When will modern society stop this silly game of pretend? The game of pretending women are men?
Ladies, getting more and more degrees or having a bigger and bigger career will not make you a more attractive marriage candidate. This strategy may help men, but it doesn’t work for women the same way. In fact, for women looking for good Muslim husbands, this will often backfire.
Men and women are different creations of Allah with very different roles in a marriage. So each gender looks for very different things in a potential spouse. They have different outcomes. Women having the same mentality as men and employing the same methods as men is foolish.
Men do NOT care about your stack of degrees or your illustrious high-powered career. They just don’t. I wish we can accept this reality and act accordingly.
The Inevitable Comments to This
1. Omg! Are women created exclusively for marriage? Not all women have to get married, nor want to!
Sure. Then you ladies don’t get married and remain happily single. Ignore the post then. Have a nice day.
2. Why should women care about what men want? What about what we want? We don’t need men!
If this is your paradigm, then go ahead and live your best life. Ignore those pesky men and their silly preferences. You do you, boo.
3. Women who pursue multiple degrees and big careers don’t do it to get married! We do it for ourselves!
Okay. That’s cool. But ask yourself this question: would you like to be married?
If no, then have fun getting super-advanced in your education and career paths. Knock em dead!
If yes, then you now have two competing projects that you yourself *want* to work on that you will have to navigate: getting married to a man and getting more degrees/ career advancement. Ask yourself: how will I divide the 24 hours that exist in a day so that I can achieve these two disparate goals I have? How will I most effectively and efficiently make use of my time? What should I choose as my *focus*? Nobody can focus on *everything* simultaneously. Man or woman. If you delude yourself into thinking you can do many disparate things at the same time, the quality of each thing will inevitably suffer.
What will be the primary thing I will *invest* most of my energy, attention, effort, intelligence, and prime years of my life in? How will I arrange my priorities?
The reality is that if you want to be married, you will be dealing with a man. And men biologically prefer women who are relatively younger (tied to reproductive reasons inherent to humans as a species). A younger potential wife in her early twenties is sought after much more than an older potential wife because (data indicates this strongly) youth is associated with beauty, health, fitness, reproductive ability, etc. Researchers call this early period of a young woman’s life her “fertility window.” Having a longer fertility window in which she can have children makes any woman more attractive as a marriage candidate.
A woman choosing to pursue other projects and reducing her own fertility window only sabotages her own chances.
4. Omg! So you basically want all women to be uneducated and illiterate??
Black and white thinking, ladies. If I don’t advocate for women’s extended higher education and career ambitions, then I must be advocating for women’s total illiteracy. I just want all women to be unlettered.
Is there no in-between?
5. Are you saying that women shouldn’t get degrees? You don’t want us to have any education or knowledge? This isn’t even Islamic. The first word in the Quran is “Iqra”! And how can we ever raise good children?
This is extremely sloppy reasoning. This messy stream of consciousness is basically using several *very different* terms interchangeably: “degrees,” “education,” “knowledge,” and “deeny `ilm، علم.”
Pause here and try to sort out the mess. Examine each term and think about how these 4 terms may be different from one another. Is secular western education (pushing the western liberal monoculture and hegemony) the same as traditional Islamic knowledge like learning the فرائض (fara’id) or تفسير tafsir? Is a PhD in biochemical engineering going to help a Muslim mother in Islamic childrearing and tarbiya? Which of these things does a person obtain at a western university or graduate school program? I’ll let you figure out the answer.
6. But we need female doctors! We also need some women to be PhDs and researchers and in all fields of society!
Sure, we definitely need female doctors and nurses and several other specific fields for our Muslim sisters. I’m with you. But now pay attention to this critical distinction:
Saying that not *all* women must be PhDs and physicians doesn’t mean that *zero* women should be PhDs or physicians. Sure, for women who do not want to get married or have any children or who have other specific circumstances, they can achieve advanced levels of degrees and certificates if they want to. Or women with grown children who have more time. But this is only a *subset* of the female Muslim population, not the entirety or the majority of it. A small subset.
This shouldn’t be made the standard feminine archetype. The exceptions and the rule are two separate things.
7. I wish I could stay home and watch dramas and soap operas and gossip all day as a pampered housewife, but I’m out here helping the community and working a real job while also being a wife and mother.
Note the snark, lol. This snarky attitude, these sly jabs at the role of the homemaker that caricature it as a woman who sleeps in till noon and then rolls out of bed only to watch trashy TV and gossip with her airheaded friends is very widespread. People who think this way diminish the immense weight of motherhood, undermining the role of the dedicated stay-at-home mom and look at her condescendingly, implying that she’s lazy and stupid. This attitude is unfortunately pervasive even *among women.* Some men, too.
There is no work more important for a mother than to give her children the best Islamic tarbiya and to raise them with wisdom and intelligence. Her aim is to shape the minds and bond with the hearts and nurture the bodies of the next generation of strong Muslims inshaAllah. Paid corporate jobs and community work come second. Priorities, people.
8. You are writing from a place of privilege! These calculations don’t apply here in Nigeria/ Antarctica/ South Pole. Our reality is different.
Sure. I readily acknowledge that different localities will have different circumstances. I am in a western locale and write about my surroundings. I don’t exist everywhere. You take what might benefit you for your situation (if any), and the rest that doesn’t apply to your locale, you throw in the trash. Easy, right?
9. Men want women who can’t think for themselves or earn for themselves so they are trapped by controlling husbands without the financial ability to leave. The real question is: why do men feel intimated by an educated woman? Are men so insecure?
No, this is a mistaken conclusion. While of course, some men do exist who are controlling/ insecure/ dictatorial, these are small men, petty, weak men. Stay away from those dudes.
But real Muslim men who are upright and wise are nothing like this.
And these men are *not* threatened or insecure or jealous of a “Strong Independent Woman.” They just…don’t want her. They don’t find that attractive or desirable in a wife they will spend their life with. These men feel no threat or insecurity, only aversion.
10. A woman getting many degrees isn’t trying to be a man. Is the goal to dumb ourselves down so that we can get married? What about intellectual compatibility?
No, don’t dumb yourself down, sister. Yes, intellectual compatibility is important. So is cultural or social compatibility. We call this in Islam كفاءة (kafaa’a). The two spouses should be of a similar standing whether socially or culturally or intellectually. Absolutely. Nobody is advocating for a female high school dropout to marry a man with a PhD in nuclear physics so they can have intellectually satisfying discussions. I get it.
But a woman’s getting degree upon degree (after completing a bachelor’s, for example) does in fact limit her own pool of potential husbands. Women inherently like to “marry up,” for which the technical term is “hypergamy.” Meaning: women don’t like being married to a man lower in status than her, whether financially, socially, economically, educationally, etc. She usual cannot respect him as her leader and grows to despise him.
So a woman with a PhD will not happily settle for a man with a bachelor’s degree or a master’s. She has now slashed her own pool of potential marriage candidates in half (or worse) because there are simply fewer men who now meet her requirements. When she has a hard time finding someone compatible, she suffers.
Also: intelligence is not the same as western secular education. I personally have met people with the most advanced prestigious Ivy League education with little intelligence.
11. Men are gold diggers! Men these days only want to marry women who “bring something to the table,” ie make money. These men want a wife who will work full time and split the bills 50-50.
These are not men who follow the Islamic gender roles prescribed in the Quran and sunnah. The husband’s job is to be qawwam for his family, to be the provider, protector, and leader. The husband provides his wife with nafaqa, her Islamic right. There is no 50-50 feminist nonsense egalitarianism here. This kind of man isn’t who you want to marry anyway, ladies. Steer clear.
There are other men: strong, righteous Muslim men who fear Allah and want to fulfill their obligations toward their wife and children. They *want* to provide for their families and love spending money on their wives and children in a halal way. It makes them happy to make their wife happy and provided for and cared for. Look for these guys. They’re out there.
12. I work because I have to. My husband died/ had a terrible accident/ has a chronic illness/ left me and the kids. I went back to school, got a degree, and make money for our family out of need.
May Allah reward you and compensate you for your efforts. Nobody has ever knocked women’s work out of sheer necessity. In the case of a husband dying, leaving, becoming sick or paralyzed etc, and there is no male kin to step in, the wife working outside the home to pay the rent and put food on the table is clear-cut. This is pure necessity.
13. But you went to Harvard! (You hypocrite!)
Yes, I did go to Harvard. I did 4 years there and got a basic bachelor’s degree. No further. I was 21 when I graduated and I got married before my graduation.
I have no desire or inclination to pursue a master’s or a PhD or any other kind of secular degree at this busy stage of my life, at this critical juncture in my young children’s lives: the formative years of their childhood. This is the time for tarbiya and laying down the foundations of their personalities and forging bonds that will impact the trajectory of their entire lives. I am needed most by my family. This is my primary responsibility, my priority.
14. Omg you are so overly harsh and critical. You are so judgy. Stop attacking women!
I know that this is, for many Muslims today, a difficult conversation to have. The issue of women’s educationist and careerist aspirations has become a sore and sensitive subject, tied up in emotionally charged ideas and loaded terms like “independence” and “abuse” and “freedom.” The root feelings here may be issues like fear of abandonment, panic about future uncertainty, and feelings of discontent.
I actually understand and sympathize, my dear sisters. I have no intention of judging you harshly or hurting your feelings at all. I understand that we live in a modern world that pushes onto us certain ideas and ideals that have become mainstream and accepted. Hearing any other perspective sounds offensive to modern ears, I know.
I know that due to some difficult experiences, some Muslim women are worried about their future being tied so intimately to a man. Having to rely on a man so heavily, depend on him to this extent. Maybe this fear stems from a father dying at a young age or an irresponsible husband not being a good provider. Some women see that and vow to themselves that they will never allow themselves to be “at the mercy of a man” ever again. By God, I will be independent of men if it’s the last thing I do!
Men, on their end, see this gradual but major attitude shift in modern women and feel rejected and defeated. The normal responsible Muslim men who want to get married *want* to marry a woman and provide completely for her and care for her.
But they aren’t given the chance because the women are preemptively protecting themselves from potential perceived harms.
And the vicious cycle continues, spiraling out of control.
Until we reach the place we are in now: men and women who don’t see eye to eye. Women who think they should be independent of men. Men who don’t know what to make of this. A society of people who can’t relate to one another in a healthy way. Who, due to rabid feminism, see marriage and gender roles as backward or stifling.
So we start adopting the western model of egalitarianism and fall into the educationalist and careerist traps. But then we still wonder why we can’t find anyone to marry.
We as Muslims cannot afford to ignore the overall context of modern dysfunction and pretend the backdrop to all this isn’t there: the modern western demolition of the extended family system, the isolation of the nuclear family, and the rapid destruction of even the nuclear family unit itself. The concerted effort to reshape society by deforming the family: the wife/ mother is shoved out of the home and into the workplace to make “her own money” “just in case,” and the husband/ father is supposed to be “secure” enough and “non-toxic-masculine” enough to let her be her best self. Everyone is an androgynous slave in the capitalistic consumerist corporate system.
What will happen to the children? To the family? To society?