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Letter to the Editor

Spinsterhood in western and eastern cultures

Published: Thursday, November 15, 2012

Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 18:11


Spinsterhood is defined as “being beyond the usual age of marrying and still unmarried.” This definition could be used specifically for females in English language. However, in my native language, Arabic, the term of “spinster” describes both female and male. 

Nowadays, reaching the 40’s and being single is not only a common problem in the Middle East but also it is a serious one. The following writing will state some reasons for the commonly spread phenomena which is spinsterhood:

The first reason for the spinsterhood in the Middle East is that the percentage of educated women has remarkably increased for the last two decades.   Indeed, it is hard to find a family without having at least one of its daughters holding a Bachelor’s degree or higher. 

As well known, education has a significant influence in broadening the mind and thinking. And the more the individual is educated, the more he or she will be sophisticated and cannot accept the simplicity of others.  

What I mean is that well-educated women have their own type of white knight. 

The white knight that used to be a hero that rescue his life to save his lover life or a brave fighter, is totally different from the 21st century’s white knight. The white knight now must have at least a Bachelor’s degree, he must also believe in women’s rights and freedom, and he must know how to direct a meaningful conversation not only saying sweet words.  

Since this type of white knight rarely exists, and if they existed, they would already be married, or arrogant well-educated women, who cannot accept uneducated men, are still waiting for the 21st century’s white knight. 

Along the same lines, highbrow women are no longer accepting arranged marriages.  Although my 20 years older sister, who has a Bachelor’s degree, could accept an arranged marriage, I find it as a very difficult situation to deal with. To link my life with a mysterious man and try to discover his personality is unacceptable at all. 

Another reason for the spinsterhood is bad economy and the significant number of unemployment. Some might claim that the high cost of marriage in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia specifically is the main reason for the spinsterhood.  However, my feelings in this issue are mixed, because a lot of families now are flexible when it comes to paying the dowry. 

In fact, some women would scarify wearing the white dress and the wedding party in order to avoid late marriage, but the rate of marriage is getting lower and lower. 

Furthermore, the minimum salary in Saudi Arabia is considered to be $1000, which is hardly enough for a single male/female who still lives with the family. Even if the families help their kids to marry, the problem is larger than it seems to be, and serious actions should be taken.  

Some might claim that the solution either polygamy or mass weddings.  However, I totally disagree with both ideas. Although polygamy is allowed in Islam, there are lots of conditions for that, such as illness of the wife, infertility, and sexual satisfaction for her partner. But the most important condition is to be just and fair in every single thing that the husband does for each of his wife, and personally I do not think this kind of fairness and justice exist.  

The other solution is the mass weddings, which means that numbers of couples have their wedding party together in the same place and night, and the cost of these kinds of weddings are sponsored by governors. I think this solution just solves the cost of the wedding parties and furnishing, but what is next. How would the new couples live if the salary is low? 

In my opinion, the solution is to be simple: accept life as it is without complicating every thing, because creating new jobs or raising salaries will take years. 

Additionally, superficial relationships could be one of the main reasons for the late marriage. As human beings we are always seeking for love and wanting to be loved. However, lack of manners with pretending to be in love lead to a serious issue. 

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