How many times have we heard stories about cab drivers and their lack of ethics in Lebanon? They try to get more than a normal fee out of passengers to go from point A to point B. They surely overcharge foreigners. And, they engage in obscene conversations with guys and girls.
The typical Lebanese cab driver finds it very normal for him to ask a guy about his sex life. Well, this being the Lebanon it is, guys are supposed to be out there sexually while girls are tucked away safely in their parentsa�� houses. But, it is not really the guysa�� sex life they are interested in; they are more curious about the a�?situationa�? of girls in Lebanon. They want to know if they are a�?opena�?. They want to know if they let guys touch them, and weirdly enough they seem more curious about girls who havena��t even reached a legal age. With the questions I face, I dona��t know what to think of these men. Dona��t they have sisters? How about daughters? Assuming they have neither, would they accept someone speaking this way of their mother?
The questions are bearable compared to the comments they make when they see a woman. At least with questions one has a way to turn the conversation around and let the man look at things differently just a bit. But, with such comments what can one do? Smile and agree? Smile and shut up? Get off the cab and try finding another that hopefully doesna��t share the same views as this one? And then what? How can a young adult tell a man to watch where he is driving when he almost had an accident because he was drooling over a woman? How can a young adult tell a man the age of his father to stop goggling at the breasts of a woman who has a kid on her arm? How can a young adult make that man see that women are not objects he can yell sexual things to and wink at as they are peacefully walking down the street? Even if they were dressed to seduce, even if they did a�?looka�? like they are promiscuous, dona��t they have the simple right not to get harassed and have their personal space violated?
At one time I asked the cab driver if he had kids. He said he had two sons, and one of them was married. Women cana��t seem to escape being the subject of harassment, whether single, married or parent. Either way, respect is due. It is not due specially because they are women, it is so because they are human beings.
This kind of conversation happens between a�?mena�?. This does not happen if there are female passengers in the car, as if this were a club welcoming members only, members with male genetics. Worst yet, this is a culture where most men feel safe in, they see no wrong in the way they objectify women, and men who dona��t are attacked and accused of being either gay or impotent. This is the easy side of the passenger seat, when the passenger is a male. What happens when the passenger is a woman is a completely different story, to be told on a different occasion.