Recently I read some article about how hard it is for men and women to create a friendship in non-wahabbi (or hannabillahi?) Gulf Countries
( Oman: The Trouble With Male/Female Friendship, Middle East Perspectives )
…and it made me think -once again- about my own experience with Middle Eastern and specially Arabic people (from Morocco to Iran) and how surely a 95% of the people I contacted and met, and those who taught me all I know about arabs… are women.
I can recall endless nights hitting keyboards, feeling my ears in pain for headset use and itchy eyes at waking up after hundreds of late nite convos.
Everything I learnt about these amazing peoples, who never stop surprising me, came thru the words of princesses, poets, photographers, bloggers, psicologists, shopping travellers, prostitutes, teachers, happy and unhappy married ladies, librarians, divorced doctors, marketing experts, dietitsts, traders, journalists, artists of painting and drawing, human resources managers, university students, office assistants, translators, media workers, incredible singing architects… and I still had not enough.
We fixed the world 100 times together and clashed 100 more about how to fix it, we allowed each other to learn from real sources letting standards and stereotypes turn to nothing, we argued and joked, we shared dreams, secrets, sadness, ideals, jokes, life conceptions, and innumerable songs, videos and deep personal moments that go beyond the expected cold Facebook “friendship”. I don’t remember how many times I was told that of
“You know things of me that I’d not tell anyone else even under death threat”…
From them I could learn how to understand what my eyes were seeing on TV about Lebanon, Iraq, afghanistan, PalestIsrael, Egypt, Syria, Iran… always doing the necessary effort of looking at facts with their eyes, and not just with those of media.
With them I discovered that still today you can find true passion and feelings and sentiments waiting to be shared as soon as a chance appears at night, when public daily life around them simply avoids every single chance to do so, if there’s anyone close.
(Art by: Lama Khatib Daniel)
What a difference with their western counterparts, (with some very honourable exceptions) who most often always had very little wish to share smthg with a western male, to teach him something without imposing their point of view, or simply to tell him about her view on the social background… and when this happened, it actually tends to be truffled with war-of-sexes stereotypes and reivindicative defensive positions.
Really, ladies… it’s not a matter of being myself pro-feminist or anti-feminist, more machist or less, but….. it’s exhausting and utterly boring to keep attempting to reach one of your inside’s. Khalás.
If I look for being appreciated as useful and “pleasant as a shot of fresh air”, as someone who treats females as equals, who respects them, listens to them and laughs with them. If I have a moment to have a chance for feeling better and for wanting to be better, without being ultimately suspected to be a gay (I’ve been even told “you’d b the perfect gay friend every woman needs, if you were not so hetero” ¡¡!!) … it’s most of times while talking to a Middle Eastern woman.
Middle East men are usually “kewl” when u limit the conversation to cars, football, “barty” and women.
Even then you find them loaded with an aura of stubborness that is hard to accept when you don’t know what’s going on inside their brains. They know more abt this, and that, and that too. It’s a clear signal for you to avoid talking about religion, philosophy, politics, geopolitics, arab world, al-andalus, history or any of these deep issues.
They won’t accept an alternative point of view. Theirs is the only good logic one and they are not interested in wasting time listening to any “wrong” conception of things which, as far as it’s not theirs, will be erroneous… this has happened with a vast majority of the few arab men I met.
Even those who appeared to be more openminded felt the need of falling in an ideological challenge arena that again turned into useless undesired confrontation,… so they are not on my wishlist.
When I read that article I asked myself -once again- how much are these guys going to loose… how much learning, how much life knowledge and mind and soul development they are letting get lost because of almost eternal social conceptions…
Once again I asked myself if this Must’arib would be here writing if arab men were as they are dreamed and expected to be. And intimally I was thankful they are not.
(Art by: Lalla Essaydi)