Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Gender Blender

This question was supposed to be part of this month’s mailbag. In an effort to avoid alienating the readers (all three of them) with a longer than usual bag, the question was extracted to its own space. The rest of the mailbag comes later this week.

A question to Abu Shreek, why are Arab men such dipshits?
Sincerely, Anonymous Arab woman who is starting to look for a foreigner.

Thanks a lot for the loaded question that guarantees a no-win situation: If I defend men, I will be accused of being another member of the chauvinistic fraternity that won’t admit to its wrong doings, and if I take your side, then I will appear like I am selling out my proud breed and kissing up to the “enemy”! On to the mine field, maybe an answer appears along the way. (Doubtful).

Disclaimer 1: I have not read “Women from Mars and Men from Venus” or any similar “literature”. (And one would think they were both from earth!). I have no sociology credentials and minimal “hands-on” experience. The observations below are based on pop-culture, awkward social situations, the word on the street, and twisted analysis of the overall scene.

Disclaimer 2: The use of generalizing terms like: guys, girls, foreigners, society, etc. is inevitable. However, the generalizations indicate “a high percentage of”. For example, the statement: “The guys in Jordan dream about driving a BMW or a Mercedes”, may have ignored those who are completely satisfied with using public transportation, and those who dream of riding in Ferraris, but it referred to a good majority.

On the Issue of the Foreigner:
The chances of getting stuck with a foreigner “jerk” are pretty much even with those of ending with a local “dipshit”. You are playing the same odds. Unless you are precisely looking for someone who went through more traumatizing experiences in his first year of high school than those suffered by Uma Thurman in all of “Kill Bill”, you may want to take your chances at home and see what happens. On the bright side, there are many nice, “understanding” foreigners out there, who probably experimented with more drugs than a Pfizer lab and who defines monogamy as a one night stand. Glad to get that out of the way.

On the Issue of Social “Guidelines”:
The male-female interaction in our society is governed by stereotypical expectations and retarded (both mentally and chronologically) guidelines. The most shocking part about these misconceptions is how widely-spread they are. They managed to spread across the boundaries of generations, classes, and even education and intellectual levels and maintain the status of “facts”. This is apparent at various “levels” of relationships:

Friendship: The society is unable to comprehend the possibility of any sincere interaction between a single heterosexual male and a single female, outside the scope of “love” (and more stereotypically, desire). It is true that this is an issue that has not been fully resolved even in Western societies. It is usually explained in terms of animalistic instincts, and that it will be “unnatural” to attempt such a relationship. But, in a perfect world, genders should be able to “inter-befriendiate” (!), based on the compatibility of the subjects involved. The social pressure and (often) the backgrounds, make the subjects almost involuntarily incapable of maintaining such a connection, resulting in problems, bitterness and frustrations. The Arabic language does not even offer the lingo that differentiates between “boyfriend/girlfriend” and “friend”. Well, maybe that last point is more valid for the next type of interaction.

Dating: There is nothing more exciting for a teenager (or even an “early-twentier”) of either gender, than the highs and lows of dating, and the feelings associated with giving and receiving attention. In some cases it may even lead to a long term relationship, concluding with a healthy marriage. However, the changes affecting our society are replacing the traditional, Platonic, innocent “love” by a more “Westernized” physical version of a dating relationship. This should be unacceptable for BOTH sides. Without too many details, this is becoming a major grey area with vague expectations and boundaries. A nice young lady, who may think she is exercising her personal freedom and her rights of self-determination in “controlling” her own body, is more probably being taken advantage of, by who else but, a dillusional “Mr. dipshit”. The problem is she won’t even mind it since she thinks the whole thing is just a re-enactment of a season of “Beverly Hills, 90120” (Much better than The O.C.). The nature of the oriental and conservative society, in addition to our small communities, will cause short and long term problems, particularly and unjustly, for the girl.

Marriage: The life-long partnership is pressured into some kind of a competition. Again, the most disturbing part is how many people surrender to the tired and outdated stereotypes that will force their eternal unity into a tug of war.
The man is supposed to: “make his word (orders) heard”, “show the “red eye” from day one”, “make his wife feel inferior”, “never assist her in the household duties, even if she worked”, or whatever garbage his mother or his pathetic coffee-shop friends fed him.
The woman is supposed to: “make his life miserable”, “be in charge and control him”, “never spend a penny of her salary in the house”, “spend his disposable income” and whatever advice she gets from her mother and her “compassionate” neighbors.
As ridiculous as these things sound, they are still considered “laws” for a successful marriage among wider sections of the society. However, there are some signs of change in mentality among a (hopefully) ever-expanding number of newly weds.

On the Failure of National Feminism:
Similar to other civil-society movements, our society’s feminism focuses on superficial activities, while miserably failing those who depend on it. Pretentiousness and hypocrisy are parts of our society and feminism is not immune to them. It is not uncommon for a male feminist, who is a member of a liberal progressive party, to return from a conference where he just preached woman rights, to abuse his wife at home. This Hajjaj cartoon entitled “On women’s day” is as realistic as they come. Mohammad Tammalieh in his piece “Her hair is tied in a pony tail” describes in details a lady who is an active member of a revolutionary party, who demonstrates, speaks and defends. She only wears jeans, and she will not mind carrying a broom to clean the streets of Al Baq’a refugee camp on a voluntary day activity. She is a vicious “fighter and struggler”, but when push comes to shove, and she wants to get married she will impose more demands and worse conditions than those of فتحية (Fathiyyeh: an almost extinct traditional female name). A famous lawyer who rode feminism to the highest official positions will not hesitate to, or shy away from taking advantage of a fellow woman in a vulnerable position.

On the Issue of Attire:
It seems that women’s clothes have been a source of some controversy lately. It is an undisputable fact that one’s wardrobe is: first, a personal choice, and second, it should not be used to pass judgment or assumptions. This excellent “Vagina Monologue”, entitled “My Short Skirt” clearly emphasizes the point of women’s right to choose clothes according to their taste and comfort. However, take a closer look at the following aspects:

The Place and Occasion: If someone chooses to attend a wedding party wearing a pair torn jeans with flip-flops to match, it is strictly his choice, but it is also the other people’s right to feel that he might be out of place or underdressed. If a super-cool guy shows up to a class at JU wearing a pair of baggy shorts and a fishnet sleeveless shirt, some professors may try to exercise their right of maintaining a level of professionalism to their classroom and kick him out. If a gulf-Arab walks around in a shopping mall in Texas in his “Bedouin costume”, he may be subjected to a few unpleasant comments from some cowboy hick. Personal choices, especially those “extreme ones”, should be accompanied with tolerance to criticism, because human beings in general, tend to be judgmental.

The Overall “Look”: The issue with provocative women’s clothing is NOT with how much skin is exposed. A lady wearing a pair of shorts, a “shorter” skirt, or a sleeveless shirt that shows some arms (WOW, what’s that? Biceps! Wooohoo) is not and should not be an issue. Actually, that kind of clothes was very common and popular in the 60’s and 70’s and was visible in areas like “Al Ashrafiyyeh” and “Jabal El Taj” (areas in Eastern Amman). But, if some young lady is wearing a pair of spray-on, low rise pants that shows her colorful underwear and her coin slot, with a strapless, backless, belly button- revealing, cleavage-exposing top with “sexy bitch”, “pornstar” or “slut in training” printed on it with glitter, and then goes out grocery shopping, well, she may be creating some kind of an inaccurate impression.

The Nature of the Oriental Society: An American Pop-culturist once declared, and I quote: “One of the biggest changes to hit society in the 21st century is the fact that women decided to start dressing like hookers when they go out; back when I was in college, we were able to tell the difference between a prostitute and a regular girl, even when we were drunk, by their clothes. Not anymore”. A lot of our fashion trends are derived from the American ones. However, American girls seem to be smarter in dressing according to the place and occasion, and they hardly ever color their eyelids green (but that’s a whole different story). More importantly, the excessively revealing clothes are compatible with their society and clearly serve “an objective”, especially on the “night-life” scene. As for us, the excessive demonstration of “assets” is unnecessary, since any exchange of sexual favors is still an inappropriate behavior (I think/ I hope) that does not fit our set of values, and again, unacceptable for BOTH genders. A scantily clad lady will take offense to the concept of the unnecessity of such appearance by yelling: “Men should stop being pigs and look away if they are offended”. Looking away is a virtue and a duty, but it is also the duty of the ladies to maintain a certain level of decency and taste, especially in the “more public” settings, and be sensible to their environment. Who set the standards? The ladies know best; they can spot a distastefully dressed “skank” from a mile away.

Final Disclaimer:
The points above are not intended to offer a justification for any “dipshit’s” crude and unacceptable behavior, but rather an attempt to find an explanation, on the way to a solution. After all, each person chooses to interact with other people (male or female) according to a set of standards built through background, beliefs and acquired knowledge (no matter how questionable the sources of such knowledge are).

On a Final Note:
A love-struck guy passes by a wall and paints on it:
“اينما حلت المراة حل السرور”.
A disgruntled married man passes by the same wall and adds the letter
“ر” right after the third word.
But on a more serious and a personal note, here is this.

6 comments:

salam said...

You have truly amused me wih your post,great work:thanks!
Thoughts I want to secod on:
-A jerk is a jerk,no matter what his passport says!
-The exercising freedom with one's body thing while being taken advantage of:very valid point.
-Stereotypes about roles of men and women in marriage and images that people try to enforce of what a man or woman should do..sad but true!
-If someone decides to defy social satndards for codes of dress or behavior,he/she should accept criticzm,people are truly judgemental by nature.
-So3ad Hosni song:brought back so many memories,it was a a yearly thing in my schools graduation parties:)
Thanks again for the nice post !

Omar said...

great post. My favourite quote , which I consider to be so true about Arab woman who blindly follow fashion and dont realize that many american/europeans are a lot more conservative in the way they dress:

"However, American girls seem to be smarter in dressing according to the place and occasion, and they hardly ever color their eyelids green"
"More importantly, the excessively revealing clothes are compatible with their society and clearly serve “an objective”, especially on the “night-life” scene"

Dozz said...

mmm..amusing..

as for the foreigner,its just not nice to be speaking a 'foreign' language all the time..(thats from someone who's there)..culture counts,how can a girl live with someone who doesnt know the meaning of 'eeeih'..[if anyone! knows what i mean]
im nt sure if am adding anything here..(ana 3ayez adeef!)
but the reasons behind each persons dress code are pretty obvious,at least for me,when a girl just has no clue that her trials to look stylish are turning her into a slut(which is the case with 3/4 of girls in Amman),or when he seriously thinks he's a jordanian rock star,or..when she's deliberatly trying to get the whole neighborhood's attention,when he 'somehow' believes wearing each and every color in his closet makes him look modern...welll!or when this is the way she's been dressed since she was 15 and no one has bothered to tell her that things change(same goes for teenage male uni students)...ya3ni...u can tell,through the clothes,the walk,the gestures,the fabrics...
i have a feeling i should add a disclaimer of my own here..bs yalla.

Jenna said...

"But, if some young lady is wearing a pair of spray-on, low rise pants that shows her colorful underwear and her coin slot, with a strapless, backless, belly button- revealing, cleavage-exposing top with “sexy bitch”, “pornstar” or “slut in training” printed on it with glitter, and then goes out grocery shopping, well, she may be creating some kind of an inaccurate impression."

That paragraph made me laugh out loud :)

Ha Ana Za said...

Very funny post with several actual LOL moments. I was quite daunted intially by the length of the post but it was well worth the effort :)

Ahmed Ashraf said...

رئيسية الموقع :
مصر اليوم
اخر مواضيع منتديات مصر اليوم :
ترددات قنوات النايل سات الجديدة
اسعار السيارات فى مصر 2012 بالصور

اسعار السيارات فى مصر 2012

مشاركة ارباح ادسنس

اهلا بكم , اضع لكم موقعى لتتطلعوا عليه

منتديات مصر اليوم هى منتديات عامة تهتم بالكثير من الاشياء المصرية . منتديات مصر اليوم هى منتديات عربية عموما مصرية خصوصا و هى منتديات عامة تهتم بكل ما يهتم به الشباب المصرى من الحوار او النقاش او اخر الاخبار او جديد الصور و الاغانى و الالبومات و الكليبات و الافلام و النكت و الفيديوهات و الموبايلات و تحتوى على اقسام مميزة مثل قسم اللغة الانجليزية و قسم اصحاب المواقع و المنتديات و قسم البرامج و القسم الاسلامى و قسم المرأة و قسم الرومانسية و الرياضة المصرية و الكثير ....
شاهد اقسام المنتدى :
اخبار مصر صور نكت مصرية اغانى قنوات و ترددات اخبار الرياضة المصرية مشاهدة مباريات بث مباشر اسعار السيارات