Sunday, 5 October 2014

The Men with Many Wives

"I don’t really support brothers who have this mentality like ‘No, she’s got to be pure, chaste, never been touched, she’s never seen daylight etc… and then he’s been around the block and you ‘fink well, c’mon, bruv."


Despite me finding Hasan, featured in the Channel 4 documentary The Men with Many Wives, and his polyamourous way of life particularly abhorrent, I must say I liked him just a little bit more after that comment. Why? Because it sums up hypocritical Muslim attitudes in a nutshell.

As someone who comes from a Muslim culture, perhaps I’m a little biased having had to deal with illogical, hypocritical parents, who like to spout religious crap when their actions are morally opposed. But hey, it’s ok to be a crap parent as long as you’re praying five times a day, right?

So, as much as I’d like to be all "live and let live", you can understand why it riles me up when people use a medieval text (that has little relevance to modern Western society) to justify their morally ambiguous behaviour.

It especially annoys me because it’s often women and children who suffer as a result of this short-sighted view, that’s often forced onto them and puts them in a place where men are in control. These women may seemingly be ok with it, but usually it’s because they’ve been indoctrinated by their environment or don’t have much choice as they probably face being disowned.

Even the likeable Hasan admits that none of his "wives" (three, to be exact) wore the niqab prior to them being married to him. He requested they did once they got married, and if they refused it would have been an issue.

I feel obliged to point out that in the UK, polygamous marriages are illegal, so the men featured in this documentary were technically only married to one woman - the unions that followed were religious ceremonies only and had no legal weight.   

So wherein lies the appeal of being a co-wife in a polygamous marriage? For these women, often divorced and with children which renders them "unmarriable" in their culture, they feel they’ve found a responsible man and a companion. Therefore, for them the freedom to show your face in public may seem like a small trade off.

But it shouldn’t be that way. It’s pretty depressing to think that women are struggling so much to find a man to marry that they have to share him… and are then coerced into increasingly religious extremist practices in the process

Hugh Hefner - Still pimping with pride
This documentary was balanced however – Channel 4 obviously wants to avoid accusations of sensationalism. And I must say, it was quite amusing/different to see a practising Malaysian Muslim woman, pink hijab and all, talking so candidly about the benefits of foreplay and female orgasms, pointing out that just because a man has multiple wives, it doesn’t mean their physical needs are not satisfied. Yaknow, just in case you were under the impression that it’s just the guy having all the fun.

Hasan was definitely a good addition to the documentary for the sake of balance, as his good intentions were surprisingly believable – he professed that he was happy to give women the security of having a husband (women who had previously been married, had children or were widowed), because in Muslim cultures women are not supposed to remain single.

However, another guy also featured in the documentary, who has set-up a Muslim match-making service, bluntly admits that those clients that are looking for a polygamous arrangement, 80% do so because it allows sex with multiple women; their motivation is purely physical. Make of that what you will. 

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