Arnesa Buljusmic-Kustra, a Bosnian author, wrote a series of linked tweets taking a closer look at United States' high divorce rate, which hovers around 50 percent.
Her tweet series starts off with this eye-catcher:
OK, now, to make this all easier to read, I'm going to transcribe the rest of the tweets, which all appear linearly, into one paragraph.
Essentially, it's a mini-essay, subdivided into tweets, which I will unsubdivide. “Unsubdivide” is not a word, and I could go to Theasarus.com to find a better one, but I'm not going to do that. My apologies, dear reader. Yes, I am flawed.
Here is her brutal takedown of people who look down on the United States' high divorce rate.
She explains the institution of marriage has for centuries been used to limit the opportunities and voices of women across the world, to imprison and trap them, to deny them rights and independence.
She also says a high rate of divorce is a sign of a society making an effort -- even if it is not yet as successful as it needs to be -- to rid itself of such trappings.
I'll let Arnesa take it from here. Below are her tweets in order:
My favorite thing about America is the divorce rate. & I mean that sincerely. I'm also exhausted at immigrants who brag about how the divorce rate is so much lower back home as if it is an accomplishment. The reason divorce rates 'back home' are so low is because of societal expectations that force women to stay with their husbands. Lack of access to domestic abuse assistance, stigma surrounding single motherhood, lack of financial independence all contribute to this. 'Our parents/grandparents stayed together no matter how hard it got.' Your grandpa used to beat your grandma and she stayed b/c she had to. Women got beat, cheated on, used for physical and emotional labor....trust me, they would have wanted to leave had they been able to. Even now in immigrant communities in the Diaspora the stigma around divorced women is so high that they end up staying in abusive marriages. Divorce rates got higher in the U.S because it got easier for women to leave. When that happens back home our divorce rates will rise too. The romanticized idea of women staying with their husbands 'no matter what' is so damaging, toxic, and abusive. I remember talking to this old Bosnian woman and her telling me about her life in the village. She had a 60 year long marriage with 7 kids. Everyone looked at that as 'goals' but she told me the day her in-laws passed away & husband passed away was the best day of her life. She was abused emotionally & physically. Did all the labor in the house and on the farm. Raised the kids. Her husband? A cheating alcoholic. When I asked her why she didn't leave she said 'where would I go? Back then if you got divorced you were discarded from society.' With no money of their own and multiple kids, women stayed in these marriages only because they had to. Those 'family values' people talk about missing were built entirely on the abuse and fear of women. Spare me the 'ha ha ha America has such a high divorce rate and we don't.' We don't get to brag about it when our women are forced to stay. Not every one of those long marriages was abusive. My grandparents have been together for 50+ years and had a very healthy marriage. But there are exceptions to every rule. The standard was and in many places (back home) still is....abusive marriages. I get a lot of crap for being a divorced single Muslim mother and honestly the stigma is totally worth the freedom I get. Obviously not getting married in the first place instead of getting a divorce would be a better option. Right? But for women like me, for women 'back home' marriage is an expectation. Religiously, societally, and family wise too. Not to mention that for many immigrant women marriage is the only 'out' they have...they think it will provide freedom. The amount of young Muslim girls that I personally know that got married only to escape their abusive parents is absurd. But when marriage is your only choice and then that marriage becomes abusive too...what do you do? Get a divorce...if you can. And if you can't get a divorce...well then you're stuck. You're now burdened with a lifetime of abusive. None of that is romantic. None of it is 'relationship goals.' We should be striving to provide safety to all women. Safety from abusive families. Safety from abusive spouses. Safety from societal pressure to get married and stay married.
In the above, she discusses the difference in marriage rates abroad. But I think, in this country, we still face all these same problems.
Many communities here at home still impose marriage on women and stigmatize women who get divorced, no matter the reason for it. While what Arnesa says is important, we still need to do better.