I Didn’t Ask For It: A Look At Sexual Harrassment and Rape Culture

By: Rhonda Nemri

Whistling, blowing kisses, grabbing, touching, cat-calling, these are a few of the things that most people don’t realize that it is the same as sexual harassment, or sexual assault. Women from all over the world experience some of these forms of assaults.

This usually isn't the case for a woman's response. But this surely does exists in today's society.

This usually isn’t the case for a woman’s response. But this surely does exists in today’s society.

If not, then the worst case scenario is rape.  As I look at all the possible ways that women have been assaulted, it is apparent that society doesn’t do much about the safety of women. It is always easy to just tell a young girl, or a woman to be careful when she leaves the house, or walking to her car because a man might assault her. You hardly ever hear anyone tell a young boy or a man to not assault or rape women or young girls. Growing up, I always noticed this coming from the opposite sex, and it is something that always gave me anxiety going to public places where men are gathered, and standing together. Even though those men may not have an agenda to harass me, unfortunately it is something that gives me anxiety because it occurs so many times. Being afraid that when I walk passed them they will grab me, speak to me with disrespect, or just keep staring at me as if they were going to do something to me, is not something I want to put on my list of things to do during my day. It doesn’t only happen when women are alone, it happens when there are groups of girls/women as well. I am very sure that I am not the first woman to speak about such topics, but lately I have been noticing a lot more harassment and discussions about rape that lead me to write about this. Hence the current gang rape of a young lady in India. Which sadly enough to say, is not the first time something like this happens. The neglect and abuse these women go through is nothing new, and government officials are not doing much to help women in these countries who suffer from rape, domestic abuse, and honor killings.

It was a few years back when I was first indulged in literature dealing with sexual harassment. As I was reading I came across many instances that I can and cannot relate to, however it did remind me of my own experiences of harassment’s. I do not know anyone that has been raped, but I sure do know a lot of women who fear going into public places because of the potential of being assaulted. There is a possibility that I know someone who has been raped, but that person may have not spoken up about it. Most women who get assaulted in settings such as school, work, or in public hardly ever speak up about such matters.  There is this shame, or disgust feeling that’s left with her, because social norms has taught her to believe that she is disgusting, or she asked for it because of where she was at, or how she was dressed. If she were to get assaulted by her male boss, she may not speak up about it due to the possibility she may be terminated, or not given the opportunities to excel in her career. Therefor if she keeps quiet then she won’t lose her job, and she can get promoted rather than demoted.

Back in 1991 a woman by the name of Anita Hill, went public in the courtrooms describing her experience of sexual harassment.  In 1980 Anita Hill received her Law degree from Yale. “She began her career in private practice in Washington, D.C. Before becoming a law professor, she worked at the U. S. Education Department and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In 1989, Hill became the first African-American to be tenured at the University of Oklahoma, College of Law, where she taught contracts and commercial law. She has made presentations to hundreds of business, professional, academic and civic organizations in the United States and abroad” (The Leigh Bureau).

Anita F. Hill

Anita F. Hill

Her story sparked controversy, especially attention from feminist groups who supported Anita’s claims of sexual harassment in the office.  She testified her story in front of an all-male senate regarding her assault from Clarence Thomas. She was working for Thomas, who touched her, and had sexual vulgar language. Anita was questioning her ability to speak up about such issues because not many people would believe her story, and believed she had some agenda to gain something.  Statements from Senator Heflin such as, “do you see, coming out of this, that you can be a hero in the civil rights movement?” At this point they believed that her idea of testifying was going to make her a prestigious woman in the African-American community. Their responses to her statement were creating a much more defensive climate than a supportive one, and made Anita Hill look delusional.

“In 1991, 6,883 people were willing to file claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In 1998, the number was 15,618” (Doyle, 2011). At this point women in society began to feel a lot more comfortable speaking up about any sexual harassment.  This story of Anita Hill is very much looked back at today as a reminder that we are still in the same rut that we were in 20 plus years ago. Even though women all around the world have the courage to speak up now, there are still many who are left unspoken of these issues. Women shouldn’t have to be constantly told to be careful from people in public places because “they might rape you”, but rather men should be taught not thave predator-like characteristics towards women. A lot of today’s entertainment and musical industries promote objectification of women.  This helps perpetuate the idea of harassment, and becomes accepted by both men and women. I do not want to constantly walk in public thinking someone is going to follow me, or say something inappropriate. I shouldn’t have to walk fast trying to get a cup of coffee at Starbucks, or sit privately at a restaurant where no man will come by me and pressure me to talk to him as if I owe him this. A lot of women should speak up about such matters, and it is a lot harder for women in other cultures to speak up because being raped or sexually assaulted is a bigger controversy for her. Women who get raped in cultures such as the Middle East often get blamed for their rape incidents, or even tortured for not being “pure” anymore. This will leave her silent, and not speak up because she has more of a consequence to deal with, and that is whether she will be seen as human again or not. She will then live in a society that will often see her as trashy, a whore, or useless.

It is not always the case of what you wear that leaves men to think “she asked for it”. Women who are covered up from head to toe, or are dressed very decent get raped each day. It isn’t how she portrayed herself; it is how a man thinks it is his “nature” to take the opportunity to assault her. I am pretty sure there are men out there who do not have the “rapist” qualities, and that they respect women. This is great! But those are not the ones that we worry about. Rape occurs in many different ways, it happens when you are married, engaged, dating, not dating someone, strangers, friends, relatives, etc. People who often state “well they are men, they are supposed to act this way”, does not see the mockery in that statement. It leaves women in a place where she has to often secure herself, because of the possibility that she will be assaulted.

I’ve seen and heard stories about women who get followed into public places such as school, work, shopping malls, banks, etc. There are many issues that shadow the subject of rape. We need to answer the questions: What steps should we take when we hear someone has been raped? What views do we have of her after she has been harassed, or taken advantage of?  What kind of society do we live in that allows such statements as “she asked for it”? These are the question that we must find answers to, because if we continue to leave these questions unanswered, then we will always live in a society that constructs these gender roles of what makes a man a man, and what makes a woman a woman. A man shouldn’t have to feel masculine because of how tough he is, how many women he can sleep with, and how his nature is sexually aggressive because he is a man. Women should not be viewed as weak, frustrated, irrational, victims of sexual abuse, because “she deserved it”. No one deserves to be raped, abused, or assaulted, not man not woman. We need to remove phrases such as “Legitimate Rape”, and not create reasons that validate her rape experience as something “she wanted”. Let’s teach our young boys to not whistle at a girl as she walks, not to touch her if she doesn’t want to be touched, not to shout at her to come by him, and not to treat her as always a victim.  I often believe that even if we do not change these ways 100 percent right away, we can make progress each second, day, week, month, and year by changing the statistics of rape victims. If they are increasing as I speak, then we will live in a society whether American, overseas, or anywhere that will constantly allow rape culture.


Doyle, S. (2011). Twenty years ago, today. In These Time. Retrieved from http://inthesetimes.com/article/12136/twenty_year_ago_today/

The Leigh Bureau. (n.d). Anita F. Hill biography. Retrieved from http://www.leighbureau.com/speaker.asp?id=537


My Hair, My Identity, My Security, My Protection: The Veiled and Unveiled Symbolism of Hair and Image

By: Rhonda Nemri

Since the day we are born, we either have a full head of hair, slightly full, or barely any hair. Ultimately we have hair. Our hair is symbolic to us. Virgin or pure hair, meaning never been touched by hair dye or chemicals infused to either make your hair flat, wavy or curly, is what makes your hair labeled as natural. “In simple terms, the average speed of hair growth is roughly 1.25 centimeters or 0.5 inches per month, being about 15 centimeters or 6 inches per year” (“How To Make Your Hair Grow Faster”).  Our hair is a valuable part of our body that we hold on to, whether we are male or female. Men are known to have receding hair lines, go completely bald, or have grey hair when they age. It is quite possible that men and woman can get grey hair at a young age due to genetic or stress levels. Women also lose their hair definitely during stress, use of products, pregnancy, or illness. It is not likely to see a woman going bald in comparison to a man, but it definitely occurs.

In order to fit the image that the top hair product corporations portray, you must purchase items such as relaxers, shampoo, conditioner, organic serum that nurtures the hair to bring back its natural oils, hair gel and mousse, hair growing kits, so on and so forth. There are many items to choose from and different brands that all promise you the same things: soft, unfrizzy, less splitends, and volume. But it is up to the customer to decide what brand fits them best. Advertisements on television, in magazines, and billboards portray the very images of how to sell their products using the very obvious advertisement technique; models. Advertisements make you feel like there is something wrong with your hair so that you can purchase your own hair regimen to improve the texture, softness, and shine, the same way as the model with perfect hair. Hardly you see women who have short hair advertising shampoo, hair spray, mousse, or gel. It is always women hair models (usually celebrities) with long, beautiful hair, in which their hair is most likely video edited to look natural and healthy. These very images that we see in ads, are the very images that affect are ways of thinking when it comes to how we should have our hair, and how we should take care of it in order to look beautiful. Which brings me to discuss the importance of hair and its symbols in culture and religion.

Cultural and Religious Symbols of Hair

The reason why I chose to write about this is because I see my hair as something very valuable, secure, and my protection. I see hair as something that is beautiful, but something that is symbolic for many reasons in society. From when we are young, we are familiar with what makes a man and what makes a woman. However, as a child you don’t really understand or grasp the full concept of the physical and biological factors of what makes a man and a woman; children just notice hair being a key factor. Boys have short hair, girls have long hair. In many cultures hair is very valuable, and we can definitely see the symbolism of hair through different cultures and religions. In Christianity, Islam, Hindu and, Buddhism both women and men cover their hair; however, it is much more likely to see a women covering her hair for religious, or cultural purposes.  In both Westernized and modern days the hijab/veil is quite familiar, and is used to cover a woman’s hair. In Christianity we see this with nuns who show their purity and commitment to God by abstaining from modernized clothing, and covering their hair and body.  Hair is also a symbolic treasure when a child gets baptized in the catholic or orthodox church. “After confirming the child, the priest cuts three locks of hair from his (or HER) head. This is an expression of gratitude for receiving God’s blessings in baptism and confirmation. Having nothing to give in return, the gift of his (or HER) hair is a symbol of strength like Samson) is a promise to serve God with all his strength” (“Baptism in the Greek Orthodox Church”).  Through Islamic traditions the hijab is seen in a different light, however does represent some similarities. According to Lane, the meanings of the word hijab are: “a thing that prevents, hinders, debars, or precludes; a thing that veils, conceals, hides, covers, or protects, because it prevents seeing, or beholding”. “The hijab also means a partition, a bar, a barrier, or an obstacle. In the Qur’an, the word hijab appears seven times, in five instances as hijab (noun) and twice as hijaban (noun). Neither hijab nor hijaban is used in the Qur’an in reference to what Muslims (and non-Muslims) today call the hijab, that is, a Muslim women’s dress code. In most cases, the Qur’an uses the word hijab in a metaphysical sense, meaning illusion or referring to the illusory aspect of creation” (Ruby 55).

Of course in different religions and cultures, the veil/hijab has its own connotation to some.  People view the hijab or veil as something that covers the woman’s hair in order to remove the male gaze. Perhaps it is to also remove one’s ability from seeing one of the most purest component of a woman or girl; her hair. However, I do have my questions and opinions about one’s idea of purity and sacredness to God is through a piece of fabric that covers the head of a woman or girl from the outside world. I believe that every woman should be able to choose who she is, and how she wants to be. Whether covering her hair or not. The controversial issues of oppression behind the covering of one’s hair are often portrayed through scholarly works, media, and books. I do not know what it is like to cover my hair, because I never tried it, but I often question why one chooses to cover something that is so beautiful, and have to feel they have to hide something in hopes of removing the chances of a man viewing you as a sexual object or gaze at you. I tend to believe with or without the veil the male gaze is quite present, and probably won’t go away. Some women, whether Islamic, Christian, Hindu, etc., have their own purposes of choosing to wear the veil for either religious purposes or their own personal choices. It could be their own protection and valuable entity that grants them piece, purity, and a closer connection to their identity and God. However, this is not why I am writing this piece. I am writing this to highlight what my hair means to me, how it is part of my identity, and what it means to others/society.

My Hair, My Identity, My Security, My Protection

I tend to look through old pictures of me and family members when we were children, and I noticed that I went through many phases with hair styles. I had very long hair that reached the bottom of my back, shoulder length hair, and even hair to my ears; the very famous bowl haircut. Although I didn’t understand that my hair was part of my identity, therefore if someone cut my hair really short, I didn’t care. I remember at a young age, probably 5 or 6, my cousin who is a year older than me was going to the salon to cut her hair very short; what I like to call the “boy haircut”; short and very easy to manage. I wanted to come along with her to the salon, and while I was there, I decided I wanted the same exact haircut. I don’t remember the exact reasons; however, I did know I wanted to be like her. When you are around the same people constantly at a young age and play with them, you tend to want to pursue and obtain the same things that they have to feel complete or significant. I don’t think I really understood what it meant to have short or long hair, I just wanted short hair.

After that part of my life, my hair was whatever my mother wanted my hair to look like, or if I needed a quick trim. Either bangs, short, medium, or long hair; this is what I had. I did at times have a say in what I wanted, but when I got to high school, I started experimenting with my own hair. I felt I needed to look a certain way, and hold this image that I tend to see other girls in my high school have. I never accepted my hair the way it was. I always dyed it lighter than what it naturally is, got a perm my junior year of high school, and somehow accidentally managed to dye my hair the color reddish/orange by my senior graduation. The girls I went to high school with had always dyed their hair or had curly hair. While in high school I believe whether boy or girl, we tend to go through the many phases when trying to fit in. I tried to be my own person especially through my personality and character traits. However, it was always about hair and image that I always tried to change to fit societal expectations. My hair however, was long in high school. I remember getting asked a question by a classmate, “Is your hair real?” I was taken aback by this question, and thought to myself, “Now why in the hell would my hair be fake?” I was naïve to even think that it was possible for women to add extensions or wear a wig. I just generally thought my long hair was easy to obtain. Of course that arrogance was soon diminished and I realized that hair is something important to one, because so many women try to add in hair that isn’t theirs to feel some security and fitting to what society expects from women.

As I mentioned, my hair after high school was always long. It was my shield, my protections, and my security. I remember in my first year of college I went to get a haircut, and it went all wrong. She cut most of it off. It went from my lower back to my shoulders. I didn’t quite understand why she did this to me, because I never asked for a short haircut, just a trim. As I ran my fingers through what I thought would be long wavy hair, it was gone. I cried for days trying to find ways to cover myself, and explain to people this wasn’t what I wanted, so that they don’t think this is how I wanted to look.

In present day, my hair is long and has its natural brown hair color. I get it trimmed every 6-8 weeks or whenever I have time to go get it cut. I usually maintain my hair certain ways. I don’t usually use a straightener or blow dryer unless I need to. I tend to let it air dry, and it has a little natural wave. I get numerous compliments on it a lot, or asked if it is real. I’ve even gotten offers to cut it all off and sell it. Some people tell me to never cut it, some tell me I should be in hair commercials, and others tell me to cut about 5-6 inches off. I appreciate the compliments, and try to be humble about it. I am known as the “girl with the beautiful long hair.” However, what really puzzles me is that people see my hair as who I only am. They believe my hair is a part of me and only me. If I were to shave off my hair, then I am no longer the person they seen before, If I cut it to shoulder length then I am still looked at differently, and if I kept it long, then this is the most accepting look for me. I tend to get people who tell me to chop it all off, and get a new style. However, as much as I do want to chop it all off and donate it; I can’t seem to mentally get myself to do it. It has become a part of my identity that I can’t seem to let go. It is my protection when I cry, it is my protection if I break out, and it is my protection from others to not ridicule me for having short hair. My dream is to cut it short without someone judging me for it being short. I tend to believe that without my hair, it is what makes my face look the way it is. Society tends to believe that hair is what makes beauty and that if you have a beautiful or well-structured face; then this is when short hair fits properly on you.  This comes to my question of the veil or hijab that one must think about. If a woman has a beautiful face (or what your own definition of what beautiful is), yet covers her hair, isn’t she still attracting the other sex? I often believe that the hijab is becoming part of our socially constructed society, and a fashion statement for some. One can appreciate the beauty of the preciously woven fabric that a woman puts on her head, however if she takes the time to properly place a beautiful piece on her head, then that contradicts what the hijab is stating. With these last few statements I am not demeaning the hijab/veils purpose, I am simply questioning why cover something so natural and beautiful with something so fashionable and beautiful? This then should go back to my statement of feeling some identity or connection with God, which is fine, however it is still amusing and very interesting to see how societal norms have pushed women to be and act a certain way to fit in the expectations of what a woman should look like, whether covered or uncovered.

The process of self-objectification is something that women tend to go through when trying to feel and obtain the image that society is expecting from women. “Self-objectification may be conceived of as one consequence of dominant sexist ideologies that justify and preserve the social status quo by gaining the compliance of women, despite the fact that gender inequality inflicts significant costs upon girls and women as individuals and as a group” (as seen in Calogero and Jost 224). Women will somehow feel they have to conform to societal roles and what each gender characteristic should entail. Since girls or woman should have medium to long hair, then this makes her a true woman. Anything shorter or comparable to what a man’s hair length should be, she is not seen purely as woman, she is seen as woman wanting to be masculine, because of her choice in hair length. I still struggle when trying to make the decision to cut my hair shorter than what it is. It will definitely be my choice if I want it short, medium, or long. It is part of my identity because I have made it part of my identity. I envy those women who do cut their hair short. I am sure it is an experience that is life changing for some, and it could be an empowering moment for them. This is something I am not sure why women do it, though, I want to do it because I want to be known for something else more than my hair, and perhaps a new look for me. I want to feel that whatever decision I made with my hair is because I want it, and not what society wants.

Women in the Middle Eastern culture (including myself) are often known for their dark, wavy, and thick hair. It is an attribute that should stick with them. One of the main desires for a man is for his wife to have beautiful hair. A woman’s soft, long locks bring a sense of security for both men and woman. It is fulfilling to have something wave from side to side and get blown in the wind to resemble the soft seductiveness of her persona. Trying to fit into something you are just not quite for is a hard thing to do. The statement I often hear is “why fit in, when you can stand out.” Which has some truth to it. As women, we need to find ourselves not condoning the patriarchal ways of what a woman should be. Though image is one of the most important aspects of our lives, and I am one to admit that I do have insecurities, however, I do realize that the insecurities I have are through the self-surveillance that I have about myself. Though each day I become more and more authentic, I believe women can be too, if they allow themselves. I don’t claim I know everything, but I can claim that these ideas and opinions that I pointed out do occur. There is also more to understand about the hijab/veils and religious values that I have not covered in here.  My hair is me, but not only me, it is my identity, but not my full identity, it is my security, not my insecurity. I do appreciate beautiful hair, whether long, short, medium, buzzed, curly, wavy, covered, and uncovered. I will continue to appreciate the compliments given to me about my hair, and think of it as something that is partially who I am. We all have something beautiful about us that we must appreciate. Appreciate it because you do, not because someone else appreciates it. Until then, I will continue to walk through the aisles of cosmetics stores looking at comparisons of shampoo, and continue to ponder the idea of cutting my hair short in the future.

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Baptism in the Greek Orthodox Church. Webhttp://www.kimisis.org/Orthodoxy/Baptism.html

Calogero, Rachel, M., and Jost, John, T. Self-subjugation Among Women: Exposure to Sexist Ideology, Self-objectification, and the Protective Function of the Need to Avoid Closure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. (2011) : 100.2, 211-228.

How to Make Your Hair Grow Faster. Web. http://www.howtomakeyourhairgrowfast.net/how-fast-does-hair-grow.html

Ruby, Tabassum , F. Listening to the Voice of Hijab. Women’s Studies International Forum. (2006): 29. 54-66.

Middle Eastern Culture & Feminist Views(April 18 Article)

By: Rhonda Nemri

We hold on to things that are valuable to us. The means of those things can stick with us forever, or they can be reconstructed into things we don’t want to be a part of. Our identity is shaped throughout our lives. Identity is everything to us. However, what happens when you want to reject the identity that has been ascribed to you since you were born? Culture plays a huge role in our lives, whether we like it or not, it is and always will be around us. As Simone de Beauvoir stated:

“One is not born, but rather becomes a woman. No biological psychological, or economic fate determines the figure that the human female presents in society; it is civilization as a whole that produces this creature, intermediate between male and eunuch, which is described as feminine” (The Second Sex 267).

Biologically women are seen as the child bearers, but socially, we our females, wives, mothers, and the other. Culture is not only based on whether you belong to an ethnic background, culture is the definition of your life through social, morals, values, norms, etc. We all have some sort of norms that we go by, whether it is norms we learn from family, friends, our careers,or societal norms. I will discuss the double-standard in general and then apply it to the Middle Eastern culture, how the double standard affects women today, and what it’s like being a Middle Eastern feminist in a male dominated culture.

One might think, “well the double standard occurs in all different kinds of cultures, including the American culture.” Yes, this is very true and sadly it does exist everywhere. As much as we can say women are equal to men; they work, go to school, they get to vote, etc. However, there are still societal issues that deal with a women that stops her from really indulging in the things she wants to do in her life and not what society wants her to do. The double-standard, is a standard that when comparing a man and woman, there are things that women can’t do, or get judged on because they are a woman, while the man is free to do whatever he likes without society pressuring him or judging him on his actions. We live in a socially constructed society, where men make the money, run the household, pay the bills, and there is no real biological factor for him other than procreating with a woman.

One of my favorite quotes by Simone de Beauvoir has a similar approach to the double-standard. “Man is defined as a human being and a woman as a female-whenever she behaves as a human being she is said to imitate the male” (Brainy Quotes, 2012). In other words, anytime a woman wants to step outside the box, in a socially-disruptive society, then she is acting like a man and not ladylike. In my personal experience, whenever I had an opinion of some sort or show any anger, I was told “all of a sudden you want to speak up and act like a man.”  In this patriarchal society that has been constructed on the bases that men are in control, it is hard for women to match up to a man. Women don’t want to be men; we just want to be recognized as equals to men. When growing up girls have always been told to act nice, sweet, pretty, play with dolls and act ladylike, while the boy is a rough, dirty, acts out, and should like cars and play with firetrucks. Anytime this girl acts like a boy she is considered what society calls a “tomboy.” If I were to ever play sports or act rough, then I was automatically considered a tomboy, but could never be androgynous, because girls should always act feminine and not both feminine and masculine.

A woman is to be looked at as honorable and no flaws or faults, where a man can have as many faults as he can and not be ridiculed the same way a woman has. Men having hectic sexual relations with many women make a man to be honored and accepted within the society. However if a woman were to do the same thing, then she is dirty, used, and will never be an honorable woman. Hardly ever men’s irresponsible actions destroy his social image: he is forgiven easily. A woman’s image at the same time is fragile and can easily get destroyed. This is painfully true, especially in my culture. 

Metaphorically speaking, in the Middle Eastern culture, a women is very fragile and if she breaks she cannot be fixed.She is just like a glass fixture. Therefore, if she does anything wrong she is doomed. In the Middle East, honor is on a high pedestal. This does go for both men and women, however if a man and a woman were to do the same exact mistake, the woman will be scrutinized and is dishonorable because she is a woman. Just recently, I read in an article about a woman in Morocco, who was raped by a man, despite the fact she was sexually abused, her family forcefully pushed her to marry the man who raped her. She had no choice, but because she dishonored her family the only thing left to do was marry him or be killed. Unfortunately, she committed suicide because of the fact that she was about to have a forced marriage. The problem with this is, the man would be let free if he were to marry her, while the woman is forced in a marriage because of something she had no control over. The word honor has been misused. It has become something where if a woman does anything to dishonor her family, she is then the shame of the family. While the man is allowed to be aggressive or sexually aggressive because it is the “man’s nature” to be this way.

The Middle Eastern culture has a set of norms, values and morals. A lot of Middle Eastern countries encompass Islamic doctrines. Christian Arabs have used this religion as their foundations for cultural norms.  From my personal experience, not all are this way, however most Arab families have strict tendencies and close knit traditions.  Religious and cultural values have a big impact on the Middle Eastern heritage.

A woman in this culture has a set of duties that she must fulfill in her life. This in-tales marriage and having children. She is also expected to be married by the ages of 18-24. If she is not married by this time, then something must be wrong with her. It is easy for her to be judged because she is not married. Often you may hear “No man will want her if she is old”, “She will not be able to have kids if she marries old”. But because it has been socially constructed that women must marry and bear children, then she must follow this. If these norms are not met then something is wrong with her. When I reflect on my life, I know that being married at a young age does not make me a woman. Because women in my family married before 25, this means I should too. I know that what I have chosen is not based off of my inabilities to be married or find someone. It is because I know that I want to fulfill my destiny by accomplishing my wants and not everyone else’s wants.

Men have their moments of being pushed to marriage, however not for the same reasons. When a man gets married it is so that he can come home to house that is clean with his wife standing there waiting to greet him at the door with dinner ready on the table. This doesn’t mean I have to do this, however, these are the reasons why many men are pushed to get married, so that their mothers can stop taking care of them, and their wife can. A man can get married at 35 and this is normal, while a woman who gets married at 35 is not accepted.

Even though this is occurring in other cultures including the American culture, in the Middle Eastern culture, marriage for a woman, is the definition of being a “real” woman. It is not until marriage that she is able to be rationale, make decisions, and go out when she wants to. Even though this type of freedom is given to her, she is still under the patriarchy when she marries her husband. Once she leaves her parents home, her parents are no longer responsible for her, and the decisions that she makes. It is now the husbands duty to take “care” of her. When we look back at the marriage process, for hundreds of years it is always respectful to ask for the woman’s hand in marriage. The groom to be must go to the father, and then when the wedding day comes it is the father who is giving his daughter away (hardly the mother). She goes from one patriarchy to the other.

There is this community of women who are married, who feel that they have something in common with each other. Whereas the single woman in the background has no idea how to wash dishes, make dinner, or make decisions of their own because she is not married. The sad part about all of this is that these are woman who think this way, because they have internalize the patriarchal ways of knowing as their own ways of knowing, and have rejected their own view of the world. These women only add to the double-standard that society already creates. 

The double-standard affects women because society has created this standard for how woman should act and be. If we continue to perpetuate these standards, then how is it that women are gaining rights and freedom? Why must a women be dishonorable if she is at fault? She is not allowed to make mistakes, while the man is able to make mistakes and it’s okay. We should be allowed to both be able to make mistakes and learn from them, and not be tormented and scrutinized for our mistakes. Yes woman can be doctors, lawyers, professors, etc. However, these women in these jobs are still discriminated against and still are in this box where they should act a certain way. Even though we are in these prestigious jobs, these jobs STILL pays us (women) less than a man.

Me being a Middle Eastern feminist has created issues for some. Because I do not follow the socially constructed ways a woman should be, then I am wrong. A lot of times I would be talking to people from my culture and the moment they find out I am a feminist, they have their opinions (which is fine) however they try to warn me to be careful when I speak up because if I do it the wrong way then I am acting masculine. This is the problem, and not only is this coming from men it comes from women also. I need to act feminine, so that I can find a man and get married. Because since I am a feminist, then it is going to be harder for me to be accepted. But why wouldn’t a man want a women who thinks, is intellectual, and wants to be free from anything that oppresses her? It is the fact of being empowered, and strong to face those who have little to no confidence in you.Yes, it is hard for my family to understand my motives, but it is only hard for them because they are only used to what they know, and what they want to know. Don’t get me wrong, I am respectful, open-minded to other views, caring, and loving. But, being a feminist shouldn’t be an issue, being a feminist made me a better, open-minded, accepting of others views, and empowered person. One needs to be open minded and not controlling of others lives. If women do not speak up whether they are middle eastern or any other culture, then they will always be stuck in what society wants them to do, rather than women deciding what they want to do. Since the Middle Eastern culture is rather dominated by men, it is always harder for me to reach those men to understand what I believe in. Since I am a woman, then I do not know what I am talking about. I believe that I have not rejected my culture completely, however I have rejected the ways that this culture thinks what is best for me. I do enjoy the music, poets, family gathering, food, etc., however this is not whats making me reject the culture, it is the socially constructed norms that I reject.

*Note: Anything italicized in this blog is taken from an article I wrote that is published in the  Communication journal called Pastels (Purdue University Calumet). I will give you the website of the Pastels to read the full article on the double-standard and also other articles written in this journal. http://pastelsjournal.org/third-volume/

Please take a look at these websites that offer many author’s on Feminism in the Middle East.

http://www.cddc.vt.edu/feminism/jor.html  Feminism in Jordan

http://www.cddc.vt.edu/feminism/egy.html Feminism in Egypt

http://www.cddc.vt.edu/feminism/pal.html Feminism in Palestine

http://www.cddc.vt.edu/feminism/ira.html Feminism in Iran

http://www.cddc.vt.edu/feminism/isr.html Feminism in Israel

http://www.cddc.vt.edu/feminism/sau.html Feminism in Saudi Arabia

http://www.cddc.vt.edu/feminism/leb.html Feminism in Lebanon