The Spinster Men (Book Review)

Why Don't Men Get Married?
By Yomna El-Saeed
Freelance Writer- Egypt

Cover of the book

Title: The Spinster Men, Why Don't Men Get Married?

Genre: Non-Fiction

Author: Shady Abdel Salam

Language: Arabic

Paperpack: 205 pages

It’s a strongly captivating page-turner. And yes, it basically attracted women, rather than the main target readers.

In Egypt, marriage is getting more and more difficult by time for youth. The average marriage age is always shifting to the higher. But the party who is blamed on this is the woman, (the supply side), not the man (the demanding side).

"Spinster" is the title waiting for any woman who will stay single till above 30 [and 35 according to formal statistics]. Socially, it is like being titled helpless or pathetic. There is an inherent belief in the Egyptian culture that it's not important how successful or educated the girl is, as she will end up getting married and taking care of her kids.

There is always a pressure on women in their early 20s to go out to the society through working and attending social events in order to attract suitors. The looming spinsterhood dystopia specter is scaring all families in all social classes.

Amid this biased culture, a fair wise man came up to write a book to support women and bravely unveil what's behind the masculine scene.

Shady Abdel Salam's "The Spinster Men, Why Don't Men Get Married?" consists of nine chapters in which he gives a detailed answer to the question "Why Don't Men Get Married?" He refutes the popular misconceptions of men that hold them back from marriage. In his book, Shady tackles infidelity and defends women in different cultures and heritages by shedding the light on the status of women in Islam and speaking about breakups.

The first quality distinguishing this book from any other book is simply that this book is written by a man.

OnIslam's correspondent interviewed the author and posed a number of questions about the book, here were his answers:

Shady Abdel Salam, author of the book

OI: Here's the clichéd question, why did you write this book?

Shady: This is my fifth book. I rebel through writing. For instance, in my book "The United Woes of America" I was rebelling at America's wars and foreign policy starting from the Red Indians till Iraq. In my sardonic book "LOL" I rebelled at Mubarak before the revolution.

In this book I am rebelling at the women's status quo in our society. The man who doesn't get married is just a "single man", but if the woman doesn't get married is socially stigmatized by the "spinster" label. No matter how successful the woman is, if she's unmarried, she's a failure in the eyes of the society. Pressure on women to get married often starts by her joining the university.

Men have the right to impose their criteria on women, while women can't impose any demands like quitting smoking or losing weight for instance.

The [male dominated] society claims that women took their rights; in fact she took more duties. Women work to help their men pay bills, and do all the housekeeping activities and take care of the kids. Where is the privilege?

OI: At the time when the financial issues were blamed to be the number one reason behind the marriage crisis, you considered the "porn websites" to be the key reason instead.

Shady: Men view marriage as a boring responsibility. So, by being single, they are free to spend their money the way they like, their mothers or sisters will take care of their food and cleanliness. As for the biological aspect of marriage, they have porn sites to satisfy them enough.

Statistics show that Egypt is swinging between the third or fourth highest country watching porn online, and also, we are the third or fourth highest country in sexual harassment. There is a link between both phenomena. The guy who only perceives women as nothing but bodies; naked bodies, will act in real life the way he believes in them virtually.

Those who chose not to get married or postpone it are mainly the above average people who are capable of financing it.

Moreover, in the 70s and the 80s the economic conditions in Egypt were bad as well, and youth were getting married normally. Marriage is a matter of choice.

OI: Three months ago the Egyptian public prosecutor proposed banning the porn websites and it was hugely opposed as it would be too costly and this cannot be a priority under our tight economic conditions. What do you think?

Shady: I firmly believe that it has to be a priority. One of the arguments against this was "give the youth money and help them get married instead of spending money on websites". Well, this is what will help youth get married. Statistics also show that these websites are directly linked to the increase in the divorce rates.

Banning these sites will help some normal youth to go for marriage. It will also save the future generations.

OI: In your book you also blamed women.

Shady: Yes, I blamed women who before marriage are willing to compromise and give up their sought qualifications in men in order to get married. I also blamed the married women who can accept their husbands' infidelity instead of another wife.

I'm totally okay if both parties [men and women] give up some of their demands in order for their relation to keep going, but if one party only gives up, this is what I disapprove of.

OI: You totally refused polygamy, some readers may find it haram

Shady: I quoted Mohammad Abduh the Mufti of Egypt in the late 19th century and the start of the 20th century and I supported his ideas. Men and women are human. As long as it is impossible for a man to accept or allow his wife to have a sexual relation with any other man, under any legal excuse, why would a woman accept the same situation?

Polygamy is not a sunnah that everyone can or should do, it happens under very special circumstances, with very tight conditions.

A recent fatwa and some callings suggest to men to marry more than a woman in order to reduce spinsterhood. This is very ironic, if the economic conditions are not helping a man to get married, how can a man marry 3 or 4 women?

OI: How was the male reaction to the book?

Shady: The majority of the men who came across this book refused to read it; they totally refused dubbing men by "spinsters", [it's exclusively restricted on women] and whatever the logic behind it can be.

As for those who read it, about 75% of them attacked the book and disagreed with it. The rest found the book logical and it helped them change their minds and gave themselves another chance to consider marriage.

Related Links:
Love, InshAllah
Tweets from Tahrir
To Each Her Own: Narrated by Single Women

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