Why the cultural stigma? The jokes?

The question of marriage


Why the cultural stigma? The jokes?
by Tahireh

My parents made the decision to leave the Islamic Republic of Iran specifically because they wanted their daughters to grow up free. And by freedom, I mean the freedom to ride bicycles, the freedom to wear shorts, to swim in public pools and to play on the beach, the freedom to speak with boys, the freedom to speak our minds, the freedom to choose our careers, the freedom to succeed in life without the specific barriers created by an oppressive patriarchal hegemony, both in the public and private sphere.

So, twenty-five years after their immigration, my younger sister is on a path to pursue her PhD in psychology and I am a teacher and a writer. We chose our occupations with no other hindrance than too many options. We were both allowed to leave home and attend the best universities in America. We had boyfriends. We traveled the world. When we graduated, we were the masters of our own lives, choosing where to live and how to live.

Today, we are economically independent, living in our own large, tastefully decorated apartment north of Wilshire and we are looking to invest in our first income property. However, there is a strange lack of recognition of our accomplishments and our independence from the young men and women in our social circle who have recently immigrated from Iran. These people, in their own right, are forging a path towards the daunting American dream.

It has happened at several gatherings where they have taken it upon themselves to point out the fact that neither my sister, nor I are married. Indeed, this is the “butt end” of numerous jokes and collective laughter at our expense. And though my sister and I are a hybrid of Iranian culture and US culture, and, hence, raised in an environment where our choices are the norm, their mockery is still a source of pain for us.

However, this does not deter this particular group from taking it upon themselves to mark our marital status as a source of our public shame and to turn it into a spectacle.

My sister and I belong to a generation of Iranian American women who were brought as girl children by their parents to this country specifically in order to escape the cultural prejudices against women. We were raised with the philosophy that a woman is allowed to forge and create her existence and identity with the same privilege and determination as a man.

Hence, in our twenties, when a person is in the crux of identity development, we were not so focused on landing a husband to validate ourselves with the status of ‘wife”, as we were determined to pursue our education, to hone our talents, to travel and learn, to meet people and to focus on our own personal growth. I am a thirty year-old woman and very successful in my life.

My sister, likewise, is twenty-seven and quite accomplished. So why the cultural stigma? The jokes?

The laughter against our marital status as though we have somehow failed in life? I am not sure how to answer these questions. It is not the older generation, the old guard of culture, that judges us, but the generation of thirty-year-olds, educated young professionals who have, indeed, been influenced by “Western” culture and who have been exposed to the challenges against the classical concept of gender roles.

And it is not just the men, alone, who judge, but also their wives. Is it, perhaps, because they were raised to believe that a woman’s totality is through marriage? Is it, perhaps, a threat to the masculinity and ego of the men that we are two women who are economically, physically and emotionally independent without husbands?As I said, my sister and I are sensitive to this issue.

Of course we value the creation of family, but in its due time, when all the factors are to our favor and we are ready to make that move in our lives. And my answer to the men who see us as an anomaly? Perhaps we are strange creatures, but we are strong, we are beautiful and we are happy.


Tony 02

Hindi Jokes

by Tony 02 on

A huge collection of Ultimate  Short Jokes, featuring cool Short Jokes,Funny Jokes. Select any joke from bellow to see the joke. You can dedicate jokes to your friends. Hindi Jokes


After a year;

by neda on

After a year I'm writing in respond to Tahire's article. I am one of the Tahireh's married cousins that she has pointed her finger at!

well, Tahireh is married now and she is having a baby in the close future and hopefully she will enjoy her married life.

I'm happy for her that she's been grown up with freedom, as she mentioned, swimming with boys in the pool and being able to study and now living in North of Wilshire. I'm sure she had so much fun growing up and I suppose she has had the chance to grow her soul free as well!

But I'm confused,then why so much self-censor?!!!

It's not important if you're married or not, being honest with yourself gives you much more freedom than living in the heart of the any so-called freeeeeeee place.

Wish you peace.



by sadaf raftari (not verified) on





by SS (not verified) on

May I ask why such an independent and intellectual woman as you happens to live in one of the worst closed minded places such as LA? Why don't you move to NY or SF? You will meet a lot more people like yourself.... Trust me I have lived in all these places and LA is horrible!



Which group of people are you hanging out with?!

by Anonymouse on

The husband and wives who "joke" about someone's marital status aren't really worthy of a discussion much less going to a gathering with.  These people don't really matter.

What matters is you.  Maybe you do want a husband.  There is nothing wrong with it.  A good husband can be a blessing.  You can build a better life together.  You don't need to "land" a husband.

Women who "land" husbands end up in failed marriages because they married for all the wrong reasons.  Whether is it financial or for the looks or stupidity for one reason or another. 

Good husbands don't want to be "caught".  Men in general don't want a dependent wife.  If they do, it is because they want to use her dependency for toosary.  Men also do not want a Fatmeh Arreh in makeup who will be their worst nightmare.

So look around and be ok with looking.


Why the cultural stigma? The jokes?

by Dr Pourandokht Rostamian (not verified) on

Dear All,
My sister, Parvin RostamianSharifabad now living in North Vancouver came to Canada for the precise reason to free herself of the shackles of stupid Iranian moral customs. As a young girl,Parvin as far as I remember loved to have boyfreinds and enjoy life. However while in Iran this was a problem with all the snoopy neighbours gossiping about her. So she came to Canada, first got rid of her husband of course after stripping him of his last cent and now she is enjoying herself to the limit. Who cares what Iranian people say here in Vancouver.
Best regards
Dr Pourandokht Rostamian of Sharifabad of Yazd.
North Vancouver
BC, Canada


In response to Javadagha's Comment on 60% working women in Iran

by working woman (not verified) on

You might want to view the girl that is being dragged into the police car for bad hejab and then have the audacity of talking about working women in Iran.
You as an Iranian man do not have the right to talk about
women's freedom in Iran unless you go out there and fight for theirs.


Did you say girls in Iran are doing well?..lol

by a girl in Europe (not verified) on

Did you say girls in Iran are doing well? lol! Look at this:

You call it doing good?...ok maybe a Javad cannot think better than this...sure Javady! lol

Tahireh joon, This gorbeh dastesh be goosht nemirese mige boo mideh!
Enjoy your Javad-free life my girl!


Little advice

by Anonymous from NY (not verified) on

Iranians tend to look at the glass half empty. You can't change them, so just ignore them. As an attractive, educated and accomplished Iranian-American single female (31), living in Manhattan (in my own beautiful apt), I must tell you that marriage to the RIGHT MAN is an accomplishment in itself. Everyone tells you that the right guy will come along and that it will "just happen." Well, I and many of my Ph.D. friends who are attractive and accomplished females in their late 30's and early 40's can tell you that it doesn't. Its something that you need to focus on right now(if a family is indeed what you want sometime down the road). Just a little advice from someone who used to think like you. Best wishes.



by ToofanZeGreat on

You really wrote all of this because of a joke or two made in a party? Sounds like you need a hug. You should cure this insecure mind virus of yours by reframing your mindset, taking a joke or a laugh for what it simply is, and moving on.


mahaleshoon nazar adama

by pinar (not verified) on

mahaleshoon nazar adama harfe moft ziad mizanan
or outpoint their weak points and failures with an all sweet totally innocent jocular tone if you're in for a mean game
like: still relying on daddy's money? what a shame!
never had a boyfriend before getting married? oh, dear, you cant really judge what's dished out to you!
don't worry I'm not interested in your men (wink)
Oh, I bet you'd sell your soul to be me, it's ok hon, sour grapes, I know, no hard feelings!
Didnt I spot you sneaking into a night club behind your wife's back?
Haven't you been to Spain yet? oh you should, Thank God I dont have to spend my money on diapers


My Thoughts Exactly!

by Anonymous Female (not verified) on

If the people in your social circle have decided to come to America and pursue the American dream, perhaps they should consider putting their backwards thinking behind them and recognize that this an entirely different country and era. We are not living in 1900 Tehran where a woman bases her identity on the khaktoosar she's married. Let your silly friends know that this is America, 2008. We no longer have to rely on a man to dictate who we are. You go girl!

Red Wine


by Red Wine on

والا به خدا،ازدواج كردن اصلن مهم نيست،جه فايده داره ادم بيخود و بيجهت خودشو پايبند كسي بكنه...خود بنده پنج يا شش ماهي يكبار عيال عوض ميكنم،تازه خيلي هم اينجوري خوش بيشتر ميگذره،خانمها بايد به فكر مسايل مهمتر باشند.

Ali P.


by Ali P. on

"No one can make you feel inferior, without your consent."

                                                                   - Eleanor Roosevelt

"No one can hurt your feelingss, without your permission".

                                                                    - Ali P.


What about LOVE

by Troneg on

I wonder you speak only about familly creation and economic dependance like old Iranian culture. what about love ? You should live with somebody because you love him and not only to create a family.

Unfortunately since 60s many women (not only Iranian) think that living with a man (even without marriage) undermine totaly their independance. I agree macho attitude of some men pushed them to think be independant is synonym to be alone. 

Of course when you live with someone else (man or woman), both of them should do some concessions and finding the good balance is not easy. When you are in love it is easier to find it.


I feel your pain!

by Nashenas (not verified) on

I read your article and smiled with recognition. What you are describing is all too common amongst us Iranians, but usually it's the older generation that displays this type of behavior.
I got married at the ripe, old age of 34. My family had all but given up on me ever "finding" a husband. The never-ending discussion of marriage that had started in my early twenties was slowly being replaced by resignation on the part of family and friends. After many failed attempts at trying to pair me up with this or that guy, every one finally realized that I was going to do what suited me, WHEN I thought the time was appropriate.
So, when I brought home a, heavens forbid, non-Iranian man to introduce to my family as a boyfriend and soon to be husband, I did not get quite the disapproval that I was expecting. I think they were just happy that I was getting married at all!
Bottom line, ignore the comments, smile a sweet smile and do what you think is right. In the long run, none of their nonsensical attitudes will matter. You are in charge of your happiness.


mixed gender public pools in Iran

by Mazloom on

Your sister and you are very educated and it would be great if you, yourself, could provide some answerers to your own questions. I, myself, believe women everywhere, including Iran, are continually breaking down barriers. In Iran, some women achieved being teachers, writers, psychologists, and financial independence decades ago. That is not to say that they’re living in a gender equal society, or that IRI is not being oppressive to Iranian women. I am sure one day we’ll all be able to swim in a mixed gender public pool in Iran. That would be a nice sight to see.


Be Happy

by azita (not verified) on

Hello my dear.
Don't let these comments get to you. I also live where you live and I'm 39 year old physician. Thankfully my parents are very supportive of me but it's the relatives and family friends that constantly ask me why a pretty female physician still single? There must be something wrong with her!
I think you just need to be happy with yourself and then everything will fall in place.
By the way my brother who is also a physician in his 30's keeps getting comments from my parents to get married but not me...Funny.


Iranian women have as much right as any women

by Irandost (not verified) on

As mentioned earlier, Iranian women have as much right as thier counter part in EU and America. Our culture and believe are different than those of American or European. That doesn't make one better than other.
If I recalled, Aurthoer is not Muslim. She had no opportunities due choice of not obeying law and rule of Iranian society. She is intent to limit herself to few thousands of her own kind for marriage. Therefore, she will not be able to live like rest of the Iranian.
Success has nothing to do with her not being able to find husband. The restriction around her believe limit her.
As long as she can not respect other people believe and continue to look to her own to find love. she will have trouble.
But again, I wish her the best on finding someone whom love her and respect her like woman and not some material part as it is on western society.


have you ever watched

by Anonymous-haha (not verified) on

sex and the city? Go and watch it.Freedom means many things for western women.

Even the 'pure western' women viewed marriage not as an assault to their freedom.

Man and woman are demanded by the society to get married. It might be changing in the west due to its immorality but do you think an Iranian MAN with equal achievements as yourself, is not forced to get married?

So does forcing HIM to get married is equal to bashing HIS freedom?


why the cultural stigma

by Anonymous234 (not verified) on

Let me laugh. I am 30, male, Indian, living in New Delhi, working, unmarried. The only obsession of my parents is "When are you getting married?" "Should I find a nice bride for you?". The conversation starts with how do you eat? as my cook has left and ends with now you need a wife. Even if she would not cook herself, atleast she would ensure that you get proper meals. Even relatives and friends are the same. But you really cannot blame anyone. After having fended off the query for five years, I am considering (not certain) of taking the plunge next year. Lady, its the same, regardless of where you are, who you are, regardless of belief or unbelief. After a certain age, you are expected to be married. Trust me. Who knows, if some of us do get married, we would be asking the same question to our kids. Ha Ha


I Do Not Get It

by Anonymous25 (not verified) on

You and your sister are 30 and 27 respectively, well educated, happy with your life, and no worries. That is really great.

What I do not understand is what kind of people you hang around with. In all my life (more than 50 years) I have seen only uneducated, real old, nosy neighbours, etc. behave like those people you explained in your essay. My advice: cut your realtionship with them ASAP before they ruin your life and your sister's life.

Nowadays, it is not that difficult to get married, but it is a big acheivement to get educated, have a good job and in top of that be happy.

In every society there are always some shallow people like the ones you expleined, including Iran. But I do not think you can generalize it like the way you did in your esaay. There are a lot well educated, freedom lovers, etc. in Iran, yes in Iran


Be Happy!

by M. Hojjat.ph.d (not verified) on

Dear Tahireh,

I am not married either & much older than you & your sister. I am educated, attractive and happy with my self. Everyday in my life I have come to this realization that I am a wonderful human being and that makes me happy & proud of myself. I am still looking to find right man for me and I believe it is never late if you want to do something right! Most my friends who were married in younger ege now they are divorced and not satisfied with their lives.
People think differently but what we think of ourselves is important!


Over 60% in many fields are girls in Iran.

by Javadagha on

Yes, you are right, in Iran girls are not free to study or pursue a career that is why over 60% in many fields in universities are girls.  In Iran girls cannot decorate their homes or apartments!! Only in American girls are free to decorate.


American brainwashing media has done a good job on you and your sister.  I am surprised that you are considering yourself an Iranian and posting here as an Iranian.  Welcome as a moftkhor Eye-ranian and join many who live in the US of A.  You might find a husband.


Girls in Iran are doing well, are deciding on their own what to study, and excelling in their jobs and families.  We have had enough of America having this or that.  Take a look at fat people who are driving fat cars (SUVs) who do not give a damn about gas and environment. 


America the land of fat, moftkhor eye-ranians, and depressed people.  Take a look at their laughing which comes across as odd as so called freedom. 


I think it's part their

by AmirT on

I think it's part their jealousy and part you own insecurity. They have found out that you are sensitive to this issue and they enjoy teasing you and having a laugh. If you were raised here, you will never understand Iranians, so don't even try. Just ignore them.


Don't worry

by Parthian on

You should not care what people are saying or joking about it. They are probably jealous, otherwise why would they care about what you are doing in your own personal life? What I have noticed about people who are nosy, and butting in other lives is that they normally lack their own life, their life is boring. Don't worry about it, enjoy, party, and have a good time.


We live in today and work for tomorrow, they live in yesterday.

by AnonymousWoman (not verified) on

There are many Iranian women who live in Iran or all around the world and lead successful lives and may or may not choose to marry. The misogynistic elements of Iranian culture are under false impression that they can define limitations for Iranian women.One of these false notions is of course creating a 'sell-by-date' attitude or 'failed to catch husband' stigma. These elements also harmfully try to define cultural evolution according to their own limited value system.

We simply have moved on and are not stopping to hold their hand or change ourselves for them.

Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

(Bob Dylan)

Ghaffar A. Namjou

No easy way out of this!

by Ghaffar A. Namjou on

Dear Tahireh,


I do completely comprehend your position, and your hurt feelings in this regard.  However, what you have to realize is that those Iranians who you encounter with such different frame of mind, are not necessarily an accurate yard stick to put value upon.


It is very difficult not to let the pain penetrate your soul, but this is what it is.  Iranians such as yourself who were so fortunate to be exposed, outside of their homogenized society are in a minority.  Yes, I know there are many Iranians who have lived abroad, yet they have not come out of their shell.


It takes lots of hard work and will to become culturally vast and well in the know.  Not every man or woman has what it takes, so you have to measure them with their own yard stick.


Unfortunately, there is no easy way out of this, and prepare to encounter more of such behavior, unless you meet people of your own caliper.  On the positive note, wouldn’t it make you feel more blessed and fulfilled that you have seen more of this world and have experienced more than they ever could imagine?  I certainly do!


So go on and keep living your good life, because time is what we all have so little of.


With good wishes,


Ghaffar A. Namjou


First of all, I love your name, second....

by Tahirih on

Please do not get annoyed by these comments about not being married.I admire women who are like you and your sister.I have nothing against marriage, I believe it is an spiritual reunion,but it has to  happen in the right time with the right person. The key is the right person.And until finding or should I say meeting that person you should not settle down just because you are over 20.

Tahireh ,aziz not every Iranian woman thinks like the people you have in your social circle.

More power to you and your sister,who are independent, strong and happy.