Ok, I know our Eastern (and some Western) cultures are replete with double standards re men and women. But, since I have not seen such examples in the Anglo folk around me, you will have to settle for my hand-wringing moanings about our Eastern peculiarities.
Ever notice how the things no man and his family would stand for in a woman are the very things a woman and her family are supposed to put with? And go beyond putting up with it, we must almost fall down in gratitude at the man’s feet for the burdens we must bear in his honor. I already sound like I am male-bashing…but please believe me when I tell you that I am not–I do have brothers, so I know all are really not that bad!
However, there are two striking incidents that have occurred in the last year that just makes me shake my head in astonishment. In the first case, which was about a year ago, there was a family returning home from a family wedding. In the car were a man, his wife, two children (one an infant), and his sister. They were speeding along in the dead of night on a lonely road. This is a road used a lot by truckers carrying sugar cane from the plantations to the mills, and these trucks travel very very very slowly with their huge loads. The car was moving too fast, and when a truck suddenly became visible as they came around a corner, the man did not have enough time to stop and went plowing into the truck at pretty much full speed. The children died; the woman, stunningly beautiful, was terribly disfigured and very badly injured, and lost the child she was pregnant with; the man was less badly injured, alhamdulillah, and his sister too was able to walk away without too much damage, alhamdulillah. When the wife came out of her coma, her husband and in-laws did not want her to return to her home with them; rather, they preferred her to return to her parent’s home. In short, she was now too ugly and too damaged to be his wife. Astaghfirullah, wanaudhubillah, la hawla wa la quwata illa billah, may Allah save us all. Ameen!
Case two happened a little while ago. A man got married in his native Pakistan to a lovely young woman, and the family is to be having a community welcome-the-bride party in a month or so. Shortly after them returning from Pakistan, this man, with a history of a few previous childhood experiences, had a seizure. Naturally, this new bride was terrified of what was happening. Anybody who has ever witnessed a human being in the throes of a full-blown seizure knows how traumatizing it is to both the on-looker and the victim, who collapses to the ground, eyes rolling, and shaking uncontrollably. Anyhow, the doctors cannot really say whether this will happen again or not, how much this will or will not incapacitate him, etc. And the bride, with no family here other than her husband’s, really is reconsidering her marriage. And rightly so, in my very concerned opinion.
The girl in case one, and her family, very naturally accepted the divorce that came rapidly on the heels of her losing two children. It is considered perfectly normal: nobody questions how the man could divorce this woman in such traumatic circumstances. After all, she is no good to him now that her looks are no longer there, and she has other injuries that she will need time to recover from. In case two, with the woman wondering how she will cope in a strange land with a husband who might be incapacitated (may Allah save, protect and heal him), with no job or family of her own to lean on, this man’s family is in shock; as in, how could she do this to us? They are not unique in their thinking, but I wonder, if it were the girl to have a seizure, would she not have been put on the first plane back to Pakistan? Along with a long lecture to her parents, detailing the trauma the man’s family lived through in accepting such “damaged goods.”
Will this hypocrisy ever quit? These things still happen a lot in our culture. The idea prevails that a woman should be grateful for marriage at any cost, must ensure (impossibly) that she will retain the perfection with which she entered marriage, and must completely understand that when she falls short of the standards, the man is going to walk the walk. At the same time, its understood that men will be men, they have needs and wants and desires than must naturally be catered to, come hell or high water. The man that does not dump you when are in dire straits will still expect you to get up from your sick-bed and get on with your life. Or have I just seen too many horrible examples of marriage in our so-called Muslim cultures?