Can I afford not to be the ‘simple’ girl next door?

Published: May 10, 2011

A simple girl is a ‘homely’ girl who spends all her day at home and is comfortable with house chores.

I fail to understand the ‘simple girl’ formula. Equally baffling is the notion of ‘the girl next door’.

I am a 25-year old professional, single, and equipped with considerable social etiquette but I do not fall in any of the two categories.

Am I not shareef enough then, to be a desirable partner for an educated urban male who has a stable reputation in the society?

I am afraid I am not.

I am anything but ‘simple’ so given the value association that comes with being an” Oh-so-simple-and-hence-so-good-girl” should I consider myself bad?

Good girls and bad girls

By what standards do we define the good and bad in a woman today? Or, let me rephrase that: by what standards do we perceive a single woman to be simple and thus innocent, or deviant and thus otherwise? How standard are the conditions that come attached with our definition of simplicity and how exactly do we shape our judgment based on these perceptions?

The strength of a human character cannot be limited to a scientific formula neither does it come with any strings attached, like an IMF loan. And this is why I find it hard to distinguish between being simple and being good.

Does simple equal good?

When it comes to women, why do we attach goodness with simplicity? Simplicity is one of many personality traits and goodness is another. Why do we perceive both as associated with each other? This ‘simplicity syndrome’ is common. One could be any of the following: wild and crazy, unconventional and different, articulate and mature, an embodiment of elegance and grace, anything but ‘good’ enough to be a ‘good’ man’s wife.

But who defines the good here?

The answer is not very hard to find. From all the arguments for and against this ‘Simple Girl’ theory that have been posted on these very pages, this is what I have summarised: A simple girl is a sweet, silent, adorable girl next door, who leads a very simple life, dresses decently, needs little attention, has little say in other people’s lives or for that matter her own personal life, thinks little, talks even less, is dependent for everything right from her finances to being escorted to her friends’ parties.

Fit for marriage

And when it comes to sorting out a ‘simple’ girl for marriage the above traits are justified with the following expectations:

A simple girl is domestic. She spends her day at home and is comfortable with household chores. She is less inclined to interfere in her in-laws’ or for that matter her husband’s personal and social affairs and can resolve matters with a simple swish of her magical wand of silence and patience. She knows how to dress modestly, speak softly, act soberly and attend guests cheerfully. She is a sweet wife, an adorable daughter-in law, a pious Muslim who offers all her prayers and gives charity and more importantly a perfect and devoted mother to her children – in short, a complete package for a blessed marital life ahead.

Bleak future

On the other hand, she is the same woman who after years of toil for raising her children and working on her marital harmony, reaches a point in life where her social life has thinned out considerably, with no friends to seek company from and not many places to hang out at.

While her kids start exploring the new environs, she becomes just another ordinary plain and desolate woman back home for her husband who has all the reasons now to complain by comparing her to other “charming, intelligent and equally witty” female companions that he meets and enjoys the company of. Where is the goodness factor now?

My simple question is: why do we breed such double-standards when it comes to our interaction with the opposite gender? While men in general enjoy the company of independent women who they often praise for their intelligence, maturity and level-headedness and most often sought mutual and trusted friendships with, the same women become a no-go area when it comes to considering marriage.

Worse still, how does one define men who consider it their moral duty to ‘straighten’ such girls and never let go a chance to tell them how emotionally foolish they are or how sentimentally and morally weak and corrupt they have been in the first place to bring about that ‘moral corruptness.’

Does our society only accept women who are meek, have low self-esteem, have no say in their public and private lives and are submissive to the men in their lives? Is it that any confident, financially independent and intelligent woman is too good to be true?

One might argue that personal choices and upbringing play a role here, and that friends with a female does not necessarily has to end up with marriage only, but how would one justify if the refusal/avoidance comes with once again judging the woman on the pretext of being good but not ‘that good’. Again, can anyone please define ‘good’ here for me?


Huma Iqbal

A blogger who writes on social development, socio-political and economic issues in the region.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.