jdeena

Never settle for what is…come tomorrow it will be what was

Month: October, 2013

Power as Taboo

This topic has come up frequently in my life as of late; whether at school or in my daily conversations: women in power. Now, you might be wondering what I mean by this, as we see women holding very powerful positions in large corporations and even running countries. However, there is still the so-called “glass ceiling” that limits the progress of women. We are still less paid than men. In my poly sci class last week we talked about the perception of women in politics. Women, when in power, tend to get the reputation of a bitch. She is cold-hearted for leaving her children to pursue her own selfish desires, she is masculine because she adopts the image of strength and resilience in order for her to fit in with the men she works with. Even her husband is judged (if she is married) for allowing his wife to upstage him with her political position.

What century is this?! There should be no reservations about women in power, and yet we see it all the time. Let’s look at one of the most powerful women in politics today: Hilary Clinton. What did people say about her when Bill cheated? When she showed no classic response (crying, shrieking, demanding divorce) they called her cold. When she began to pursue her political career, they called her masculine, pushy, and aggressive. Let’s look at a very successful female entertainment mogul: Oprah. She started from nothing and worked her way up into a media tycoon. Yet when her relationships were revealed, they always claimed she was the “man” in the relationship because she made more money and held more power in the public eye.

What is it about our society that has women in this box? And the funny thing is; it is mostly women that are pointing out these “flaws” in other women. Whether that stems from jealousy or judgement, it is there. Men, however, also add to this perception by speaking out against these women in power. You all know where I am headed with this.

Arab men have a very profound issue with women in power. I have experienced this firsthand. When I was a manager for Best Buy in Allen Park, Michigan (right outside Dearborn), I employed many Arabs. At one point, I had three Arab guys working for me. It was apparent from the start that they were uncomfortable being managed by a female, but especially an ARAB female. I would assign tasks that would go unfinished. I was actually told by one of the guys when I assigned him to clean before a store visit from our area manager, that I would be better at the cleaning since- after all- I’m a female. There was no fear of repercussions when he stated this, as if he felt he had the RIGHT to say it. Needless to say, he was disciplined accordingly.

When I became a corporate trainer for Best Buy and was traveling to different states to train employees, I saw it again. I had a mix of different guys in each class, yet for some reason (while a lot of the guys had an issue I was a female) it was the Arab guys that had the most trouble accepting it. They would make comments to undermine my authority and competency, and through an activity we did, when they found out my age, made comments on the fact that I was still single because I was so career focused. They had no reservations expressing their distaste for my choices in life. I am very content in who I am so their comments never bothered me. But it was interesting to see their point of view.

Not only did I experience it in my job, but I did in my personal life as well. When I was engaged 3 years ago, I was still trying to pursue my career at Best Buy. I was working to become a manager or supervisor. When I expressed this to my partner, he made it clear that he did not want me to achieve that, and in fact, he wanted me to drop to part-time work only so that I was available to do my wifely duties such as cooking and cleaning at home. He insisted I drop out of any extra-curricular activities I was involved in such as volunteer organizations through work. Looking back, I can see now this must have stemmed from his insecurities and need to control me.

So what does this all mean? It means that men will forever be intimidated by strong women in power. That is why we still have a glass ceiling; that is why women like Margaret Thatcher were looked at like a monster while in power. If a woman makes more money than her husband, the man is seen as emasculated. I had a discussion yesterday with an Arab guy, and we were talking about a female doctor whose husband is not a doctor. He laughed at the fact that this non Arab male had ALLOWED his wife to have a better paying job than him. According to this Arab guy, the wife would one day use her status and power to throw it in her husband’s face that SHE is the bread winner. I responded that MEN throw it in women’s faces all the time, yet somehow THAT is acceptable? I just don’t get this double standard. God willing, when I get my degree and move overseas, I don’t want a guy to feel intimidated or turned off by the fact that I have a secure and successful career. In fact, I’d hope he would be PROUD of that fact.

Is there a way to change the perception of women in power? If everyone allowed women to be themselves, then maybe, yes. However, women feel the need to prove themselves daily, whether they are CEO, PhD, manager, or teacher. If a woman’s role exudes power, men and other women will have a problem with it, and although some may say that words are harmless, they can continue to perpetuate that double standard. A woman can be successful and powerful and still respected. So to all the women out there who have heard “no” over and over again, don’t stop what you are doing. Keep reaching for your goals because it is the truest form of expressing who you are.

 

 

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The Emotional Barrier

Over the years, I have heard people tell me that I have no heart. Whether it is because I show no emotion in regards to other people’s situations, or in regards to my own situation, I have always been very reserved with my emotions. I guess it’s because growing up I always saw how men reacted to women crying, and it was always deemed a weakness. I never wanted to portray that; I wanted to be the strong one that never let words or situations hurt or affect me.

Years of this conditioned me into the heartless person people think I am today. People would say it jokingly, but with an undertone of brutal honesty. And you know what? That’s fine. I’d rather be seen as a cold, unyielding witch than a weeping, weakened stereotype. Not to say that women who cry are all weak, but some take it to a whole new level of extreme. I know that crying is therapeutic, and that everyone is encouraged to express their emotions. It’s healthy. Unfortunately, you are also judged by how you react emotionally to certain situations, but especially in relationships.

I’ve reached the point where I have recovered from my last heartbreak. That one shattered my wall into a million teeny, tiny pieces. But I’ve restructured. This wall is made from reinforced steel, not glass. So no amount of shaking will disturb it’s foundation. You might be thinking how extreme this sounds, but let’s be honest. If we don’t have this wall to protect us, we are susceptible to many years of unnecessary hurt launched at us by men who just don’t care about us. I cannot afford any more time wasted on rebuilding myself after a heartbreak, or analyzing situations gone bad. You stop calling me? Ok, I’ve moved on the next week. You decide you don’t want to marry me? Ok, that doesn’t even phase me. Just like you see me as a convenience, I see you as less of one. 

You can come into my life and leave just as quickly, and it won’t phase me. If you want to call me cold, that’s fine too. Yet when a guy acts this way, it’s completely justified because men are less emotional. Turns out, so are women. It’s not as acceptable though, and so we are targeted and judged. If it wasn’t for certain types of men, women would continue to be nurturing and sensitive.

When guys meet me and hear my view on this, they tell me that it’s sad I feel this way. I ask them why, when all I ever experience is this exact scenario. They try and persuade me that not all men are this way, but within a week- you guessed it!- off they go, once again proving me right. You might say that my outlook may have scared them off, but let’s be real. If a guy wants to stay he will stay. No wall is high enough or thick enough to keep someone who is determined away.

This post was inspired by something a friend of mine posted today. She said “They can’t hurt you unless you let them.” Now, whether or not she was talking about guys specifically is yet to be discovered. However, it got me thinking about all the conversations I’ve had with people over the past few months with both genders where it was pointed out that I block people out emotionally. If that’s true, It’s only because I cannot afford to be hurt again. And if that means that I haven’t fully healed, I beg to differ.

It means I have become strong enough to rebuild that fortress that protects my heart. 

My Advice to the Younger Generation

You know how every person has a mini-me? That one person who reminds you of yourself at a younger age? Well, I found mine. And, just like me, she’s smart, witty, beautiful, and strong. She is SO much like me, that she has the same outlook on men that I had 10 years ago. I would argue that this is fine, because at the age of 22 or so you dont really need to focus on getting married. However, what scares me is the fact that- just like me- she’ll continue with that mindset well into her late 20’s and early 30’s.

I should be happy that young girls are waiting until they come into their own before settling down. However, having done that myself, I know it is not always fun and games. There exists a fine line between independence and isolation. I was a dry-run; it had some bumps along the way but I survived. And because I am here, alive and well, I am able to relay some advice upon the young women just starting their journey.

This is my advice to the younger generation:

I know it seems so amazing to be single. And most of the time it is. However, two things will always haunt you. One is your family. They will constantly bring up your status and wonder what is wrong with you. They will set you up endlessly against your wishes. They will yell, cry, and taunt in an effort to get you to meet someone and JUST GET MARRIED! Try and stay strong.  Find some hobbies, because more than likely your married friends will have little time for you. Take up writing (like I have lol).

The second thing that will haunt you are the “what if’s?” You will wonder about the guys you never gave a chance to, as well as the ones you dismissed because you were too busy becoming an independent woman.  You will mourn loves lost, and remember the one who treated you the best, but you pushed him away because you felt you were too young for love. You will regret the decision to “see what else is out there.”  Because trust me, ten years later there isn’t a much better selection. It gets harder to find someone who you see youself with. It may seem like you are being pickier, but really the pool has just gotten smaller, and there are a lot less fish to choose from. When that happens, you feel lost and hopeless, and give up…..yet again.

People will constantly ask you why you are not married. If you say “it just never felt right” you will be looked at like a mutant with two heads. I wish someone had been there to talk me through my fears and tell me it would all be okay. I just feel like I never knew what the right way was to love, and be loved. Because of this, I always carried a fear of relationships inside. This made it very hard for me to build a bond with anyone beyond friendship. Now that I have realized all this, I am working on it. And contrary to what people say, I know that it’s too late.

It’s a vicious cycle. And a hard decision. Do you enjoy your youth and cast off men while you build yourself into a one-woman powerhouse, or do you succumb to the fear of ending up 35 and alone by choosing the lesser of the evils and marry now? I can’t honestly tell you which one is right. I do not regret one moment of the past ten years. All my experiences have shaped me into the woman I am today. And while I did experience pain, it was well worth it. I am happy I never sacrificed myself to marriage, because I know I wouldn’t have been happy.

Whether or not you should do the same is up to you. I just want you to know what is waiting for you when you turn 30. It’s not always better on your own.

The Double Standard

It comes as no surprise to the ones who know me, that I often rant about the double standard in our culture. To clarify, I mean as ARABS, not MUSLIMS. As far as I know, there is no double standard in Islam. Everything I know that may point out otherwise does, in fact, benefit the females more. But this post isn’t about that.

In my social circle, I have grown up in an atmosphere where Arab guys are given the….let’s say….”opportunity” to explore their sexuality with little or no repercussions. Meaning, that Arab guys regularly date and have sex waaaaay before marriage. I’m not going to bring in a religious debate here, because we all know that in ANY religion, premarital sex is a no-no. However, Arab men (as well as all men, I know- but that’s not why we’re here) tend to enjoy a little action before their wedding night. I’m not saying it is right or wrong. What annoys me is the fact that these same Arab men, once they are ready to “settle down,” start the quest for an untouched, pure, virginal bride.

Ok. Let’s be honest here. Who the hell does that anymore? I can understand the implications that come with a non-virgin bride. There is a hint of jealousy underlying the fact that you were not her first love. That she may compare you to previous lovers. That she will throw it in your face that you were not her first. Oh….you weren’t thinking all that? My bad.

I’m not writing this to be mean. I just would like to understand why guys tend to expect one type of girl, when they themselves have done nothing to deserve her? And why is it then when the girl has, in fact, had sex before marriage, she is treated like trash? As a culture, we need to get off the idea that men own the women and therefore they are the ones who govern their sexuality. A virgin or not, girls should be treated based on who they are, not what they have done.

Ok, next topic. This kind of goes along with the theme of this post. Arab men dating white girls is a trend that has increased exponentially since I was first in college. Or maybe it had always gone on, but I was unaware. Anyways, so lately I’ve noticed it more. Arab guys will date white girls for long periods of time. Years, even. Here’s the funny thing, at least to me: they never have the intention of marrying them. Oh, you can argue that some really do love their girlfriend, but deep down we all know the traditionalist mindset that Arab men have. They want an Arab wife, someone who will understand their cultural demands as MEN. They want to procreate many times over, and let’s face it, white women don’t have the tendency to breed an army (except for that lady in my last post. She was clearly brainwashed.)

A lot of times, these white girls are just barely included in the Arab guy’s “real” life. And by “real,” I mean Arab life. She will never meet his parents, and if she does it’s as a “friend.” She will never be allowed to attend any family function such as a wedding or Ramadan iftar. If she stays over his apartment and his mom comes to town, he packs up her stuff in a box and has her take it back to her place until the visit is over.

I am seriously laughing right now as I type this.

What girl in her right mind, regardless of race, would subject herself to such a degrading and humiliating role? Wake up! He is clearly using you! I swear, some girls are just so clueless. Listen, I know guys just wanna have a little fun before marriage (see subject above), but this is honestly so awful I can’t even hate the white girl for being so clueless. On some level, we all want to feel loved. It’s hard when you get caught up emotionally with someone. You never expect to be used like that. But I see it happen all the time, and I’m sick of it.

Arab guys need to understand that women are not disposable. We are not there to fulfill your needs before marriage, nor after. We deserve respect. Although if you are a girl dumb enough to succumb to such chauvinistic behavior, then maybe you deserve what’s coming to you. And before you even think it, STOP. I’m not anti-women’s rights or what else you want to spew at me right now. All I’m saying is that IF you allow yourself to be treated this way, then you should know better and not resort to being some guy’s “hobby.”

So, my rant is done. I feel better actually. Not to the point where I won’t cringe inside when I see an Arab guy with a white girl, or when I hear an Arab guy say he’s now ready for a wife so “bring on the virgins!” Those will always make me recoil with disgust, as I feel no one should ever feel entitled when it comes to the treatment of another human being.