Four husbands under Islam

A Saudi woman courts controversy by fantasizing about polyandry

Tracy Clark-Flory
January 6, 2010 4:01AM (UTC)

It's scandalous for a Saudi woman to publicly voice a sense of entitlement to equal rights -- but sexual rights in particular? Now, that -- that will bring her a lawsuit, threats, slander and infamy. Such is the case for female journalist Nadine Bedair, who recently penned an article for the Egyptian daily newspaper Al Masry Al Youm titled, "My Four Husbands and I." Mmhm: "My Four Husbands." You hardly have to read beyond the headline to forecast the shitstorm ahead -- but, of course, you'd be missing out on her delightfully daring indictment of polygamy if you didn't.

"Allow me to choose four, five or even nine men, just as my wildest imagination shall choose," Bedair writes. "I'll pick them with different shapes and sizes, one of them will be dark and the other will be blond." Now them's some fighting words. A common defense of polygamy within Islam is that it rescues widows and divorcees from their unfortunate plight by allowing men to welcome multiple women into their homes. But Bedair doesn't buy it: "I have long questioned why it is men have a monopoly on this right. No one has been able to explain to me convincingly why it is I'm deprived of the right to polyandry."


To those who argue that as a woman she "can't handle more than one man physically," she says: "Women who cheat on their husbands and the 'sellers of love' [i.e. prostitutes] do much more." Translation: Not only are women physically capable of handling more than one man, but, well, many of them would like to. She doesn't stop there: Even if a woman is faithful, it isn't for a lack of sexual frustration, says Bedair. "In fact, she might have not felt one ounce of pleasure since the very first night of this arranged marriage. But traditions and the clerics force her to stay at home and shut up." She ends her article by arguing that either both men and women should be allowed to take multiple spouses or the "map of marriage" needs to be redrawn from scratch.

Bedair's brazen rebellion has sparked a firestorm of condemnation and inspired an Egyptian parliament member to file a lawsuit against the newspaper, claiming that the article "promotes vice." Ah yes, equality -- the wickedest, most depraved vice of all.

Tracy Clark-Flory

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