So the man we all love to hate provided more entertainment fodder by announcing that the marriage age of Iranians should be decreased, and we needed more births and population, not less. Iranian bloggers and commentors around the world were apparently thrown into a tizzy by his comment that girls should marry at sixteen, boys at twenty. But, they wailed, what about Education! Women’s rights! Freedom! All those lovely toys the West has and we don’t! That evil man is (again) trying to prevent us! gag Iranian women! He wants to marry all of us off!
When I was three, my sixteen-year old aunt was married. When I was seventeen, my uncle married a sixteen-year old girl. When I was twenty-six, my cousin, who was eighteen, married the sixteen-year old daughter of his father’s friends. And our families were not uneducated or close-minded- many of the closest relatives had been educated at western universities. These weddings were happily and joyfully conducted with all sorts of people attending. Nobody thought to complain about women’s rights, education, seksual freedom, and all the other things which are getting us hot and bothered right now. I know of many other weddings with teenaged brides and grooms. Some successful, some not. Some go on to universities, others don’t. Look at your own extended family, if you are Iranian. I bet you, given the bizarre religious diversity in most families, you can name at least three teenaged weddings amongst your close family members.
The point is, this guy didn’t draw out these pronouncements out of his backpack. He was merely stating one of the prevalent cultural norms. True, marriage age has risen (more for financial reasons, most families would LIKE to see their wayward children married and out of trouble as soon as possible, they simply can’t financially afford it), but teenaged marriage is not the shocking, terrible, horrible thing in Iran that so many expats seem to think it is. Mr. A. was merely stating out loud, to an international audience, what many families privately think. They care about their girls’ education, sure. But they would be much happier to see her safely married to nice decent wealthy-ish man as soon as possible. Come on, you tell me, how many Iranian girls do you know who stopped school and embraced housewifery as soon as an acceptable suitor came along? Yes, I thought so. Quite a lot.
Hey! Mr. A. didn’t come from of Saudi Arabia or Texas, you know. His beliefs and opinions weren’t formed on Mars. He is is an Iranian, and his beliefs echo those of your parents and grandparents. Talk to these people. See where they really stand on marriage, on women’s rights, on stoning, on the Holocast. Then stop pretending to act all shocked and horrified every time the guy opens his mouth. The cancer is within. We are all Mr. A.