Monday, November 5, 2012

Every Arab Man is Sultan of his Harem

I made sure to post a little something about women (previous post) before putting this up as to avoid being seen as biased/feminist/sexist/etc. Don't flatter yourselves; men, women, all y'all crazy.

And as you probably can guess from the title...Yeah, I have been unashamedly watching one too many Turkish soaps....

But there is no denying that idea kind of stuck with us over time; every man is king of his castle. In a world where "democracy" is reigned supreme, you'd think maybe we can start at home, no? What was once a position of great duty, honor and respect, is now a position some abuse in the most horrific ways. Our culture, along with the Islamic religion, has given the man great responsibilities towards his household. That somehow has led some men to believe they have power rather than a duty to fulfill, and they brutally abuse that power. Possibly one of my least favorite examples of this is polygamy; something Islam has permitted with the condition of equality, as a solution to a societal problem, has instead been used in most cases as a man's right to indulge in multiple partners in a way destructive to once stable homes.

It is this very thinking that makes the Arab man believe that he should only hold certain prestigious jobs and positions. Just like on Kuwaiti soaps where nearly every male character has a company or sharikah and every son works for his dad and eventually takes over. It is also this very thinking that makes the Arab man feel he is invincible, he is above the law. Hence the cutting of legal corners at nearly every corner. And let us not forget the fantastic traffic on our Middle Eastern roads where everyone drives by their own rules and 3 lanes magically become 7, and people feel they are in the right to do so! It is that diseased mind that believes the Arab man is supreme, it is this very thinking that makes the Arab man treat his wife and even other women in his life like some sort of possession to the point of insult and abuse, believing wholeheartedly he has the right to do so. And in some places where there is no law to protect women in these cases from such power-hungry and hugely insecure thugs, the women are left defenseless. But I digress.

I feel as women the world over progressed to assert their position in the world, some men didn't get the memo, and are still bewildered at the changes occurring in what was once the natural order. The whole archaic notion of me-man-me-go-hunting/you-woman-you-cook-meat just does not want to go away (trying to convey the cave man voice through text, message received?). Although I know some women like it that way, especially some Arab women with men who go hunting and 'the help' cooking the meat. But that notion extends far beyond household duties. It's that the man makes all the decisions, the man is always right. It is that possessiveness where a woman loses her identity because she is now under his roof, therefore she must follow his rules, completely disregarding the fact that she is a grown-ass woman (pardon my French). Granted, some women do not behave like adults and are in constant need of authority throughout their lives, but that's only because she's never been given a chance. Forgive me, but a woman having to ask her husband for permission to, let's say, go to the mall...quoi? It's like a college student asking his professor to go to the restroom in the middle of a lecture; that stopped the minute you graduated high school kid, you don't need to raise your hand to ask permission to relieve yourself. Sometimes I think to myself: are we really still making this an issue? I mean really? Expecting her to ask permission, demanding she dress/behave a certain way, telling her what she can and can't do is all robbing her of her identity and any voice she ever or probably never had. And get this, for this reason some men prefer to marry (real) young girls to continue on where the father left off and raise her into the wife he wants her to be.....

*Mind explodes*

So I say this to you, pompous Arab man: get over yourself. Who do you think you are? You ain't no Sultan of no Harem.

The Arab man - in my eyes - is somewhat massively confused. If not confused, then perhaps conflicted? As open-minded as some men start out, once they are knee-deep in the pool of the stereotypical Arab, they feel the need to conform. They don't realize they can just get out of the pool! What gets me is at some point in their lives they had a sound mind, sound logic and sound judgement. Then somehow they do a 180 and become the stereotypical Arab they once despised. I find that they, more than women, conform to what society expects of them and are sometimes crushed by the pressure of that expectation. Hence some men marry only to meet that expectation knowing their hearts are not in it. That could sentence them to a lifetime of discontent or lead them to a downright nasty divorce. Worst part is he plays the victim and punishes the wrong person. And what with the poor girl you feel you 'settled' for? It's just not fair on her or even you to go into marriage for such reasons. But so long as you did, do right by her at least.

There is a certain species of Arab men that have been said to be somewhat robotic; lacking in any emotion, programmed to clock in and clock out, covering all the basics out of obligation rather than out of love. I've observed a few men of this species, and I can't help but feel sorry for them. I am wholeheartedly convinced that those who are seen as robotic and heartless, are those who have suffered deep, severe sorrow and heartache most. It's almost as if they reached a point in their lives where they sacrificed who they are, what they want in life, their dreams and aspirations because they felt compelled or obligated to do so. They grow up to be bitter and cold as they carry out their obligations to the fullest, but those closest to them are the ones who pay the price. He's a prisoner in his own life, and he imprisons the one sleeping next to him along with him.

To conclude, I wanted to share a story I heard about this Egyptian woman who killed her husband, chopped him up into little pieces and slowly fed it to the dogs (she actually researched how to do it through the internet). When I did a quick Google search I was surprised to find more than one story along those lines, each more heinous than the other. I can't help but think maybe, just maybe, the husband actually deserved it. I mean, it may not be the humane thing to say, and surely I don't like the idea of a man dying at the hands of his own wife, or anyone else for that matter. But it takes a lot of pent up anger, humiliation, desperation, helplessness and psychological damage to drive someone to do such a thing to their own spouse. Something to think about I suppose.


  1. The main issue here is allowing people (both male and female) to grow up into independent and responsible human beings that contribute to society and have a social consciousness. These are the things that have been quashed by society and discouraged at a young age. Until education is spread, things won't change and the results will only get worse. The world is changing, but it's not a natural evolution here so the confusion and suffering will be more common and widespread. EDUCATE EDUCATE EDUCATE. What other option do we have?

    1. You're so right, ignorance in this case is a huge factor! What's sad is some choose to be ignorant as to not divert from the accepted norm, and the cycle continues...