Reacting to an idiotically misogynist comment on my blog, I posted the following status update on Facebook a few days ago.
women professionals finding it so hard to find husbands given how
comparatively well educated, integrated and well-to-do American Muslims
The cavalry always rides the instant in when male privilege gets challenged in any way, so an exchange ensued.
Not that this is a terribly significant one, but it does highlight certain lamentable social realities that persist in the American Muslim community despite all its economic and educational advantages compared to other parts of the Muslim diaspora, I think.
Where's the paradox?
Hmm, to make this point without being obnoxious… A lot of us come from more privileged, [better educated] education backgrounds than Muslims immigrants to other places, but I'm not sure you see that translate into a more mature, open-minded attitude towards marriage. On the things that count, a lot of us are almost as "paindoo" as the folks showing up straight from the villages. Demographically, this should be the Promised Land for Muslim women professionals, but the opposite often seems to be the case.
In some ways, the villagers are simply more raw in their expressions of human nature, while we "educated" folk are slightly veiled to these realities by heady liberal ideals of egalitarianism. I think part of the reason for the problem you describe is that deep down, both men and women prefer an arrangement when the male takes the lead, and Muslim women professionals (a) aren't willing to settle for someone "lesser" than them and (b) men feels somewhat emasculated by this.
Perhaps such a relationship is "natural", perhaps not. THat's beside the point, I think. As usual, women are expected to carry a double burden–men may adapt to the world around them pragmatically and on their own terms, while women must remain frozen under glass, embodying traditional values that their brothers have long since forgotten in our individualistic culture. Traditional marriage requires traditional values from both parties, but it's often a one-way street today.
Well, putting career ahead of marriage & family is a pragmatic and non-traditional choice that many professional women make, one that naturally curtails their chances of finding a mate in the long run given what the sexes generally look for in one another. The situation is complex, and the loss of traditional values isn't one-sided. (It's not that I don't sympathize with professional women; I'm just acknowledging the underlying realities that lead to such an unbalanced dynamic.)
What many people fail to notice when they level such charges against all these supposedly self-absorbed women iis that men make equally "pragmatic and non-traditional" choices all the time today, but the Muslim community makes polite excuses and minds its own business when men are involved. Women live in fear of being seen in short sleeves, but men may wear tight jeans, adjust their attire to the heat, etc. etc. Men may remarry easily after a divorce even if they've been cads, but women are stigmatized. And so on. We're so accustomed to these double standards that they're as invisible as the air.