If you must…

My brother got married this December, and because I had lost a lot of weight (side effect of a medication I take), many people assumed I did so to “catch” a husband. This was my standard response: no, I don’t want to catch a husband. Just an STD. It’s easier to get rid of.

Yet despite giving out such a response, many persisted on asking me about marriage and men. Eventually I decided to dole out what is apparently considered an “impossible” list of things I would potentially want in a spouse. Women, as we know, are expected to settle and I’m simply being difficult for asking for this. So here I am putting this down mostly because I’m sick of repeating this over and over again to aunties who constantly keep asking me about marriage. I’m not closed to the idea, but I’m not that open to it either. I would never marry simply because it’s expected. Despite not being a fan of romance, I hold romantic notions of what I would want: unconditional love, trust and respect. Apparently it’s too much to ask for.

So if you must find me a man, find me one who is proud to call himself a feminist, one who understands that I may look like a female by gender, but don’t particularly perform the part.

Find me a man who believes I’m beautiful no matter what and not just when I’m dressed as a womanly woman. Find me a man who can accept that I won’t shave for weeks on end or thread for months. Find a man who, in other words, has no phobia of body hair.

Find me a man who doesn’t subscribe to gender essentialist roles, who doesn’t care about how well I can cook, and who can love a woman who doesn’t enjoy nurturing anything other than her cat.

Find me a man who doesn’t want biological children, one who would never ask me to endure pregnancy and childbirth simply because he wants to pass his genes on. Find me a man who could love any child, not just one who he shares DNA with. Find me a man who wishes to adopt girls.

Find me a man who enjoys argumentation, who can debate me for hours on end without resorting to petty remarks or silly attacks. Find me a man who would never, ever throw a gendered slur at me out of anger. It just shouldn’t exist in his consciousness.

Find me a man who is a firm believer in non violence and universal human rights AND is willing to defend them at all costs.

Find me a man with a sense of humour who can laugh at himself, but would never make sexist jokes in order to demean me or my entire gender.

Find me a man who can support my causes, especially Pakistan Feminist Watch. Too many men, upon discovering it, start becoming petty. “Oh but why must you be a feminist when it’s possible to be a humanist” is not an acceptable answer. At all.

Find me a man who is willing to call me back after reading my blog.

Find me a man who isn’t a manly man, one who doesn’t subscribe to the cult of masculinity, one isn’t afraid to cry or be judged as not being man enough.

Find me a man who doesn’t feel the need to protect me, doesn’t get insecure about my male friends and doesn’t believe he is my guardian or protector. Find me a man who can respect me as an individual and not just as a woman.

Find me a man who is sensitive to mental health issues, one who can be the partner of a bipolar woman who is also a survivor with PTSD. And please make sure this man never tries to reduce me to my disability and is well aware that I generally have brilliant mental capacity.

Find me a man who accepts that my weight and health constantly fluctuate due to medication. Find me a man who accepts that there are days I won’t need much sleep and days where I’ll need much more than usual. Find me a man who doesn’t think this is an issue at all.

Find me a man who is willing to let me live in my own room. Find me a man who can respect my private space and privacy. Find me a man who doesn’t believe partners necessarily have to be with each other 24/7 or share their friends’ secrets between themselves.

Find me a man who will always be there for me when I need him and leave me alone when I tell him I need space.

Find me a man who isn’t scared of signing up for intense psychotherapy and exploring the very depths of his soul.

Find me a man who reads philosophy daily, who I can discuss ethics with for days on end. Find me a man who isn’t afraid of Buddhism and Kant. Find me a man with an ethical code which he lives by, but isn’t set in stone for he should be open to re-evaluating his views often.

Find me a man who can satisfy me sexually when I need him to and walk away when I tell him I’m not interested. Find me a man who knows that marital rape is real and understands that coercing one’s spouse through verbal means is also unacceptable.

Find me a man who vociferously opposes all forms of violence against women, not just physical. Find me a man who understands that emotional abuse and bullying can easily occur in relationships due to power dynamic. Find me a man who doesn’t want power over any woman.

Find me a man who isn’t afraid to change his mind and yet isn’t afraid to defend his well thought views.

Find me a man who is a staunch secularist, yet not a militant in any of his views. Find me a man with any religion as long as he doesn’t believe he has a right to preach it to me or inflict it upon anyone else. Find me a man who believes there must be a complete separation between the mosque and the state.

Find me a man who supports democracy and adamantly opposes dictatorships. Find me a man who is left leaning like me. Capitalists will not do.

Find me a man whose family can accept me without trying to change or “mould” me. Find me a man who doesn’t expect me to be a good daughter in law.

Find me a man who can hold his drink and never does hard drugs. A bit of THC now and then, however, is perfectly acceptable.

Find me a man who has no issues with my work schedules and understands that writers cannot conform to a 9 to 5 life. Find me a man who will support my work and respect my writing. He doesn’t necessarily have to agree with me. If he can provide me valuable feedback and perspective, I would probably respect him more.

Find me a man, who, like me, would never ever want to identify as an elite. Find me a man who works hard and understands the value for money. Show me no man who owns land or has inherited a business. I cannot possibly respect such a man.

So if you go looking for a man, find me no man from a well off or “respectable” family. Respectable families do not exist. Respectable families are those who are wealthy enough to suppress their crimes, just like much of my own.

Find me someone who sees me as an equal and not a subordinate. Find me a man who cares not for wifely duties, but wants a partnership with no gendered terms involved. Find me someone who can value me, deeply, for who I am, for what I want to achieve… Find me a man who takes pride in having a dominant, intelligent wife.

So if you must find me a man, step outside your comfort zone, your tiny bubble and your ethnicity. I care not for looks, religion, race or anything but integrity. Many within a certain class claim such men don’t exist. They do. They just aren’t visible to you.

Reblogged by The Friday Times where the comments are hilarious.

24 thoughts on “If you must…

  1. I wanted all of that too and I feel that I was lucky I got someone who has around 95% of what you listed … Even then marriage is sometimes tricky and some days down right tedious. I think women who settle for anything less are probably not aware of their self worth. I couldn’t have imagined being with some one who wasn’t a feminist, wasn’t progressive in his general approach to life and didn’t respect space. I would have been bored by now if he didn’t challenge me intellectually. Marriage for the sake of marriage is downright idiotic. Kudos to you. Love your blog

  2. Very interesting. I am not sure if many guys will fit into this template. To sum it up, you want a guy who is feminist. But there are few things which surprised me. One being what is your issue with capitalists? A person can be socially left but economically right and don’t think this will affect her social behaviour. But you must have some strong reasons to believe against this. Anyways, nice post and I endorse some of the points mentioned by you. Every sexist elder should read this blog

  3. I think many men do not realize they are feminists, thus they do not necessarily come out and officially state it that they are. If a man believes that you are his equal, if he treats you with respect and takes in account your opinions. If he does not force you to do things that you do not want. If you two are able to compromise as a whole for betterment of the relationship, I think that makes him a feminist! 🙂

  4. I think these are all valid points (except for maybe the “I should have sex whenever I want even if he’s not interested” part). Not sure if you can find someone who will satisfy ALL of these requirements but maybe there are a few out there who can fulfill most. I think the main thing is having respect for your partner’s needs and views without the need to belittle or dismiss them.

  5. Hi Nabiha, I haven’t posted a comment in a long time but this blog post really struck a chord with me. I am so glad that your generation of women is starting to ask for this type of equality, not just in public life but in the most intimate of spaces i.e. within a marriage. Unless there are continuous reminders of equality in a relationship (and a marriage is unique in giving you this sense on a daily basis) human nature is such that assuming that inferior role in other respects of your life then becomes easier. Of course, there is the alternative of becoming an absolute tyrant when given an authority role (of which there are many male and female examples in Pakistani society).

    When I was asking for similar rights some 20 years ago, not only was I told that I was a revolutionary but I was treated like an outcast too. After a lot of malicious gossip and psychological trauma for me, the upshot of it is that I did find someone who fitted my bill and has treated me as his equal in 18 years of marriage. My marriage is one of the most successful in my immediate family of 30 cousins, large numbers of whom are on their second and third partners. It annoys me when they forget to ask what they want from a marriage and instead look for superficial elements (money, looks, family) or short-lived ones (sexual attraction, lust).

    I am pleased you know what you want and are willing to wait for it. Never settle for less. Life is far too long for anyone to be happy if they compromise something that is basic nature to them. You may have to wait 2, 5 10 years to find the right person but if you then spend 20, 30, 50 years with them, the early wait will feel like a drop in the ocean. Best of luck in your quest. I will be rooting for you.

    • Thank you! I’m not actively looking at all. And mostly, it’s the wrong type of man who hits on me anyway. Aunties try to do subtle set ups like “introductions” where both parties know why they’re suddenly being introduces, especially if one is dragged towards another. I know they mean well, but they don’t understand at all. They’re too indoctrinated.

      By wrong type of men I mean men who react to my views with horror, who say defensive things like “why must you use the word feminist when you can call yourself a humanist” and then let me know that while they believe in human rights, they have an issue with feminism, a dead give away they don’t understand what it’s about. So I don’t bother with them.

      They also tend to be neo liberals and focus more on financial than personal growth. I can’t be bothered to waste my time since I’m not at all worried if I do get married or not.And if I do, there would be a very tight pre-nup involved because I’m not at all tolerant of anything like cheating, emotional/physical abuse etc. I will walk away, and if I don’t, I have the kind of family that will encourage me to. It’s a blessing really. It lessens my fear of commitment and I am a very commited commitment phobe!

  6. Nabiha, I am going through what you are – aunties constantly asking my mother if there is something “going on” about my wedding scene. It is this society that has given men this power over women and it is sad. I wouldn’t call myself a feminist and never fully understood just how this society works against women till it happened to me but what I am experiencing is unsettling to sat the least.

    • Rida my dear you sound like a feminist! DO read about it and I think you’ll soon be calling yourself a proud one. I’m coming out with a women’s studies text book which explains theory from our local perspective next year. Hopefully that’ll explain why feminism is crucial and why embracing the label will benefit women.

      Yes, we as a society empower men because we live in a patriarchal world where women become complicit in the system unconsciously. I totally sympathise with you. I wish they’d stop interfering in our lives. It’s almost a knee jerk response: “when are you getting married?” A divorced aunt who left an abusive husband and then was treated badly asked me this. I was like “really? YOU are asking me think? How as your marriage?” And then she said “oh you’re right, really. No need to marry any man.” Sometimes on needs to argue with them logically and make them see where they’re being silly. Many won’t understand it. Some will. Try it!

  7. Very good blog and educative.You were honest enough that the man should be ready to accept “WIFE Domination’ with pride of course…and a few other things he should do when you want and go when you say so …
    Just curious…what you are offering to him in return…or simply why he should marry you…any again you are honest enough that …any successful guy will not be acceptable to you,,,and probably will not meet the conditions also….

    Also agree that now a days women are successful and hence are confident,they need not require men in life…..appreciate..
    Good luck

    • Thank you 🙂

      Offering in return? Nothing. Just me. Take it or leave it. I’m pretty clear on my views and a no nonsense person. I can’t stand any game playing in a relationship. It’s just not for me and I want no part in it.

      I’m not a modest person. I’ve got high self esteem. I know my strengths and weaknesses. I’m brutally honest. Most people can’t stand that and can’t be in relationships with women like me. That’s fine. Women like me feel the same way about them!

  8. If these conditons were posted by a man then you guys would not hesitate for a second to label him mysogynist, sexist and objectifier of women. However i do sympathise about the issue with these stupid meddeling aunites. Not to mention the medeling uncles ( “haan beta kab khila rahe ho shadi ki biryani”) fortunatley i am very lucky in that regard that my relatives circle is very limited and the aunties have manners not to play the match maker, but i know its an exception.

  9. Um. I apologize if that sounded sardonic. It wasn’t meant to: it’s just the list seemed to me not to leave many nooks and crannies for the man’s full self expression. Or for you to relate back. Probably your list’s meant more as a cri de guerre!

  10. Honestly, this list isnt that hard to fulfil. If you have been dating men who are not like this, you’ve been attracted to the wrong men. There are a lot of men who are like this…seriously.

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