Monday, March 22, 2010

Muslim Male Humor - Just Not Funny...

My hubby has been having some health complaints lately so I made him go in to go the doctor. The doctor we usually go to is Syrian but he doesn't speak much English, so when we go, Adnan always has to interpret for me to tell me what the doctor is saying or asking.

I sat there while the doctor talked to Adnan, checked him over, ran an EKG, looked at the results, and talked to Adnan some more. This doctor obviously likes my husband a lot and vice versa. At one point the doctor said something to my husband in Arabic and they both burst out laughing - I mean REALLY laughing, like that knee slapping, good ole boy kind of laughing. Adnan looked at me and told me that he would fill me in later. I figured it had to be something related to sex, as almost everything in this place seems to be...

We walked to the lab down the hall from the doctor's office and my husband had some blood drawn. Later that evening we were supposed to go back for the results of the blood test. When we were driving home, I asked Adnan what was so funny in the doctor's office. He said "Oh nothing," but I persisted and finally got him to tell me the reason for their big outburst of laughter. With this medical issue that my husband has, the doctor has told him not to do anything too strenuous or too physical for the time being - get my drift? - and then the doctor chimed in with, "You weren't planning on marrying another one, were you?" N-yuck, n-yuck, n-yuck! (knee slap) Ha, ha, ha...! (For anyone who isn't aware, Muslim men are allowed four wives according to Islam.)

Needless to say, I failed to see the humor. I told Adnan that I thought it was unprofessional, rude and insensitive for the doctor to say that with me sitting right there. The doctor knew that I didn't understand him. Would he have said that if I were Saudi or if I spoke Arabic?

So when we went back later that evening to get the test results, we sat down in the doctor's office. He looked over the test results and talked to my husband a bit, and then my husband looked at me and said, "Whew! He says I'm going to live!" The doctor then started to write out a prescription for my husband and seemed to have a problem remembering my hubby's name, calling him Abdul-Rahman.

I picked up on this mistake without my husband having to translate, so I told my husband, "Well, maybe YOU'RE not the one who's going to live after all. Maybe Abdul-Rahman is!" When Adnan translated what I had said to the doctor, I never saw anyone turn so bright red in my life! He blubbered all over himself going overboard trying to reassure Adnan that those were indeed his test results. Good ole boys indeed... hmmmm.


  1. why are you married 2 a saudi arabian muslim, if everything about muslims, and saudi arabia bothers you so much?, i have yet to read a good post from you :s

  2. Yeah... Absolutely not funny and direspectful(of course he didn't if you understood arabic). Not a muslim behaviour.

  3. To HijabisOnRantingTour - So are you saying that you DON'T think the doctor's comment was rude, insensitive, or inappropriate? Is this considered funny for Muslim men to joke with each other about marrying another woman in front of his wife? To me, it's not a joking matter, especially not in that situation where he is a doctor and supposed to be professional.
    Honey, you obviously haven't read very many of my posts at all to make the statement like you did about me. Go rant elsewhere.

    1. i'm muslim and I found it really funny :-)

  4. "Go rant elsewhere." haha i liked that, noo sis, dont get me wrong, i dont really think that was in particular funny, i wasnt laughing but what im saying is my comment wasnt based on just this post but that in general most of your posts which i have read beleive it or not and you can see i have commented previously on the given topic and my comments were praise not a "rant", they seem to be slightly negative, i also dont like the generalisation of "muslim men" and "arab men", just becaus eone doctor and your husband found that funny, doesnt mean "muslim men" would find that funny or "arab men", would find it funny, i wouldnt make such generalisations on any race/religion let alone one people are so misunderstanding anyway, honestly didnt mean to upset you
    Salaam :)

  5. To HijabisOnRantingTour - I'm really not making a blanket statement that all Muslim men would think this is funny or would act this way. These were just two Muslim men in my post so please don't read more into it than I intended. Since it involved polygamy and most other religions don't support this, I chose to include the word Muslim in the title.
    I've written so many wonderful posts about my experiences here - Day at the Spa; Tour of Al-Balad; Rose Water; Comparing Arab & Western Youth; Peace, Tolerance & Compassion; My Perfect Wedding; How I Met My Prince; KAUST; Courage; and I could go on... Please read the interview I just gave on Future Husbands & Wives of Saudis for a better understanding of where I am coming from, especially the answer about if I like living in KSA or not. Thanks!

  6. The comment by the doctor was rude and insulting. As far as men being allowed to marry 4 women, but women not being allowed to marry 4 men, that is unfair. If it's good for the goose, it should be for the gander too. Women are treated terribly in those countries. No one should have to dress in a black burka, it's just crazy. Islam should be outlawed. It contains many delusional beliefs regarding women. Even Judeisma and Christitanity have mistreatment and subjugation of women built right into their religion. Check out freedom from religion and secular information. Science is the answer. Rational beliefs are needed to end the wars.

  7. Hi Susie

    An Arab Muslim male friend of my husband "offered" his sister as the 2nd wife to my Arab husband. In his own words "JOKINGLY OFFERED". Im Asian-Muslim and yet I find that so disresfectful and offensive...especially when both my husband and I have known him for years. Needless to say, I confronted his wife (can't confront him directly)...and practically told her to tell him to butt out!! Since then, he kept a distance from us and stopped coming over for dinner. Good riddance!!

  8. I think we as woman can feel glad we are not allowed to marry 4 men.Can you picture yoUrself pregnant continual for 30 years?And all else that follows?No back to being serious .HOPE this practice with more wives will die out1

  9. He was totally disrespectful to you. As to Ms.Ranting, it is obvious that she does not read your blog.

    Is it safe to say hubby is in the dog house? ;)

  10. Anal Retentive Mr. Nighttime says: "It's Judaism, not 'Judeisma." But, you are correct about both that and Christianity. I was raised Jewish, but gave up religion for Lent. ;-)

  11. Dear Susie:

    Let's imagine that the joke was really about taking an other wife and strenuous physical activity:

    You said it was:"unprofessional, rude and insensitive".

    unprofessional: it would be if we assume that there is absolutely no sort of connection between your husband and the Doctor. But you said: "This doctor obviously likes my husband a lot and vice versa." This implies some sort of casualness in their relation that would allow some room for jokes. Nothing unprofessional about a Doctor telling jokes to his patient.

    rude and insensitive: only if the Doctor knows or assumes you understand his language or that your husband would tell and still tells the joke. Which doesn't seem to be the case.

    Furthermore, let's say that your husband and this Doctor are totally against this practice, namely taking an other wife. Would the joke have pained you as much?

    As much as I can understand your unease and hurt to what some (namely your husband and this doctor in particular) might consider a joke, let me make here a few points that might make you feel better about this event:

    -First consider the respect and consideration on your husband's part for originally refusing to divulge something that was obviously meant to be between him and the MD. That was maybe a hint on his part to drop the case on which you could have jumped. It would have made both of you feel much better. (this is in no way to be construed as a personal critic. But simply as a communication queue people often use for sometimes legitimate reasons)

    -You could argue that it was still improper with you there. The content of their little talk aside, haven't you yourself said something before other people who, had you known they spoke your language you would have refrained from saying? Simply taking advantage of an "opportunity of convenience". I know that many a time, I found myself in that position and I am convinced that there was then absolutely no disrespect nor ill intent on my part.

    -Have you also considered that there was maybe more to what your husband reported back to you? Hard pressed to tell, and out of consideration and respect for you (maybe it was indeed some graphic sexual joke? Men and women are both known to do that in the privacy of their friendships.) maybe your husband just couldn't make up a better story?

    It doesn't erase your pain indeed since your husband told. But it doesn't make your husband nor the Doctor some kind of mean rude insensitive unprofessional person.
    It was one of those awkward moments in which people who are immersed in different cultures and languages find themselves. I've learned to stay clear from those "opportunities of convenience" after many of those embarrassing awkward, sometimes funny moments!

    As to the issue of polygamy, I would suggest anyone with strong feelings about polygamy to look at the many anthropological studies written about the subject before making any strong, angry and uneducated comments about it. Polygamy is practiced also in the US, albeit not legally, by Mormons (not a minor faith in my opinion) and one can find a lot of people with good things to say about them. It is one community studied by anthropologists among many others throughout history.

    Too often the subject of polygamy is mixed up and confused with the one pertaining to abused women. Although polygamy and women abuse are linked, one does not necessarily nor irrevocably call for the other.

    I know it's the Middle East but let's not jump the gun here!

    Bruno DeGourville

  12. You're right. That's so NOT funny...

  13. And another thing...this just proves even more that today polygamy is all about sex; men marry more women for more sex. Early muslims, when they took second or third wives, these women were often older than them, divorced, or widowed, and with children; polygamy was more of a social welfare system then-a way to protect the needs of EVERYONE of the society (and I'm not including the sexual "needs" of men).

  14. Those kinds of jokes are not funny, are disrepectful- not just to the woman but to the marriage. If someone respects my marriage, they won't joke about what would ruin it. I imagine Saudi men wouldn't think it very funny if people joked about their wives cheating on them.

    And I doubt Susie needs to "study" about polygamy in the states. We see enough of it to form opinions more accurate to the situation here.

    I think that doctor was very embarrased when you answered him, because he now assumes you understand Arabic, and probably understood his joke.

  15. Bruno--I agree up to your discussion of polygamy and then I disagree. Polygamy shouldn't be dismissed out of hand, but Mormons are a minority religion and the most polygamous of them, and the ones who get the most media attention the FLDS are a very small minority among them. The Warren Jeffs aberrations within that sect do not represent all of it.

    Susie--I am sorry you were offended, but frankly more worried about Adnan's cardiac status. I also wonder if part of the context of the joke was that it is well known in cardiology that men are more likely to die of a cardiac arrest in flagrante delicto with a mistress (or new wife in this case)rather than a long term marriage partner. Trust me, male doctors love to joke about the reasons for this, in the presence of women, physicians or not, and in the same language as their colleagues.
    As you said that Adnan's investigations were normal, perhaps this is just a warning. LOL :)

  16. OK, maybe that was kinda rude, but as Bruno said it's just a joke between two men. I can see why some muslims would be surprised by your title . As if married men from other religions/ideologies don't joke about sex with other women!!

    You are being too sensitive here :) .. you are married to a Saudi after all. I'm sure he heard this 1000s of times but he was wise enough never to tell you . So be a smart lady and never ask him what he and his pals joke about. Curiosity could kill the cat indeed.

  17. Since I have lived more than half my life in the middle east and not the u.s., I can say that the majority of muslim men would have found that funny. They make jokes about this topic all the time whether you understand their language or not. Unfortunately it's something that they hold over women here. I'm not sure though if the doctor would have made that comment if you understood arabic, or if you were of an arab nationality. I think he would have been much more intimidated if you were an arab wife. Either way the comment was rude, disgusting and not funny at all!!

  18. That wasn't humour. No the other hand your comment was witty and humourous.

    I personally think Arab men behave differently in other countries so this questioning "why did you marry a Saudi man if you don't like Saudis and their country?" is invalid. You have known Adnan for decades, did anyone joke like this with him in the US? Did he ever laugh at a joke like this in the US? How would you know then?!

    Your blog is a record of how much cultural shock you have experienced and how much Adnan has changed too in Saudi Arabia.

    You rock Susie!

  19. Polygamy legalizes extramarital affairs, something I find abhorrent. I wouldn't find that joke at all amusing. I hope your husband doesn't count polygamists among his friends.

  20. This is not funny!

    I hate how Arab men think!

  21. For the men who found this comment funny, switch shoes and pretend it was the wife who could have more than one husband and the doctor joked with her if she planned on having another husband in front of her husband? This is very insensitive, regardless if it was in a different language, knowing the wife would enquire about it. In islam we are supposed to be sensitive to one another and should not joke about such things that would cause the other one to get upset or be hurt.
    I also wanted to point out that polygamy is allowed in other religons, including judaism and christianity. The bible however does not say how many wives a man can take, whereas the quran says only 4.

    In Exodus 21:10, a man can marry an infinite amount of women without any limits to how many he can marry.

    In 2 Samuel 5:13; 1 Chronicles 3:1-9, 14:3, King David had six wives and numerous concubines.

    In 1 Kings 11:3, King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines.

    In 2 Chronicles 11:21, King Solomon's son Rehoboam had 18 wives and 60 concubines.

    In Deuteronomy 21:15 "If a man has two wives, and he loves one but not the other, and both bear him sons...."

    Thats not to say that its encouraged. If the man was really following the sunnah of our prophet he would marry widows, women who are divorced or women or older women, not young virgins who have never been married. I feel you had every right to be upset, I would have felt the same way!

  22. I agree with Umm Omar, today men are marrying multiple wives more for status and sex whereas in our prophets time men took multiple wives who were widows, older or divorced with or without children. These men provided the women with shelter, clothing and love and helped raised their kids if they had any.

  23. Not exactly the sort of behaviour that you would expect from a doctor. His attitude towards women leave a lot to be desired, but good for you correcting him with regards to your husband’s name – serves him right.

    Hope your husband is ok, and keep smiling – some of us do appreciate your views on Saudi, and it’s interesting for me to see how things have changes since I left the Kingdom (12 years ago!)

  24. With all due respect Chiara I didn't say the Mormon faith was that of a majority. I said that it was "not a minor faith in my opinion" in reference to Susie's comment: " Since it involved polygamy and most other religions don't support this"
    And it was merely suggested as one reference among many others studied by anthropologists.

    I am familiar with both world and cultures and have embraced both for their benefits and accomplishments. But we've all heard plenty of jokes involving mistresses made in NYC, LA Miami,Paris or London by husbands and their friends in front of their wives. And never did I see those wives get offended or revolted by those jokes!

    It is often those same wives whose culture fully integrated extramarital affairs in the realm of jokes but often of daily reality too, that once in the Kingdom hypocritically feign repulsion, outrage and anger at the local sense of humor involving polygamy?

    Could the violation of the sacred institution of marriage and its trivialization be less outrageous to these women than the institution of polygamy in some cultures?
    Or is it simply a simple case of now traditional double standard when it comes to anything related to the Middle East or Islam?

    Again to those who enjoy getting vociferous in the court of public opinion: it was simply a joke, of bad or good taste, meant to stay between two person who got a liking to each other.

    Bruno DeGourville

  25. I was once at a Moroccan wedding where the father of the family wasn't at the table with the mother and adult children. The adult children kept joking that he was looking for a second wife. The mother didn't seem amused but didn't say anything (it's also possible they said it only in French, and she didn't understand, but I don't think so).

    Renee--So it seems that King Solomon was either the wisest or the most foolish.

  26. Dear Susie ,
    I totally agree with you on it being rude, uncouth and unprofessional. However , I don't blame the doctor entirely as I have worked as a doctor in hospitals in saudi and for some reason there is a general understanding that polygamy is synonymous with virility. So from what I have seen the best indicator of health status was being able to have multiple wives. Nothing could have brought more joy or a bigger smile to my 70 year old patient when my attending told him that he should make the necessary arrangements for a 2nd wife . I guess all other analogies fail in comparison ..... for example if we wanted to say your health is terrific and now u can travel the world , Ride a motorcycle , climb a mountain ...nothing really hits the spot like polygamy . To that extent doctors today use that analogy to communicate to the patient that he is going to be just fine and that he still is in his prime. I do however think that he was kind of pushing it with you being there .

  27. Susie,

    I'm up here in Vancouver, BC... just above cool, Seattle, WA, with our gorgeous rain forests, moist, temperate climate and open, tolerant society.

    Call it a day Susie and get your *ss back over here. I feel reading between the lines that you have already decided that you've done all you can to make it work and that you'll have to go. Take your son with you, your husband might follow or might not.

    I'm sorry that your choice is so tough. Alone in Saudi (even though you're married with children... how ironic) or bereft of your husband in America. Love your blog.

    Just up in the middle of the night with stomach cramps... and will bookmark your blog.


  28. It's no secret that I hate polygamy. Good comeback,Susie! :)

  29. "Polygamy is practiced also in the US, albeit not legally, by Mormons (not a minor faith in my opinion) and one can find a lot of people with good things to say about them. It is one community studied by anthropologists among many others throughout history."

    Bruno-I suggest you go back and do your research. Polygamy by the mainstream Mormon church was ended quite a long time ago. It is only practiced by some very small Mormon splinter groups, that one might even call fundamentalist.

    "It doesn't erase your pain indeed since your husband told. But it doesn't make your husband nor the Doctor some kind of mean rude insensitive unprofessional person."

    Telling a joke, in another language that she can't understand, with her in the room, and at her expense mind you most certainly WOULD make it unprofessional. Let's look at a similar scenario, one that I experienced growing up.

    I was raised in a Jewish home, where my mother was fluent in Yiddish, as she was raised speaking it. I was not raised to speak Yiddish. Invariably, when we would go visit my grandmother, her and my mother would go on in Yiddish, and especially when they had things to discuss about me, often saying it in Yiddish right in front of me. Now, while this is not quite the same thing as a professional relationship, the effect is the same, that of being marginalized to a degree because of language. It was only years later that my mother realized what she did was wrong and apologized.

    Suzie was right to take offense, and her husband should have known better. Now, if the doctor was wise, he could have easily pulled him over to the side after the exam, when Suzie was not around, and told him the joke. I can understand cultural humor, but there has to be a degree of sensitivity when someone is not of that culture. Also, it is just another reflection of how women are thought of in the KSA, based upon what I have read here as well as other Saudi blogs.

    You're trying to be an apologist for behavior that needs to be changed.


    Then it should have been said out of earshot of Suzie, period, end of discussion.

  30. i bet u have to go through a lot of situations like that..... i think some of them do have a strange humour..
    great how u did fight back in the end :P

  31. Susie, I wouldn't take that much offense to such a joke. It is the Saudi culture and the religion. If someone said that here in Canada I'd probably laugh. I understand how these things can get to you though.

    BTW, how much Arabic do you speak?

  32. To the person who wrote that there is something positive about polygamy. Well, it had to be a man who wrote that! You could find something positive about almost anything! After all, didn't Mussolini make the trains run on time in Italy? Does that make fascism "good?" As to Mormons practicing polygamy, well, again, that's incorrect. Mormonism banned that practice over 100 years ago. It is outlawed. And anyway, Mormons represent a small number of the population: about 3% - which might be called a "minority" in anyone's definition of the word.

  33. Susie, the doctor was certainly rude, but the funny thing is that I understand why.

    Most people in the middle east in general haven't reached that level of social awareness yet, unlike in America or in Europe or in the Far East (like the Philippines).

    Their society is really "very" different from ours. Although we can hope that we can change it brick by brick, we just have to take it as it is, for now.

  34. Hi Susie, that commetnt was SO rude!!!! And I am certain that he would not have said som if you were an arabic lady.
    I live in Oman with my husbpnd - we are from Europe and not muslims - and we have on several occations had old arabic men joking about "if my husbond maybe wants another wife?? N-yuck, n-yuck, n-yuck! (knee slap) Ha, ha, ha...!" JUST in front of me!! SO offending!!
    First of all it would be rude and offending to all ladies - but its also very disrespectful to me, because I am sure that these men would not have said this if I was an arabic lady...!
    Luckily my husbond doesnt find this amuesing - and tell the men in a nice way to behave wih respect - since we are doing the same against their culture and religion!

    But but... I LOVE Oman!!!

  35. I feel blessed to have ran across your blog and be able to read your well written recounts of your experiances. “Nature says women are human beings, men have made religions to deny it. Nature says women are human beings, men cry out no!” ~ Taslima Nasrin

  36. Bruno--You did state that LDS is "not a minor religion" whereas in fact it is, though not to its practitioners. Polygamy was eliminated officially in the 19th century in exchange for making Utah a state. Drs I know who practice there say it still goes on to some minor extent, and is befuddling medical histories, and genetics eg saying the mother of the child being seen is the child's second cousin (cousin of the officially acknowledged wife) confounds medical diagnosis, which is the only reason the doctors practising there that I know actually care about their patients' marital status.

    The famous Mormon polygamists are the FLDS a small sect within a minor religion.

    I agree that there are other forms of polygamy official and not (eg Tiger Woods) and didn't wish to condemn it in a blanket fashion (though Tiger is an idiot, imho) but there should be some accuracy about its prevalence insluding in
    Saudi Arabia (2-12% depending on region; 90% having 2 wives only; 90% of the rest having 3 wives; very few having 4).

    Thanks for your follow-up comment and the chance to clarify.

  37. Hi Susie,
    As one person has already mention (2 people?) Polygamy is not practiced by the Morman Church- not even illegaly. There is a small splinter group that calls themselves something else and they do- in violation not only of US law, but violation of what the Church allows.

    I have never met women who think that jokes about infidelity and their husbands accquiring mistresses is amusing. But I guess I run with a different crowd.

    It was rude, and it is something a subset of the culture does. A MALE subset. Saudi women don't like it either. And the men wouldn't like it in reverse.

    There is no reason anyone has to "respect" every aspect of another's (or even their own) culture. The treatment of women is wrong here- and that "joke" highlighted it. Most of us know one too many women something like this has actually happened to. And it was a very destructive force in their and their childrens lives. Why should ANY woman accept that, that is funny??

    Shall we start "joking" with pregnant women that maybe they'll have deformed children? Shall we start joking with men that perhaps they are suffering from erectile dysfunction? In what universe would either of those be funny?

  38. I'll just add. It's true it's associated with virility. But the reality is it is more associated with broken families and broken relationships.

    So based on the reality- I don't (and most women and even some men) think it's funny. And it certainly isn't appropriate.

  39. Anonymous Amy from Vancouver BC: "you'll have to go. Take your son with you, your husband might follow or might not. "

    So you're basically telling someone with whom I am assuming you are absolutely not intimate to just "cut her loss", kidnap her son and get the hell out of there. Whether her husband follows or not!?!? And you say that totally aware that her husband and son might most probably read her blog!

    How preposterous! Talking about insensitive and disrispectful!! For both the author and her family. But maybe it's just the way I was brought up and Susie doesn't see it that way?!

    The other Anonymous: "To the person who wrote that there is something positive about polygamy."
    Is it a language thing or something else?! No one so far has said in their comments "that there is something positive about polygamy."!

    No one said either that all Mormons practiced polygamy, nor that the Church of Latter Day Saints was a majority religion! All that was said is that the Mormons as a community where polygamy was practiced, was part of the many communities studied by anthropologists. Can you see the difference?

    You are either too bitter or angry to read people's comments properly. Or it's a language barrier. From the tone of your comments, I'd go for the latter.....and not saint for sure!

    Mr. Nighttime: Go back to what I wrote and the comment I just made above to "The other Anonymous" about "Polygamy by the mainstream Mormon church", "splinter groups" or "fundamentalist". Once again someone hasn't read carefully what was said.

    Furthermore, I am in no way trying to be an apologist for that type of behavior. As I said in the beginning of my comments: all I was trying to do is "to make [Susie] feel better about this event." If you could only read my comments for what they are and not what you think they are, you would not have missed either that I myself agree with you that because it was a joke meant to be between two men it should have been said out of earshot. As I said: " I've learned to stay clear from those "opportunities of convenience".

    Pépe Cabréra:"people in the middle east in general haven't reached that level of social awareness yet, unlike in America or in Europe or in the Far East (like the Philippines)....we can change it brick by brick,..."

    There couldn't be more culturally imperialistic and racist comments than that! Social awareness?! What a loaded term that can mean anything and nothing!

    Putting the Philippines in the same category as Europe and America in terms of what you call "social awareness" is very revealing not only of your bias and lack of worldliness but most importantly of your ignorance.

    As for the need to change the Middle East "brick by brick" I would first suggest that many before you have tried and failed. And none less than Queen Victoria.
    Second, I would suggest you take a hike and try to change yourself first before trying to change others! I read your blog and profile: who the hell speak of themselves in the third person?!? You are neither Royalty (except maybe at night when you go clubbing lol) nor Salvador Dali!
    And here I speak for any Middle Eastern who is offended by your arrogant , demeaning and self-righteous comment.

  40. Chiara:

    Fist let me say that I am enjoying this civilized exchange with you. And I have Susie to thank for giving us this platform.

    Second, I understand you see the Mormon Church as a minor religion and you are entitled to your opinion. I respect that. Just as it was implied in my original comment: "not a minor faith in my opinion". "In my opinion" implies here that others are at liberty to believe otherwise.

    As far as I'm concerned, one need not be a member of this faith to agree that a religion that is present in 176 nations and territories and that counts among its members around 14 Million human beings might not be considered a "minor religion". Regardless of one's personal religion. Neither in terms of statistics but most importantly nor in terms of spirituality.

    And again I mentioned the Mormon Church as one singular example among others studied by anthropologist regarding polygamy. I could have mentioned Hinduism and their god Krishna, the 8th incarnation of the god Vishnu who had 16,108 wives. But because the Mormon Church is publicly well known and well publicized, I decided to name them as part of many anthropological studies. But certainly not to get into a theological debate about the many branches of that affiliation and their positions on the subject. For which I am absolutely not qualified. As oppose to many on here.

    Sandy: When you say a "a subset of the culture, do you mean some sort of sub-human? lol

    Let me say also that if all the women with whom you hang out never ever accepted as a joke, and consequently brushed them off as such, the many ones made around them involving extramarital affairs, than indeed you are part of a superior cast of the society and maybe this civilization too.

  41. Sorry I can't contribute to the discussion right now - I'm lucky that I have been able to get the comments posted at all. I'm staying in the hospital with my hubby right now and he's scheduled for bypass surgery in a few days. The internet connection at the hospital is very bad, so bear with me if your comments don't get published right away. Just came home to shower and pick up a few things, so I'm writing this in a hurry... Great discussion, by the way!

  42. Dear Susie:
    I will keep your husband, you and your whole family in my prayer in this time of stress.

  43. @ Bruno- I am so appalled at how poorly you digested my comments. First, you are being rude and sounding ignorant intellectual. For an expatriate living in Saudi Arabia for the last 12 years I think I have every right and rightfully deserving of a tiny space here to comment based on my observation and experiences.

    Second, what the fuss with the phrase " social awareness"? It was not my intent that people like you would have the most outrageous interpretation of that pathetic phrase. Is it that phrase that made you fuming mad? I certainly was caught offguard by your rabid tongue and inexplicable cynicism. I cant believe it! The blog post itself of Susie and the myriad of comments would give you tons of facts that prompted my own observation. No wonder why you sounded lecturing at Susie and every commenter's 'slip' of a finger.

    For every reader here, it has never been my intent that the phrase "level of social awareness" has offended anyone. It was in no way equated to vilifying Saudi Arabia and its people just the way Bruno sees it in his attempt to put words into my mouth. This country has given so much to me and I recognize the fact that I've learned to appreciate its culture and been a witness to social reforms of late.

    But Bruno dear, why is your blood shooting up at what I said about almost equating societies in America, Europe or the Philippines? I did not say the Philippines has geographically shifted to the Western Hemisphere. (Hmmm... I can smell stinking racial overtones here.) I basically referred to the social consciousness, the freedom to choose, democracy, women's rights, equal opportunities, education for all, etc, etc. that made them synonymous.

    And before you accuse me of hiding in a third person, look at your sorry self in the mirror, you are yet to emerge from your hiding place! I have been a follower of this wonderful blog since two years and a fan in FB of the same. And if there's anyone who loves to howl and leaves a rabid trace it's certainly not me.

  44. Susie--I'm sorry to read that Adnan requires bypass surgery. However it is usually highly successful and a well-known procedure. I wish him a speedy recovery and rehab, and you and Adam all the support you need during a stressful time like this. Send me an email if you have any questions you think I might be helpful with. All the best to the 3 of you.

  45. Bruno--no worries, I think we are saying some of the same things differently. I agree that the Mormon religion is not a minor one to its adherents or its global spread (a year of obligatory mission overseas helps with this). However the sect which differs in keeping polygamy as a central tenet of faith, the FLDS, has received a great deal of publicity within North America because of the aberrations within that sect of its most recent leader, Warren Jeffs, who is now in jail for statutory rape (ie religiously marrying and impregnating girls under the age of the legal consent for marriage). The FLDS also practices systemic welfare fraud, and under Jeffs forcibly divorced longstanding couples and ordered new marriages (mostly to himself). Unfortunately all these aberrations have tainted the impression many have of "Mormons" and of polygamy. I agree that other examples might be better in light of this. And we seem to agree with taking an even handed approach about polygamy without condoning it.

    Thanks for the tone of your discussion as well.

  46. @ Susie, Your husband Adnan will be in my prayers for his fast recovery. I know he will be touched by God's healing hands. He will be alright!

  47. That doctor had no business even bringing up something so stupid, especially with you in the room with them. The comment had nothing to do with what was going on.

    I am curious if you could share the story of how you and Adnan met and why you chose to marry a Muslim. Clearly, he must be a different sort of man for you to have considered it. From what I've seen, you two seem to have a great marriage.

    Also, I want you to know I don't consider your blogs as negative usually but more humorous since they are based on an American woman's perspective. I think you have a great sense of humor, and I greatly enjoy reading and learning about your life in Saudi. Thank you so much for sharing.

  48. My prayers are with you and your family, Susie. I pray that all go well with your hubby's bypass.

    Much love and warm greetings from St. Pete. :)

  49. Very often it is the film industry that brings about reflection in our society, if no social change. Sometimes for the best. Sometimes for the worst. The fictional character of this art allows indeed for artistic license in the way even the most controversial issue can be treated.

    Has anyone here watched Boston Legal? I like this show for many reasons. Its entertaining value aside, it is a thought provoking show based on real cases with which the courts have either already dealt or which are still controversial and subject to national debate. But in most cases, both legitimate sides of the same issue are given and left to the viewer to ponder.

    The episode S02 E21 titled ""Word Salad Days" deals with polygamy. I recommend it. As I said: entertaining and thought provoking. The arguments put forth in favor of polygamy are interesting.

    And to the ones ready to make a hue and cry or rail about the "clash of civilization" and point an accusatory finger at "backward Saudi Arabia": it is a western show, geared towards a western audience, showing a positive side of polygamy!

    Also, for the ones ready to jump the gun and accuse me of all sorts of ills: I am not taking side one way or the other here. I am merely trying to provide further material to the debate on polygamy to the ones willing to remain curious, open and tolerant. I am fully aware that the angry vociferous self-righteous ones have already their mind set. "End of discussion"( as someone commented earlier).

  50. @ Bruno
    First of all, the FLDS and the Mormon Church are NOT the same thing. Mormons do not allow polygamy.

    as for:
    "Sandy: When you say a "a subset of the culture, do you mean some sort of sub-human? lol"

    No. But on rereading my remarks they were a bit akward. A sub-set is a term the merely means a set within a set. A set within Saudi society thinks additional-wife jokes are funny. It is pretty much and entirely male subset. If you are still confused about what a sub-set means you could try googling it, or alternately Venn diagrams.

    As for:
    "Let me say also that if all the women with whom you hang out never ever accepted as a joke, and consequently brushed them off as such, the many ones made around them involving extramarital affairs, than indeed you are part of a superior cast of the society and maybe this civilization too."

    Well, I have to stand by what I said. To my knowledge, I don't know any woman who thinks these jokes are funny. I that puts me in the "superior" cast of society, that's fine with me. It seems more like just common sense and common manners.

    And finally, from and older post-

    "As to the issue of polygamy, I would suggest anyone with strong feelings about polygamy to look at the many anthropological studies written about the subject before making any strong, angry and uneducated comments about it."

    Who are you to come on here as though you are more knowledgeable about this than the people with strong feelings about it? I doubt very much an anthropological study will change anyone's mind about polygamy here. And I doubt any study will tell me as much as some of what I have seen, heard and witnessed myself living in a society that allows polygamy and knowing people in polygamous relationships.

    Aside from that, you have no idea how educated or not some people may be, nor is it necessary for someone to be educated to the standard you set, before their opinion is valid. You really come accross as a snob, with intellectual delusions of grandeur- though as to the truth of it, who knows.

  51. I didn't find the story funny at all! I am sure they were laughing about something else...
    I hope that your husband recovers soon..

  52. Hi Susie,

    I've become a fan of your blog by accident when I stumbled upon your articles about Jeddah floods. And since that day I bookmarked your site but always choose not to leave a comment.

    But this one is quite interesting. The comments are as intense as fireworks. Some are sort of eye-opener and educational. Some could be misinterpreted by other commenters. But I am not greatly impressed by some who go overboard by personally attacking a commenter for perhaps a not so perfect choice of words or pronouns he/she is using.

    I was particularly amused at the knowledge of one commenter by dominating the discussion and him/her trying to find lapses with other commenters by subduing their own 'perceived' ignorance. I think it is being unfriendly and indicative of the character of a person. The conduct itself of trying to ambush any 'misguided' comments by others and lecturing at them is done in bad taste and does not reflect one's superiority of mind. I think only confused personalities with suppressed tendencies have penchant for this kind of habit.

    Your husband is included in my prayer intercessions Susie. May the grace of God be with him.

  53. Susie,
    This is not Muslim male humor. This is male humor, and male belief in their prerogative. Their assumption is that you can't hear, even though you are there, and you don't understand, even though you are there, and as Bruno said, ad nauseum, "IT WAS SIMPLY TWO GUYS TELLING A JOKE MEANT TO STAY BETWEEN THEM." (His caps, not mine.) Yeah, well duh, since you're not there.

    You already did the best thing possible, intelligent awareness, and with humor.

    And Habibis-on-a-rant, I checked out your blog. Follow your own advice, as stated on your blog.

  54. He's having bypass surgery? So it WAS Abdul-Rahman's results after all?

    Speedy recovery Adnan.

  55. aww come on, you really are taking this to an extreme.
    I am a nurse in Canada,do you know how many times a doctor makes similar comments to cardiac patients but instead of wife it's mistress or secretary??

    It was a joke between men, not meant to be shared with you.
    I do agree that you have the way to twist things around and always make saudi ,muslims,look bad


  56. Susie I hope your husband is going to be OK. To me I wouldn't find it a laughing matter where ever I lived if a doctor was unprofessional and to cross that boundary of patient, doctor.

  57. Sorry Susie to hear about your husband. I hope that he is doing well. Just wanted to add that I agree the comment was insensitive. My husband likes to "joke" about needing to take a second wife... Yeah NOT funny. He says its just a joke, haha. I don't see any humor in it at all, and get offended. Just because polygamy is permitted does not mean it is recommended in this day and time. Should we go back to permitting slavery then as well?! I think NOT!

  58. Here's wishing a speedy recovery for your husband.

  59. Sandy:

    "You really come accross as a snob, with intellectual delusions of grandeur"

    If you mean by snob, a bourgeois belonging to the class of people who are educated and own property, according to Marxist ideas, yes indeed I am a snob and a bourgeois. I'm sorry if you wish that in this life education and property didn't confer a certain status. But it does. Be it in Saudi, the USA or anywhere on this planet.

    Furthermore, I never said that the validity of an opinion was a strict and exclusive function of the education of the person who holds that opinion. Education merely imparts a certain weight to the reflection that led to the opinion. I refuse to give the same weight to the opinion of a mere uneducated Joe about nuclear proliferation before that of a nuclear scientist. The same goes for any other branch of knowledge. Today's world is unfortunately filled with those talking heads who feel that the MSM has bestowed upon them knowledge and expertise on anything and everything.

    But my being a snob or bourgeois doesn't have any bearing on my personal respect of an individual nor his opinion! I feel like I need to spell it out here for you. In other words: I can be a snob (giving more value to the opinion of a learned and educated scholar over that of a simple talking head) and still respect the less educated humanity, dignity and opinion! Do you get the difference?! I just find preposterous the many ignorant blabbermouths barging on us wishing to impose the dictatorship of their ignorance and arrogance.

    This is only one of the many subtleties of the discourse on which you obviously couldn't catch. The fact that you are still trying to explain to me what a subset is, is in itself very telling and revealing (didn't you see the little "lol" Let me spell it out: I WAS BEING FACETIOUS !)

    As you yourself said: "you have no idea how educated or not some people may be".

    But often people's writing is a dead giveaway!

    Long live the Snobs!

    Respectfully always,

    Bruno DeGourville.

  60. Hello Susie,

    I just read your blog. I wish you and your family all the best at what must be a very stressful and anxious time.

    Warm wishes from Australia!


  61. Who is that uncovered woman tending to your husband? Was SHE in the room when the 'joke' was made?

    Anonymous, next time your husband jokes about needing a 2nd wife you should make sure to talk about the qualities that your NEXT husband will have.

  62. I can kind of understand the commenters that say perhaps this is a joke between two men, as tasteless as it is. As they say, 'guys will be guys'....BUT you were in the room and he told the joke in another language, which I think is very rude and insensitive of him.

    This reminds me of a story I heard from my dad about a bunch of Japanese students, who were sitting around making fun of the people around them (in Japanese). They made fun of this one white girl...too bad for them she knew Japanese and went right up to them to tell them Japanese. Sweet karma, and a good lesson for anybody.

  63. That's so true, the Doctor shouldn't have said what he said.

  64. Also, for those who pretend to know a lot about polygamy in the US and among the Mormons but have never set foot in Utah:

    Polygamy is rampant in Utah (even though it's not practiced by the majority). And although it is illegal, it is hardly ever prosecuted unless it involves child abuse or rape. (supposedly for lack of funds says the State Supreme Court Judge).

    There are 51 States in the Union. And not all have necessarily the same position on major spiritual or societal issues like death penalty or polygamy (Alcohol is even prohibited in many so-called dry counties).

    There is always wiggle room in the Constitution or in the practice of Law to afford such Liberty and Freedom between consenting adults!

    This is the US of A! Unity in diversity. Let's not lose that American Exceptionalism between consenting adults.

    1. Bruno,

      I live in Utah as I have most of my life. I was LDS, now I'm not. As stated before (which you didn't reply to btw), polygamy is practiced by an off shoot of the LDS church suc s the FLDS or the Apolistolic Brotherhood. Believe me as I say this as a relative of pioneers , it is NOT rampant and is frowned upon by practicng LDS,

  65. To all the women who their husbands joke about getting a second wife, do as my friend did when her husband was laughingly saying that if she didn't do a certain thing he will take a second wife, my friend replied in the same tone as his that if he did then she will simply take a second husband ..

    Her husband was caught by surprise by her "joke" then got really angry. But he never made the same joke again !

    Or never marry a Saudi, that also works!

  66. I know an uncle( Saudi) who kept joking about whereabout everyone ,so if he wants to tease someone ,he would tell to the others that this person whom he was teasing was with a hidden wife somewhere awhile ago .lol

  67. Susie, first of all I pray your husband comes out on the other side, safe and healthier for having the surgery.

    I asked my husband to read your post- he is a doctor and Yemeni. He was appalled! He says, no doctor should make comments in front of the patient's family members that might produce non-beneficial reactions. If this was his way of saying to Adnan that he really was sicker than he realized, it was in bad form. And if he wanted to lighten up the mood for Adnan, then he either should have said it out of earshot from you. Having made the statement in front of you may have caused your husband to worry more..."she's going to ask me, what do I say"... not a good place to put a patient who ended up having by pass surgery!

    Since discretion is the better part of valor - please don't tell him all our comments as it wouldn't aid in his recovery. I honestly believe friendship, professional or otherwise has its limits. Familiarity breeds contempt.

  68. Bruno said:

    "There are 51 States in the Union"

    What a gas.

  69. I'm also an American who lives overseas.

    I have been living in Tokyo since 1990.

    (Also, you used to live in Florida, didn't you? That's where I grew up.)

  70. Why don't you add a little something about "marrying more than one wife in America?" I've heard a lot about the Mormon's Faith. Mormons also marry underage girls. I know it's rare but its there just like here. Less than 1% of Muslims marry more than one.

  71. Susie,
    This DR. was totally rude to you and very disrespectful indeed.

  72. @Bruno, Who would wanna listen to a self righteous, racist person like you.

    Who do you think you are? You answer comments more than the author of this blog herself. LOL!

  73. I hope Adnan will come out of this ordeal better and stronger.

    Not funny!
    good to hear from INAL, who really should know what's what.

    I know it's quite the fashion in the region to make these jokes, but I have never heard of a wife actually phoo-phoo-ing it like some of the comments here do. No woman in the middle east enjoyes these ''jokes''. Because they can do just that. Take a ''second'' wife. (or a third or a fourth)
    And what does that mean? one's economic basis is cut in half, your husband, the man you trusted is having SEX with another woman, You can never trust him again. You are suddenly dismissed half the time. And you are relegated to the status of a concubine. Because that is what it means: plural wives are not in an equal relationship anymore, they are just one of the concubines having to serve their master.
    Not funny!

    This is not a man's world. Women are 50% of this world, this is a woman's world as much as a man's world and pushing women in a degraded lower-classed position is wrong.
    Making jokes about it is wrong. Sick.
    Not funny.

    The days of polygamy are centuries past. What was a form of social welfare 1400 years ago is obsolete now. polygamy in the quran was never meant for the sexual gratification of men. Nor was it ever a ''right''.
    It is very clear: if men do not have the charity to look after widows and orphans just for doing good, but want to be payed for it in sex, THEN they can marry up to four.
    That is in essence what is written.

    And what is it about islamic countries that women are always being pulled down to the level of prostitutes? Because if you strip the trappings away that's what it amounts to. A man provides for a woman and the woman has to give sexual access whenever he wants. That is prostitution in my book.
    A man pays (mahr/keep) and the woman provides sex in return.
    A widow is left in the desert and if she wants to stay alive and provide for her children she has to pay by marrying some bloke and provide sex.
    A man can marry up to four wives which means he has his own private brothel with four women bound to give him sex.
    Or else.
    After all men can (and some do) divorce their least popular wives in order to clear a slot for a new piece of meat.
    Not funny!

  74. If you hate Saudi Arabia so much why don't you go back to America? You sound like another spoilt American. Not everyone acts, talks, or thinks like an American. Saudi Arabia does not need a Rosa Parks as you opined in a previous post. Instead what Saudi Arabia needs is for people who disagree with Saudi culture to leave the country.

  75. Woa, you had a lot of comment-answering work to do here.

    The doctor visit was surely not very reassuring for you.
    The photos here are very special.

    I do hope Adnan is getting well.

  76. Why do people always want to compare stuff with America? It's such an infantile approach to say ''They do it tooooo''
    It doesn't make it right that some insane splintergroups from the mormons do the same evil things. Besides, Susie isn't locked up in a Mormon village in Utah, She's stuck in a whopping big country which is completely ruled by such evil misogynist rules..

    Funny to bring up Mormonism, it has a lot in common with Islam, both religions are founded by some bloke claiming that an angel brought him the ''Word of God'', both without any tangible proof, both get instruction from God to displace women and pronounce them inferior to men, both like to dismiss women's status by lowering them into a polygamous marriage, both then think it's good to ''get them while their young'' and force marriages on underage girls, both have suddenly gotten specific dress-instruction from God....

    (actually, those fringe sects where they still (against the law) practise polygamy have a system to weed out a large portion of the boys, so the old pedophile men can hahve the young girls)

    I see a lot in common here...

  77. hi susie..i'm Nurin , from malaysia.when i write to you, i already had read all ur post. Really interesting and nice picture..and i know how ur felt when somebody make funny in front of u about polygamy. Yes, as muslim we cant deny that man can married more than 1.But in the away of prophet Muhammad(pbuh) do and He got married to women that had lose their husbands in battle, to help the women, to love them and to give pure and honor dignity to all women that He was married of. Not because he fun to do that.

    But many people especially muslim men always misuse power that given to them.When they talk about wanna get married other women and fulfill the quota they always said "must follow the sunnah" just for the married how about others sunnah?I also mad when guy make funny about this polygamy thing.

    It is really nice to meet you here, and hope can read lots of news from u then..i really enjoyed read ur blog..and good luck susie!sorry my English not very good but i will try to do my best :)

  78. @Afake

    All religions are the same. What you said about Islam and Mormonism could apply to the other religions as well.

    (sorry for the off-topic comment Susie)

  79. HAHAHA ! my dear your funny !

    And yes that doc should have slapped himself in the face when he opened his toxic mouth.

    His gesture is not acceptable in any religion what so ever, yet, I can tell your a strong woman, so le t it slide ;D

    Loved the post, I just stumbled upon it ;D

  80. HAHAHA ! my dear your funny !

    And yes that doc should have slapped himself in the face when he opened his toxic mouth.

    His gesture is not acceptable in any religion what so ever, yet, I can tell your a strong woman, so le t it slide ;D

    Loved the post, I just stumbled upon it ;D

  81. What the Dr. said was not appropriate and not cool no matter religion. It was distasteful.

    Hope hubby has a speedy recovery.

  82. As a casual reader of your blog i have to say that i am glad you always try to be honest. People have a right to their own opinion as long as they are not being insulting - which i don't consider you are.

    Hope your husband's surgery goes well.

  83. I like how Susie expresses herself..She is in one hand saying I am destined to be with you,however I might not like everything you do.Imagine if we have plenty of people thinking and criticizing the same way ,We would be in a much better shape.keep it up Susie.God Bless .

  84. What an interesting blog. I shall return!

  85. Polygamy in Islam is EVIL. I hate men who marry more than one woman. Selfish pigs! My husband's father had 5 kids with my husband's mother, then married some sl.ut aka wife #2(sorry for the word i'm using but what kind of woman would marry a man knowing he has a family and kids???!! - home wrecker), proceeded to make a bunch of kids with wife #2, in the meantime also had a bunch more kids with wife #1. NOW MY HUSBAND (the oldest son) has to support his mother and all the siblings instead of building his own family. Thanks a lot, dad.
    And also, what's with women who would have more kids with a husband who betrayed them by getting a second wife??!!! Can somebody explain any of this to me please?

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