The anger and controversy that followed last night’s episode of the popular Saudi show “Tash ma Tash” mirror the sentiments that followed al-Hurra’s presenter- Nadin Al- Badir’s article “My Four Husbands and I”. The episode that was based on her article can only be described as brave. The dialogue could have been stronger but given the limited space of freedom and the fear of the censorship’s claws, their boldness in making and showing it will be applauded if not now then definitely in the years to come.
In her article, Nadine assumes a man’s role and exercises his right- verbally- to polygamy and uses the same clichéd excuses a man uses to justify his second, third and fourth marriages, such as, sexual dissatisfaction, boredom , and the financial ability to provide to more than one family. A man would simply say as she puts it “We (husbands) get bored and she (wife) becomes more like a sister. I’m no longer sexually attracted to her, as I was at the beginning of our marriage. My house became more of an institution. The love has disappeared.” And then asks “What’s my solution when I’m bored of him and I feel like he’s become more of a brother?”*
She also mentions the absurdity of the different kinds of marriages that were invented just for the sake of fulfilling men’s desires that degrade women and legalize adultery and prostitution. She turns the table and says: “Create me a new law, or perhaps one that is divine. Make me a new law based on fatwas or on the spur of the moment thoughts, similar to those you unanimously agree on all of a sudden and without prior notice. Men pursued me for all types of marriages without justification, regardless of whether or not it was an Islamic marriage.”*
The uproar that was caused by her article gave her more credit as a writer than what she actually deserves. Her topic, I have to admit, shocked me as much as it shocked other readers. But unlike others I overcame the initial shock to analyze what the article was really about and stand on the intention of the author. I don’t think that Nadine is a great writer but I do think that her intention was misunderstood. She wasn’t calling for polygamy for herself and other women and she wasn’t defying Islam, instead she was teasing men and challenging them to put themselves in women’s shoes. She makes two other strong points; one is when she asserts that feelings of boredom and dissatisfaction is not exclusive to men, and second is that validating such excuses undermines the whole institution of marriage that should be based on loyalty and stability.
* The article was translated into English by Nofe Al-Suwaidi in the “Islamic Feminism” course.