Recently it has occurred to me that although Arab women have come a long way, they still are at a disadvantage in society. Imagine for example, being a not so young single woman in the Arab world, I can tell you the disadvantages multiply in your case.
You will probably get the look from people who are both older and younger than you. This usually is a look of sympathy that says “You are nice, successful, attractive, so what is wrong with you, why are you single” .
The fact that you happened to be unmarried makes some married females uncomfortable around you as they can’t help but believe that you are desperate, depressed, and that you are simply looking to be with any man . They actually fear that you will pounce on their husbands when in reality, you might probably be wondering what they see in their husbands in the first place. Single women who are older or younger than you will also consider you competition and they might wage a war against you the minute a single eligible bachelor is on the scene, or so many people think.
Then, there is another interesting group of people you are bound to come across as a single woman. This second interesting group truly believes you are single because you think way too much of yourself and those people start to lecture you on how you should settle for less. In fact, they may go as far as to try to match you with someone who is clearly not for you, either because he is not educated, not cultured, or simply he is not who you envisioned yourself to be with. Now, when you reject the bachelors thrown your way by this well-wishing crowd, they tend to get upset and they go around telling your mutual friends that you are single, because you think you are better than you really are.
Then, of course as an older single Arab woman, you will also meet the physiologists. This third interesting group of people assume you are single because you are deeply scarred. They may think that you are probably in love with a guy who doesn’t return your feelings or that you suffered a breakup that ruined your whole perspective on love, or that you are simply terrified of commitment and that you have lingering trust issues. Those people are also entertaining as they usually take you aside and ask you what you are afraid of in marriage, or what happened in your past to make you so against getting married.
Then there are the reality checkers, these are the people who tell you to be quiet and stop looking for something that doesn’t exist. They tell you marriage is hard and that you should give up on your hopes and dreams to find someone you want to spend your life with. They tell you to just find someone who is willing to accept you as an older woman. Never mind your education, your manners, your career accomplishments, or your hopes and dreams, you are single and older so you should consider yourself lucky that someone agreed to look at you. They will go on to tell you that their marriages are not great, and that it really isn’t like you see in the movies.
Meet a group of these women, and watch them complain together about their own marriage woes while convincing you to get married. At that point , you are in for all whole episode of ironic entertainment.
As a single woman, you are bound to also come across the analysis. This group of women tell you that you are probably single because you are smart, and that you reached high up in the corporate ladder so men find you intimidating. You try to explain to these women that a guy intimidated by you is really not worth your time, and then they proceed to tell you that apparently you should dumb yourself down to attract a man.
I want to tell these women, “sure definitely single women will take a mental note to batt their eye lashes and giggle, and act stupid the next time they see someone remotely interesting, May be they can even tell him subtle bits of information about how great they are for the job of wife, where they can slip into the conversation the irrelevant fact that they love kids and can cook, even if that is so far from true.” (Kidding of course)
The final group of women bestow pity on you, and they try to make you feel better about yourself by telling you “Not to worry” or that “marriage isn’t great” , as the apologetic look in their eyes says they are thinking the opposite. These lovely ladies appear in the wedding of someone in the family who is younger than you and they will make it point to tell you “Don’t worry, you will be next”.
What is really sad is that women in our society may have any of these conversations with you. It is sad when a fellow woman shames you for being single, while she actively tries to figure out what is wrong with you. These same women who are educated, smart, cultured, and accomplished may tell you to fear dying alone and to just get married to the first guy you meet. They will tell you to lower your expectations and to take the plunge like they did, while you can’t help but wonder if they are truly happy with their choices.
In our society, women have come a long way, but still you are bound to find these groups of women who honestly believe that your only true accomplishment in life is finding a partner and being a mom. They are not as many as they used to be but they still exist. It is this group of people who honestly fail to see that some women are single just because they are and really there is no dilemma for them to solve,
Food for thought