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Is Your Rainbow Man Secretly Having You Fitted for a Burqa?

July 5, 2010

Me, happily NOT in a burka.

The picture you see to the left is a backdrop of the Mexican Riviera.  I recall the scenery was beautiful–except for those Aztec temples where they threw the heads of decapitated futbol players down from the top of those pyramid thing-ys like in Apacalypto. sheesh.

I also remember a young married couple that we often ran into on the boat and on-shore excursions.  They stand out for me because of how odd I thought it was that the wife–a pretty Middle Eastern woman–wore a head cover, one short sleeve shirt over a long sleeve shirt, and long pants and sneakers, despite the temperature hovering around hot-as-hell degrees.  The husband?  Oh, he sported shorts and a tank top with snazzy sunglasses.  He and his buddy dressed in similar fashion, chuckling over whatever they thought was funny, while his wife maniacally snapped at her shirts, trying in vain to dry that bird bath of sweat accumulating between her breasts.

Even while we were on the beach snorkeling, her husband put on the wetsuit and had his fun while the wife sat on a towel with sweat beads this size of pearls dripping from her forehead, holding tight to a smile.

I kept elbowing my husband, hissing about how that jerk* stayed cool and could enjoy the sunshine without the threat of heat stroke while his wife veered on the brink of one.  Unless that girl had a pretty severe case of psoriasis, she wore all those clothes because she was expected to.

Now I’ll admit I have a really hard time understanding this, so that’s why I brought in Faizal Sahukhan, a psychologist and author of Dating the Ethnic Man: Strategies for Success.  Regardless of what race the girl an ethnic man is dating, he wants to present her as quiet, modest and subservient.  “In ethnic cultures, it is the women who are responsible for the husband and his family’s honor,” he said in the book.  When the wife carries herself modestly and virginal, it augments the status of the husband and the entire family.

That may be all well and good if that is how you are raised, but what if your rainbow man met you in a miniskirt but wants you to wear a burqa when his parents come for a visit?  As a modern Western woman, this may become a very real point of contention as a relationship becomes more serious.

But don’t be so quick to think your boo has suddenly been possessed by the Taliban–Dr. Sahukhan says that men often react in such a manner for reasons that are “often out of his control.”

So there you have it.  It certainly seems that one culture will have to bend and compromise, or else, how can it work?  I don’t know– I suppose I could wear a burka once a year on grandma’s birthday, but I’ll be damned if I give up ALL my miniskirts.

What say you?  Have any BB&W members faced cultural pressures related to modesty?  How the heck do you deal???

*Eh, chalk it up to my Western superiority complex

51 Comments leave one →
  1. July 5, 2010 10:30 pm

    what kills me is that it’s BEYOND hot as hell in the places where all of those layers are “necessary”. I can’t imagine chilling in the desert with 14 layers of clothes on. I’m already a cranky beyotch when it’s nearing 90 and I have on my shorts and a t-shirt, let alone 20 more layers to maintain my modesty. I’m sorry, couldn’t do it, just wouldn’t be comfortable for me in the least. and I like my cleavage, lol, I don’t want to be a part of a society who can’t appreciate my yummy orbs 😛

    • Christelyn permalink*
      July 5, 2010 10:33 pm

      No kidding. Back in the REAL desert it’s like 120 degrees and women are wearing more than that. What was interesting about what my source said is that these men are indeed appreciative of “yummy orbs,” but once they “possess” them, they want the woman to hide them for HIS enjoyment only.

      • July 5, 2010 10:39 pm

        oh yes, I know about the “be mine and for my enjoyment only, cover up otherwise” type of life. Couldn’t do it…then it leads to other ways of him “possessing” me…can I drive alone? can I go here without a chaperone? are you going to tell me what to do? no makeup (I’d have to cut someone over my makeup, just saying lol)? convert to your religion and wear a headscarf all of the time? It pretty much leads to a bunch of things that I just don’t see ME doing (fine for others, not so much my style).

  2. Isis permalink
    July 5, 2010 10:46 pm

    I had a committed relationship with an Asian man who had some very primitive thoughts on women and their role in a union with a man. I shouldve known this prior to the relationship because he made comments about women being “very submissive” but his culture had ways of doing things that I just couldn’t agree with: Women work sometimes more than a man but hand over her paycheck all money goes to him and he doles out what he think you should have. That I could not even fathom or consider doing so we parted ways. There were many other things that culturally were over the top I won’t get into but in closing an ethnic man could in some situations be worse than any American man you ever encountered.

    • Christelyn permalink*
      July 5, 2010 10:49 pm

      Sadly Isis, I think you may be on to something.

  3. Eugenia permalink
    July 5, 2010 10:51 pm

    There’s something to be said for having things in common. I’m an American black woman, I’m also a Christian, I also hold two degrees, and come from a big close family. In my first marriage we didn’t have much in common, which lead to some resentment from him towards me. I know people say opposites attract but I don’t think so. I actually wanted someone who was similar to me in education, cultural background, and family. I’m not saying it’s impossible for people to get along when they are culturally different but you do have to make an effort to understand where they are coming from and in many cultures women are to seen and not heard very much or at all, that happens when you get to religious differences too. Because my fiancee and I are very similar in background so it makes easy for us, I’m too old for a challenge when it comes to relationships.

    • Christelyn permalink*
      July 6, 2010 6:07 am

      When it comes to religion and culture, I’m right there with you. But I think it is important to note that not all Muslim men follow these traditions, especially if their family has assimilated into Western culture. My best friend is Iranian and we a former Muslim, and would wear a bikini like nobody’s business! She has three brothers, and all the women I’ve seen them involved with (married or courting) dress just as slutty as the rest of us Americans. 🙂

      • Eugenia permalink
        July 6, 2010 8:01 pm

        I’m aware that there are ‘liberal’ Muslims as there are ‘liberal’ Christians, since I am a ‘liberal’ Christian which would have probably meant hard time for me and a ‘conservative’ Christian. But if you keep open communication and talk about the differences and expectations and you won’t up and one day be surprised when he whips out the burka LOL.

  4. David Wise permalink
    July 5, 2010 11:19 pm

    I’ve been with more women out of my race than within and I never had a problem with cultural or racial differences. I guess I just see my partners as human beings and me likewise. When I was with my significant other, the problems I encountered fell along the lines of normal man/woman issues. Perhaps if I were married to a woman who had to wear a burka outdoors, I’d probably have to make some slight adjustments to keep our union happy. Given my personality, after a period of time, I wouldn’t even notice the burka.

    • Christelyn permalink*
      July 6, 2010 6:12 am

      David, you wouldn’t notice a burka? Have you seen how long and flowing those garments are? If you’re not paying attention, you could step on the hem and send the girl flying, now completely disrobed, because you didn’t watch where you were going. Good job, David.
      (you know I’m kidding, right? 🙂

  5. July 6, 2010 1:08 am

    As I have mentioned in a previous post on this blog, I was a practicing muslim and as such, I did cover up. In Islam it is expected, but it is not SUPPOSED to be compulsive, although the majority of the men do want you to be covered, and I know men who *demanded* it from the women around them. They have convinced women that this is what a pious woman should do, and so the women oblige. Other women are also used to get the woman to submit. These are American women that I am speaking of , as well as foreign-born women. In the Quran it does mention that a woman should be covered, as well. Being American, I would dress in non-revealing American attire that wasn’t revealing along with the headscarf showing only my face hands and feet. In regard to the comments about being hot I have to say that it depends on the fabric and colors that you wear. In the summer I would wear lightweight, light-colored fabrics that bounce off the sun’s rays. I would NEVER wear anything that had a medium or dark color to it unless it was cool or cold out. In doing so, I was able to keep cool, or at least not suffer from sunstroke.

    One thing that a woman really needs to keep in mind when dating a muslim is that things are not always as they seem. Your best bet is to look at how his mother and sisters dress. If they are covered, he will more than likely expect you to cover. Do not be fooled by him *telling* you that he won’t expect you to cover, especially if he or his parents are foreign-born. There are stories of western women who found out after marriage what their husbands really expected of them. Do an internet search on it. With all of the religious fanaticism and radicalism that is going on within the islamic communities, I would be very cautious.

    Personally & socially I am a pretty laid back person who is relatively quiet unless I am speaking to close friends, so because of this, I am a magnet for certain types of foreign tan/brown/black men. If I am in a social situation, I try to avoid looking at them because I do not want to encourage them in any way. :-/ I am non-confrontational, so I find that ignoring them works best for me.

    To be honest, all of the “other” men (minus the crazy Japanese guy who wanted some “ghetto” girl) that I have dated have had a mindset to where women are supposed to be super modest in some way or that the woman should be subservient in some way to their man. The only guy that it wasn’t so overt with it was the mexican/puerto rican (mixed) guy that I dated, but even he had his moments sometimes. I beleive that all men, to a certain extent harbor these ideas or expectations, but some are more demanding of their women to conform to these ideas, by force if necessary.

    • Christelyn permalink*
      July 6, 2010 6:29 am

      Lafemme, I think you posit some excellent advice. In fact in the book I mention, the psychologist says that ethnic men often do a “bait and switch,” first appearing to not have a problem with your dress until it gets serious. He says because ethnic men will go after what they want until they get it (like most men), but then gradually work on molding you into their value system as time progresses.

  6. Patricia permalink
    July 6, 2010 1:09 am

    That is one of many reasons why I could never date a Muslim man.
    I am who I am. I have a degree in fashion and I’ll be G-damned
    if some man is going to tell me how to dress.

  7. smelodydiva permalink
    July 6, 2010 3:46 am

    I think ethnic/cultural conflicts can always be difficult to deal with in a romantic relationship. These are things people should talk about before entering a relationship with another. Faith, cultural, familial traditions are very important to folks and I think sometimes it is hard for us as westerners to understand it. We had a heatwave here in Syracuse, NY yesterday and I saw a few Indian women walking around fully garbed from neck to toe in the muggy heat. I replied to my sister that I couldn’t do it. I don’t have that much devotion but then I stepped back and thought, well being a Christian I’m sure people have thought that about me and what point or the other. Also, I think in this country being free and liberated as a woman has been tied to one’s body which is not the case in other countries so that makes these kinds of conflicts difficult. Good Post!

    P.S.–Thanks for putting me on your blogroll. I’ve received some good foot traffic from your site. It’s so nice to have help since I am so new in the game:).

    • Christelyn permalink*
      July 6, 2010 7:47 am

      You’re welcome. Someone did that for me–CW aka–so I’m paying it forward.

  8. ZooPath permalink
    July 6, 2010 4:54 am

    That would be such a deal breaker for me. Once my husband (Taiwanese american) and I got engaged he didn’t want me to wear some of my more immodest clothes out in public and he also didn’t want my heels to make me taller than him. It was a small change to accomadate him so I was okay with it, but burkas would be out of the question at any time or place. I don’t like the idea of people not seeing my face. When I was dating a non-Muslim Lebanese/Cajun dude I changed completely for him: no cursing, I wore makeup whenever I saw him, dressing feminine, being more docile, the whole bit. Still didn’t keep him from dropping me once he parent’s objected to the negress, so I would advise not to undergo drastic change to be with someone. If they are going to love and appreciate you, they will love 90% of the person you are, not have to do total home makeover on your life.

  9. BlkQueenBee permalink
    July 6, 2010 7:27 am

    Any of the things described in here would just be out of the question for me. It is just not going to happen; I am going to wear what I want, say what I want, and do what I want. And thank God every day that I live in a modern Western society where I can do what I do those things and no one wants to cane me, give me lashes, or stone me to death.

    If those requests were made of me, I would just have to find another man. There are too many men in the world to have to kowtow to religious or cultural bliefs/traditions that I find demeaning or repellant.

    Don’t ask me to be weak just so that you can feel strong. If you’re a man, I want you to be strong without having to diminish me in the process.

    • Christelyn permalink*
      July 6, 2010 7:46 am

      Well said.

    • July 6, 2010 7:51 am

      so much ditto and bravo for that post! i completely agree 🙂 this line should be on bumper stickers and t-shirts: “Don’t ask me to be weak just so that you can feel strong. If you’re a man, I want you to be strong without having to diminish me in the process.”

      • July 6, 2010 12:36 pm

        Hmmm… I like that quote… a lot! I know a place where we can get custom bumper stickers made…

    • Violet permalink
      July 6, 2010 4:10 pm

      “Don’t ask me to be weak just so that you can feel strong. If you’re a man, I want you to be strong without having to diminish me in the process.”

      Wow, that is good. I don’t know if it’s catchy enough to put on a tee shirt, but it’s very good. Gotta remember that!

  10. Sincerae Smith permalink
    July 6, 2010 7:54 am

    It depends on the country where the man is from and immediate family and community values. Muslim countries are not a monolith. There needs to be care in making generalizations. There is a lot of variety concerning dress for women depending on the country. Most of our experience has been from hearing about Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, so people think they are the norm. Some societies are extremely conservative, while others are more liberal, but generally ideas about female virtue is different than here, even in the Christian communities that exist in some of these countries. Yes, there are Christians in some of these countries, and the communities have been there since the beginning of the religion, some of these people’s ancestors having been converted by some of the Apostles.

    I’ve lived in Turkey which about 98% Muslim. I’ve dated a Turkish man. I’ve taught classes where sometimes most of my students were men. I had few serious problems. I was treated with a lot of respect and appreciation the majority of the time. Turkish society is split on the issue of conservative female wear. Some young Turkish wear mini-skirts. They go to the beach and wear bikinis. I worked as a private tutor for a Turkish family and the husband had no problem with his wife wearing a bikini at a resort where we went even with Turkish and foreign men around. The husband was more of a practicing Muslim than the wife. So generalizations can’t be applied here. It depends also if a individual wants to become more Westernized even if their family is conservative.

    In Turkey you might have a family and some of the women within that unit who will dress conservative and others will dress very fashionable with their cues from Europe. In Turkey there is a societal battle over whether women should be wearing burkas (as you call them, but the name and style varies by country) and headscarves. The Republic of Turkey which came out of the flames of the old Ottoman Empire was founded on western principles, and for the last 80 years Turks have debated about conservative female dress. Many Turkish men hate the sight of a woman who dresses covered. In their universities it is against the law for female students or faculty to wear a headscarf.

    I have both conservative and liberal Turkish female friends. I blend in with them both. One friend who is conservative is getting a doctorate. Most of her Muslim female friends dress conservative, but they are also highly educated, some even being doctors. My friend loves to dress very colorful in her conservative dress, and her husband allows her a lot of freedom. She dresses the way she does because she is a devout Muslim and women in her town always were covered, though she says times are changing. She even wears makeup, even though some conservative Muslim women won’t or are not allowed too. So one has to try and look deeply at the man’s values one is dating and thinking about marrying and find out how women in his home environment, town, or village dressed.

    Ironically before the US invaded Iraq, many women there including the wives and daughters of Saddam Hussein dressed Western. Once the US established the kind of government favorable to this country’s interests conservative elements took over and women were forced to wear the abaya. Even Christian women there have been threatened and killed since the invasion because extremists demanded that they cover themselves. The invasion actually helped destroy the freedom of Iraqi women and put Christian women in a terrible situation where extremist Muslim men demanded that Christian families hand over their daughters for marriage and conversion.

    I think that any woman who becomes interested in a man from an Eastern culture needs to look beyond emotion and desperation to get married. She needs to do her homework. She needs to be willing to also adapt to some of his culture. I really believe in when in Rome, do as the Romans do, as long as the practice is not physically or morally harmful.

    Since Christianity was born in the Middle East, something a lot of Americans seem to forget, there is a non-specific dress code stated even in the Bible:

    Timothy 2:9-10 “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”

    I like to dress modestly and stylish, myself as a Christian. I really learned how to dress in Turkey because they are more elitist about fashion than here in America. They would never wear sweat pants out in public. Some of the little girls are allowed to, but the outfit has to be pretty. Turks wear sweat pants to lounge in at home. They make even their casual chic. I loved working at the schools where I did and see the guys dressed in suits and ties, the girls jazzing up their casual wear with pretty scarves or shawls.

    What both parties in relationships have to remember is it has be 50/50. Both have to be willing to adapt and learn. There has to be respect.

    • Christelyn permalink*
      July 6, 2010 8:09 am

      Thanks for bringing some additional perspective on the topic. You are right, you can’t generalize, but do you have some advice about how to pick up cultural cues that may indicate that modest dress is held to a high standard from family to family? Lafemme suggested women take note of what their significant others’ mother, aunts and sisters dress. Can you think of anything else?

    • Sharmah permalink
      August 2, 2010 1:12 pm

      Agreed,I was married to a “modern” Turkish man for 10 years and I only wore the hijab/burkas a couple of times,he hated me to wear them,even when we traveled with his family. His mom laughed the first time I visited them in their town and I wore a beautiful white hijab set I purchased from a “Muslim” store online,she hugged me and tore it off my face/head. But we did wear it when we visited relatives in a nearby village,but only outside,not in the house. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be , little bit uncomfortable and itchy,but I could deal and when we got back to the States,it was all over. But I always dressed modestly in the Christian sense,so I never really had a problem,that was my choice. Thank God!

  11. July 6, 2010 8:28 am

    This phrase bothers me : Dr. Sahukhan says that men often react in such a manner for reasons that are “often out of his control.” What the hell kind of weak excuse is that for a man to treat you like an animal then throw up his hands and say his behavior is not under his control?

    It most certain is!

    If he acts a fool, it is only because he wants to. Women love to give men excuses for being stupid, violent, abusive… for ignoring them, being shallow and a host of other negative behaviors. Women need to hold men wholly accountable for EVERYTHING they do and EVERYTHING they say, and stop giving them passes on mistreating females. There is no excuse.

    Much of this conflict could be alleviated if women were not in such a rush to “have a relationship” and instead took their time with men. Slow things down. Get to know him through lots of conversation. Talk to him about his ideas of a wife, how he grew up, his perception of feminism, female sexuality, how he imagines his sons and daughters growing up, etc. Women don’t ask enough questions! What amazes me is many females will sleep with a guy first then whine “I’m not sure how he feels about me.”

    These are all issues that a woman should have confidence in about a man before she gets horizontal. If you don’t have full and complete answers to these questions and more, there is no way that you would know if this man is compatible and a possible good partner for you or not.

  12. Sincerae Smith permalink
    July 6, 2010 9:26 am

    Christelyn, Deborrah and Lafemme are also right. Women do need to ask more questions and do their research. We have fortunate to have the internet so we can network with other Western women who are living in other countries and who are dating or married to Eastern men.

    There are also the Culture Shock! books that give general information about the cultures of certain countries all the way down to if it is appropriate to kiss in public. The only problem is that such books can become dated. I’ve read books that said that Turkish men and women don’t kiss in public since it’s a Muslim country, but I’ve seen some of them do so in Istanbul which is one of the world’s latest cities. Even some of the girls with headscarves will kiss their boyfriends and husbands in public. However, out in rural Turkey it’s different. No holding hands or kissing in public.

    These are complex societies, far more complex than the USA. Many are transitioning over (if their governments and other guard allows them too) and mixing what works for them of the Western and also keeping some of their traditions. Generally in all these cultures women (even the Christians) people are more conservative in their outlook. People are not as open about issues of sex as here. If you marry a man from the East, in many cases you can’t isolate yourselves from the in-laws. Some of these societies at certain times in their history were tribal or slightly tribal if just from a religious or ethnic standpoint. You basically marry the family as well when you marry some of these men. Extreme American individualism is not going to work. I’m African-American, and when I was last in Turkey there was another African-American woman at a school where I taught. She tried to apply what is acceptable here with some women to there, and the Turks ended up despising her for being loud, chasing men, using profanity. They took it for awhile and laughed like “that crazy American,” but in the end they got rid of her for unprofessional conduct.

    The reverse has also happened to a young Turkish woman I know. She’s about 25, and she came here thinking she could get a rich husband. She complained to me about where do you meet people besides a bar. She was also hurt that all the guys she’s met only as her for sex. She complained that it has been the same with not just the young guys, but a man she met that was over 40. She wants to get married, but she didn’t do her research. She didn’t used me as a resource. She just jumped according to her dreams and what she saw in American movies. That wasn’t smart. Turks love to get married generally. She thought it was the same here. The divorce rates in place with Turkey are low compared because the parents and other relatives will try to keep the marriages together. This girl went the opposite of many women here who sleep with guys first and ask questions later. She just wanted to marry. But how many young guys her age here will. Many just want to have fun when their in they’re in their early 20s. By the time most Turks are 30 they have married.

    You have to ask questions. You have to do research. You also have to realize what a Turkish friend of mine has said is true about marriage isn’t easy even if you’re from the same culture. A lot of Americans don’t want to compromise. We want to keep our individualism. We want our freedom and independence. My experience with the Turkish man I dated was not that he was domineering, but he was too weak and lacked courage. He would treat me like a queen at times, but he was weak. I’ve heard this complain from some of the Turkish women that their men are eternal boys.

    Like I said these are complex cultures. Americans like certainty, and that isn’t a lot of the world. There is no happily ever after anywhere or easy answers. There has to be hard work. I know someone who was married to an Indian years ago, and she ruined the marriage because she got upset because he wanted her to wear a sari when they went over to India to visit his family. She refused to, saying it was dishonest, that she isn’t an Indian. Her husband was an Indian, so what was the point? What was so deadly about wearing a sari for a few days in India? So that is why I feel a lot of American and Western women might not be cut out for these kind of relationships Sure there are bad foreign guys out there who abuse and take advantage of women. But some comments I’ve seen American women make online about tricking their foreign husbands into doing things the guy doesn’t want to do, or insulting their mother-in-laws or not wanting his family to come around so much, shows that some of us ought to sick with American men or just stay single.

    Marriage anywhere has to be compromise. A lot of questions, research, observation, and soul searching has to be done. Fools rush into anything.

    • BlkQueenBee permalink
      July 6, 2010 11:15 am

      Sincerae –

      I agree, compromise is key to a successful marriage. But, I also think that is incumbent upon both parties to make sure before marriage that there is no need for a great deal of compromise, and, that any compromise that will be needed is acceptable.

      Other women may be OK with compromising their core values for love, but I cannot. As romantic as the idea may be, if it came down to it, I couldn’t go against my core beliefs in order to maintain harmony in the relationship.

      I do agree with the gist of your statement that most American women should stick with American men, although I would deviate somewhat from that and say that they should probably stick with American men or European men. And, I would include myself in that group of American women – I just can’t see myself being happy with most men outside of those regions. Not all of the men outside of Europe and America would be problematic for me; I’m sure there are exceptions from every place that wants their women to be subservient and covered up, but it doesn’t seem as if those populations of acceptable men from those parts of the world would be very large. Plus, I have to tell you, I would be very concerned about the whole “bait and switch” thing, even with those guys. Everything’s all fine until you’re married, and then, suddenly, he wants you to conform to his idea of a good, obedient wife.

      And now I’m going to watch my Dutch guys (hopefully) triumph in the World Cup quarterfinals.

      • BlkQueenBee permalink
        July 6, 2010 1:35 pm

        Sorry, semifinals, didn’t mean to sell the game short.

        And, yes, my Dutch boys won! They’re in the World Cup final!

      • Sincerae Smith permalink
        July 6, 2010 2:01 pm


        Compromise means that both parties come to a balanced agreement. This is about 50/50. The woman isn’t usurping her position, and neither is the man. Are you saying that you there will never going to be any disagreements on anything? Some of the ladies on here seem to be, and I’m sorry that isn’t reality. There’s no way that anyone can meet someone who thinks exactly like him or her even in the same culture. Such expectations will doom any relationship to failure.

      • BlkQueenBee permalink
        July 6, 2010 2:09 pm

        No, I’m saying that there will ALWAYS be disagreements that crop up, even in marriages where both people are very simpatico.

        Therefore, it’s incumbent upon both the prospective bride and groom to take time and choose their lifetime mate carefully in order to keep the compromises required for them to stay together to a minimum.

        That why I stated that I believe that my chances of ending up with a man that is not European or American are quite remote – there is just too much of a yawning chasm there in terms of values and beliefs about a woman’s place or a woman’s duties, right from the get-go.

  13. Amber permalink
    July 6, 2010 12:58 pm

    Yes, it is essential to make sure your man (of any race) has views about women’s role in society and in a relationship that match very closely with yours. Life is too short, and the world is too full of men, to have to rearrange your basic worldview in a relationship. Even in couples from the same culture there are debates, discussions and fights over this issue. Think of all the couples who fight over doing the dishes, paying the bills, watching the kids… those didn’t use to be a problem because Men Did X and Women Did Y. Now that our culture has changed those things need constant negotiation.

    Choosing a man from a culture where one or both of you will have to bend over backwards and tie yourselves in knots to meet in the middle is likely to end in failure. Compatibility is the most important element in a marriage. If you know from the outset that you are incompatible, it’s foolish to continue, imo.

    A word about the men who act one way in courtship and another way in marriage: remember how men operate! They are trying to win a prize. They may be so caught up in a woman emotionally that they tell themselves they could live with her feminist views or what-have-you… but once the prize is won and the race is over, things change. Women do the same to men! Oh, sure, we tell him. I love cooking, I enjoy cleaning. I really want to have sex 4x per day every day for life. But once the ring is on the finger… The best predictor of future behavior is relevant past behavior. If all his ex-gfs started wearing niqab after 6 months of dating him, guess who will need to go shopping once the relationship progresses!

  14. Elaine permalink
    July 6, 2010 1:07 pm

    Wow, there are sooo many things I want to say here, but I’m going to be good. I can say (not 100% but close enough) with certainty that I will not stand for men who believe women should be covered head to toe while he gets to wear any old thing. For me it’s all about equality. So, if I have to be cover head to toe, he better be as well. Likewise, if I don’t have any restrictions on my dress, neither will he.

    I read in the above comments that men, in general, believe in some amount (rather low or high) of submission by the woman. I’m not sure if I believe this, but I really don’t want *any* man that does not believe in equality among the sexes and equality of partners in a marriage. That’s just one of my non-negotiables. Because this my non-negotiable, you better believe I will be like a detective on his butt to make sure our beliefs align BEFORE we get settled and talking about marriage.

  15. Hodan permalink
    July 6, 2010 1:13 pm

    I tried to read this post with an open mind, knowing as an American, all you see and know about Muslims (1.5 Billions of all ethnic and national identities around the world, mostly in Asia and Europe) is the ignorant stereotype from the godforsaken ugly look that is ‘Burqa’…ala Afghanistan.

    Before I go any further, ‘burqa’ is a Northern Pakistan/Pashtu ethnic Afghan traditions and its not something most Muslim women wear. If you go to Zanzibar or Senegal, Muslim women wear African head gears and cover differently in their own culture, if you go to Indonesia or Malaysia, Muslim women head cover and modesty is its own unique style, Turkey and many European countries Muslim citizens dress differently equally. So, to make a sweeping generalization about Muslim women, by thinking we all wear the dark ninja hood like Saudi Arabia or Burqa like Afghans is absurd, if not down right offensive.

    Another thing, Hijab or any head cover is none of anyone’s business. Sadly though politicizing what a woman wears whether we are in Iran, Saudi Arabia, France or Turkey (some ban them, while others force them on woman), is equally intrusive and violates basic premise of freedom of choice and freedom of religion.

    Most ‘ethnic’ men (ironic since we all are composition of ethnic groups from Irish and Scots, to Tamil or Chinese, etc) have little to do with what a woman wears, unless a wife wants to please her significant other for whatever reason it might be, whether its sexing it up or down playing it. In fact, depending on education and income, many Muslim fathers and husbands do not like their daughters and wives wearing the head cover and prefer them to be more Westernized. Just meet any Arab or South Asian men in Europe or North America and very few have wanted their women to cover up. Its only in tribal and traditional regions where men expect such cultural norms.

    Lastly, the woman you encountered in Mexico, it would have been better for you to approach her and ask if she felt comfortable with what she wore. Hijab to many of us is a personal choice, a spiritual relationship between the creator & us. So, for anyone to assume all Muslim woman are oppressed or forced into wearing it is condescending and stereotyping.

    I rarely wear the traditional head cover, unless I’m going to the Mosque. Nevertheless, as a woman of color, I wear triple hat most times…black….woman and a Muslim….so I always make sure not to advocate or promote any form of stereotypes.

    here is kewl blog by a British Muslim lady on Hijab and fashion:

    • Christelyn permalink*
      July 6, 2010 1:18 pm

      Apologies on the misspelling of burqa–made the change. Gotta love digital publishing! 🙂

    • Christelyn permalink*
      July 6, 2010 1:25 pm

      Hodan, you are a regular here. No way do I want to offend. But BECAUSE you are a regular, you know I often exaggerate to make a point. I have to say, however, there was no way I was going to ask that woman in Mexico if she was comfortable, when visibly I could see she was not. Girl, you know I like you, but it sounds like you’re saying that Muslim women covering themselves is their sole choice. You don’t think cultural pressure and the Dr.’s reference to “family honor” doesn’t play a role?

      • Hodan permalink
        July 6, 2010 1:35 pm

        of course cultural practice plays a major role. I should say, us Western woman, the majority of us cover or uncover due to personal choice. Heck, most of the ladies who wear the face cover are white ladies who converted to Islam in the past 10 yrs.

        I remember a story where one of my good friends for 2 years decided to wear to face cover, we tried to discourage her since nothing in Islam requires it…its mostly Arab pagan tradition. Anyway, she did wear them one time to the supermarket and there was this couple, the woman (its always women being nasty to their gender) was dissing her in patois/patwa. Since, my friend was completely covered, the couple assumed she’s some Arab woman off the refugee boat as the dis used to be back in high school. So, Sharifa as a Jamaican Canadian, turned on the woman and gave her a piece of her mind. The shock on the woman’s face was priceless, and her husbands started laughing and telling her she should be careful before opening her mouth.

        in short, what I’m against is any form of assumption. The same way in some countries, woman are forced to wear the burqa or remove the simple head cover…..its equally obvious that million others choice it out of their own free will.

  16. Hodan permalink
    July 6, 2010 1:18 pm

    By the way, her husband should have covered more, men are only allowed to show certain part of their body as well. Well unlike Orthodox Jews and Muslims, as long you dress modestly, you can wear about anything for many of us.

    Anyone who is dating a Muslim/Christian/Hindu man or woman from ethnic backgrounds other than Caucasian, the same courtesy and common sense should apply. Try not to bring your stereotypes on the 1st date and make sure to educate yourself, instead of relying on your date. Just because you are Arab, Asian, African or Caucasian Muslim, does not mean you are informed about your own faith. Most of us practice the religion we were born into, rather than think through why we do certain things.

    • lafemmenoir permalink
      July 6, 2010 2:57 pm

      Hodan, as you may well know, Muslim men **only** have to be covered from their navel to their knees. They do not have to wear a shirt or cover their upper body at all when swimming. Some muslim cultures are more conservative than others and you might find a man who covers more, but this would not be a common practice. As far as muslim dress and attire as it pertains to women, you are supposed to dress acording to Quranic scripture, although some have taken this to some extreme with the abayas/burqas/jilbab/niqab/etc. Also, I don’t know why people try to glaze over Islamic dress code as if it isn’t important, when in fact it is, especially when your potential mate is a practicing muslim, because he may well expect that you dress a certain way.

      As far as educating one’s self about others’ cultures, yes I agree, you should, irregardless to their color. Their is such variety even among american whites & european whites that one would be hard-pressed to say that ALL whites are/do/think x,y,z, which is why I was surprised that you excluded them in your statement-

      “Anyone who is dating a Muslim/Christian/Hindu man or woman from ethnic backgrounds other than Caucasian, the same courtesy and common sense should apply.”

      I would say that it would apply across the board (ie race, ethnicity, nationality, etc) not just to religion or religious preference. I’m just saying…

  17. Hodan permalink
    July 6, 2010 1:45 pm

    so sorry for the triple post, this is my last post of the day:

    1. I’m being blunt here, but many non-Muslim & non-Hindu ladies in the West assume dating some of these guys is easy and love will cure it all. For one, know that unless you did your homework, many of these men will date you for the sex and dump you when their families pressure them to marry a virginal approved bride. Its ugly, but its the reality in many South Asian and Arab families, specially the financially well off.

    I know so many girls who dated guys for yrs (in general, if a man is not committing to you for life after 3 yrs, its about time to asses it and think about NOT wasting your youth), then suddenly they break up and he goes and marries some other chick in less than 6 months.

    2. There are westernized, agnostic/atheist ‘Muslim/Hindu’ men, who could care less either way, but treat them like any other man by making sure they are worth your effort.

    3. More likely than not Muslim woman would be couragous to marry outside of her community, but it rarely happens for Muslim men….they tend to submit to family pressure.

    • Christelyn permalink*
      July 6, 2010 2:01 pm

      Hodan, thank you, thank you for telling that hard truth. I’m guessing there’s some lurkers on here who needed to hear this.

  18. Sincerae Smith permalink
    July 6, 2010 2:48 pm

    This might be interesting about the practice of veiling in Islam:

    There was an Iranian site in English that I was looking for that talked about this. I found it a few years ago, but I can’t locate it now. It had some interesting drawings of clothing for women in pre-Islamic times and afterward. It also said that the hijab, burqa, etc. were influenced by the clothing that rich Christian women in Byzantine times wore when they left their homes.

    There is also a Turkish journalist whose blog I follow that once wrote that the hijab was influenced by the robes that Orthodox Christian nuns wore. He is one that wants no hijabs in Turkey. Orthodox nuns still wear the old garments too. See the link below.

    I visit a Greek Orthodox church sometimes, and sometimes one of the African and one of the Russian ladies who go there cover their heads at time with a scarf especially if they go up and receive Communion.

    Women in Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions have all at one time or another covered their heads.

  19. lafemmenoir permalink
    July 6, 2010 3:13 pm

    As far as dating a woman for many years and then dumping the woman due to family pressure- this is cowardice on the man’s part, plain and simple. I am happy that you did mention it because it is not an uncommon practice, even among muslims. In all actuality, it is a common practice for follower’s of other faiths and backgrounds as well. Great resopnse overall.

    Also you wrote:

    “3. More likely than not Muslim woman would be couragous to marry outside of her community, but it rarely happens for Muslim men….they tend to submit to family pressure.”

    A muslimah (a muslim woman) is forbidden to marry a non-muslim man, according to Quranic scripture. To do so would be going against her faith(haram). However, a muslim man can marry a woman who is not a muslim as long as she is a “woman of the book”, which when taken literally means a Christian or Jewish woman, although most will say that it applies to a woman who doesn’t have polytheistic beliefs, and then there are those that will say that it applies to all women, irregardless to their belief system, or lack hereof.

  20. lafemmenoir permalink
    July 6, 2010 3:36 pm

    I think that sometimes, no matter how much you get to know a person, you will never truly know them and that if they want to hide something from you, they can and will.

    In the vein of honesty, I have to say that I have a slight paranoid fear when dating “ethnic” men that their families will appear to accept our relationship while secretly plotting to break us up somehow. I think that it has to do with the Chaiman Rai case, maybe.

    Also, if you think that some black people have serious colorism issues, you would be shocked to know that “other” people do as well, some even worse than our community.

    • Eugenia permalink
      July 6, 2010 8:12 pm

      Colorism is a worldwide phenomenon and quite disturbing. I just came back from a vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico and boy they got it bad.

      • July 9, 2010 4:44 am

        Hmm, care to share? I am genuinly curious about Mexican colorism, I have heard about the Indian hierchy (light skin being at the top) and I find that very disturbing…
        I live in Sweden and as a visible black woman I have never encountered any racism or shadeism, or any form of colorism.
        Of course I have heard of ethnic men having a preference for lighter skinned women in their own country women but I never imagined it to be so serious.
        It’s actually kind of frightening.

      • Christelyn permalink*
        July 13, 2010 4:45 pm

        I see you wrote this post a few days ago, and I don’t want anyone to miss it. The reason why you are just getting this response is because we have moved…our new home is Cut and paste your comment, and join us!

  21. Browncow permalink
    July 6, 2010 4:53 pm

    Wow this is so interesting. Because I go to a Vaisnava temple on occasion I have noticed the colorism in the Indian community and everything being great until you’re ready to get married and then nobody knows your name and nobody is glad you came take from Cheers. I have been graced to meet men in the Indian community who liked me, but were honest with me so it didn’t go further than attraction. There were some Indian ladies in our organization who were told that they were too dark for their sons to marry. It’s that deep. I’ve never dated a middle eastern man (not that I didn’t try or anything, just didn’t happen), but I did do a little study of Islam and thought the faith to be quite beautiful. The covered up styles are different from culture to culture and I sometimes buy my pants and skirts from an online muslimah shop because they have some serious style. I would have to be one of those really stylish muslim ladies because in my area they can DRESS! Even with covering up, it’s just so beautiful what they can do.

    I on the other hand have become the sari queen. I can tie it 3 ways, though I know there are several others. I agree with Hodan and Lafemmenoir about just being careful about getting involved with an ethnic man. I think I mentioned this in our discussion about dating Asian men and the shock I felt because I felt that they were also people of color so I didn’t know that there was so much prejudice against my dark skin until I was in a relationship or wanting to start a relationship with someone. It really hurts. The take home message is to make sure that you are prepared to adapt culturally to these men (I mean compromise, not bury yourself culturally) and also keep your eyes peeled for the guy who just wants to sow his oats before getting a nice girl from his culture.

    • lafemmenoir permalink
      July 6, 2010 10:41 pm

      Some sari’s have the most beautiful patterns and colors. When I used to veil I went to the indian stores to get a sari scarf to wear. The only downside is that the material can sometimes be a bit too thin (see-through). I also love/loved pashimas because they are really great in cold weather too.

  22. Eugenia permalink
    July 6, 2010 8:17 pm

    Very interesting conversation, the best I could say for a man or woman who is thinking of dating anyone be the same race, different race, different ethnic background, of the same sex or anything else you can throw in is to have some standards for yourself. If you know you’re not prone to doing some things don’t date someone you may have to do that with, because it’s not fair to try to change them or for them to try to change you. And I’m sorry love is not enough to sustain a deep relationship. I had a ‘deal breakers’ list, I’m sure some you have those but mine wasn’t two pages it was 5 items long and they were non-negotiable with me and very important. If you broke one the deal-breakers you were outta there. The fact of the matter is people can’t pretend to be someone else for two long, at some point the real them comes out or shows itself. As the ladies above say and I wholeheartedly agree with ask some questions and watch how family interact, it tells you a lot about that person.

    • lafemmenoir permalink
      July 7, 2010 1:56 pm


      You wrote:

      “I had a ‘deal breakers’ list, I’m sure some you have those but mine wasn’t two pages it was 5 items long and they were non-negotiable with me and very important. ”

      If it’s not too personal a request, would you mind sharing your list? I am curious about it and think that perhaps you might have something on your abbreviated list that I may not have on mine. I will definitely understand if you can’t share, but if you can that would be awesome. Thanks!

  23. MDR permalink
    July 6, 2010 10:41 pm

    Chris, it’s so ironic that you gave that ironic depection of the couple because when my hubby (your brother) & I were in FL last facing some of the same hot-as-hell temperatures, we saw a couple on the ferry boat to Magic Kingdom that very closely resembled the couple you described. The husband and son wore shirts, t-shirts and sandals. The 2 daughters both had on long sleeved sweaters (that made them look like they were in Minnesota in the dead of winter, rather than FL) thick jeans, sneakers and the full head wrap. The wife had on a traditional burka. As I sat there fighting by own personal battle with the FL heat, wearing my own “traditional garment” — my tank, mini
    skirt and opened toed sandals– I motioned to
    my hubby to look at them and we quietly
    dialogued about how unfair (to us) their practices appeared and how it appeared that the woman were clearly at a disadvantage for having to brave the high temps and try their damnest to ward off a possible heat stroke. Thanks for publishing this blog as it gave me more insight as to the history and meaning behind the burka.

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