Friday, July 8, 2011

I Get Comments: From Taryam Al Subaihi, a few more words on arranged marriages

A couple of weeks ago I pointed to a column in The National by the freelance writer Taryam Al Subaihi explaining why he believes arranged marriages can work. He noted the comments, which included "I can´t understand why so many people pretend this kind of things are OK, only due to political correctness" to "I think those who still accept these social customs are just entangled or even trapped in an unfair, uneven society". I argued and still do only that, hey, if it works for you, then it works for you - who am I to say what I don't understand completely is wrong. It's not like the West has marriage figured out, right?

Well Taryam soon weighed in (and I appreciate it,  thank you so much). Followup comments after the jump.

Let me first off say its great to see a dialogue going on the subject. It a sensitive topic and tends to spark many emotions, from frustration to confusion at times. 

Anonymus had some valid points and in truth, is the exact reader that i had in mind when i was writing the column. Since it was summarized, i believe a few points may have gone unexplained so i will take this opportunity to address them here, if i may.

Firstly, i do not usually comment on subjects as personal as family but i believe it is necessary in this situation. I, like many of my people - both men and women- have chosen to take this route of arranged marriage as a path of love and partnership with their spouses. 

Arranged marriages in our culture differ from 17th or 18th century Europe. Our marriages consist of many stages that allow both man and women to call it off, ask for more time or simply refuse. There is no obligation in the matter. Without a doubt, there are cultures in other countries that may practice the old school of arranged marriages but in the Emirati culture, the core decision behind arranged marriages is to put together two people who believe in the same ideals, goals and wishes and who know that love is evident in their relationship. These are all agreed upon before a decision is taken by both parties to be married. 

As for the covering of the face and body, this another long topic that i better let one of the majority of Muslim women who chose to wear the clothing of their religion and culture. Again, a common misunderstanding is that these decisions are forced upon women by men. That would be oppression and something that was practised in most cultures long ago including our own.
In the end, it all comes down to how a person learns of another culture. The media, for one, can portray the most useless but influential image of muslims and the Arab world. Bad experiences sometimes stay with people for a lifetime. 

Enough of my rambiling on, it would be nice to hear your thoughts on the matter. 


The Last Ephor said...

So in Emirati culture the family acts more like a dating agency. I see this as quite smart. Who better to set you up with someone than those who know you best?

I work with a number of guys from India and several of them met their wives on their wedding night. All of them (appear to be) happily married.

I think the latter case has to do with their attitude toward marriage. I asked one guy about it and he said "you learn to love". Whereas Americans tend to have a lot of anxiety around picking the right person and making it work.

I don't think one size fits all for anything, marriage included.

Anonymous said...

Taryam is a he, not her.

Anonymous said...

The quoted comment was mine :)

Still, I don´t agree with Taryam. First you say: "Arranged marriages in our culture differ from 17th or 18th century Europe.". And then you give exactly the same reasons which supported this "old school marriages" in Europe. Exactly the same. There´s plenty of literature about it (I mean, evidence).

About the second point, it´s not a matter of forcing, but a sort of brainwashing. Let´s imagine a culture where red hair is considered ugly and wicked. All ginger boys and girls are "suggested" to conceal their hair since their childhood, otherwise their friends and family will think evil of them. Of course they will do it. Nobody needs to force them, because they will have already engraved in their minds that showing their red hair is BAD. And they will hide their red hair on their own, just looking for social acceptance. It´s a silly example but I just wanted to explain the idea avoiding religion.

The Spanish theologist María Pintos said that women are always the most pious followers of a religion and they are prone to teach their children the system that perpetuates patriarchy.

Anyway, nice to read you, Taryam. Thanks! It´s so interesting to be able to have some feedback from the writer himself!

How to be a happy expat

Because a cloud wall makes you want to take a selfie.  After 10 years living in the UAE, some of that time happy, some miserable and ...