What Arab Women Really Want
By Travis Randall for Enigma Mgazine
Brave be the man who takes on these five strong women, but our loveable Staff Writer Travis Randall was the man for the job. Not only did he get the girls to open up, he made it out in one piece…just.
Once the men had spoken, we thought it was only fair to give the girls a chance to say their peace. This time we did things a little differently. We chose five strong, successful independent young women – outspoken women who weren’t afraid to tell it like it is, and tell the world what they really want…from the men they love. Two hours, ten thousand words and countless laughs later we were faced with an impossible challenge. Choosing a small sample of the stories, wisdom, jadedness, and experience of five extraordinary women on life’s most profound mystery…love.
Arwa Gouda, Single
Top model and actress
Marwa Rakha, Single
Relationship expert for OTV
Nayrouz Abouzid, Divorced and Presently Engaged
Television producer and Managing Director of Alter-Ego Productions
Rasha Mabrouk, Single
Marketing Director, Abercrombie and Kent
Simat Kamel El Dika, Presently Single
Marketing & PR Director, Conrad Hotel
WHAT A GIRL WANTS
Travis: What are you really looking for in a man?
Rasha: Sense of humour, a guy who doesn’t take himself too seriously.
Marwa: Focus and purpose, he has to know why he’s waking up in the morning.
Arwa: Generosity in his feelings, thoughts and communication.
Marwa: Generosity in finances isn’t so bad either!
Simat: Ambitious, masculine, powerful, caring and protective.
Arwa: A man who lifts you up but doesn’t put you down; a man who doesn’t get overly jealous or try and curb your success.
KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOUR
Travis: You’re all independent women; does that mean you no longer want a guy to protect you?
Marwa: I want to know I have a backup but unless I ask for help, I don’t want him to interfere.
Nayrouz: I want protection, but I don’t want to have to ask for it.
Simat: Most of us are independent but we need someone to lean on sometimes. Men need to be trained to find the right balance.
Rasha: Men are confused because women are much more independent so they don’t need to lean on men so much as they want to.
Nayrouz: Our parents taught us to be strong and independent but they also taught our men to be dependant on women. The father is usually out of the house, so the woman raises her sons. So many men want a mother figure instead of a lover.
Marwa: We’ve become the men that we wanted to marry.
WHO’S YOUR DADDY?
Travis: Would you prefer a landed or a self-made man?
Rasha: I’d prefer a self-made man. It shows he’s more driven and has a stronger character; even if you have to sacrifice the time he spends working. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
Arwa: Why not? Why would you have a cake without eating it?
Rasha: I’ve never found a guy that has everything. The older I get the smaller my ‘list’ gets. When I was a teenager I had 10 things I wanted in a man. In my 20s it was six. Now it’s like two. He needs to be able to walk and think.
Marwa: We want different things at different ages. Now, I want a self-made man…even if he is not going to have as much time for family. I’m strong enough to help him with family and work.
Rasha: He can be self-made and rich…but that does not mean mentally rich or open minded. I’ve heard guys say with some air of pride, “I’ve never read a book in my life.”
Simat: I like a combination of both; a well stemmed person but yet a self- made one. I would not be attracted to a shallow man and that type of man would not be attracted to a woman like me.
Arwa: On the contrary, he wants to win you. You’re the perfect target. You have everything he doesn’t so he’ll want you to pass it on to your children.
Marwa: He wants to take you, mould you and put you in a dark room for his entertainment.
OH ROMEO, OH ROMEO …
Travis: What if mum and dad don’t approve?
Nayrouz: Oh, I’ve already been there! I married a guy who they felt was too young and it didn’t work out, so I learnt my lesson. Families usually know what you want and need.
Marwa: What’s wrong with young men?
Nayrouz: Nothing, but I was 24 and he was …five. I mean he was like a child – self absorbed and didn’t know how to share. He just needed his mother.
Marwa: My mum would be happy if I married anyone at this stage.
GOOD GIRLS DON’T DATE
Travis: Does dating make you ‘damaged’?
Arwa: I can learn a lot about men by watching other people date and spending time with guy friends. I don’t have to date 10,000 guys before I’m married.
Simat: Dating is difficult because we have this idea that every successful relationship has to end in marriage. I would say that I’m happy, but in our culture to be happy is to be married with a child – living in the shadow of a man.
Marwa: It’s like if there’s no man in the picture, there is no picture.
Arwa: We’re always told, “You’re not getting any younger baby.”
Simat: We always get into relationships with the word marriage looming over us.
Marwa: You’re not getting to know a man like that. You’re too concentrated on weighing him as a husband and provider. The women who frown on dating are frustrated because they can’t do it, and the men who frown on women who date a lot are just insecure.
Arwa: The more women a man has been with, the more idolised he is. If a woman does this she’s a whore. All guys think like that, even if they don’t say it. If he doesn’t count his conquests, I’ll accept him as he is.
Marwa: We shouldn’t accept men as they are. They also should work for our acceptance.
Arwa: I’m not saying he can do whatever he wants while we’re together, but his past made him who he is. But it’s not fair for polygamous men to demand monogamous women. If he judges me, I’ll open up his little black book and show him what’s inside.
Nayrouz: Finding the right man, with the right qualities for you is a matter of experience. Don’t just jump into marriage. You have to experience life. We don’t fully grasp our femininity until we do.
DIRECTORS AND DIAPERS
Travis: How can you juggle being a career woman, mother and lover?
Simat: Choose according to your drive. Is it family, career or a mix? For everything there is a price. To be successful is to find a balance.
Marwa: It’s not just about you and the baby, but also what type of man you’re with. With a certain kind of man, I’d be willing to freelance and stay at home. With another I’d have to work and find a nanny.
Nayrouz: What’s the difference between the two men?
Marwa: Firstly if I can count on him financially, secondly how he makes me feel if I ask him for money. Some men really make you feel like they’re giving you money, feeding you and paying for your clothes…so you better be good and live according to their rules.
Rasha: If I decided to quit work, I wouldn’t automatically expect him to pay for my life. I don’t think it’s fair to put the whole burden on the man.
Marwa: Bottom line is that what men want is not the ladies sitting in this room; they prefer women who are controllable, tameable, easy to pack, easy to wrap. They don’t want arguing or challenge. They want a secretary or teacher, but not a career woman.
THIS IS ONLY A TEST
Travis: How should a man answer the question “Do you wish I was thinner?”
Arwa: If a woman is asking her partner about her weight because she doesn’t like the way she looks that’s her problem. She knows that she doesn’t look good but wants his support to feel better.
Nayrouz: Men do it with sex. They ask, “Did you like that?” Men have areas that they are also insecure about. Every woman, no matter how strong, needs assurance. When she asks, “Do I look good?” she is really asking, “Why aren’t you giving me compliments?”
Marwa: It’s perfectly fine to tell a guy, ‘lose weight, or lose the facial hair. I don’t want to look at your flab’. I can receive the same criticism if it’s given in the right way, and if the content of the criticism is fair. There are five senses and you have to please your partner in all of them.
Arwa: Men are the same all over the world. They all love breasts.
Rasha: Men who are stingy or catty.
Arwa: Men who are judgmental or talk rudely about others. Like those who think they’re so superior, they criticise everyone. Lack of education is also a turn off. I’ve literally had men make fun of me for reading a book.
Nayrouz: Being passive is also terrible. Many Arab men have become this way because they’ve had things delivered to them by their mothers.
Marwa: Men who brag about anything. How many women they’ve been with and how long they lasted.
Marwa: Hard in the right places.
Nayrouz: Very well put.
Arwa: It’s the whole package. His mental state, character the way he looks at you and the way he uses his words.
Simat: Masculine in looks (i.e. muscles, toned and attractive…) and masculine in the way he treats you. When I’m alone I’m both man and woman, but when I’m with a man, I want to remember that I’m a beautiful woman. You can call it demanding but at the end of the day women want to be supported. We want compliments and passion, and we’re willing to give it back.
Travis: Any interesting dating experiences you’d like to share?
Marwa: Believe it or not, I dated bisexual guys and they were very kind, open minded and understanding. If he’s with another woman it’s insulting but if it’s a man, he’s giving him something I can’t.
Arwa: I have enough trouble competing with other women, imagine if I had to compete with men too!
Marwa: It’s not about gender or sexuality, it’s his character.
TILL DIVORCE DO US PART
Travis: Nayrouz and Simat, you’re both divorced, as Arab women that must be particularly hard…
Nayrouz: Not at all. I use it to manipulate men into feeling sorry for me and getting what I want. I’m honestly not joking. When I talk about past relationships I become very attractive. It’s in a man’s nature to compete so they’d like to see if they can do better than my first husband.
Simat: I do agree with Nayrouz to an extent. As a divorced woman it’s one of the first things you talk about. I don’t feel tagged or that I’ve been judged. But it has benefited me because men are competitive. They ask why you left and they want to know the story. And it helps me explain what I expect in a man right away without him actually asking. It sets a standard.
THE SCHOOL OF LOVE
Travis: What has love taught you?
Arwa: Be kind and generous with your feelings because it makes the other person feel you appreciate them. If they abuse it then it’s in your hands to leave.
Marwa: I’ve learned that Walt Disney lied to us. Their message was that all the men are saviours and they will make us happy. If I’m not happy on my own, no man will ever make me happy. If I’m Sleeping Beauty and numb, I can’t expect him to wake me with a kiss. I need to be happy on my own, then I’ll decide which man I want.
Rasha: I still like the fairytale but a much more practical version. Real love is a muddy fairytale.
Nayrouz: Loving someone too much can backfire. So for a while I thought I should learn to love a little less. But love is an incredibly animalistic feeling, there’s no midway. And if you try and curb your emotions you stop being human.
Arwa: If you don’t have problems, you’re not in love. It’s a battle with tears, longing and pillows covered in makeup. It shouldn’t be painful, but you have to know it includes pain.
Simat: You can benefit most from love when you know what you want. It’s an investment and both partners have to give.
WOMEN WANT THE LAST WORD…
Travis: Any last words of advice for our male readers?
Rasha: Don’t take women’s affection for granted. We invest a lot in relationships and men shouldn’t abuse that. If we’re secure in ourselves, we make fantastic partners.
Arwa: We’re not your mothers. I’ll give you as much love as I can but I can also walk away if you push me. Don’t underestimate the hurt you cause to women over little issues. We don’t have the same priorities and mindset as men but ours are still equally valid. We support men for priorities that they have, positive and negative. So men should try and harmonise with us.
Nayrouz: Arrogance is sexy, but please have a reason to be arrogant!
Simat: We (independent women) are a combination of two sexes. Outside a relationship we are strong, independent and hard working, but in a relationship we want to be women. Also, marriage is not only about love. Common values and compatibility matter as much as love.
Marwa: Don’t fear experienced women who have been through a lot. With the experience comes a lot of understanding and support. You’re going to have the best friend, lover, wife and mother he can find.