Do I Have It All?

Holly Dagres – Middle East commentator, world traveler, and joooon. Here’s what she has to say: 

You know the song, “Independent Woman” by Destiny’s Child?  The likes of those kind of lyrics are what I live by.  Even better, the unknowing feminist, Margaret Thatcher had a good line (I’m not a Thatcherite by the way),

I will never be one of those women, who stays silent and pretty on the arm of her husband. Or remote and alone in the kitchen doing the washing up for that matter. One’s life must matter. Beyond all the cleaning, cooking and the children – one’s life must matter more than that… I will not die washing a teacup.

Ironically, Lady Gaga had an even more concise quote,  “Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.”


Point being, that’s the kind of motto I live by.

I don’t want to be a pushover; I don’t want to be just somebody’s wife. I don’t want to be left stranded if the man I love decides to get up and leave, cheat, or God forbid dies on me.

No, I’m not a dark, twisted person: I’m a realist.

Of course such a mentality just does not fly well in Middle Eastern cultures.  I may have the excuse right now that I want to focus on my career and pursue my graduate studies (I’m in my last semester of graduate school and may pursue my PhD), but once I hit the big “Three Oh” — there must be something wrong with me because I’m still not married. The Persian word I’m looking for is torshideh.

To be honest, that kind of scares me.  And like I said, I’m a realist.

Once I hit thirty, there are more girls turning twenty-one and let’s be frank, not many guys want an educated woman who can put them in their place, when there are plenty of naïve girls running around in mini dresses at the club just starting to experience?  I’m not saying twenty-one year olds are dumb and promiscuous, but let’s be honest with ourselves, we were all there and have made plenty of mistakes and believed a lot of things guys told us.


Again, I repeat: I’m a realist.

Perhaps it’s because my parents divorced when I was five years old and I have not had many marriage role models around me to live by.  Perhaps its because I have seen a lot of crazy things in my life and I have developed thick skin as a result of it. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…

The worst part of it all is that most Middle Eastern women have to give up their careers and tend to their husband and eventual offspring.  Articles like Anne-Marie Slaughter’s “Women Can’t Still Have It All” scare the bejesus out of me – for a career-type person like myself.

But marriage is a major BURDEN on your shoulders if you are Middle Eastern.

Your parents constantly pressuring you to find a significant other – I’m lucky my Iranian mother does not do this – but also the sight of it and the questions of “when are you getting married?” come with the territory as you get older.


I never was the type to talk about wanting to get married.  Ever since I was in the single digits, I told people I wanted to marry at thirty “when I have my Phd” (Smart kid I was).  But as I have gotten older – this is so not me – I’m starting to like the idea of it.

Maybe its that natural, motherly instinct inside me. Although I still don’t want kids, the idea of marriage is no longer gross to me.  I’ll be candid though, the thought of it does terrify me and I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready.  However, given my wild side – i.e. heading to Tahrir during protests, skydiving with a fear of heights, wearing my hejab carelessly in Tehran, etc – I live for adventure and am willing to take risks.

Having that been said, I suggest girls not sit around precariously waiting for Prince Charming to walk through the door.

Don’t throw away your dreams and passion for societal pressure of marriage.

Live your life and hopefully a man, a REAL man who can realize that you are his equal, will come into your life and will never let you go.

In the meanwhile, be an ‘Independent Woman’ and remember that glass ceiling won’t be shattered for you – you have to do it yourself.



TWEET AT Holly: @PoliticallyAff


Holly هالی

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  1. I usually never agree with holly’s writing. Frankly there are parts of this that I don’t agree with as well. I do however dislike the concept of “torshideh” and I can not tell you how many times my aunt makes that “joke” to my cousin. I’m glad my mom didn’t push me to marry and doesn’t do it. Holly, despite our differences, you are really accomplished and I don’t think you need a man. you’re definitely your own husband. For as long as ive known you, you’ve been this entity that basically “don’t need no man” and not because you’re bitter, because you seriously don’t need one. I love articles from sex and fesenjoon. and it was really cool seeing someone i know post something for them.


  1. […] reading Holly’s last post “Do I have it all?“  I was really inspired to self-reflect on my own view of marriage, relationships, and […]

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