Monday, 30 May 2011

Insane Marriage Rites: A Case of The Need for a Cultural Revolution

Note: I originally wrote and posted this on facebook on Saturday, June 19, 2010 at 3:20am

I have modified and added a few parts to it. But it serves as an example of why we not only need a political and economical revolution, but a cultural one as well. I'm sure I'll eventually post more examples.

I honestly believe the above image had a role in leading to the January 25th 2011 revolution. With people realizing this is what they might end up doing, They can do some crazy things. Further proven by people celebrating after Mubarak stepped down saying "Hanetgawez Hanetgawez" (We will marry, we will marry) , or a guy innocently asking his father "Does this mean I can finally get married?" as quoted by this article : "Amidst the shouts of youth claiming a new hope for a family life that has been otherwise economically impossible for them in the dire conditions of Mubarak’s regime, protesters in the streets joyfully exclaimed after he stepped down, “We will marry, we will have children!”

Remember, most of the world doesn't require these rites, and they function just fine.

So I'm going to say it.
All of what I’m going to say next is on most if not all of your minds (If you're an Egyptian), you think it, and you believe it.
But very few of you are willing to say it for whatever reason. So I’ll just say it.

I find the entire concept of marriage rites here in Egypt frankly retarded. And I don't mean the silly weddings, the retarded cake feeding, and all that silly stuff. I mean the rites leading up to that point.

The major point? Money. Lots and lots of money. As a male of my social standing wanting to get married in Egypt (To an Egyptian),you're looking at needing a bare minimum of 580k Egyptian pounds (around 100k$) just to get married. No one and I mean NO one can afford that on their starting salary unless their parents hook them up, they win the lottery, or they create something so amazing, or they land an acting job or something in a major movie.

Now let me put it this way, for someone of my education (college graduate from a "prestigious" university, fluent in two languages perfectly...etc), 3000 L.E (Egyptian Pounds) a month (around 500$) is considered a good/great starting salary. That means I would require roughly 194 times my starting salary just to get married. That's assuming I have no expenses, pay no taxes, and save every last piaster (Egyptian version of a cent) made. 

Keep in mind that ratio is roughly more or less the same even if the numbers differ, when you go up or down the social/economical scale. Roughly 194 times your starting salary. Raises when available are around 10% a year. Promotions are not frequent enough. Does that sound reasonable to you?

So tell me, what's the point of these insane financial requirements asked of the males? Is it to prove that the man is worthy of your daughter's hand? Are you selling your daughter? Is your daughter worth 580k+ to you? Besides, how is getting that sum proof that the male is worthy of your daughter, when it's not even his hard earned money. What is the point of these crippling requirements? To assure your daughter has a good life? What if this rich fellow is a spoiled angry wife beater, cheater, alcoholic, drug addict...etc that knew how to hide all that until after marriage? Is that really better for your daughter than the guy of modest means that would've taken extremely good care of her and loved her more than anything? Sure they would struggle a bit, but in the long run it would've been better.

And even if it WAS his hard earned money (probably at age forty something at that rate) would it not be more beneficial for the couple to use that money in other forms? Besides, could not the rich man in a day lose all his money? Then what happens to your daughter then? How then have you secured her future?

Besides, why is marrying your daughter worth that much anyway? What makes her worth more than the man? We're in the age of equality, why don't I see females paying 580k+ to marry a guy without being stigmatized (although personally I’d feel emasculated if I were that guy I guess). I don't condone this, but is marriage not a union, a team, a couple, a partnership?

Is the mentality behind this mindset largely due to the patriarchal mentality of women being helpless?

Not that I don't understand the mentality behind this line of reasoning from parents in Egypt (And marrying without parental acceptance in Egypt? Yeah, Good luck on that, it rarely, if ever happens) , with high real estate costs, high rent, rising prices, high turnover...etc it's no wonder that these parents want to make sure their daughter is "Safe", But that's all it is, There's nothing in religion (Be it Islam or Coptic Christianity) to encourage this type of behavior, or even support it, and in fact, these requirements don't really lead to any real "safety" for their daughter.

You know what these requirements lead to (if the man is the one that earned the money)? Bitter men with a sense of entitlement. Very Bitter. They feel they're the ones that did everything and the females got everything without effort or working for it. Which Leads to a mentality of "I'm the one doing everything, you've done nothing. What are you complaining about" when facing spousal disagreements or all out fights. And while I personally would not feel that way, I’m sorry to say, they’re not entirely to blame for feeling that way. Would you honestly not feel the same? If you answered “No” you’re either lying, or a rare person, welcome to either club.

But tell me, could a male feel superior to the female if they reached whatever point they reached, side by side, suffering and working together towards their goals? He could, but it would be because of his own internal issues, not because the circumstances forced upon him which led him to feel this way.
Partners, Sports teams and teams in general build a bond of "we did this together"; going through hardships together creates a very strong bond. So why would you not want the same concept applied to the marriage of your daughter?

Of course there are exceptions to the rule, parents that give their daughter to the one that loves and cares for her, no matter what his own means, instead of giving her to the rich guy. Or men from modest means, that appear to love your daughter but are mainly assholes, or men from rich families that are really good decent guys that understand the value of your daughter.

But at the end the point is, why not use your brain instead of your calculator?

And not that marriage or even love is all about sex, and in absolutely no way am I excusing sexual harassment, but in a society with dismal sexual education, a society that considers sex outside of wedlock to be one of the, if not the most horrible of sins, as a public opinion case shows, to the point of subjecting young girls to FGM (Female Genital mutilation) even though it's outlawed  even though there have been public awareness campaigns to ban it, as well as it being incorrect religiously, is it any wonder that we have such a large sexual harassment epidemic, or that large numbers of youth resort to "illegal" "Urfi" marriages?
I mean after all, is it not a basic need to be able to love, marry and fornicate? 


  1. I think I adore your brain :D !! I also think I'm going to write a response to this from the female POV (even though I disagree with it). Education and the way girls are raised is to blame.

  2. Ok, so in Egypt men and women can't just decide to get married, regardless of whether they are as poor as church mice?

    This money-for-marriage stuff is so archaic! It's the same old dowry system as in Europe.

    Who gets this money? The bride, as money to tide her over if her hubby dumps her for his secretary? Or the bride's parents, to pay for her, or to reimburse them for the money they will lose not having her work and contribute to the family finances?

    There is no guarantee that the man who can afford to pay for a bride will be a good husband, although I've heard old European people say if he can afford to pay a good price for her, he will keep her in a good life. Bollocks!

    What it does do is give the man, in his mind at least, carte blanche to do as he pleases with his wife as he's paid for her and she now belongs to him.

    In our modern world, women are still being bought and sold as chattel. How terribly sad!