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The Match-making Chronicles: Race/Ethnicity/Nationality of Ideal Husband

When I addressed the issue to my father, as in what qualities he expected an ideal mate of my to have, he said:

“All he has to be is Muslim and very ambitious…and passive, because you are a very dominant personality. You can’t have two dominants. It’s like electricity. You need a negative and a positive charge.”

After belabouring the point that my father called me a “negative charge” and trying to guilt-trip him about that metaphoric comparsion (I failed, foolishly ignoring what Patai knew all too well, that Arabs can’t be guilted into anything, because they don’t have a conscience, and thus you need to appeal to their sense of shame to get to do what you want*), I decided to move on and tackle the other part of what he considered ideal Husband credentials. Knowing fully well that my father had a much more specific portrait of the ideal or acceptable mate for me-I pushed him further by testing him:

“So, you would be happy if I married a white or Latino Muslim?”

“No, they have to be Arab. You have to relate to your mate culturally. That is the only way you are going to have a successful marraige.”

Rewind to a week ago when my father dumbfounded by my Arab-philia, inquired: “Why are you Arabicized-we didn’t raise you that way?”

Knowing again, that my father had an even more specific and constricted definition, I pushed him again:

“So, you would be fine if I married a Moroccan?”

“No, they are not real Arabs.”

After objecting to and debating this unfounded claim for a good ten minutes, I moved on to the next part of my interrogation. Knowing the position of Yemenis in the intra-arab racist hierarchy, I pushed once again:

“How about a Yemeni”

“No, they are not real Arabs.”

“But Dad, they are from South Arabia-they are the “realest” Arabs.”

After naming every one of the member countries of the Arab league (with the exception of Syria), and being met with resistance, I sought to confirm what I thought my father believed considered an acceptable mate:

“How about someone from Damascus?”

“No, they are different.”

So, there you have it, what I an initially suspected that my father refused to commit to was true:

The only acceptable mate in my father’s eyes would have to be an ambitious, type-B Muslim from a “good family” from Halab. Apparently that’s what “ambitious, passive Muslim” is code for.

*oozing with sarcasm

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No Responses to “The Match-making Chronicles: Race/Ethnicity/Nationality of Ideal Husband”

  1. Why so fixated on marriage already when you don’t even have any candidates in mind? Its good to know what kind of guy your family would approve of, but relax… don’t rush things along. If you eyeball every guy you meet as a prospective candidate for marriage, you’ll freak the poor guys out.

    Posted by programmer craig | January 30, 2008, 10:59 pm
  2. that’s good advice craig, but i think the premise of may’s post — and the reason why she was interrogating her father in the first place — is that our culture puts the emphasis on marriage. it’s not something we’re fixated upon for the hell of it.

    there is no dating in many traditional arab families — you’re a virgin, then you’re engaged, then you’re married and popping out children.

    of course many of us are lucky to be able to break that mold, but to drop the question of marriage altogether is much easier said than done.

    Posted by Hanaan | January 31, 2008, 12:16 am
  3. I had to laugh. I am a white guy married to a Saudi woman. Listening to your baba made me think of other fathers out there.

    There is one Saudi guy I know. He has two daughters in their early 30’s. They both have masters degrees, both worked and both are well traveled.

    They have had many men ask for them, but the father refused stating he wanted a man from his particular tribe in Saudi. Of course considering they have lived the last decade and a half in the West, they didnt know many such men.

    So here you have two very well educated women, both working on their PhDs now, being told they cannot marry the doctors, lawyers and scientists that have asked for them because they are not Saudi and not from the right tribe.

    What’s the REAL kicker in this whole deal? The father is married to a Western/white lady! LOL! Talk about double standards! He can marry outside his race, but his daughters have to marry within his tribe?

    But it gets worse. He made one sister wait years to get married because the Lebanese, Syrians and others that had asked for her were not Saudi nor from the right tribe.

    When did he finally let one get married and to whom? Recently she was married, but not to a person from her tribe, rather to a Saudi outside her tribe. Why did he allow her to marry this guy and not all of the others that had asked even though non of them were members of her tribe?

    Why “wasta” of course, the father was asked by the brother of the current Saudi Ambassador of the US, Nial al Jubeir. So I guess wasta and status trumps tribal affiliation after all.

    Posted by أبو سنان | January 31, 2008, 5:22 am
  4. Maytha, It’s just as bad for Syrian guys. So I feel for you sister. My father is concerned that I’ll marry a foriegner when I go for studying abroad. “Thanks for the idea, Dad. I never cared for local gals anyway”.

    Posted by Anonymous | January 31, 2008, 5:23 am
  5. Abo sinan, I guess the real reason the father objeted non-saudi suiters is that Saudi goverment won’t grant citizenship to the children unless the father is a Suadi citizen. The majority of Saudi guys prefer to mary foreign women, no problem regarding citizenship for the offspring.

    Thus, Saudi women end up 50 years old virgins. No saudi suiters for them. Niether they can mary non-saudis.

    Posted by Anonymous | January 31, 2008, 5:38 am
  6. The children of Saudi women married to foreigners can become citizens, but it is very hard. It involves living in the Kingdom for ten years or more, reading, writing and speaking Arabic fluently, obtaining references from neighbors and professional contacts.

    It is hard, but at least there is an avenue, which didnt used to be the case.

    We have been working on getting our marriage recognised for 5 years. Without it we cannot visit the Kingdom together, nor can I act as her “mehram”.

    Posted by أبو سنان | January 31, 2008, 7:53 am
  7. Programmed Crackhead,

    When did you first fall in love with racism?

    *Smoke……..Crack, everyday*

    Posted by Pali-American | January 31, 2008, 8:04 am
  8. try being Arab and non-Muslim. the chances of finding partner are near impossible, as many Arab fathers treat you like the plague.

    Posted by Anonymous | January 31, 2008, 8:28 am
  9. Mehwedge…mehwedge is wot bwings us togevah today.

    Why isn’t Saladin railing against how much Saudis hate everybody else?

    Posted by Roy | January 31, 2008, 9:18 am
  10. Maytha, I love your posts

    Posted by nev | January 31, 2008, 11:34 am
  11. Thanks Nev!

    Posted by Maytha | January 31, 2008, 12:24 pm
  12. lmao , story of my life!

    Posted by Anonymous | April 8, 2009, 7:45 am

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