receipt of handbook and pictures
Monica Pilman (TACVMCP@VM.TCS.TULANE.EDU)
Fri, 1 Feb 1991 11:12:19 CST
In response to the fellow from Saudi Arabia who asked about girlfriends,
I think we are dealing with some cultural dissimilarities.
In the American/Western culture, persons are expected to go out and find
their own spouses. In order to facilitate this, we are encouraged to
associate with the opposite sex, and form unofficial relationships with
members of the opposite sex, creating the whole boyfriend/girlfriend
cultural phenomenon. Eventually, we are expected to choose one special
person, and enter a legal relationship (marriage) that is based on
love, trust, and mutual respect, and that is (supposedly) monogamous.
In many Arab cultures, marriages are arranged by the parents of children
for the children when they are still very young. It is culturally
unacceptable to NOT wed the person of your parent's choice. Therefore,
free intermixing of sexes is strongly discouraged, so that young people
do not form "inappropriate" (for their culture) relationships.
Romantic love exists, but it is non-essential for purposes of marriage,
unlike American/Western culture.
I've known numerous Arab students attending college in this country, and
the concept of having a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, and having that
be actually the expected, socially acceptable thing to do can cause quite
a bit of "culture shock", until they become acclimated. However, they are
all (both men and women) enthralled by the idea, once they get used to it.
To be honest, I found (when I was an unmarried undergrad) the attentions
of Arab men of my aquaintence to be intimidating, because they were SO
EAGER to have a girlfriend, American-style.
The best way for him to have a girlfriend is to move to a country where
such a thing is culturally acceptable. He may only get into trouble in
his own country. The second best way is to establish a "pen pal".
Of course, you miss out on all the wonderful things that can happen in
a relationship when you are actually together, but it may still be
a very satisfying relationship.
--- Monica Pilman
Cubmaster, Pack 234
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City