A video dialogue program for young women in the USA and Muslim countries
January 23rd, 2007 at 8:17 pm
Posted by Zia in Sessions

The write-up on social interactions and dating is going to be a bit short in order to get something up before our next session in two days; in addition, we filmed the session and may be able to provide some clips on the site. In the meantime, some commentary from last Thursday: 

Meeting potential mates. We started out by talking about the difficulties of meeting potential partners; in the US, women talked about meeting people through college, friends, at social events in the city, etc. One participant in New York brought up the fact that the city is so large, it can be harder to meet people than in a place with a more limited group of potential mates. 

Distance. Another topic was long-distance relationships. Some of the Tunisian participants had boyfriends who lived in other parts of the country; one of the young women indicated she’d have a hard time dating someone who lived nearby because they’d end up with “too much” time together. When US participants mentioned the trials of maintaining long distance relationships, and asked if the Tunisian women involved in such relationships were concerned about their boyfriends meeting other women, one participant joked she got jealous very quickly, so if her boyfriend as much as looked at another girl, that would be the end of him! 

Different backgrounds. The Tunisian participants were curious to find out if people in the US dated others of different racial or ethnic backgrounds. One of the US participants said that was still the exception rather than the rule, but that in our generation, few people would still have an issue with such relationships.  

Social norms. We probably spent the most time talking about the societal values that guide dating. While women in both countries said that relationships could be short or long term depending on the person and how serious the relationship was, the Tunisian women pointed out that their relationships are always exclusive. The idea of dating multiple people is not accepted; fidelity is considered paramount, whether in dating or marriage. Similarly, sexual relations prior to marriage is not something their society tolerates. In New York, one of the participants talked about how some women in the US have elected to be single mothers, and how the idea of family is changing to incorporate non-traditional situations as well as traditional ones. 

Our next session will be this Thursday. It should be interesting: next up is “feminism and legal rights for women”.                           

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