An Open Letter to the People from Arab Girls in the West

Originally published on Scoop Empire December 5, 2014

openletter

To whom it may concern:

Please stop. Eid dinner is not the time to bring up why I’m single. Christmas dinner is not the place to harass me because I travel “too much”. Not only is it not the right time, considering you chose to humiliate, insult, degrade me in front of the entire family, it just so happens that my life choices are none of your concern.

We, “banat amreeka” or banat of any Western nation, are not you. We’re not your generation and we sure as hell are not like the girls back home (no offense). We’re different, in the sense that we’re enlightened, not necessarily on life as a whole, but on our own personal life. We know what we like, what we don’t, and trust me: We don’t like you sticking your nose in our business.

Yeah, I’m not married. Maybe I, myself, am not ready for such a huge commitment or, perhaps, I actually don’t ever want to get married. Maybe I have a boyfriend and we’re taking it slow, or maybe my boyfriend is ready to pop the question, but the kid just so happens to be beneath your standards, i.e. he’s not Arab, or from a different religion. Heck, maybe I’m a lesbian.

But is that your concern? Is your constant nagging going to miraculously inspire me to seek desperately for a husband until I somehow trick a man into marrying me? It’s not. All you’re doing is making me despise you, more and more, every time I see you.

So then you go into your defense tactic and claim we don’t know how to reel a man in, is that so? Maybe I’m not trying to seduce a man. Maybe, just maybe, I’m committed to my education, my career and my travels. Me being single doesn’t mean I can’t snag a man – believe me, I can make a man fall/ I just don’t have the time nor the desire to be with someone. ‘That’s blasphemous!’ Yeah, and so is your obsession with my love life.

arabmenYou think all I need is an Arab man to make a good woman out of me. Oh, you mean the same Arab man that wants to be promiscuous his entire adulthood, but won’t settle for less than the Virgin Mary? Or the Arab whose only aspiration in life is to take over the liquor store empire? Or the Arab who just came to this country three months ago and can’t speak a lick of English? Perhaps you’re talking about the Arab guy who hasn’t even left the Middle East yet and is already trying to dictate my schedule? But those are just some of them.

There’s the rest of the Arab guys, the rare breed if you will, the ones who are charming, educated, put together…yeah, those guys are either my cousin, into non-Arabs, or gay. Arab guys are dandy and all, but maybe, just maybe, I’ve tried and I’m not into them. Maybe I’d rather have the burrito than the mensaf. It’s a personal choice and it shouldn’t affect you; you’re not going to eat the burrito, I am!

I know where you’re coming from; you want to see me happy. You want to bust out in zaghreet and debkahat my wedding. You want to hold my children and tell them how much of a troublemaker I was back in the day because I wasn’t obsessed with marriage. That day will come if I want it to. It will be on my terms, not yours. It will be with a man (or woman) of my choosing, not yours.

Most importantly, when I do decide to take that step in making the biggest commitment of my life, it will be with a person who makes me happy, not you. Because at the end of the day, I’m going to lay next to that person, not you. ‘Til death do us part, goes beyond your death.

And while we may be family or friends, I’d greatly appreciate it if you would stop telling me to “shidi 7alek” because if and when I do get married, you will most certainly not be invited to the wedding.

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