February 11, 2007

"I have decided to remain unmarried because, frankly, divorce and the scrutiny that goes with it scares me."

Says a 24-year-old woman in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia:
"Over the past few years I have witnessed numerous schoolmates of mine as well as family members who have divorced young or have been mistreated by their husbands. After a girl divorces in this country people are anything but kind, and they look at her differently — as if she’s to blame, lacking what it takes to keep a husband and marriage happy. I can’t put myself through that."
A 27-year-old:
"My family and friends always try to change my mind telling me that not all men are the same, but I can’t help but hate them to the extent that I was even reluctant to have children fearing that I might have a son who might one day continue the cycle of violent abuse."
Refusal to marry is a classic tactic in the fight for women's rights. Giving women their rights should be necessary in the defense of marriage, though some people think the opposite is true.

Special problems in Saudi Arabia :
“Technology when used properly can be a positive achievement. However, nowadays many people are living their lives without observing piety,” [said Dr. Parveen Sultana, a Jeddah-based psychologist and marriage counselor.] “I feel that the country needs to get back to Islamic principles in order for the situation to change. Many men’s manipulative attitudes are another reason for the turmoil. They are Islamically permitted to marry up to four women, which they do. The problem begins when they don’t treat them with equality or work to support them, instead marrying professional women who can support them.”...

Salma, an English professor [said,] “At first I was hesitant to talk about the subject of marriage, but I indulged the students. They told me that for some it wasn’t the idea of nuptials that abhorred them [sic]. It was the thought of marrying a Saudi man that they disliked. One girl casually said that her dream is to marry a foreign man, saying that foreigners are more open-minded, romantic, and share in responsibilities as a partner. They don’t become liabilities, she told me. Saudi men tend to be unaffectionate, fickle and just plain selfish.”

18 comments:

Joe said...

Why should she have anything to say about it? Isn't it up to the men of her family to decide her life? Celebrate Diversity and all the quaint local customs of Islam!

Jennifer said...

It is wonderful to see the dawn of awareness in women who've been raised in denial of their own worth.

I've heard many women from many different backgrounds admiring foreign men - often American men. At least American men are celebrated by some people somewhere! It seems they don't often get that acknowledgement here.

Ron said...

4 professional wives? I'm so there dude! Let's see, doctor for aches and pains, pole dancer for regular workouts, professional chef for good eats, and a lawprof for my blogging... :0! I'd have asked for Sarah Silverman too, but that might be an issue there...

The Drill SGT said...

I read he post through before looking at the link. Normally, Ann's Sunday posts are built from the NYT and I was thinking that the article was a change from the standard NYT affirmation of all things Muslim, then of course I discovered that it wasn't the NYT.

I expect the NYT mag to have a series of articles on how liberating it is to be a Muslim feminist and not have to worry about picking a husband or the dating scene. And another article in the Fashion section talking about what's new in black this year and Islamic swim wear. Oh, and have stress free it feels not to have to make clothes decisions every morning. Just go with the black Burqa

Daryl Herbert said...

The culture in a lot of places over there is: Arab men are lazy, and proud of it, and consider white collar office work just as insulting as blue collar labor.

So to hear that they would acquire four professional wives and then kick back--that sounds pretty accurate. The only thing they can't do is send a wife to fetch a beer.

As soon as the religious nuts realize the deliberate failure to marry is part of a feminist agenda, there's going to be trouble for those women. It might even get to the point of being a matter of "honor" that a woman not go unmarried--which means the alternative would mean her own family would murder her.

class-factotum said...

I lived in Chile for two years. Several of the American guys I knew there were able to marry Chilean women -- beautiful and accomplished -- the equivalent of whom they would not been able to marry in the States -- simply because they were American. These guys were able to marry "up." The women wanted American men because American men are the nicest men in the world. I have lived in three foreign countries and traveled extensively. American men treat women better than any other men in the world do.

An American expatriate living in Saudi talks about Saudi parents not wanting their daughters to get married in this post.

PatCA said...

Jennifer and class,

I have traveled in and dated men from various other countries, and I could not agree with you more about American men.

So, this Valentine's Day, I salute you all!

Simon said...

From the story:
"I don’t think it is fair for men to have a list of physical qualifications in mind before meeting their potential bride,” she said. “Many of them tell my father they are looking for a white, thin, pretty girl and even though I am not unattractive, I often ask myself what about the girl’s mind and personality."

If Muslim men are so keen on veiling women head to toe, maybe they ought to live up to that and choose a wife without knowing what she looks like under the veil. But of course, that isn't the point of the veil, is it? The veil - concededly, not when taken voluntarily, but certainly when directly or culturally coerced - isn't about men, it's about supressing women, making them second-class citizens.

Simon Kenton said...

Class factotum wrote:

"I lived in Chile for two years. Several of the American guys I knew there were able to marry Chilean women -- beautiful and accomplished...."

In the north of Chile on Cerro Paranal is the great observatory. A friend pointed out that every one of the American scientists who has gone there has married a Chilean within a year and a half, whether initially married to an American or not. I dated a Chilean woman for a while, and it was very pleasant to have as a companion someone comfortable with both masculinity and femininity. She was entirely free of what - based on the type location - we could term Marcottery: unremitting 'feminist' billingsgate.

reality check said...

Careful Ann,

Saudi Arabia, home to fifteen of the nineteen hijackers and wahhabiism is our friend.

It is Iran that is our enemy.

Please reread your memo.

Daryl Herbert said...

It is Iran that is our enemy.

Don't let a little thing like that they're killing our soldiers in Iraq get in the way of your snark. Or that they have an advanced nuclear program. Or that their leaders are crazy enough to use the nukes.

Iran is going to be a major issue in the upcoming election. It's a security issue, so as long as it's being talked about, Republicans will benefit.

And since nutroots won't want it talked about, anyone who raises the subject will naturally be subject to mean-spirited ridicule. Nutroots will minimize the threat posed by Iran and make excuses for the Iranian terrorists killing Americans and Iraqis. They will continue to cozy up to Iran the way John Kerry has. Anyone who tries to raise the Iran issue will be accused of wanting a full-blown conventional war.

At least the voters will be able to separate the serious candidates from the lightweights. Lightweights like Hillary Clinton, who said she hoped Bush would withdraw all American troops from Iraq before she took office, because she just couldn't handle it. Althouse will once again feel compelled to vote Republican.

hdhouse said...

I absolutely agree. As an American male, I am the nicest guy alive.

But to the point....all kidding aside....I'm not sure if we adequately relate to "it is better to have loved and lost....etc.", as seen from this perspective.

Al Maviva said...

Mark Steyn, who has been a bit obsessed with demographics lately, has noted a similar phenomenon in Iran. People have stopped having babies at the replacement rate. He notes similar trends occurred when the Soviet Union was in its death throes. (And similar trends in Russia, which is undergoing great and continuing upheaval).

R2K said...

Sad country...

R2K

Sloanasaurus said...

People have stopped having babies at the replacement rate.

I read somewhere that Russia could have 1/2 the population it does today by 2050 based on the current growth rate. People think war or global warming is bad....

In America, having lots babies is becoming popular again. Take Hollywood for example - although not the most moral place in the word, Hollywood is very baby centric and everyone is having lots of babies (and at younger ages).

For example...we don't sympathize with Jennifer Aniston for the undue social pressure put upon her for not having a baby as we might have done 15 years ago; instead we feel bad for her that her baby hasn't come yet....

John said...

Saudi women--who represent the majority of university students and graduates in the country--are becoming pickier about whom they marry. This has reached--to some eyes--the crisis stage: 'spinster-gate' in local parlance.

They are demanding more of their men than keeping their wombs full. That is something that does not sit well with the more traditionalist Saudi male, regardless of whether or not he's a Wahhabi.

But there are also fates worse than being married--or even divorced. For instance, one divorced, mid-30s Saudi woman I know is now considering becoming the fourth wife of some rich older man. The downside of the marriage would be not-particular-romantic sex, but only two or three times a month.

The upsides include a) having an apartment of her own; b) having a social identity; c) as a result of the marriage contract terms, being able to travel internationally at will; and d) getting out of her parents' house (see a and b recursively).

The government's heavy hand in requiring governmental permission to marry a non-Saudi (male or female; in this case, the law is equally onerous on both sexes) doesn't help matters.

An unstated backstory in the original article is that Saudi women do work, mostly entrepreneurially, while Saudi men, with lesser qualifications, have a very hard time finding jobs.

Daryl Herbert said...

Hugh Hewitt agrees with me:

The anti-war zealots are now in full "defend Iran mode,"

hdhouse said...

Sloan...

Do you really sit around thinking about Jennifer Anniston and her getting pregnant? Really?