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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Embracing The Infidel

Run, don't walk, to place an order for this book.

Embracing the Infidel : Stories of Muslim Migrants on the Journey West

By Behzad Yaghmaian; Hardcover; Amazon.com price, $16.32.

Obviously a most topical subject, since he focuses a chunk of the book on Muslim migrants to France.

Amongst the interesting tidbits gleaned on his appearance on Fareed Zakaria's PBS programme -- that Muslim women have a MUCH easier time integrating into Western European societies in general, and France specifically, than do Muslim men.

Why? Well, we'll have to read the book, but one reason is that, apparently, 25% of Muslim immigrant women marry "native" Frenchmen.

-- In the UK, the rate of intermarriage is almost 0%. That floored me --

The question is then begged: if women can integrate themselves better, why can't men?

It's just not a question of unemployment, as the rates between the two are very similar.

I shall try to get a copy forthwith when it's realeased in the US on 29 November, and post a review here.

14 Comments:

  • I would think it's easier to integrate into a culture that respects you as an individual more than the culture you left, than to integrate into a culture that does not recognize the 'proper' roles of the sexes like Muslim men do...

    just speculating.

    By Blogger Ron, at Sat Nov 19, 09:16:00 am GMT-5  

  • I agree with Ron.
    Also, I think that men are more likely to believe it is wrong to marry or socialize with non-Muslims and harder to find women who would live as Muslims.
    I wonder what percentage of Muslim women keep their faith after marriage to a native, assuming the native is not Muslim to begin with.
    I think a woman is much more smothered by restrictions in the Muslim faith and are attracted by more freedoms. But the English rate of 0% belies that.

    By Blogger Paul, at Sat Nov 19, 01:08:00 pm GMT-5  

  • I would think it's easier to integrate into a culture that respects you as an individual more than the culture you left, than to integrate into a culture that does not recognize the 'proper' roles of the sexes like Muslim men do...

    I think that's an excellent observation, Ron, and one which no doubt, he'll mention in the book.

    I also think that's the case, because we women have a more fluid social existence in any modern Western society.

    One of the biggest...oh I don't know -- misconceptions, exaggerations, lies, call it what you will -- that feminists in the late twentieth-century proposed in their movement, is that we women got the rawer of the deals given to human beings on this planet.

    Don't you believe it.

    With the exception of the dangers of childbirth, we have it better than men in almost every aspect of life, from the mundane to the advanced.

    I'll be blogging about that later on, as you can imagine. :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sat Nov 19, 01:10:00 pm GMT-5  

  • I agree with Ron.
    Also, I think that men are more likely to believe it is wrong to marry or socialize with non-Muslims and harder to find women who would live as Muslims.


    Guys, I feel bad, because I should've noted that the author mentioned that the 25% mark was about NON-RELIGIOUS Muslim women.

    I wonder what percentage of Muslim women keep their faith after marriage to a native, assuming the native is not Muslim to begin with.
    I think a woman is much more smothered by restrictions in the Muslim faith and are attracted by more freedoms.


    Even people who profess themselves Muslim, are not followers of their religions, just assuredly as I call myself Roman Catholic, consider my religion VERY important to me, but I'd be lying to you if I said I went to Church every Sunday.

    It's this fluidity that is the crux.

    I want to know how much of a personal emphasis they place on their religion.

    BTW, the rate of "native" Frenchwomen marrying Muslim men I have read elsewhere, is rather low.

    There is a "give" in one culture, that is obviously not working for the opposite.

    But the English rate of 0% belies that.

    There has to be a different dynamic to the British example.

    OTOH, I know from having read and heard countless of Asians* say this, but they would never consider marrying a black person in the UK.

    It's socially verboten.

    Obviously, white-black intermarriage in the UK is not uncommon at all.

    *Asians for us, in the UK, refers to those who come from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. It doesn't mean the same thing in North America, where it refers usually to people like the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and other East Asians. Just to let you know. :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sat Nov 19, 01:18:00 pm GMT-5  

  • From the very little first hand knowledge I have and from what I've read, their is a stigma still attached by East Asians, as you call them to marrying other races.
    I don't know that Muslims would feel that way so completely in England. I know I wouldn't. :)

    By Blogger Paul, at Sat Nov 19, 02:15:00 pm GMT-5  

  • I think that women are the West's -- and especially America's -- greatest "stealth" asset, and I think this is not stressed nearly as much as it should be. The more women are integrated into society, in every nook and crany of society, the better things get, as old ideas are removed and new ideas get more free play and a sense of true trial and experimentation that narrow definitions of masculinity reject.

    Plus, of course, I love them dearly (individuals excepted of course!), which is more than I can say for most revolutionaries...

    By Blogger Ron, at Sun Nov 20, 12:55:00 am GMT-5  

  • "The more women are integrated into society, in every nook and crany of society, the better things get, as old ideas are removed and new ideas get more free play and a sense of true trial and experimentation that narrow definitions of masculinity reject."

    This is such a load of bs. Women can be as closed-minded and sometimes even more closed-minded than men can. If men don't value "a sense of true trial and experimentation", then how or why do we have tv, computers, the atomic bomb, cars, the Constitution, etc? I'm female but even I know women are greatly outnumbered even today and mostly marginal in many fields: science, (only historically obviously) literature, politics, etc. Seriously, use your brain.

    Also, you see the same phenomenon among France's muslims as among black Americans. Black women are far more successful in the US than black men.

    By Blogger lindsey, at Sun Nov 20, 05:31:00 am GMT-5  

  • Yes, Lindsey, I am aware that women can be closed-minded; that's not the point. Women will bring to society a different set of perspectives to a whole variety of issues that men will not for issues related to gender. This is what I mean by "trial and experimentation," and the more those ideas are accepted and tested, not merely dismissed because of the gender they come from, the better off we'll be. The ideas will rise and fall on their own merits.

    By Blogger Ron, at Sun Nov 20, 09:25:00 am GMT-5  

  • Islam allows a Muslim man to marry a Christian or Jewish woman (though not a woman of any other religion), but Muslim women are supposed to only marry Muslim men, so right off the bat a Muslim woman who marries "out" is going against her religion.

    Lindsay,
    * We wouldn't have the atomic bomb without the work of Marie Curie and many other women.
    * As for computers, there are simply too many women to mention in this comment: http://inventors.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?zi=1/XJ&sdn=inventors&zu=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cs.yale.edu%2Fhomes%2Ftap%2Fpast-women-cs.html
    * The U.S. Constitution was signed only by men, but we have no way of knowing how much of its text came from the words and writings of women. We do know that the Constitution was heavily influenced by the Constitution of the Iroquois Federation, which was written by both men and women.

    By Blogger misterniceguy1960, at Sun Nov 20, 10:02:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Ron, I think I know why you said what you did -- and I'd like to thank you for that, as it shows a gentlemanly heart. :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sun Nov 20, 11:37:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Not to engage in a mutual admiration society, Victoria, but what gentlemaness I have is inspired by your gracious intelligence and charming sense of humor. Thanks for writing the way you do!

    By Blogger Ron, at Sun Nov 20, 11:56:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Hi Victoria,

    It doesn't surprise me that more Muslim women are marrying native Frenchmen than the reverse.

    For a Muslim woman, marriage to a Frenchman generally means that she will be treated far better in her marriage, will have far more freedom and a far more equal status, etc., than if she had married a Muslim.

    On the other hand, a native Frenchwoman who marries a Muslim man is likely to run into his expectations of a submissive wife.

    The difference between intermarriage rates in France and England is interesting, though. Not sure how to explain that.

    By Blogger Cathy Young, at Mon Nov 21, 04:27:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Ron, asterisk, baby, asterisk. Then all is possible on Sundries, capiche?

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Nov 21, 10:00:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Hi Victoria,

    Hey Cath! Welcome to the blog. :)

    It doesn't surprise me that more Muslim women are marrying native Frenchmen than the reverse.

    Nor does it probably most people, I wager. For everything you say below especially.

    For a Muslim woman, marriage to a Frenchman generally means that she will be treated far better in her marriage, will have far more freedom and a far more equal status, etc., than if she had married a Muslim.

    That is definitely true of the religious -- but what of the non-religious Muslim family, I wonder?

    On the other hand, a native Frenchwoman who marries a Muslim man is likely to run into his expectations of a submissive wife.

    Boy, have I got a reference for you. More info below.

    The difference between intermarriage rates in France and England is interesting, though. Not sure how to explain that.

    Isn't it?

    I can't wait to read the book to find out what theory the author presents to back up his claim.

    Now, as to the info:

    Last year, I read a book by French novelist, Christine Orban.

    She's okay as a writer, and enjoys some popularity in France.

    But the memoirs she wrote about her sister, who died tragically, are simply fascinating stuff.

    First, the title and Amazon link.

    One Day My Sister Disappeared : A Memoir

    Here's a brief synopsis, to whet your whistle.

    Best-selling French novelist Orban recalls the bond between herself and her sister Maco, forged during an idyllic childhood in Morocco and enduring across continents and time. Christine goes off to college in Paris and eventually embarks on a writing career. Maco, after a brief stay in Paris, returns to Morocco to marry a much older and very traditional Muslim. Four years younger than Christine, yet more resilient and socially resourceful, Maco is later worn out when her marriage fails and she suffers 10 years of separation from her children with once-a-week official visits and surreptitious visits to comb their hair before school. Christine is heartbroken to see the changes in her sister. She poignantly recalls the shifts in their relationship as they age and yet remain locked in support and dependence, and her final aching when her sister dies at the age of 31, having risked pregnancy in a new marriage, trying for happiness despite a rare blood disorder. Orban voices the strong bond between sisters and the pain of coping with loss.

    I saw Orban tell her story on Charlie Rose, and got the book immediately.

    The sister went from a disco-dancing, completely carefree Parisian girl, who fell in love with someone she knew was religious (but he didn't seem TOO religious, so she took a chance and married him), and had to stifle herself to meet his demands of a Muslim wife -- including wearing the veil, etc.

    The road her marriage took her, which Christine Orban blames and at once, forgives the husband for her untimely death, is I'm sure, all too common, and topical to what we are discussing in this thread.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Nov 22, 12:35:00 am GMT-5  

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