Who Gave Them Such a Right?

Drawing by Nimra

Men categorize women in one of four ways; mothers, virgins, sluts and bitches.
Of course, none of the above is suitable for the modern business woman.
But you can create your own image by selecting pieces of each archetype that work for you; for example:
the sexual attractiveness of the slut
the wisdom of the mother
the integrity of the virgin
the independence of the bitch

This leaves men confused and unable to pigeon-hole you; what they’re forced to do instead is take you seriously.”
–          An excerpt from the movie Syrup (2013)
(LINK to the movie clip:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXrrUzP0q-o )

In most cultures, but in the Middle Eastern culture in particular, it is very common of men to create stereotypes to label women with and so condense their entire existence to just one word associated with one connotation. A woman is either considered prude, a virgin, promiscuous, rebellious, a brain-ac, cruel, cold, rude or independent but never all traits at the same time. It is as if men believe they have the right to lump women into categories and later select women for their own needs. For example, a man may choose what he’d label as a promiscuous woman to fool around with for years but when he is ready for marriage, he’ll go ask his mother to buy him a “virgin”.

Women are often viewed as those “half-brained” creatures that were created from Adam’s ribs to fulfill very few functions tailored to please men: it’s either reproduction (and the fun that comes with it) or being a maid. Women are almost never viewed as independent humans that have the right to choose what to do with their lives and their bodies. A woman can be smart, rebellious, and religious yet independent and opinionated at the same time. However, many men don’t seem to have wrapped their egocentric heads around this fact; it is much easier to label a woman with one word because, to them, she’s probably suitable for only one function. But who gave them such a right?

Starting at a very young age, females are constantly told what to do, what to say and how to behave or otherwise “no man would want to marry her”. I’m pretty sure every Middle Eastern woman has heard the national anthem of most Arab families that kind of goes like:
– Don’t dress this way. Don’t sit that way. Don’t go to such places. You must learn how to cook. Oh what’s the value of a girl who can’t cater to a man and can’t keep her legs closed?
Many women are prohibited from their basic right to an education, among many other rights, because some parents feel that they shouldn’t waste money on the education of a girl because at the end of the day, she’s going to get married and sit at home. Once she gets married, her existence in life becomes centered on pleasing her man and taking care of his children (I say his children because unfortunately, that’s how they’re viewed in some societies. Women can’t even pass on their nationality to their offspring in Lebanon and Jordan). If he abuses her; it’s her fault; his right. If he chooses to divorce her or cheat on her; it’s her fault. If the kids aren’t doing too well in school; it’s her fault. The list of things that are women’s faults goes on and on but what is really alarming is that both men and women strongly believe that! They hold these ideas with extreme conviction, and pass them on to their children. A woman who was told to not dress in a revealing manner because no man would marry her is very likely to tell her daughter to do the same, without giving it a second thought. Please note that such thoughts replicate like viruses in a community so that the mother, the brother, and the daughter all become convinced and so help perpetuate such destructive philosophies.

So perhaps men aren’t the only entity that is to be incriminated as the cause of the current situation of women in the Middle East. The whole society is at fault. It is our society that gave men the right to objectify, belittle and disrespect women. This leads to the conclusion that our society as whole requires reformation; instead of playing the blame game and enlisting evidence to frame men- maybe we should start focusing on changing the mentality of the society we live in.

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  1. Of course men aren’t the only ones to be blamed but different gender identities within a society, including women who follow the patriarchal system and transmit to the next generations.
    But how can we blame when ignorance is prevailing?

  2. I’m sorry, for me, men are to blame. Women are the victims here. Let’s not forget who are the second class citizens and who do not have their basic rights.

  3. This isn’t to say that women are to be incriminated as the cause of their own misery! Again, we’re not playing the blame game here because it won’t do the situation much good to just sit there and point fingers.
    My point was to divert attention to the fact that there are women who are so brainwashed that they actually defend men’s mistreatment of women and call it their “right”. And it is our society as a whole that contributes to the spread of ignorance from one generation to the next. I’m not blaming women at all, they ARE the victims. But we need to start spreading awareness and breaking this cycle of brainwashing in order to get somewhere instead of just blaming men. The society itself has to be targeted using a multi-disciplinary approach. We can start by spreading awareness and telling women that no, it’s not his right and it’s not okay for him to treat you as a second class citizens, contrary to what many women are made to believe.

  4. Nice post! I agree with the author. In patriarchal societies, women and men are part of the system. Few would fight it. And those who do are seen as outsiders, heretics, traitors… Unfortunately, I am not optimistic when it comes to the near future of the Middle East. When wars prevail, one cannot hope for more gender equality.

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