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As the volatile Western political world plunges deeper into xenophobia and nativism, empathy is ever more at risk.Dismissive and stigmatizing caricatures of cultural differences can be — and often are — enlisted to cast migrants and people in diasporic communities as lesser or somehow not worthy of respect.But as the British psychotherapist Adam Phillips has observed, the romantic euphoria we feel towards a desired partner is not always derived from our knowledge of them, but from prior expectations of meeting someone like them: In [T]he person you fall in love with really is the man or woman of your dreams; … You recognize them with such certainty because you already, in a certain sense, know them; and because you have quite literally been expecting them, you feel as though you have known them for ever, and yet, at the same time, they are quite foreign to you. This sense of dreamed-up familiarity inspires people to pursue real intimacy. It is hard to universalize notions of love because it is such a dynamic, delicate and complicated experience.What Western observers often forget is that people of other cultures are constantly carrying out subtle transgressions against the lazy stereotypes in which they are viewed.The prevalent Western perception of illegitimacy is unwarranted, based both on ignorance of arranged marriage and on a lack of insight into Western norms.Badiou criticizes both libertinism (superficial and narcissistic) and arranged-marriage practices (empty of that organic, spontaneous, and unsettling desire that inspires emotional transgressions).By distinguishing forced and arranged marriages, we can begin to see an overlap of the cultural logics that underpin arranged marriages and "modern" match-making practices.
The meetings serve as prelude to family discussions that culminate in a decision by the couple.The philosopher and cultural theorist Slavoj Žižek subscribes to similar ideas about arranged marriages, referring to them as a "pre-modern procedure." When it comes to the view of arranged marriage in the West, Badiou and Žižek offer relatively genteel criticisms.Popular and learned representations of the practice almost always associate it with honor killings, acid attacks, and child marriages.The social reality we are raised in shapes our freedom to choose partners, even to feel desire.For Badiou, love becomes meaningful when it is subsumed under anti-consumerist politics. Couples in arranged marriages often find romance in family-initiated introductions because it speaks to their broader value system.