Dear Ms. Mix & Bitch,
I am a 22-year-old woman, from Saudi Arabia, but currently living in New York. I convinced my parents to let me study in the United States, and I am earning my MBA from a prestigious university. One of the reasons why they agreed to let me go was because the man I was engaged to marry broke off our engagement. In my culture, families arrange marriages (the bride and groom may or may not have a say. I did.) and everything was good until my older brother (living in Paris) surprised and defied my family and married a non-Muslim French woman. At first, my family and I were enraged and stopped talking to him. As the “news” got around, my fiancé’s family also found out and pressured him to break the engagement, saying that my family was now no good because of the shame brought on us by my brother. At first, he resisted because he said he had fallen in love with me, and that I should not be punished because of my brother’s foolishness. But his mother was relentless, and he finally gave in and he broke up with me. I was devastated because I really loved him. What was even worse than my broken heart was the gossip swirling around my community.
I couldn’t take it after a while and wanted to get as far away from them as possible. I was allowed to study in New York because my mother’s uncle lives there. So I moved into their home and discovered all the freedoms that America has to offer. My uncle and his family are also very open-minded and American (I don’t think my mother knows this, otherwise she wouldn’t have let me come). I feel a freedom that I never knew was possible. After several months of living in New York, I got enough courage to call my brother, and we have reconciled (my parents have not and do not know that I talk to him). Over the summer, I returned home for a visit and happen to see my ex at mutual friend’s wedding. We did not talk, but I can see from his eyes that he still loved me. The next day, he called me, and begged me to meet him. I refused, feeling angry over his cowardice still. A week later, I was back in New York, enjoying my routine with my extended family and the friends I have made here. Then I get a call from my mother, saying that my ex fiance’s family has reluctantly changed their position and would be open to a marriage if my family agrees to never talk or see my brother again. While it is true that my parents were already not speaking to my brother, my father resented them dictating terms to his family. My mother is thrilled and is urging me to accept, feeling it will help restore the family honor. However, the choice is mine.
I must admit, I still have some love for him in my heart, but the hurt over his abandonment is there too. He calls and texts me constantly, saying I should not deny him our future because of ‘a moment of weakness’ and that he will make me happy. Meanwhile, I will graduate from my program at the end of this semester, and one of my cousins has already offered me a job at his firm (he’s a venture capitalist). I think he offered it to me as a way to keep encouraging me to become my own woman.
What do I do? Do I try to forgive this man and marry him? Or do I take the job here? The opinion is divided between my family and friends both back home and here in the United States. I know you’re an American unfamiliar with Muslim culture, but my cousins and I love your blog and I think you will try and be fair. Besides, I have learned so much about American music from you! Thank you for answering my question.
An American Girl?
Dear American Girl,
I’ve got to imagine before I even get started here that’s you’ve got enough sharp tools in your think tank to know that coming to a socially-liberal, foul-mouth, Jewish-American Piece of Work is going to give you a certain kind of an answer, right? To say that I’m unfamiliar with the Muslim world is the fucking understatement of the year. But this I know for sure…
Determine what kind of woman you want to be. Are you the kind of woman who values family unity over personal freedom? Or does having a taste of American individualism (the real American religion) buzz your pleasure principle? Doesn’t mean you can’t try to balance both, but we all dominantly hang left or right, so it’s good for you to know – at your core – who you are.
Btw, if I’m to understand a lil’ o’bit of Saudi culture (hey, I read Girls of Riyadh. I’m not completely clueless), then didn’t you only meet your ex – like once or twice – before agreeing to be married? I don’t mean to come off big and culture imperialist-y on you sweetums, but how the fuck do you know you love him after so little time? Because while I do believe that people usually deserve a second chance, I base that philosophy on the knowledge that I’m, like, über particular on my inner circle membership.
So, does he deserve that chance? I honestly don’t know how you can know if he’s either (1) a boy who became a man through the thought of losing you, (2) he’s just an overgrown mama’s boy doing a little rebelling, but is still – at heart – mama’s man forever.
Personally, if I were you, I’d ditch the ex for good, stay in New York, and find an open-minded Saudi like your uncle (but obviously, um, younger) for yourself. That way, you can honor your heritage while still being your own woman. Deep down, you know the answer. Now just muster up the courage to live it. Whatever you choose, I promise you, you won’t please everyone – but hopefully – you find contentment for yourself.
10. “Bartering Lines,” (Ryan Adams) Heartbreaker.
09. “You Never Know,” (Wilco) Wilco.
08. “Upon My Shoulders,” (Brad) Interiors.
07. “Unplayed Piano,” (Damien Rice) The Single.
06. “Somebody that I Used to Know,” (Elliott Smith) Figure 8.
05. “Slipping Through the Sensors,” (Fruit Bats) Mouthfuls.
04. “No Man’s Woman,” (Sinead O’Connor) Faith and Courage.
03. “Make Me Believe,” (Angel Taylor) Love Travels.
02. “Beautiful Freak,” (Eels) Beautiful Freak.
01. “California One/Youth and Beauty Brigade,” (The Decemberist) Castaways and Cutouts.