Does the Saudi man have many faces? He certainly has many roles in life which include son, father, husband, uncle, grandfather, cousin, colleague, mahrem and more. Let’s focus on the Saudi man who is a husband. When asking women to describe the first adjectives which come to mind about their Saudi husband, Saudi and non-Saudi women alike described their Saudi husband as tender, gentle, kind, charming, loving, generous, handsome and personable for starters. Then there seems to be a pregnant pause with a changing shift and the next adjectives commonly chosen to describe him are private, reserved, closed, non-communicative and secretive.
I believe everyone can have multiple faces depending with whom they are interacting and the genesis of the relationship. And I also believe it is natural for a husband (and wife) to have multiple faces depending on circumstances. Some women though have told me that Saudi men however are masters at multiple faces and images because of the closed, conservative and private nature of life in the Kingdom. I’m not sure if I can agree or not at the Saudi man as a master of images but I will agree that the traditions and society impact on how the Saudi man may choose to express or present himself, whether to his wife or to a complete stranger.
Saudi men likely learn from the time they are young boys how to compartmentalize differing facets of their lives. After all, given the wide-spread segregation which remains in practice in most of Saudi Arabia, compartmentalization starts at a young age for the Saudi male. And of course, the Saudi man can have up to four wives which further reinforce the need to master compartmentalization.
In an aside, it does make me wonder what kind of a relationship does a man have with up to four different sets of in-laws let alone wives. But I’ll leave that topic aside for now and address it in its own future post.
Back to the Saudi man and his many faces, how long can the mask at hand stay on before it begins to crack and break apart?
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