culture, discussion, friends, Gender, psychology

Do Saudi Men Understand Saudi Women?

Studying in US has given me a great opportunity to observe and understand  people from different backgrounds, cultures and religions but most importantly it has enabled me to observe and study people from my own country. I was curious to explore the level of understanding between Saudi men and Saudi women here in the open and free society where both men and women have the freedom to interact with each other without restriction or fear. What I found out from my experience is funny, interesting and sometimes sad. I will answer series of questions from my own experience in working and studying with both Saudi men and women.

First Question: Do Saudi men understand Saudi women?

Saudi men in back home didn’t put any effort to fulfill the gap of understanding between them and women because first and for most they don’t see any needs for that since they have the (social) power in their side and second because of the separation issue. Now here in US, I have encountered some Saudi who felt the need for fulfilling that gap of understanding to correct many of their assumptions. So, they go and interact with saudi girls like brothers and sister and best friends. They work together for Saudi event, they interact openly and they exchange stories and experiences.

I have also encountered Saudi guys who couldn’t accept the idea that Saudi women would have equal power to them. I remember one time I was talking with a Saudi girl in the university campus and once I finished my conversation with her, a saudi young guy came to me and told me that he wants to marry that girl ,although that he has never met her before. Surly, in that guy’s mentality, woman would never say no and even if she said no, she is for sure the loser! Now, how can I deal with this mentality? I didn’t say anything to him and went to my class

Another saudi young guy I have met has another interesting and funny story. He told me that he thinks that one Saudi girl has fallen in love with him and when I asked him how, he told me with full confidence : ” She smiled at me last week”??

I have met  three Saudi girls who complained about other Saudi guys and their mentality. “Whenever I walk around campus, I see Saudi guys gazing at me” She told me. Another girl told me that she is  felt tired of receiving continues love E-mail from another Saudi guy. There are plenty of stories of this kind and it made me despair sometimes but once I encounter a saudi decent guy who would improve the whole image, I renewed my hope again!

I have spent a lot of my time trying to understand the cause of such behavior from guys but I failed to get to any conclusion. For example, I thought that might be due to separation between male and female but then I realized that even students from UAE and Kuwait  at our university have exactly the same problem. I think I would need to study in depth the psychological and social factors that led to this problem.

Up Next,

Do Saudi women understand themselves? Did they succeed in representing new image of strong and smart women to the public and Saudi?

culture, discussion, Gender, Media, religions

A lesson that should be learned

Picture 2

I was watching CNN last night. It gained my attention a story about a church in Florida posting a sign of “Islam is of the devil” in front of the church building. What interesting is that people from different ages, races and religions protested against the church because of the discriminatory and racist sign. Those people stood up because they believe that it is a civil right issue. They stood up because they are against discrimination of any kinds to anyone in any place.

This is a lesson to be learned for us Saudi. When we see someone discriminating another person because he belongs to one sect or another, we should stand up against that no matter whether we agree with that sect or not. When we go to Jumu’ah prayer and heard the Imam insulting jews or christian people, we should stand up and make it clear to the imam that we are against what he is saying. When we go to work and sees that our managers or friends are discriminating  against women because of the gender issue, we should stand up and make it clear that any insult to any woman is an insult to us.

I can’t be a man unless I fully respect and recognize women rights. I can’t be a muslim unless I respect all other religions and faiths. I can’t be a human being, a real human being, unless I stand up against discriminations of any kind to anyone in any place.

culture, discussion, friends, Gender

what size ,,please!!

Saudi-Lingerie Boycott

One of my American friend has asked me whether or not male employees still work instead of women in Women shops and clothes’ stores in Saudi. I told him that it should be obvious that anyone in my conservative society wouldn’t allow his wife or his sister to go to the male cashier holding underwear or bra or to ask him about the better size for the panties that she want to buy. But wait, I said to myself, doesn’t my country always have this type of contradiction. I mean there are always things that don’t make any sense to us and yet we accepted as our holy values. So,before I confirm my answer to my american friend, I went and asked a couple of my friends from Saudi. They all told me the answer that I don’t want to hear. It is that women aren’t allowed to work even in the women shops and clothes stores, only men do. One my friend told me that his wife feel miserably embarrassed whenever she goes shopping for her clothes. The scene  of a man employee coming to a woman and asking her if she needs any help finding a better size for her panties is so humiliating for women in a way that many men aren’t conscious about.

culture, discussion, Gender, personal, psychology

School – The place of Horrification

I have never felt happy about going to elementary school when I was a kid. Everything was just chaos there. We had students 5 years older than me in the classrooms and whenever they make troubles, everyone in class pay the price and get punished. It was impossible to pass a week without being beaten up by them or by any of our teachers. Wallah I have never forgot the face of my Arabic teacher when he screamed at my face like  crazy because I forgot my homework. I remember his steps as he came closer to me, held my hands and started beating me using his bamboo*  I cried and begged him for a mercy and forgiveness at that time but he didn’t even look at my eyes.  Anyway, I still hear stories similar to my story even in the present time.

Children are exposed to sex harassment in school from their teacher and other students of a higher grade. I remember when I was a kid, one of my classmate was receiving love letters from religion teacher! It was obvious to know what the teacher was going after. The teacher touched the student one time inappropriatly. My classmate told his parents and they came to school and asked to ban the teacher from teaching. The teacher end up teaching another classroom without facing any charges. We hear so many disturbing stories about children being beaten up or sexually harassed by their teacher or other students in school but we never take action because we always like to wait until we see the problem fall on our own children. Until that happen to any of our children, we shouldn’t be worried, should we?

Chaotic School:

My experience in elementary and intermediate school wasn’t pleasant at all. I struggled a lot in understanding kids at my age. Teachers weren’t encouraging the open discussion and critical thinking.  The environment was really chaotic, student screams and make noises during the lunch break or in any absent of the teachers. Noise was my biggest weakness. I would rather be killed and tortured thousands time than living in noisy and chaotic place.

Notes:

* Bamboo was  commonly used by teacher to beat  and hit students’ hands when forgot the homework

– Since schools are segregated I have no information about sex harassment in Girl school. I am trying to find some women who can talk about their experience when they were in the elementary or intermediate school.

discussion, Gender, poetry, Politics, religions

Would You Permit Me?

by Nizar Qabbani*

In a country where thinkers are assassinated, and writers are considered
infidels and books are burnt,
in societies that refuse the other, and
force silence on mouths and thoughts forbidden,
and to question is a sin,
I must beg your pardon, would you permit me?

Would you permit me to bring up my children as I want, and not to
dictate on me your whims and orders?

Would you permit me to teach my children that the religion is first to
God, and not for religious leaders or scholars or people?

Would you permit me to teach my little one that religion is about good
manners, good behaviour, good conduct, honesty and truthfulness,
before I teach her with which foot to enter the bathroom or with which hand she
should eat?

Would you permit me to teach my daughter that God is about love, and
she can dialogue with Him and ask Him anything she wants, far away from the
teachings of anyone?

Would you permit me not to mention the torture of the grave to my
children, who do not know about death yet?

Would you permit me to teach my daughter the tenets of the religion
and its culture and manners, before I force on her the ‘Hijab’ (the veil)?

Would you permit me to tell my young son that hurting people and
degrading them because of their nationality, colour or religion, is considered a
big sin by God?

Would you permit me to tell my daughter to revising her homework and
paying attention to her learning is considered by God as more useful and
important than learning by heart Ayahs from the Quran without knowing their
meaning?

Would you permit me to teach my son that following the footsteps of
the Honourable Prophet begins with his honesty, loyalty and truthfulness,
before his beard or how short his thobe (long shirt/dress) is?

Would you permit me to tell my daughter that her Christian friend is not
an infidel, and ask her not to cry fearing her friend will go to Hell?

Would you permit me to argue, that God did not authorize anyone on
earth after the Prophet to speak in his name nor did he vest any powers in
anyone to issue ‘deeds of forgiveness’ to people?

Would you permit me to say, that God has forbidden killing the human
spirit and who kills wrongly a human being is as if he killed all human kind,
and no Moslem has the right to frighten another Moslem?

Would you permit me to teach my children that God is greater, more
just, and more merciful than all the (religious) scholars on earth combined? And
that His standards are different from the standards of those trading the
religion, and that His accountability is kinder and more merciful?

Would you permit me?

* Nizar Qabbani is a Syrian poet whose poems have made a lot of controversies in Middle East

blogging, discussion, friends, Gender, Media, panaroma, Politics

Bloggers Panorama

  • “I too don’t like the concept of everything happened for a reason or fate, the resaon -whatever it was- may take longer than our life time to be revealed” Hala Aldoseri commenting in one of Marahm post regard fate
  • “Oh, no! If people got to know each other before marriage, NO ONE would get married!” Marahm quoting her Egyptian’s friend during a lively discussion
  • “I have always said that Saudis should not complain about how hard it is to get a visa to any country as long as it is still extremely hard to get a visa to come here. The foreign ministry is not making a good point when they compare Saudis to citizens from other Gulf countries; these countries offer visas to EU citizens on arrival at the airport. It is all about reciprocity” from Ahmed Al-Omran post Visa Wars and Reciprocity 
  • “It is probably best to believe that discrimination against, race, gender or faith would never change. To live in a remote state, while “others” fix the problem” said Aysha Alkusayer when she couldn’t enter the audition for a comedy in Riyadh after it has been announced that is is open for men and women
  • “We didn’t and still don’t know the truth about this country (Iran) and of its social and intellectual structures. I would say that I didn’t notice in those days when I walked between the exhibition halls and the streets of some of the popular markets and five stars hotels and popular restaurants and businessmen’ palaces, any manifestations of signs or indications of a strongly revere and sanctification of Khomeini and his group as we imagine*” said Yaser Alghaslan in his blog post Tahran as I see it (*translated by me)

culture, discussion, Gender, psychology, religions

Breaking The Wall

 

the copyright of the pic is for firendarkness
the copyright of this pic goes for firendarkness

Have you ever heard of the westbank wall that separates Israel from Palestine. Well, we have exactly the same one in Saudi Arabia, but it is between men and women. This wall was built as a result of religious and social conflicts and so people thought that building such a wall is probably the best way to avoid the conflicts. Many people nowdays come to realize that the separation was such a stupid solution because separation between genders, races and religions has never  ever solved any conflicts. It has in fact caused more conflict than ever before. In my opinion, I think:

  • Separation wall is always built to give one group more power over the another one and in our case, men are taking the power over women.
  • Separation leads one group to build his understanding of the others based on an assumption that is often untrue and unreal. It is even worse to realized that people begin to behave and act based what they assume and what has been assumed of them. 
  • Separation moves the society backwards because there is no channel of communication to exchange the ideas and knowledges between men and women. Saudi women are very creative and amazingly talented. So, their absent in any intellectual and social discussion cause huge gap. 

What do you think of the idea of seperation? Do you agree or disagree? and why?