At first glance, these “grounds for divorce” snippets from a 1949 issue of Quick magazine seem funny — but then you read them, and then…
You realize that it’s not funny when a husband controls and limits his wife. Sure, painting a car so that it’s too embarrassing to be seen in it sounds funny (and it sure isn’t flattering to Zona, making her look like a shallow materialistic person), but he has no right to limit her life like that.
And it sure, Tai-chien’s divorce story lends itself to a visual of his four wives disagreeing with his opinion that multiple marriages are OK — providing a punchline worthy of Leno. But Tai-chien broke the law — and probably four hearts too. That’s not so funny, is it.
I don’t believe Chang Tai-Chien broke the law, did he? In Pre-Mao China multiple wives were legal. Unless my Chinese history is not as sharp as I thought it was! Also possible.
I knew right after I published this that I’d likely be nailed for my lack of Chinese marital law history ;)
But I think my point about the “jokes” not being funny still stands because at that time, in those circumstances, women had few marital rights & so the rights to be protected from, during and post divorce likely lead to very un-funny situations.