"When Are You Going to Get Married?"

Illustration for article titled "When Are You Going to Get Married?"

One time in my early twenties, I was home for a visit sans boyfriend and my mom started in with the inevitable passive-aggressive but pointed "you've been together with so-and-so for a long time" conversations that moms tend to have. Only, so-and-so and I were having issues and I didn't want to hear it, so I threatened to never get married if she didn't stop bugging me. Karma's a bitch, huh? But, the L.A. Times is out to make me feel better by publishing a story about other women my age with careers and no husbands — in Egypt!


Mai Hawas is a 31 year-old architectural engineer who lives in Cairo with her parents because it's unacceptable for "good" women to live alone, lest they become bad. She was engaged twice: once to a man who wanted someone prettier and quieter (honey, we've all been there); and once to a man that demanded — in writing — half her salary and a down payment from her parents before he would agree to the marriage (in Egypt, normally the groom pays the bride's family). She had the good sense to tell the second guy to take a hike. She says:

The men I meet are educated, yes that's true, but some Egyptian men don't like 'girls' to talk about politics and culture, or to argue with them about ideas. But I have my own personality. I don't need someone else forming my mind.

I wish I didn't have to tell her that there Egypt doesn't have a monopoly on men like that. Someday, though, if she doesn't get married, she hopes society can accept her not living with her parents.

Also in the article is Hanan Sheikh, a 35 year-old college professor who also lives with her parents and has a 9p.m. curfew! Her family is considered cursed because her 30 year-old sister is also unmarried. She doesn't wear a veil and when asked about some of her students that dress in a more Western style (i.e., they wear tight jeans) and go out on dates, she notes that "Egyptian boys have a conservative mentality and will not marry someone like that." Once again, I hate to tell her that there are men everywhere who date the slutty girls like me and wouldn't ever consider marrying someone who doesn't go to church on Sundays.

Finally, Nahla Emad Abdel Aziz is a 33 year-old doctor and university lecturer who does wear a veil, but she's optimistic about the direction society is going. Because the cost of living is rising in Egypt, she thinks that Egyptian men "are more accepting of career women. Eventually they know they'll need someone to help them financially." I guess it's probably no coincidence that the gradual acceptance of women in the workplace in America coincides with a dramatic rise in the cost of living, either. What is the Arabic translation for "keeping up with the Joneses," anyway?

Single And Not So Restless In Cairo [L.A. Times]


Jenna Sauers

Thank God my mum set a good example for me in being married and divorced in her twenties, and then not marrying again until 37. She was even three months pregnant with me at the second wedding — and, she swears, it was no mistake; she and Dad were planning a baby and a wedding and they just didn't give a shit which came first. Therefore I feel no family pressure to marry young, or restrict my childbearing to wedlock.