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American Woman Upset After Pakistani Husband Doesn’t Stop in-Laws’ Sexist Comments On Trip

A young woman sits in a dark hallway, hanging her head in her hands.

Dating and marrying outside of one’s tradition and culture can be difficult.

Some families are not all that accepting.

But love is love is love.

And love can lead to some stressful family dynamics when everyone meets.

Redditor mrcongeniality2 wanted to discuss his experience and get some feedback. So naturally, he came to visit the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit.

He asked:

“AITA for not calling out my family for being sexist towards my wife?”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“I (26 M[ale]) moved from Pakistan to the US six years ago and met my wife (24 F[emale]) two years later.”

“We’ve been married for a year and are expecting our first child.”

“She’s a third-generation Pakistani American Muslim who had little exposure to Pakistan or other Pakistani people before meeting me.”

“We’re both non-practicing Muslims.”

“I visit Pakistan yearly to see my family.”

“I used to go alone while we were dating since my parents didn’t know about us, but once we got married, I told them.”

“Surprisingly, they accepted her easily.”

“This year, my wife wanted to come with me to explore her roots, inspired by YouTube vlogs about northern Pakistan.”

“We had discussed her coming before, but I’d mainly told her negative things about the country—how sexist it is and how poorly women are treated, which is true and one of the reasons I left.”

“Honestly, I was also a little embarrassed about her finding out where I grew up.”

“I was pretty poor in Pakistan, living in a bad part of the city, while she’s from a wealthy American family.”

“Yes, it’s a douchey thing to say, but I was embarrassed.”

“I told her she could come but would need to cover up (hijab) and hide her opinions from my relatives.”

“She said her online Pakistani friends told her hijab isn’t necessary, especially if you’re from the upper-middle class or upper class, which most of her friends are.”

“I agreed she didn’t have to wear the hijab but should wear a shalwar kameez (traditional Pakistani attire) and be prepared for a lot of stares.”

“We landed in Pakistan, and upon arrival in Lahore, she was overwhelmed by the pollution and the large welcoming party of relatives.”

“The next day, she went for a walk alone without telling anyone, causing panic as it’s uncommon for women to go out alone.”

“My parents advised her, but my father’s tone was harsh.”

“She was upset by the stares and my father’s reaction.”

“I told her I had warned her about this.”

“During our stay, some relatives made sexist comments about hijab and a woman’s role in marriage, mostly when the women were alone.”

“They said things like, ‘You should start wearing a hijab, it’s compulsory in Islam,’ or ‘You should take care of your husband well/serve him.'”

“A religious auntie said, ‘The Prophet said the woman who talks back to her husband won’t even smell paradise’s scent,’ when she saw my wife talking a little rudely to me.”

“These comments were made by female elders when the women in my family and she was alone, so I couldn’t intervene.”

“My wife told me about these incidents after we returned to the US.”

“Honestly, I wouldn’t have stood up for her there anyway because there’s no way I could change those people’s opinions.”

“I just wanted to spend the short time there peacefully and come back.”

“Now that we’re back, she said I should have stood up for her, and she felt like an object there.”

“I said I had warned her what would happen, but she didn’t listen.”

“She’s still mad after a week, accusing me of not standing by her.”

The OP was left to wonder:

“So, AITA?”

Redditors shared their thoughts on this matter and weighed some options to the question AITA:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Many Redditors declared OP was NOT the A**hole.

“NTA – Per the details in this post.”

“Yes, the character limit can be challenging.”

“You took extra steps to describe how her experience would differ from her friend’s experience.”

“She took an ethnocentric position: evaluating other peoples and cultural practices according to the standards of one’s own culture thus she’s holding to a silent treatment believing you should have ‘stood up for her.'”

This ‘ethnic’ issue is associated with the term, ‘ugly American tourist’ for a reason.”

“The only thing that may have helped (which I observed) was to tell her specifics, ‘You can expect to be told ‘X, Y, Z’ by people in my family and extended community.”

“This is their perspective and you and I will not challenge it because it will be to no avail.”

“We are visitors thus their beliefs, practices, and opinions, which differ from ours, are to be received but not challenged.”

“These are not ‘topics of discussion’ to introduce what you think is ‘right.'”

“She is experiencing cultural shock and it is double difficult since her preconceived view of what it would ‘be’ was not the reality.”

“In terms of your family, she may have represented ‘things that are wrong’ when folks move to and raise children in America.”

“INFO: Prior to traveling did you disclose you grew up (and your family is still) ‘pretty poor?'”

“When she mentioned her friends ‘…told her hijab isn’t necessary, especially if you’re from the upper-middle class or upper class.'”

“Did you clarify that should/would not be a poorer area and that her wearing a hijab is the cultural norm thus she should plan on wearing one?” ~ DesertSong-LaLa

“I’m surprised by the top comment too.”

“I come from a pretty racist area – you might even say racism is the culture.”

“No one would ever accept a husband not standing up for his wife against his family’s racism under the bs of “’t’s their culture’ and ‘you won’t change their minds anyway.'”

“The reason to stand up to family isn’t to change their minds but to protect the dignity of your wife.” ~ Ok-Illustrator6503

“Thank you. I’m from the same culture, and I don’t appreciate this.”

“My in-laws also grew up poor and are now upper middle class.”

“They’re also quite religious, whereas I’m not.”

“I haven’t heard anything like this from them.”

“Piss-poor behavior shouldn’t be excused as ‘culture.'” ~ Gambettox

“It isn’t ‘ethnocentric’ to see people being treated badly for bulls**t reasons and object to it.”

“Sexism is objectively wrong.”

“You don’t get to defend it by saying, ‘Well, it’s just their culture.'”

“OP’s wife just had the horrifying realization of how miserable and limiting life actually is for women in Afghanistan, and she’s struggling with it, and that’s normal and ok.”

“OP needs to have some freaking empathy.”

“Of course, she’s upset.”

“Of course, she needs time to process.”

“She’s probably angry, and sad, and feels like the family she married into is unjust and awful — because they are.”

“Sorry, not sorry.”

“Families with a baseline of sexism are unjust and awful as a baseline.”

“No, I don’t care if that’s ‘just their culture.'”

“I come from one of those cultures.”

“OP’s strategy of not rocking the boat is easy for him because he isn’t the one being oppressed.”

“I would not blame her if she never wanted to see OP’s family again. I would not blame her if she demanded that their household stopped sending money to that den of misogynists.”

“If they have kids, don’t count on his family ever meeting them, for good reason.”

“How dare you call her reaction ‘culture shock.’ It’s not.”

“It’s a rational person’s distressed response to overwhelming injustice.”

“Why is it so easy for you to brush off blatant misogyny as ‘culture shock?'”

“That’s messed up, and it indicates to me that your opinion of women is not very high.” ~ CalamityClambake

“NTA. I think you are missing a big point.”

“Your example is within the same country, I assume.”

“Catholic with Black.”

“When you add in a completely different country and cultural norms it’s very different.”

“I am Pakistani and moved to the US decades ago.”

“There is a lot I cannot do in Pakistan that I can do in the US.”

“It’s not safe. It’s not safe to go out alone as a woman, especially after dark.”

“I don’t blame her F[ather]-I[n]-L[aw] for getting angry.”

“Anything could have happened.”

“You just don’t do that.”

“OP’s wife sounds really clueless.”

“And culturally it is expected that older people will give you well-meaning advice.”

“Half the time, you want to pull your hair out, but you accept it comes from a well-meaning place.”

“Smile and say ok.”

“Elders have a special place in culture.”

“They just do. Looking from an American lens, it’s terrible but not a Pakistani lens.”

“By the same token, if you are in trouble, a huge support system arrives at your doorstep.”

“You are never left alone to figure out childcare, etc.”

“Kids can live with parents until they marry.”

“Parents many times financially support kids if they can.”

“They pay for schooling and college etc.”

“It’s a very different way of living with its own pluses and minuses.”

“I think OP’s wife had a fantasy, and reality hit it hard.”

“He tried to warn her.”

“That’s all he can do, and I agree with him, for that culture, his family was very accepting and nice.”

“She just has no clue how nice they were.” ~ Straight-Invite5954

“Your family in Pakistan could have been a bit less critical. They had to have known that she was not raised in Pakistan.”

“Their behavior was pretty atrocious, and she should have gently reminded them that she is American and thus not like them in many respects.”

“You should have asked your family to respect that she’s not Pakistani born/raised before going to see them.”

“NTA Because you did warn her.”

“But if your family can’t be kind to someone from another country, I find that pretty sad.”

“Don’t take her back if it’s to see your family.”

“You can visit Pakistan just the two of you, and she’ll perhaps have a better experience.” ~ hadMcDofordinner

Well, OP, this is a messy situation.

Thankfully, your family doesn’t live nearby, so you don’t have to deal with this behavior daily.

Hopefully, you and your wife can chat more calmly about this when a little more time passes.

A new baby will shift the focus.

Good luck.