Sunday, December 9, 2007

Still A Lot Of Work To Do

With a great blog like the f-word coming out of the UK, I guess I need an occasional reminder that not all women in the UK are like-minded. I've been sitting here for much of the day trying to figure out how to write about this Daily Mail article (as I deck the halls and take care of a sick kid and Mr CB puts up the outdoor lights). I try hard not to be judgmental, but this is pushing it for me.

It seems an 18-year-old woman from the UK has married a 30-year-old Egyptian man and his family has been very welcoming to her. Not a big deal, it even sounds like a happy story, though neither really speaks the other's language. Oh, but keep reading. This young woman ran away to Egypt to marry a man she met on a family holiday the previous year. He stood her up and the next day she met another man who proposed the next day. Shortly thereafter, her parents managed to lure her back to Britain. She saved up her allowance (yes, seriously, her allowance), bought another plane ticket to Egypt and worked in hotels until she was able to find her man again (a couple months). They are still navigating the legal hoops, but in the eyes of the family, they are married.

What does this mean for Amy, who for most of her life has enjoyed considerable freedom as a citizen of the UK? Well, since her beloved prince doesn't want her to work (because it is "not for women") she will spend her days indoors with the other wives, waiting for him to come home. Though she stated a preference to wait to have children, her husband's family (and most likely her husband) have other ideas and it doesn't look like she has much choice in the matter. What if she regrets her decision? She might not, particularly since her husband took her passport.

Wouldn't that raise some red flags for many women? I know, naive question on my part. I really want to know, though, how does one reconcile that? How is that OK? "He loves me so much he doesn't want me to leave and will make sure I can't?"

Why does this bother me so much? Because this woman hasn't a clue what she's getting herself into. Most likely, she will end up converting to Islam and will start wearing a veil and will be pregnant before she'd like to. She won't be allowed to work and won't be able to go anywhere without her husband for at least a few years. She's giving up a lot of freedom and choice for a narrow and idealized view of love and marriage. Reality is: love doesn't conquer all. It simply isn't sufficient to make a marriage work and it isn't sufficient to make a person happy (and this comes from a fairly happily married woman). Many women learn this lesson, but for this woman in particular, it's going to be a very hard lesson and she may not be able to do anything about it once she gets there.

She seems so very dazzled and overwhelmed by the attention and her sudden change in status - going from schoolgirl to wife can make a young woman think she's more mature than she is. The excitement of adjusting to new roles and a new culture can mask any gut-level anxiety, too. This young woman is young and in love and, as many of us know, that can make a person blind. But when your husband has your passport, there isn't really a lot of room for oops.