Things I love

  • ~Louis
  • ~Family&Friends
  • ~IceCream
  • ~MyKindle
  • ~CoffeeBreaks
  • ~Sparkles
  • ~Knitwear
  • ~Vanilla
  • ~AllThingsLUSH~
  • GossipGirlxoxo~
  • Chips&Ketchup~

18 October 2012


I feel like I need to write an extensive waiver as a preclude to this post.
  1. This is not a religious post. 
  2. This post generalises some issues and I am aware that there are exceptions to every rule. 
  3. There is no doubt that there are many positive aspects to Arab culture.
  4. I understand that people are trying to change the world we live in, and I admire them.
  5. I understand that actions speak louder than words and if I dislike something I should try to change it, but for the moment I want to speak.
Thank you.

I walk to work everyday. It takes me about 25 minutes and during my walk, I go down my mountain and then eventually up the neighbouring mountain to the language centre. Not many people decide to walk in Amman - taxis are so cheap and available that locals use them all the time. Of the small majority who decide to walk, only a handful are women. And only one of those is carrying a backpack and wears sunglasses. Me.

So everyday, at the same time, I make my way out of my building to head to work. And everyday, I am subjected to leering, whistling, honking of car horns, slowing down of cars and little under-the-breath remarks. Fab. Let me clear this point, I usually wear jeans (in the baking sun, just so I can limit the leering) and a top of some sort. Nothing provocative. No shiny blonde hair bellowing in the wind. No soiree style make up. No.

Here's the part that really tipped me over the age a few days ago. To go up the second mountain and toward the language centre where I work, I have to climb 144 stairs. I counted them. So picture this, I have already walked for approximately 10 minutes and received some form of harassment or another, and then I have to conquer a mountain of stairs (pun intended) and then continue walking. So, I'm already in a bad mood by the time I get to my Everest. Right so I am climbing, climbing these stairs and I'm quite close to the top when I see a man starting to walk down.

I immediately feel on guard, preparing myself for what may be mumbled. But on this particular day I'm just so tired of this nonsense (insert appropriate profanity), because that's what all this intimidation is, nonsense. So as our paths cross I hear a mumble. I don't know what he said, but I am not going to give him the benefit of the doubt. A few steps later, I turn around and wait for him to look back. Because, of course he will. And, of course he does. And I just raise my hands in despair and turn around. But you see, he didn't expect any type of confrontation.

It just riles me up. They harass you, they expect you take it without a fight or struggle and then you are expected to change your ways. Granted, some honks are from taxi drivers who think that I may need their services. But usually, they are just men who act like they've never seen a woman. In Yemen, you could be covered, naked, foreign, Yemeni, girl, teenager, woman, walking or in a car and I guarantee that you will receive attention.

Why does our culture continue to breed men who have no sense of privacy? Ultimately, that's what it's about. I should have the right to a private life, where I dress how I want (within wide perametres) and walk hand in and with my English husband. Why does everyone have to have an opinion on what you do or how you dress? Why does everyone feel that they need to give you advice and you should be grateful for it? Sometimes they're curious, which is why they stare, and I try to see that as flattery. But when I am walking up stairs and a man is muttering under his breath, probably something on the lines of what is this crazy woman doing, then I can't accept it. It angers me that they feel invincible - if they harass a lonely women, she's unlikely to retaliate. So they continue to do it because they have nothing to lose.

Should I feel sorry for these men who live in a society that makes women only attainable by marriage (rather than friendship, respect, etc)? Or should I be furious that they feel women are like pieces of meat to be evaluated? I unfortunately come from a culture where women are conditioned to obey men, where women are taught and told that they have no opinion, no worth (& if you are dubious, some women never see their dowry and never see their inheritance, worthless in the most basic form of the word) and where men tell them that they have their best interests at heart. And when we start to do what we want, to seek a more equal life, we are questioned so much so that many of us will begin to question our conviction. We begin to convince ourselves that our actions were audacious. 

And in this fashion, women in the Arab world are left behind.



  1. Very interesting! I know what you are talking about from observing and being a male who grew up around it. Now after living in the states for eight years these actions would be considered 'high schoolish', however you still see it daily. The main difference is that here the women has the right to show her disgust at the situation.

  2. It makes me furious beyond belief too. Love u. Helia

  3. I wondered about the cause and in a society like Saudi the whole 'repressed sexual tensions' argument makes sense but from what (little) I saw of Jordan, I didn't get the impression that it's a society where there is strict segregation between the sexes. Sadly, though, it does seem to be an eastern (? Muslim-world/Arab world) problem and like you said it doesn't make much difference what you wear. It does make me think that the whole hijab-is-protection argument is becoming obsolete, and anybody in the Muslim world who wears it for that reason is likely to be disappointed.

  4. tho saba i can give u the flip side of this story...two recent events...i went to a donut place in sana'a and as usual the queue is like the equator....imaginary.. so this lady jumps ahead and some lady behind me goes there is a queue. this lady is like well im a woman i can jump the queue. and the worse story i was in jamal street and this two ladies r just parked next to the display that has all the gold, and wont fucking move, so i push abit and their male guardian is like dont u see ur women....and tries to start a fight. im like in my mind for a minute....either they r rude when u r try to be polite or way cautious since they assume someone would think of them badly. in short, the rational arabic man suffers as well since he doesnt know how to treat the arabic woman...society would let u treat equally so u cant tell the women in both shops 'please move', it is very frustrating


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...