Marriage, in the correct context, can be an important social construction that brings prosperity and stability to individuals in order to secure the foundation of a community, and the way Islam gives so much importance to it is great proof of its value.
However, for women nowadays, the act of getting married is seen as an achievement, as well as a shield that protects them from social criticism. On the other side of the equation, however, men are not held to the same standards. Men are not, by a certain age, expected to be identified as husbands to be socially accepted, and they are not expected to make their success seem less frightening so to avoid intimidating a potential suitor.
Being a successful woman, more often than not, means receiving criticism and judgment from the broader community on their social and personal status. Sometimes, even more so than on their professional and career decisions, which makes us question whether getting married lessens the harshness of social criticism for men and women alike.
Would it surprise anyone to learn that the answer is usually no? Based on society’s archaic norms, the female is never fully accomplished without a husband, whereas a man is expected to be fully immersed in his career, and having a wife is something complementary; an action that comes after his professional accomplishments, while women are supposed to secure themselves by getting married. This double-standard is damaging and toxic, because it limits both men and women to ideals that are socially expected, while shunning the possibility that there may be another formula to maintaining a well-functioning societal dynamic.
…we should start to encourage men and women to get married not because it’s a social necessity, but because the aim of getting married is to celebrate the importance of joining two people in matrimony.
To be perfectly clear, social norms are to be condemned in this situation because neither men, nor women, should be judged solely by whether they are married or not. Most importantly, women should not be afraid to show how successful they are, or feel obliged to belittle their achievements in order to fit in, or to conform and adjust to those norms. However, social norms begin and end with us. The only way for us to move past ancient ideas is by understanding that there are different ways to exist in society, and that behavior that doesn’t necessarily conform to hegemonic discourse doesn’t need to be shunned. It should be debated and understood.
Additionally, we should start to encourage men and women to get married not because it’s a social necessity, but because the aim of getting married is to celebrate the importance of joining two people in matrimony. The manifestation of each individual’s professional success should be shared, developed, and increased by this unity.
Therefore, we should first acknowledge this true goal of marriage, and with that, the role women play in achieving this goal by accepting their efforts and personal success. We should aim to build an atmosphere where women should only feel pride, and not shame, for their achievements.