein the boys in some communities will pick up or drag off some unsuspecting girl for a kiss. The way these girls screamed and asked to be let down - and the complete disregard on the part of the boys - was pretty difficult to watch.

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I just caught my first episode on TLC tonight. All I can say is WOW. The paradoxes in the lifestyle are mindboggling, but what can one expect from uneducated people living on the fringes of society.

I read a post on TWOP about a teacher who had a parent pull her Traveller son out of her 3rd grade class because they were concerned that too much knowledge might literally make his head explode.

Really.

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I watched the last season of Project Runway. One of the designers, Mike Costello, was from an American Rom family. Apparently he married young, is the father of two children and is now divorced and has custody of his son but is cut off from his daughter. Micheal Costello is gay and finally came out to his family. I can't imagine how tough it would be to be gay in that culture.

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When I watch this show on TLC, I keep trying to find something to like about the Traveller culture and I keep failing.

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Cut to another girl who had a job and had been allowed to continue school who took her friends out to play paintball. She was left with the task of filling out everybody's forms as she was the only one who had the ability to do so.

I wonder how she is viewed within the community in terms of more or less desirable for marriage, given the wide variety of skills she has as compared to the other girls her age.

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I literally opened FJ this morning to write about how the gypsy reminded me of fundies. Glad I wasn't the only one. Last nights episode where they said the normal age for a girl to marry was 16 blew my mind. There was no way when I was 16 that I was ready to get married. And the girl who was 22 and had a job said that she was almost too old to get married. I can't remember the name of the place they all meet up every year something apple or other but it was a meat market for the boys to pick out a girl and so are weddings. I would just end up skipping all social events if the only purpose was to find a husband/wife. And the fact that girls live with their parents until the day of their wedding and then are expected to leave there family and sometimes move countries to be with the husband.

They are backwards in a crazy way, men and women can't sit together at the reception because (I wish I had actually taken notes but I caught the rerun at like midnight) men need to be with men to be manly. I hope our crazy fundies never hear of that. I can see doug or others implementing that in weddings.

Sorry this is so long winded but it struck a crazy nerve with me .

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I watched the last season of Project Runway. One of the designers, Mike Costello, was from an American Rom family. Apparently he married young, is the father of two children and is now divorced and has custody of his son but is cut off from his daughter. Micheal Costello is gay and finally came out to his family. I can't imagine how tough it would be to be gay in that culture.

I've watched a few of these shows and their male & female roles are so stereotyped that a fellow literally could NOT be gay in that culture. He would have to leave. No choice.

The men are "manly men" (tm Doug) and the women are touch-me-not sex objects until their wedding day after which they become household drudges.

I'm waiting to hear from some escapees. There must be some somewhere.

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Hi everyone. Having migrated here from STC I am finally delurking just to join in this discussion, because my hubs and I are actually Rromani Gypsies (as well as being Catholics, hence my presence in lurkdom here), so hopefully this is a chance to put a few things straight. I followed this thread on the old board too and there were some great posts from some people there who obviously had a great deal of understanding of our culture. I felt very grateful for them. But most people don't understand, and it is partly our fault, because we are so private, so there are a lot of misconceptions, which this show didn't really help to dispel. But there were some truths too. I will try not to be a board hog, I promise, as I try tell you a bit about what we are really like.

Can I first say that the TV show Gypsy Weddings is very misrepresentative of the traveller culture as a whole. For one thing it only really focuses on one group, the Pavees (Irish Gypsies). There are many, many different groups of Gypsies, tho as we're all different races, rather than just separate groups, we prefer to identify ourselves by the name of the race we're from, not just the generic term Gypsy. We're Rromanies, our grandparents moved to England where we live now, just before the second world war, from Calabria in Italy. We don't like to be called travellers. Anyone can be a traveller. We have a word for them ... "widjos", which means, people who travel but aren't Gypsies.

Some of the things shown on the show do ring true, for example, as you so rightly say, the way that the roles of our men and women mirror those of Fundie couples (tho while I'm happily in submission to my hubs, in point of fact he dotes on me and treats me like a princess, as is the tradition), then also the fact that we often have large families, and that we marry young, and that we have no problem with cousins marrying (in fact my hubs and I are indeed first cousins, in our culture, we see this as a way of ensuring the purity of the future generations, and marrying "out" is still frowned upon, tho my sister has married a Gawdja (non Rromani) man and rejected our culture completely. But there are some things that aren't the same. We don't engage in "grabbing" (tho we do expect the men to do all the "chasing" when we court), in fact we were as surprised to see this, as yourselves, and we would never dress as provocatively as the girls on the show, at least once we're married (the traditional dress for a monisha (wife) is pretty much as for Fundie women, very modest, long skirts, long hair, head covered, tho if I'm honest, most of us just dress ordinary now, I do have the long hair, but I wear trousers and don't cover my head) however we differ in that we do "adorn" ourselves with a lot of jewellery (it was traditionally important to us to wear our sunakai (gold) as a symbol of our success, being as we wouldn't have had the other outward material trappings of wealth like a house to show out with instead. Obviously tho traditionally too our horses were a big status symbol and this really carries on today with the car. Also, we keep our hair put up, when we are in public, as it is considered to be impure, to show it off to a man other than your husband. Before you marry the rules are much more relaxed about how you can dress. Our weddings are quite big affairs, with lots of guests, food, music and dancing, but we don't dress in enormous puffy dresses (I wore a traditional Indian wedding outfit to my wedding, in honour of the fact that we are originally of Indian descent). We don't exchange rings when we marry, but necklaces (tho this is done before the ceremony as part of our courtship) but my hubs bought me one anyway, not that long ago in fact, because he doesn't like the idea that Gawdja people don't realise I belong to him if I have no wedding ring on. After we marry yes it is expected that the woman stays at home and the husband goes out to work. We differ again here in that my hubs doesn't work because he has an illness that means he isn't able to, so I do. That means we also can't live in a varda (trailer), because in the part of the country we come from, there is no proper atchin tan (place to stop) and as the laws in England about "unlawful assembly" mean beshing (stopping) on an illegal site is always a very temporary thing. Our trailers are not the same as the ones you think of when you hear the word Gypsy - we don't live in wooden bow top wagons! Also, the trailers that you see in trailer parks, are not Gypsy trailers. A trailer is wheeled, and pulled by a (nowadays) car. It is not static. The ones in trailer parks we call "park homes". In fact I have never lived in a varda (tho my parents obviously did before I was born, as things were much easier back then) but my hubs was born in one and lived the traditional Rromani life, speaking only our language, Rromanes, at home. Our language is based on Indian, but uses a lot of English words too, we call it the "poggadi chib" and don't usually speak it anywhere except at home. You won't hear it spoken at all on the TV show. Hubs was "homeschooled" along with his 4 brothers and has never set foot in a school but he did not learn to read or write until he was 30, when I taught him. The reason we don't value formal education much is because in our culture, the sort of work you're going to do to make a living is likely to be manual and therefore being formally educated isn't considered necessary (hubs is a Roofer by profession). You tend to also work in the profession of your family, so finding a job isn't really a problem, tho if someone hears you're a Gypsy it can be. Rromani fowki see ALL life experience as education and we believe that you carry on learning throughout life, that you never stop being taught things and that you must always respect your elders, as they are wiser than you and will always have something you can learn from them. Also if you're moving around a lot it is very difficult to settle at school, especially given the prejudice that we experience when we do go. It makes you feel very marginalised, so not going and staying with your family where you feel accepted, is more attractive. Having said that, I did go to school and so did our daughter, who has just finished her first year at university. We're very proud indeed of her.

We are very protective of our culture, which is why there are so many misconceptions, and also very private. We don't actually want everyone to know about how we live. Family is everything to us and as we have big families (ours is huge, spread all across the North East of England) we don't ever really feel a need to move outside the circle of who and what we know. It is hard to explain all this to Gawdja people because not being one, I can only see how it is from within our culture, and it is all so familiar to me, that to look at it from the "outside" is impossible. But I do know that the Gypsy Wedding TV show only shows a kussi wee snapshot of Gypsy life in the modern world. I could say so much more, but I think I've probably taken up far too much room already! Dewel te parako, mandi kushka pralyia, san doshta komli fowki.

PS - a few fun facts you might like to know ... we don't all tell fortunes (we just pretend we can), we don't like to have furry animals or real flowers in our homes because we believe they are dirty and naslo bok (bad luck), we do keep all our washing facilities separate (I do 4 loads of laundry a day as a result and have 4 separate sorts of cleaning cloth for my housework), our homes are indeed immaculate (we'd be so ashamed if they weren't, we wouldn't be able to face our family or neigbours), we never eat hedgehogs, my husband has never tarmacked a drive in his life, and I don't ride horses (it isn't considered ladylike for rakliya (women) to ride them!). Oh I could go on, but I won't! Thank you for reading anyways. Love, Mami Bear xxxxx

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Welcome Mami Bear! I hope you can stick around as this subject isn't going to go away any time soon. Your culture is so foreign to most of us that is amazing to find out about. Somethings would be cleared up if you could stick around.

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Guest Anonymous

Thank you for sharing all of that! I have always been very interested in the Rromani and Roma people, so I found all of this extremely interesting!

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Thank you for the welcome! As I said above in Rromanes, you are all very nice people here ... I am happy to stick around, as it feels so good to be around other people who aren't afraid to speak up against prejudice, misunderstanding and ignorance. It doesn't matter who we are, where we come from or what the injustices are, we're united as one when it comes to speaking for the truth! Mami Bear xxxx :)

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My family is Irish (I'm American-born), though not Traveller, and I never actually believed the things my cousins said about them. After watching the Gypsy Wedding series? I see they weren't kidding.

The thing that really disturbed me - other than the "girls quit school to take care of siblings and clean" and "everyone is pretty much illiterate" things - was the sexualization of the little girls. At some party or other, there's girls who are not even tweens in midriff-baring outfits and makeup, grinding away to the music. *shudder*

My Tivo now has a season pass for the show, BTW. I just find it so SAD - these girls, on the whole, don't seem to even want to get married. It's just what they're expected to do, and there's no alternatives, so they do it. I did like Violet Anne, who worked for a cake-maker.....until she got married, and then she stayed in the mobile home cleaning all day, and seemed to hate it, but hey, what else was she going to do?

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The clothing and emphasis on chastity doesn't surprise me at all. You can't determine anyone's sexual activity by their clothing. And short of a chastity belt, there is no clothing that can either prevent sex or make a girl have sex. Nor can clothing determine how likely a woman/girl is to use protection. Granny panties come off or stay on just as easily as a lace thong. It's certainly not hypocritical or even unusual for a girl to wear tight clothing and still choose abstinence. Everyone has a right to say no. So can we just stop this judging by clothes already?

It actually makes sense that women and girls in this culture dress in revealing clothes. It's really no different than the Duggars and other fundies, in that it is always always always about pleasing men. And when your only option in life is to get married, you either advertise and get married young or you end up living with your parents forever.

All that being said, keep in mind that ALL "reality" tv comes with a very heavy dose of selective editing.

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:text-welcomeconfetti:

I ask this with all due respect. I am just curious.

Have there ever been any genetic disorders arise because of cousin to cousin marriages?

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One thing that does bother me about this show seems to be that they are focused on one particular Irish Traveler community, for the most part. I am sure there are other communities who value their privacy, which seems to fall more in line with traditional traveler custom, and have turned away the show. I do wonder if there is a correlation between the more over the top behaviors of the groups featured and the fact they are willing to be featured to begin with.

The outfits these Irish Traveler girls wear really aren't that different from fundie wear at the heart of it. It's almost a "uniform" of a unique culture. It clearly indicates that someone is one of the group. The clothing is also a bit, in my opinion, of "plumage" as it were, like peacock. It's all designed to attract attention. The Travelers' clothing draws attention to the feminine, not unlike the fundie skirts.

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Guest Anonymous
:text-welcomeconfetti:

I ask this with all due respect. I am just curious.

Have there ever been any genetic disorders arise because of cousin to cousin marriages?

I read somewhere that the risk of genetic disorder from 1st cousins marrying is 4% vs 2% for unrelated couples.

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Guest Anonymous
One thing that does bother me about this show seems to be that they are focused on one particular Irish Traveler community, for the most part. I am sure there are other communities who value their privacy, which seems to fall more in line with traditional traveler custom, and have turned away the show. I do wonder if there is a correlation between the more over the top behaviors of the groups featured and the fact they are willing to be featured to begin with.

I would agree with this hypothesis.

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Hermione, yes, there is a slightly increased risk of genetic disorders in the children of 1st cousins, but it is only a very small increased risk.

Please don't anyone here feel you need to apologise for asking questions like this ... I agonised for a long time about posting on this thread, but then decided that really and truely you guys had a right to know that our culture is not all as Gypsy Weddings has portrayed it to be, and that if I was going to say as much, then I also needed to be really honest about it, and not gloss over the facts. And that this might mean, getting comments or questions, that may be uncomfortable for me. But so. It is far easier, to respond here, than it is when I get asked these same things, at work or wherever. In point of fact I rarely share anything about our culture to anyone face to face, so you guys are the priveliged few!

There was a programme on TV here in England about cousin marriages not long ago (I can't post a thread, as it doesn't work any more, I have tried before and failed but it was on Channel 4 and called, unsurprisingly, "When Cousins Marry") and it highlighted there, the high number of cousin marriages (as many as 50%) in the Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities here, and the correspondingly higher rate of birth defects than in the population as a whole. I know that in many states in America first cousin marriage is illegal, but here in England it isn't (tho hubs and I had to marry in a registry office). The incidence of birth defects in children born to cousins is only very slightly higher than in the normal population (off the top of my head, something like 0.3%). We are not the only married cousins in our family, but I know of no birth defects at all. That said, my husband does have schizophrenia (which is why he cannot work). I am not sure if there is a link with this. I believe our grandparents were married cousins also, and we actually "met" and became a couple, at the wedding of 2 more of our cousins.

There are good things about being married cousins - the shared past, the shared values, the fact that we already knew all our inlaws. And yes I suppose there is possibly an element of "genetic sexual attraction" in that we do look very similar (my boss once saw a photo of my hubs on my desk and thought he was my brother. I took this as a compliment!).

There are lots of famous cousin couples in history, Queen Victoria & Prince Albert, Charles Darwin & Emma Wedgwood, Albert Einstein & Elsa Lowethal, Edgar Allen Poe & Virginia Clemm, plus of course many examples in literature (I am currently reading Mansifeld Park). So we are definitely not alone! I wouldn't recommend it to everyone (some of my other cousins positively annoy me, especially the ones that are also my brothers in law LOL) but for us, it works well. We feel that our relationship has a special closeness because of it, but we don't feel that it is in any way unnatural. In truth, I don't actually tell a lot of people that I'm married to my cousin, for the obvious reasons. But we're happy. Very happy!

Keep those questions coming ... but I'm off to watch Kung Fu Panda now ... water chestnut, anyone?

Love, Mami Bear xxxx

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he doesn't like the idea that Gawdja people don't realise I belong to him if I have no wedding ring on.

No offense, but I'm officially creeped out.

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When I started watching the show, I realized that this isn't really a "wedding show" the way the other ones are (Say Yes To The Dress, Bridezillas, etc.). I think they just pitched the show as a wedding show, and the network picked it up as a wedding show, but the actual documentary is about THIS particular community, the people in it, and how they view their own lifestyle. I mean, there's usually a wedding, and a girl getting ready for a wedding, but it's a more minor part of the show, to my way of thinking.

I'm not objecting to girls dressing sexy - I'm finding it beyond creepy that eight year olds are dressing like grown women and simulating sex acts on a dance floor. But then, I find "Toddlers and Tiaras" so horrifying that I can't even watch it - maybe because I have little girls myself.

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How do the girls brothers feel about their sisters getting grabbed? In a traditional family, shouldn't the brothers want to protect their sister?

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It's that time of year -- I've had two different American Travelers come by my house offering to trim my trees and fix my roof (?it's a brand new roof). My sister says that once you open the door and let one of them talk to you (which I did), you attract them like flies. Thank god the dog thinks they're as sketchy as I do and barks to keep them away.

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