arranged rishta

If you knew as many women as I know, who are forced or coaxed into marriages, where the man uses them only for sex, to birth kids, to take care of his parents, to iron his clothes and serve tea to his friends, with absolutely no regard for her well being or happiness, and you saw women just tagging along walking behind them, hands full with kids and a belly full with another one, doing things on command existing as nothing but to serve them, you’d want to set the men on fire too.

Why Arranged Marriages Are Holding Us Back

I am not against individuals who choose to have arranged marriages. If you had one & you are happy, great! Good for you.

However, we cannot ignore all the harm having a culture that promotes these over “love marriages” causes to our growth as people.

The concept of arranged marriages especially harms us women for several reasons:

  1. It makes us focus more on what our future in-laws want than our own needs. Everything you do, you do it so it looks impressive to your “future family”.
  2. It forces us to pick “impressive” careers over things we are genuinely passionate about. How many desi girls who are becoming doctors and engineers like what they are doing? How many are only doing it to improve the quality of their rishtas?
  3. What if you want to do something “radical”, like become the next MIA? Forget it. Who’d rishta that?
  4. What if you want to marry when you are actually old and mature enough to handle a relationship? Forget it. No one wants to marry a 27 year old when there are 19 year olds on the market. (God, how wrong does that sound? I cringed while typing it)
  5. Superficial things like appearance, career and having a foreign passport will always have more weight than things that actually matter, like your compatibility with each other based on shared interests. As a result, you will focus on them more than actually focusing on things you like (ie writing). People don’t realize that a person’s culture has a hugeeeeee impact on them as individuals. Even though a Pakistani born and raised in Pakistan will have the same passport as a Pakistani born and raised in the GCC, their personalities will be completely different because of the cultures they were raised in.
  6. It encourages racism, ageism, sexism & body shaming. It causes some people to have low self-esteem for all the wrong reasons. Do I even need to elaborate on this?? 

Let’s talk about the concept of rishtas.

As a thin and young light skinned Syed girl with light brown eyes, I get several pluses on an auntie’s checklist. As someone who wears the hijab, I can either get a plus or a minus depending on what the guy wants. As someone who grew up abroad, I get one more plus. However, once they find out I am still a Pakistani citizen, that gets cancelled out. As someone who is majoring in politics [because I seriously freaking love it] I get a minus because it’s not a “professional degree”, but that gets cancelled once they find out I am planning on going to law school. 

For the sake of getting good rishtas, I have to act like a “proper” girl. Get a proper degree, wear proper clothes and have proper friends.

Ok, but where am I in this picture? Where is the fact that I love writing, singing & making weird jokes? Where is my incredible talent to burn any food I attempt to cook? Where is the sound of my bizarre laugh or the weird way I sneeze that makes everyone chuckle? The weird way I like  running in my yard in the early hours of morning when no one’s watching, feeling the wet grass on my feet? Where are my likes, my dislikes & my struggles beyond my academic career? Where are my dreams to become a leader, to maybe start a business of my own someday? 

Where am I?

My mom’s talking to some auntie about how she was told by another auntie a long time ago, that you have to get girls married by 18-20, or else you cant control them (as in you can’t get them married off at all) or they have so many demands that you can’t get them married off.

So you have to get girls married off early, because otherwise they might wake up and realize they deserve better men or not to be with men at all. And everyone is piss scared that women will choose not to be with men.

Tell me again women aren’t forced from birth, groomed from birth to eventually be with men.

It’s funny that men think that their affection is the ultimate prize. And love to tell you you’ll end up alone. Meanwhile all I want is to be left alone, by men and this world of men. I want my family to stop harassing me and emotionally blackmailing to end up with men. I want my community to stop harassing my parents and convincing them to force me to end up with a man, telling them that they have to force their hand or the daughters get a mind of their own. I want this thing to end where the price of inclusion in this community, is forcing and compelling your daughters’ fates. I want to stop feeling like I am trying to purchase my own life from others. Buying my own rights and time back. And most of all, I want everyone to stop thinking that being with men is the ultimate purpose of life.

I’ve gone through a lot of rishtas, many of which are guys 33+, who basically seem to have no interest in marriage or settling down. All brown btw. Still when they reject me, no one tells them they are too old to be rejecting anyone. How dare they have the galls while they bald and short…

When they seem completely uninterested in marriage, there’s no formation of transoceanic transcontinental elder uncle/auntie brigade descending upon you to school you into submission to marriage. Nah. Instead it’s like, ahh well.. What we gonna do about our son ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  our hands are tied..

there’s a night and day difference between how men, brewing in the same culture, have 180 degree of difference in what they experience. Yah men feel the pressure but it is not the same. They don’t buckle under it, and that’s not because they are strong. It’s just that when they push back, the pressure doesn’t increase 10 fold. The pressure has actually shaved off years of my life.