There was a period when I was about twelve when my maternal grandmother came to live with us for a handful of years until she passed away at the age of about eighty. Those weren't bad years - she lived mostly on a bed in the spare room, and when my parents were out, she'd summon me to the foot of her bed and expound on all sorts of matronly wisdom in the fashion that people knowing their time on this earth is drawing to a close do.
During one of these wisdom-imparting sessions, I asked her why she married my grandfather. She gave me a big smile with what teeth she had left, and said quite literally (translated from Chinese):
"He had rice for me to eat."
To understand this statement, we've got to look at the situation during which my grandmother was out looking for a husband. World War Two in the Pacific had just drawn to a close, with the Japanese having withdrawn from much of South-East Asia and the colonial powers reasserting much of their old rule as best as they could. The Japanese troops had commandeered much of the local resources (remember that the main driving force behind their involvement in WW2 was resource acquisition) such as tin, rubber and of course, food for their war efforts. Staples such as rice, sugar, salt, powdered milk and oil were in seriously short supply, and people added sweet potatoes and tapioca to their rice congee to pad it out in much the same way folks used to bake vegetables into their bread. Rationing by the British was carried out in all their territories, and by all accounts they had an easier hand than, say, the French had with the Vietnamese or the Dutch with the Indonesians.
In short, things were pretty sucky and while most people weren't starving, they were nevertheless pretty hungry.
In comes my grandmother. She's about twenty at the moment, since half a decade of war isn't really conducive to people wanting to get married - people tend to put such things off for more peaceful times, y'know. To keep things together during wartime, she worked as a tin panner, panning the local river water for tin in much the same way that a gold panner would pan for gold. (Malaysia was, and still is, one of the world's greatest producers of tin, alongside rubber and palm oil.) The resultant nuggets were then traded for food and other commodities, since the British were still getting back on their feet.
And then she notices my grandfather. He's at least twenty years her senior, a sluice operator on the river (essentially tin panning again, but with a much bigger, mechanised pan). My grandmother honestly didn't give a fuck, since he was heir to a house that overlooked the main commercial street in town, said house also having a plot of good, fertile land attached to it. Dark, loamy soil, a well on the premises...
I think we can see where this is going. My only question is why my grandfather was a still a bachelor at the time despite being so eligible, but I've nothing to go on but my grandmother's version of events. If she's embellished them, well... my mother tells me my grandfather also died at eighty, but he died before I was born. The math seems to add up.
Anyways, they were married within a year, and my grandmother had quit her job as a tin panner to grow vegetables on the plot of land attached to my grandfather's house. It was still back-breaking labour (at that time, what wasn't?), but still easier than being hunched over the riverbank for twelve hours a day watching for the glint of metal in a pan.
In the blink of an eye, my grandmother had become one of the women in town (or so she told me). She got to live in a two-storey wooden house, as opposed to families that were still in two-room homes. She'd traded the back-breaking labour of the women of the day for slightly less back-breaking labour. Market was just a short walk from home down the main street, where she traded off excess vegetables for necessities such as salt and sugar (barter was still common just after the war). Where other families were eating watered-down congee with sweet potatoes floating in it, she had good, thick and salted congee to serve her and her husband. With sesame oil to boot.
She had rice to eat, and I still remember the evil gleam in her wrinkled eyes as she reminsced about how almost all the other ladies in town wanted to be in her position.
Hypergamy in action, folks.
The reason I'm bringing this up is now that I think back on it after having taken the red pill, I recognise a couple of the manosphere concepts highlighted in my grandmother's little tale. Marriage 1.0 and the social contract between men and women, the exchange of sexual currency for productive currency. Hypergamy and Briffault's law.
But more interestingly, it got me wondering if this was a case of hypergamy where it worked, where it was functioning in its societally tempered role instead of the rampant, feral alpha thug-seeking form that the men and women in the manosphere recognise, lament and take advantage or stray away from (depending if PUA or MGTOW). My grandmother may have been attracted to my grandfather for his assets, but I like to think that they eventually grew to love each other, if only because they were stuck together for the rest of their lives. There were a couple of old black-and-white photos still hanging up in the old house when I visited as a child, and I remember that while my grandfather looked tired, at least he seemed content as well.
At the very least, they had enough sex to produce six children, my mother amongst them. Sex for male labour, resources and provision.
My grandmother didn't need to engage in serial monogamy, and wouldn't have been allowed to thanks to the social mores of the day. Faced with his wife and brood, my grandfather went down to the river and willingly slaved away for the next couple of decades, rising from being a mere sluice operator to the leader of his team, then the leader of his shift, reporting directly to middle management of the now-nationalised tin mining company. Y'know, working at this "economic progress" thing, as Cappy Cap points out. My grandmother related with glee how her home was amongst the first to gain electricity, to have a water pump so she could tap water directly into her kitchen instead of ordering one of her children to fetch it from the well. She stayed with him, he worked because she stayed, and this increased his SMV (as it was in the day, his ability to provide) with the additional effect of satiating her hypergamy even as her own SMV declined.
This was what worked; it doesn't now. This was what I was looking for in my blue-pill days, and a broken dream now.
I'm just lying back and enjoying the decline.