Respect for Women

The first time I tasted total and complete independence I found it liberating.

This happened during my University years, in one of the summer terms to be specific. I had gotten a job that required me to stay away from home for a month. It was the first time I have ever lived , worked and was on my own and it was the most liberating experience I have ever had.

I was away from home, working, making my own decisions albeit it was temporary but it gave me the drive to succeed in my studies, get a job and become my own boss (in terms of money) You make your own money and you spend it however you see fit.

I was lucky to have had a supporting family , and I so do hate using the word lucky because such things are a right not a privilege, but I do say lucky because I do realize how so many other women in Jordan in particular and in the Middle East in general do not have the opportunity to experience independence.

I am not saying only teenage girls but fully grown women even in their 30’s or 40’s who still have some difficulties being the decider in their lives. It’s funny, in a sad way, that even women who were old enough to get married and raise a family and after losing their husbands either ot death or divorce are not allowed to live on their own, yes you can raise kids and shape their lives but you can’t live on you own and decide what to do with your life.

And I sit there and contemplate ways to change the status quo and with all my heart I think our hope for change lies in the future.

Lets raise kids who will grow up to respect women.

It’s a chain and it starts with us women, raise your girls and boys with that goal in mind, raise your boys to respect women and raise your girls to value themselves and their strength who in turn will carry these values on to their kids.

Respect that will lead to many other positive changes.

I know I am a bit late posting for international womens day but I couldn’t let it pass without mention.


13 Responses

  1. i totally agree. we are no longer in the ages where women are just at home like slaves. soaking thier husbands feet in hot water, cooking cleaning do all the chores, taking care of the kids and have not say in anything. they are just dependant on thier husband and if they were alone they were unable to survive .

    living away from ur family and having ur own job and money and at least a degree that makes u know u have the knowledege and capability of depending on urself is something i think every woman should have. i beleve the more a woman achieves in her life the more respect she will have for herself and ofcourse from ppl.

    great post 🙂

  2. Loooong comment…sorry! This is an extremely sensitive subject that you tackle. It is also an issue that touches on the emancipation of men and women equally. Economics, guilt, tradition, culture, dependency, selfishness (of parents) and authority are all mixed in this very simple equation of young people’s rights to assert their independence. Is this hitting at the very social fiber of our society? I do not think so! I am sometimes inclined to believe that many marriages (mismatches) take place to attain this freedom. More important, I think the lack of individualism that is sometimes necessary to graduate leaders and creators is the first casualty of overnurturing of people old enough to run their own lives and affairs. Finally, as long as we equate living alone with weak morals and promiscuous behavior, we will always be faced with this right as a taboo not open for discussion.
    Thank you for the courage to bring this up 🙂

  3. “so you want girls to live alone so they can sleep with me”

    that statement ends the argument in any discussion in the Arab world.

  4. correction: i meant men, not me

  5. freudian slip hareega? 😀

  6. Love that, 7aki, and imagine, you did not become a a prostitute. Even I, Western blonde Christian kaffer, didn’t sleep with anyone when I lived alone. didn’t want to, either.

    Tallouza, it struck me that you mentioned 7aki’s courage in bringing up a taboo. WOW. sometimes I forget that the concept could even still be taboo.

    Hareega, talk about male projection of their sexuality on women. (not you, those dads)

  7. Dino: I agree, and I think the woman having the knowledge that she can do it all makes her more secure and adds a positive force to the whole family structure around her.

    Tallouza: I know a couple of women who got married just to taste a little bit of freedom or what they think is more freedom than what they currently have and both marriages ended with divorce and kids, so now they not only living with their parents but also tied up with raising kids on their own.
    And as to equating living alone with weak morals and promiscuous behavior, I have seen women who do far worse when living worth their patents than people who live alone. The stance that you will be a prostitute if you live alone is ignorant to say the least.

    Hareega: That’s the crux of the issue.

    loolt: lol.

    Kinzi: “male projection of their sexuality on women”
    It’s funny how a mans intentions with women are how they treat their daughters, so if a man was a womanizer and had a lot of relationships with women his attitude towards his family (daughters sisters) will be based on his experience.

  8. True, 7aki. And if they felt guilt for their behavior, they will then blame the one who ‘enticed them’, and view women through their own inability to overcome temptation. Pity the wife and daughter! I think I just said what you said, 🙂

  9. It is also a chain that starts with men, too. The younger generation of men who already do respect women. You’re doing a good thing with your universal ambition by starting with your family. If we all do that, with time change will come.

  10. 7aki,

    What a wonderful post. For many reasons, I more than relate to this post. My current struggle is captured by everything you said in this post.

    Unfortunately, Our Arabic society’s true nature hides behind the facade that it is supportive of women, but when it comes to the true nature of standing by women’s right of freedom and independence (and I am very careful when I use the words) not only does it fail miserably to do so, but it has tendencies towards shifting to the other end of the spectrum back to its violent, abusive and primitive nature.

    I watched a movie last night called the Magdalene sisters (Very strong natured movie). The sisters were a true representation of what a contradiction might be (Praying as they abuse the girls that lived in the asylums, eating butter and toast when they “believe” that earthly items are not essential, etc etc) and I feel that is exactly where the arabic society stands….The last asylum closed in 1996- and there will come a year when arabic women will get the independence that is rightly theirs.

    It is women like me , you and every woman who will not succumb. Change Happens, and it does not come easy, And I know it will happen.

    Thanks 7aki.

  11. “raise your boys to respect women and raise your girls to value themselves”…

    I wonder how many women in our arab world do not value themselves and how they believe that women and men should not have the same rights!! i believe that as a woman you should believe in yourself first (no matter how the people around you think or behave ); so you can defend your rights and have your voice heard. And as a man you should respect women and support them to get their freedom in our complicated arab society.

    Great post! thanks 🙂

  12. Interesting topic.

    I have Arabic friends who are here studying and living independently (without any family). Here are the 2 outcomes:
    a. They are coping well, live Islamically and are successful in their studies whilst enjoying the kind of freedom they don’t usually have in their home countries.

    b. They don’t quite know how to handle their newfound freedom thus they start uhm, going wild, shall I say? Drinking, dating, etc.

    It all boils down to family upbringing. If parents raise their daughter to understand the importance of self-respect, modesty and achieving academic goals then they are most likely to turn out just fine! If parents raise their sons to respect women and appreciate the opportunity they have been given to study/live overseas then they’re less likely to start becoming Arabic romeos the minute they leave home.

  13. Sorry guys for the late response, my life has been crazy busy!

    C.I.: Thanks so much for your powerful comment. I truly believe that we can change things. We are the parents of the next generation and if it wasn’t good for us I’ll be damned if it’s not better for my girls.

    Razan: This is the issue Razan that sometimes women are the ones dishing out the you cant’s and you shouldnt’s I remember when I was about 7 years old I was told by an woman that , no no you are a girl , you shouldn’t do this, and by this it was to go up on the roof of the house to help my uncle fix the antenna and I defiantly went with my uncle, and that is something soooo simple but is still etched in my brain and from then on I said, no I will do what i want to do and I am so lucky to have a great mom who never made me feel that by being a girl it limited my opportunities.

    Thanks for dropping by.

    Shahira: You bring a great point, when men are encouraged to go on the wild romeo expeditions , and by encouraged I mean the parents turn a blind eye to those expeditions, which makes men think that rules don’t apply to them. I truly believe men have to be raised a little bit like women are raised in terms of curfew and dating, instill respect and sensitivity in them so they don’t go around and use women and then ditch them and marry a virgin.

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