Monday, July 27, 2009

Those Sexual Differences

No matter where I sit, or what's going on, this is the big question I'm always asked,

"How do you cope with Arab men?"


"Which men are worse, Arabs or Europeans?"


"What's the difference between an Arab and a Eurpean man?"

Take a Deep Breath
The last time I was asked this question was after overhearing an Australian man make fun of his wife.  She'd spilt some red wine over their restaurant table and there was wetness everywhere.

Loudly he proclaimed to the world, "Oh she's always like that, making a mess." Chairs were scraped back over the floor so everyone could hear him, and he continued to made one big fuss mopping up the wine.

Waiters were summound over, and then over again, to provide more and more paper napkins, allowing him to continue mopping and tell stories about the endless times she had done similar 'wrongs'.

Somehow his actions summed it up for me; the differences between Europeans and Arab men. Bear with me though, this is a generalisation.

With Europeans the put downs are subtle ~or not quite so subtle~ but always implicit, in this case the wife was 'stupid', 'clumsy' and 'annoying' but the words weren't actually said. Stories are told and subtly the story is given support as the wine was mopped up - wifey is stupid.  Easy to miss, but endlessly occuring.

With Arabs when there is negativity against a woman, and it definately occurs, then it's explict. It's not the subtle recalling of stupidity. It's simply a put down and you know it's a put down.  In someways easier to deal with.  You can rant and rave and get annoyed and state what it is that has PISSED YOU OFF.

So if I'd been at the table with my husband and had spilt wine over the table the waiter would've been summonded and asked to clean the table, and very little would've been said. It's a public place and negativity about the family is not going to be spoken, in any form verbal or non-verbal, to the outside world.

There is a glass celing in the Arab work place, but then I think there is a glass celing in the western world. I can still recall the Arab man who was introduced to me when I joined an organisation as a Regional Manager, and he thought I must be the new admin assistant.  However, when it came to promotion, it was the western men who were chosen by the western CEO over the women who were performing more effectively.

There is a traditional role played by women which is completely and utterly respected in the Arab world and which is not taken so seriously, in general, in the western world.  That is the role of a mother.  In my experience it is held in the highest esteem, a useful key role in life and the one person who binds the family together.  Mother-in-laws are equally important and I'm glad to say there is no such thing as a mother in law joke in the Arab world.

In the Arab world it seems to me there are key wing clippings for women and the legal system.  Marriage for example takes away many rights for a woman {see wgaw blog archives: pre-nuptual arrangements, Hourly Marriages and thinking about divorce?}.  

I think another issue involving women's rights in the Arab world is our objectification. We're either, 'good girls/virgins' or, 'bad women/whores'.
~Why any man would want to marry a virgin is true mystery - where's the good sex going to come from if a woman has never had sex before?~

I once asked an Arab man to explain this prediliction for virgins and he enlightend me with the explanation,
"It wouldn't be nice to walk down the street and meet a man who had had sex with your wife."

I questioned him a bit more and he replied in the same manner, from an Arab man's point of view it's simply about the embarassment that might be felt if you ever had to meet a man who had previously had sex with your wife.

He then went on to expand his thought with a proclomation it wasn't normal to like virgins and was in fact, "a perversion, like when people use leather stuff ..."


Aynur said...

Huh. Interesting! I totally agree with what I've seen of Arab/Middle-Eastern men not wanting to make a scene in public. My hubby is like that. My dad, on the other hand (white, American, Polish background) would humiliate my mom in public all of the time.
I also think the importance of mothers is good.

Ruslan Trad said...

Wonderful post! I re-post to my blog for Bulgarian people.

Make it Easy said...

wow. very interesting read. thank you for this insight. i took a women studies class last semester (specifically asian women) and your entry covered a lot of similar topics from that class. very good eye/mind opener :-)

ayah said...

"No such thing as a mother-in-law joke in the Arab world"
Hehe, that have to be a joke itself. Maybe you haven't heard any yet, but trust me, there are too many mother in law jokes and even whole movies about bad mother in laws. We have same in law troubles as everyone else.