On the whole, the process of engagement and matrimony creates a modernized version of Rubin’s gift economy.
A beautiful daughter in good standing with refined social graces can allure a suitor of greater status.
Families seek to match children with families of equal or greater monetary wealth and reputation among the community, creating a mini-kinship, or “system of categories and statuses” amid Los Angeles, (p 34, Traffic in Women).
Lower economic status can be justified if the son is being professionally groomed for success in, for example, medical school.
The second-generation, Jewish-Iranian community of Los Angeles, concentrated heavily in the San Fernando Valley and the West Side, serves as the cross-sector of customary Persian tradition and Western influence.
The weight of future marriage eligibility, stringent and theological moral codes, as well as double-standards among sons and daughters, pushes deviant behavior into the shadows of secrecy, while simultaneously creating a contradictory modern sub-culture of dating rituals.
Thus, a society of whispers, hear-say and superficial observation serves to keep members well-informed of each others’ social standing and eligibility.
Additionally, this explicit gossip network serves to regulate the younger generation, as sons and daughters monitor and adjust themselves to make the appropriate appearance for respective families.
Though traditional Iran explicitly exchanged women as gifts, second-generation daughters are exchanged implicitly—a daughter is not forced into an arranged marriage, rather she has free choice among acceptable options, giving her the illusion of free choice altogether.
Although second-generation females do go to college and graduate school, marriage and motherhood are still primary goals.
Thus, daughters are potential prizes for families, who garner social status for every eligible daughter and for every lucrative marriage.
The demands of marriage eligibility also enforce a stringent and theological moral code based on Rubin’s notion of sex negativity, declaring sex in and of itself as sinful unless performed in marriage.