Love in Tunisia
Love in Tunisia

Man in Tunisia
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Tunisia
General Information


Tunisia remains, despite all the government's efforts for equality between women in Tunisia and men, a patriarchal, a male, society.

The primacy of the man derives primarily from the fact that men are obliged by law to maintain the wife and family in Tunisia.
Wife and children in Tunisia are obliged to "respect" him - but it is a respect that he does not have to earn, but that he enjoys because of its position in the family.

Since every man is a potential father, this respect is also requested for male children, who are, in the family and in the public life, even partly by law and in the practical administration of justice favored and preferred.

However, the "rights" of a man in Tunisia are less than the men's rights in other North African and Arab countries.
He cannot, for example, prohibit his wife to  work, the woman can divorce him without his consent, the woman can travel alone, etc.

The advantages enjoyed by a man, for example, lie in the fact that he is the legal custodian of his children (his children cannot, for example, leave the country, even not with their mother, if he does not agree). The inheritance laws entitle a man to receive an higher share than a woman.

In addition, men enjoy higher social freedom than women, such as smoking in public or marrying a non-muslim person (which according to the Tunisian Constitution, is also allowed for women - but in reality, nobody would register such a marriage).

These are just examples - there is a whole bunch of benefits, which, in practice, give a man an higher rank than a woman. And although women are increasingly challenging this, it will take a long time before equality, even apart from the letter of the law and the testimony of the government has reached the streets and houses of Tunisia.
Men live, as well as women in Tunisia, mainly homosocial. They like to be together with other men in street cafes in Tunisia and are, in this respect most of the day not at home.
This has the background that the husband, as head of the family, must establish and maintain external relations, while the house is the realm of the wife.

On the other hand, Tunisian women in North African and Arab countries are known for their dominance and will usually not accept it that husbands determine rules in the house. Then  many men rather go out into a cafe where they are among other men and can talk as they please - including bragging about how much of a master they are in their own home.

The rearing of children is a matter for the woman only. It is very rare to see men with small children alone on the streets - or maintaining them at home. It is not uncommon that, when a woman is out for a day without the children, a sister of the man will visit and care for the children. And although this could, in theory, be done by the father as well, he will, in many cases, reject this as being not part of his "family role" - and quite frankly, many men would be far over their heads when they had to maintain their child alone.

In more western-oriented families, changes are noticeable, but in the majority of the families, it will still take quite a while until men accept "unmanly" activities.

Men usually get married in the mid-20s, to women that are about equal their age. However, other than for women, there are also marriages in which older men marry young women and the age difference can be 20, 30 or more years - not very often, but also not rare at all and socially accepted.

A marriage of a man with an older woman is, on the other hand, except for very special and extremely rare situations, socially frowned upon.

However, the marriage to an older European woman is almost always tolerated and even welcomed, because these marriages are seen as temporary commercial agreements (roughly speaking: sex and affection in exchange for money and visa, aka. "Bezness in Tunisia").

"Temporary" because in most of such cases, after a brief marriage of usually 2-5 years and having obtained a residency in a western country, men will divorce and then enter into a "regular" marriage with a (of course, younger) tunisian woman.

The procreation of children is a central element of "manhood" - only men who have their own children, are accepted by society as "real" men.

The "cheating" by men is, although not desirable, widely socially accepted, even by the wives, as long as this does not happen in a too public way.

As in western countries, having a concubine is so-to-say "granted" to men with an high economic status, as in him demonstrating that he can "afford" it - in some situations, it is sometimes even expected.

Women in manager level positions outside of the typical "women sectors" (eg. schools, care and education) are hard to find, therefore, the following applies mainly for men.

A high social status requires it to demonstrate it in public, eg. by generous behavior - which will, in turn, be rewarded with more respect.
However, in opposite to common belief, this has nothing to do with "buying" other people, but it is a social obligation, that someone who has more influence and more money to help those with less..
The recipient will then reward this, within the framework of his possibilities - so it is more or less a give and take within a social system.
This is, of course, not a typical tunisian behavior, but can be observed in many countries - in Europe, for example, traditionally in parts of Italy ("Padrone, godfather").

In this regard, the interactions in the tunisian society are almost always directed at the welfare of social groups: the close family, the extended family, the village community, the  acquaintances, neighbors, the company or the state.

Actions with individual goals, as it is highly desirable in many western countries, are extremely rare in Tunisia. And and the same is true for spontaneous or even interest-free actions - in Tunisia, almost everything revolves around group interactions and is a result of  considerations, planning and coordination with other persons.

And this is not only true when it comes to commercial negotiations, but also when it pertains agreements and actions within the family and the personal area - which is for most westerners often difficult to understand and terms like "complicated", "long", "winded", "cronyism", come to mind.

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