I’m not usually (read: never) this open about this topic. But the anonymity, or semi-anonymity, of this blog helps me move my thoughts around and work through them. I love that about blogs 🙂
I’ve always been struck by the difference between how Muslim and non-Muslim fathers act towards their daughters.
Growing up white on the inside I always thought it was sweet and interesting how in non-Muslim societies there tended to be this animosity toward whomever the daughter was with by the dad. It wasn’t usually because of who the boy was, it was just because this boy was with his daughter. I can understand the sentiment…kind of. As girls, we’re naturally, biologically, sexual beings. It can’t be helped, that’s just who we are. And I can empathize with how, from the dad’s point of view, the fact that someone is with his daughter will mean that he will have to deal with the fact that they are together sexually.
Somehow, it makes sense. As a girl, I don’t see myself feeling this way about my own daughters. It’s a part of life, it’s not negative, and there’s nothing wrong with it. But, somehow, when it’s from the dad’s point of view, it becomes a matter of…protection. It’s somewhat irrational so I can’t explain it too well, but it has to do with this idea of, “how dare you think about and be with my daughter in that manner. How dare you see her and treat her as a sexual being.” It makes sense in some twisted way, but the logic really is twisted. How come, I would wonder when I was younger, this sentiment wasn’t around when the dad was with the wife? It’s okay for you to be with a woman but not for your daughter to be with a man?
I’m not sure that I’m explaining this too well, but I would seriously question the love this man had for the wife. Yes, the love between a man and his wife, and the love between a man and his daughter, is completely different in nature, but it just seemed wrong to me that this fierce protection didn’t extend to his wife.
Fast forward a couple of years and my own parents want me to get married. When the idea of marriage, that my parents want me to get married, first came up, I thought about why my dad wasn’t fiercely protective of me in the way that these other American dads were. I’m his daughter after all, shouldn’t he be all up in the face of any guy who even thinks about me in an inappropriate manner?
Don’t get me wrong, this was never a sad thought for me, it was just an intriguing question that I could never quite put my fingers around. The more I thought about it the more intrigued I became. Why did this difference exist? What was it about these cultures that was so inherently different it changed their whole perspective on the people their daughters chose?
My theory is this: non-Muslim cultures, especially in the West, tend to be more liberal.
So, when a non-Muslim brings home a guy, the dad doesn’t know who the guy is, what his intentions are, etc. The guy could be a complete sleazeball who’s only looking to sleep with the daughter and then dump her. How would you know?
In Muslim societies, however, guys are traditionally looked at for one thing and one thing only: marriage. There’s not usually a question of hey, let’s sleep around a little beforehand. So, when prospective guys are looked at in Muslim societies, neither side expects anything but marriage. Somehow, this changes the dynamic. Yes, the guy and the daughter will still have a sexual relationship, but the idea of the guy using the girl simply for her sexuality is gone.
While I still wonder why there isn’t the slightest bit of anger/hatred toward the guy by the father in Muslim societies, I also think the idea that there should be is ridiculous. Sexuality is natural, and done within the right setting and under the right circumstances, it can be beautiful. I will always feel as if the non-Muslim paradigm of father/son-in-law hostility is hypocritical because of this. You can’t act one way and then impose a different standard on your daughter. The only choice this would leave for the daughter would be to never get married, which makes very little sense.
In conclusion, the only real difference in practice between the relationship between a Muslim girl and guy, and the relationship between a non-Muslim girl guy appears to be that the Muslim girl/guy relationship isn’t purely sexual since it’s almost always within the idea of marriage. I’m not saying all non-Muslim guy/girl relationships are purely sexual, but it comes down to the question of how would you know? Somehow, the fact that a marriage has many, many different parts to it and that only one part is sexual in nature, makes all the difference.