Monday April 22, 2018 By: Menerva Hammad
The Arabic term for spinsters is A’anes. It’s a despicable word, not to mention that it is an insult thrown in the face of unmarried women, especially when they reach their thirties.
Once women in Arab countries reach this age without getting married, it’s better to burry themselves in a faraway desert and pretend to be dead than live in the judgmental societies. Their surroundings will haunt them all the way until they get married. They will listen to countless wishes and inquiries from elderly women, “When will Allah send you Mr. Right?” Or worse, people will look at them as if they were injured dogs in the street. Family members before strangers would even suggest to ‘take the first best man available, before it is too late’.
This is where women stand now, and have stood for a long time. It all started when parents and society set huge differences in the way they raise girls and boys. In Arab countries, boys are allowed to try different experiences, to ‘make mistakes’, chase after girls in the streets, ‘because they are dressed in a certain way’, have several girlfriends at the same time. And meanwhile, they watch their sisters stay home, abiding to restrictive rules, otherwise they would tarnish the family’s reputation. And along the way, somehow the honor of the entire family fell on the shoulders of young girls. And while the boys are enjoying their freedoms in the streets, girls have to help with the house chores and learn how to cook and become responsible women, to prepare for their future roles as good wives.
As a result, to the discrimination in gender roles, many educated, smart, well read, beautiful, ambitious young women in Egypt are single. One of the main reasons for that is that while young girls grow to become more responsible and independent, men stay trapped in their childish phase. And after many years depending on their mothers and sisters to take care of them, they lack the mindset to make their own decisions. They become confused at what they really want. And while they wait for their mothers to decide for them, they are threatened by women with strong personalities and try to put them down.
Evidently, more women are realizing that getting married is not the key to happiness or independence. On the contrary, true happiness is achieved once women love and stay true to themselves. It is important to understand that women who develop their inner strength will attract partners who are equally strong, and who are not threatened by them or want to change them.
Many women didn´t necessarily choose to become strong or independent, but were pushed to become so, because there was no one there for them, so they became the men they wanted to marry.
Today many educated young women are becoming financially independent and thus refuse to get married for just financial stability. Women have worked hard to earn their independency. It is not their fault that the same generation of men are stuck in puberty till the mid-thirties. Of course, not all of them are, but a large percentage of them grow up with warped ideas about “how their future wife” should be. How she should dress, talk, walk, and think, “because she is a woman”. By that they mostly mean that men have more rights than their wives, “because he is a man,” and thus they can dictate to her how to live her life. Women no longer have to tolerate these behaviors and attitudes. Women are looking for partners who accept and respect them the way they are.
Menerva Hammad is an Egyptian Austrian journalist and blogger. She writes about women rights and muslims in Europe. Her blog “Hotel Mama,” is about Motherhood, feminism, female sexuality and bad hijab days.
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