10 March 2021
by Shamayel Shalizi
Why (if I was single/interested) I would want a husband from Afghanistan and not from the West
Disclaimer: Please forgive the terribly heterosexual/cis-gender nature of this post, I had to lean into one side of my bisexuality over the other to allow this synthesis.
Afghan men are not all trash. I was raised by Afghan men, and amongst Afghan men. Don’t get me wrong, Afghan women have done a lot- but the bulk of me being the way I am was done by my Boba, an Afghan man, and my brothers, Afghan men. I have written about this extensively on IG on Blingistan, and on my personal account, so pardon for the repetition. For the people that are new here, yes, I was unconventionally raised by a house full of men in Kabul, Afghanistan. I am only this outspoken because of Afghan men. I am only this patriotic because of Afghan men. I am only me, because of Afghan men. If you vibe with anything I say, guess what? You agree with a lot of the Afghan men I know and love. Afghans are not a monolith, duh, that is the premise of this online loya jirga/e-majlis.
Who wants to be “Westernised?” Such a loaded, classist, disgusting term. I have been called Westernised by so many Afghan men in the West that I honestly cannot count. I am Westernised because what? I speak English? Cool, I also speak four other languages, so what happens to my identity then? I am Westernised because I wear whatever I want? Funnily enough, in the West, I constantly and consistently get harassed, touched, groped, even sexually abused and violentlly assaulted because of wearing what I want. So again, how are any of my actions inherently Western? Anywho, shut the fuck up, your perspective is incorrect and you sound like a coloniser with this “Westernised”.
Let me tell you one example. You know all the Afghan men who slide into your dm’s* or start following you on socials randomly? Ask any of my non-Afghan friends, if I tag them in a photo, they will surely get at least 20 new followers, all Afghan men. “A bunch of FOBs.” What is a FOB? Fresh Off the Boat, often used derogatorily. Meaning they just recently arrived to the West, or are in Afghanistan. FOB as in not yet assimilated? FOB as in hella Afghan? FOB as in not self-hating? FOB as in still rooted in their own culture? Sounds fantastic to me! I’ll take ten of ‘em.
Why would I want to spend any time with someone who is disconnected to their culture and wataan? When “FOBs” slide into my dm’s I am honoured. From the past 10 years of being myself on the internet, I have not read ONE kind message from an Afghan man raised in the West. Not one Afghan man raised in the West has said anything remotely similar to the hundreds of “Salaam Shamayel jaana! You are so beautiful and such a wataandost, I am so proud of you, keep doing what you’re doing” type messages that are sent by all these lovely “FOBs”.
Afghans are not a monolith I am not saying every Afghan man is perfect. Of course I am not saying that you should give the time of day to ANY human being (man or woman) if you do not have the energy, time, will or desire to do so- you do not have to do anything you do not want to. Dilet Bicyclet, surely, 100%, all day everyday. If someone sends you a dick pic, expose him and block him in that order- again this is not the energy I am speaking about. I am not condoning misogyny but I am also not condoning internalised misogyny. I am going to call out the problematic ways we talk about Afghan men and yes, I will go as far as defending the men who have only ever supported me (and other women- even my non-Afghan friends, who have grown to enjoy their Afghan men followers).
On a macro level it is major coloniser energy, super classist, and a distinct style of beghairati to look down your noses at the endearing little hearts or جان ’s we are sent by “FOBs”. You are too good for your own countrymen? Oh wow! Queen of Sheba has arrived! Everyone make way. Would you prefer the Afghan fuckbois who leave you on read and won’t ever marry you or would you rather the incredibly racist, Orientalising white men who will never understand you and don’t really care to? Get the fuck outta here with that my-shit-don’t-stink energy.
When you look down on your own people, you are Orientalising them. You want to shame someone for not speaking English as well as you do? Guess what, they can read and write Dari and Pashto, surely leagues better than you can. And Afghans are fantastic with languages, I am not a rare commodity being a polyglot and also Afghan- most Afghans are the same way. If he wanted to he could shame you for speaking/writing/reading English better than your own mother tongue, but alas, that’s not what’s happening.
It takes a lot of courage and comfort within one self to up and message a beautiful Afghan woman. I’m sure your presence makes these FOBs nervous and intimidated but balyazeh khuda* haven’t you noticed living as a woman that only certain types of men even feel comfortable approaching you? Under global patriarchy, toxic masculinity is abundant, but walking around behind my beautiful, absolutely stunning, looks-like-a-supermodel 6-foot-tall (1,80 m) mother, as a kid, I’d always ask her: madaar jaan, how come only Black men and people experiencing homelessness hit on you in the streets?
“Because they have nothing to lose, if I turn them down, their ego won’t shatter.”
I started responding to these ‘FOBs” once I got passed my own internalised coloniser. Intersectional feminism: these men just want to know their countrywoman, they want to shower their countrywoman with conversations and love. It’s pure, and not only based in wanting to get in your pants. I have become friends with some of these people that slid into my dm’s years ago! When I launched this space, I sent it to a few of these exact same FOBs! Because I love their opinions!
“I don’t get to see Afghan women like you all the time and it makes me proud and inspired. Also you’re beautiful but you are so much more than that!” Was a message I received just today! I don’t care if these men are in KP/NWFP, or in the middle of Kabul, if they are younger than 50 and on the internet, give them a little benefit of the doubt (when it’s within reason).
From my personal lived experience in the global south, be it Afghanistan, or wherever, these FOBs are the real ones. The appreciation, love and camaraderie I get from the “fobbiest” of men show me they are the real ones. The intersectional allies. The people who truly want to help and save our wataan. They are untethered to class and capitalism and imperialism, unlike so many of the Afghans in the West. They are sporting their own ally-ship through the intersectional feminism that they absorbed by osmosis growing up with fierce Afghan women. They are also comfortable with who they are! They take pride in who they are and where they come from so that most of my conversations with these men are endearing, affirming and give me hope for our nation. I don’t talk about politics with Afghan men in the US or Germany?! Are you kidding me!? If I want to talk about our homeland, our people, our history, filled with many heroes that were women, and our future, I go straight to my “FOB’s” because I know exactly what I am going to get. A haamwataan*.
If you’re in the West, check out your history books. Any mention of women before 1900s? No. Look at an Afghan textbook, how many women are there? We have been a part of this country for CENTURIES. Things haven’t been perfect, again, let me repeat, but damn! Is it better than the West? Fuck yea! I am not even seen as a human being in the West as an Afghan woman! It took Betty Freidan 20 drafts and getting turned down by dozens of publishers to even publish The Feminine Mystique. Released in the 60s! Only in the 60’s did white women start understanding that they were literally going crazy for lack of empowerment. When you are getting nice and comfy in your assimilation, and your hyphenated identity, making fun of these FOBs, who are you acting like? Afghan men in the West, do you really want to emulate these white men who keep their women so oppressed? (Heterosexual) Afghan women do you really want to marry these white men? Sounds miserable.
Ask my brothers, anytime I was having issues in my love life, I’d tell them: I swear to God arrange marry me to an Afghan in Afghanistan if all else fails. But speaking of my brothers, who feel more comfortable speaking in Dari or Pashto than English (though they know English of course), and love wearing jeans as much as they love wearing payran tunban. Sounds like FOB energy but wait, would you snub your nose at my baby brothers? Why? Because they are endearingly beygharaz? Because they have been filling me mashqola’s during my painful periods since I was a teen? Because we share everything, from clothes to stories of pain and trauma? Because they aren't poke? Because anytime they’ve fallen for a girl, they treat her like a queen? Because they have been my fiercest allies since I was a baby? Qurbaneshan shawum, Afghans in the West could NEVER.
You know the age old diss response “az khud khwaar wa madaar nadari?” When an Afghan man is disrespecting a woman. Do you not have sisters and a mother to know better than to disrespect an Afghan woman? So let me ask you this dear reader, az khud byadar wa padaar nadari? Do you not have brothers and a father to know better than to disrespect a FOB Afghan man?
dm’s: direct message, private messages
wataandost: someone who loves their homeland, a patriot
Dilet Bicyclet: your heart, your bicycle, meaning it’s your life do what you want- the I Do What I Want Hoops that we sell here at Blingistan, is the same line but conjugated for the first person singular.
beghairati: the act of being without honour (for the homeland)
fuckbois: A guy who will tell a girl anything to get in their pants.
balyazeh khuda: for the love of god
madaar jaan: mother dearest
KP/NWFP: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa/ North Western Frontier Province, a Pakistani province that borders Afghanistan, and where part of the illegal Durand Line cuts through- separating our Pashtun brothers and sisters from their ancestral land of Afghanistan.
hamwataan: fellow countryman/woman, my dear comrade
payran tunban: men’s traditional clothes, translates to “tunic trousers”. The comfiest, and flyest ‘fit to have ever been produced.
beygharaz: Innocent, without bad intentions, non-threatening
mashqola: rubber hot water bottle (vessel)
Qurbaneshan shawum: intense Afghan way to show affection- I would sacrifice myself for you (here conjugated to the plural, because I am blessed with six brothers through my Boba)
poke: pretentious, someone with an inflated ego
az khud khwaar wa madaar nadari: do you not have sisters or a mother? The connotation being you should never diss your fellow comrade when you wouldn’t treat your family like that (or want them to be treated like that).
az khud byadar wa padaar nadari: my rendition of flipping this line to do you not have brothers and a father?