Nearing the end of an undergraduate degree for a south Asian Muslim female can only mean one thing, and no, it’s not that exciting yet daunting projection into the career world.
As I enter into my final year at university, my family members have taken a sudden interest in me — not because they are concerned or interested in my future career plans, but because they want to ask me, “So Beta, when are you going to get married?”
This is all I hear:
“Beta, I think its time to settle down.”
“Beta, have you found anyone at university?”
Instead of asking me about my possible dissertation topics, my module options, or what I want to do (career wise) after university, their fixation is on marriage.
But this fixation is for girls only.
Why is it, that for men, it’s okay for them to “have a few years to find a job and take some time,” but for women, after university we must be whisked away by some guy, and be at the service of in-laws?
As women, going to university and completing our degrees, or for those lucky few, making our way up the career ladder, apparently isn’t achievement enough. Oh no, none of that is worth anything, unless we are married or actively looking for a partner.
My family members have taken a sudden interest in me — not because they are concerned or interested in my future career plans, but because they want to ask me, “So Beta, when are you going to get married?”
I understand that in Islam marriage is important and is half of our faith, and many of us would indeed like to get married someday, but there should not be this unfair pressure on us women to find a partner as soon as our university education finishes. We have not attended university and worked hard just for the sake of it. We want fulfilling careers, too.
We attend university for a purpose, to educate ourselves, broaden our outlook on the world, but also to help us find a job later in life. Some of us will study more than five years (shoutout to those medics and dentists) in order to achieve this. Our years of hard work and efforts shouldn’t be concluded by “You’ve studied, now get married.” We should be given the opportunity, just as our male counterparts are, to study further, and begin our careers, but also, to enjoy life after the years of hard work and sacrifice we put in.
The South Asian community’s mindset needs major reform, and it’s something I hope will get better with time.
So the next time an aunty asks me to settle down, my reply will be, “Yes aunty. I am going to settle down nicely…into my Master’s program.”
Written by Hinna Sheikh