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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:
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”.
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?
What if you want to do something “radical”, like become the next MIA? Forget it. Who’d rishta that?
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)
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.
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?