Welcome to the Islamic freak show! Where women can be bought in bulk, wear one-eyed veils to avert temptation, and brides come with gift receipts!
In a sensationalist news article, the BBC covers the unfortunate story of an Arab ambassador that decides to have his marriage annulled upon seeing that his new wife was “cross-eyed and had facial hair.” The article’s terrible title reads: “Dubai court annuls marriage to ‘bearded lady.'” Yikes.
Growing up, whenever I heard women in my community of Middle Eastern immigrants discussing young women for marriage, I would ask them if they were speaking about women or produce at the super market. The obsession with external appearance was something that really troubled me, so I had a hard time sympathizing with the protagonist of this article.
But I found many problems with the way in which this article was written. It made it seem as though this concept of annulling a marriage over such a superficial quality is something foreign to the Western world. In the United States in particular, we are bombarded with stories about drunken marriages and annulments in Las Vegas. While the existence of the parallel does not justify it, the coverage of such topics should not treat them as exotic occurrences, when it is really more of an important discussion point about the role of superficial qualities in our society.
Furthermore, the BBC article made a spectacle out of the “foreign-ness” of the Middle East. This highlighted by the related links, which included links to articles about one-eyed veils, Saudi men arrested for flirting, and men marrying six wives.
While I think it is really important to challenge the superficiality that comes with marriage, courtship, and the spectacle of ceremonies, I felt as though I was reading about an exotic and foreign species, rather than a community that is very much influenced by Western values.