It’s been a while, lovely readers. The past few months have been tumultuous, with job searching, interviews, emotional and physical struggles. But I am always assured that coming back home to my blog will make things right in this world. To keep myself occupied (and earn some income) I took a job as a server at this new hookah lounge in Toledo. I went there sometime back in July to write (coincidentally, the last post I have on here), and the owners offered me the job based on my background in restaurant experience and customer service. It’s a fun job, very laid back, and although standing on my feet for 7-9 hours is exhausting, I’ve met some great people.
However, I have also met some not-so-great people, mostly males. Arab males to be exact. So before I took the job, my bosses failed to mention that the majority of their customers are men. Mostly Saudi students from the university nearby, but also men from the community. At first, it didn’t bother me much that these were the majority of my clients. Well, the Saudis bothered me because they don’t tip well (or at all). But slowly, I started to realize certain behaviors from these customers that have since propelled me to speak up even if the time and place isn’t exactly opportune.
For instance, when asked about my status (relationship, of course) most of the males are shocked to hear I am 34 and single. Many will see me work every night and make a comment like “you should find yourself a man and get married so you won’t have to work.” The first time a guy said that, I looked at him and said “why? So I can sit at home with the kids and take care of the house for him while he works?” He said, yes, that life is a much better fit for a woman, and this way she won’t be worrying about living expenses because- lucky her!- she has a man doing it for her. Um, no thanks dude.
There are two types of married men who come into the lounge. The first type are the ones who will hit on the servers even though they make it clear they are married. These guys are scum no matter what anyone says. How dare you defend a man who is married, with children at home, who finds nothing wrong with stepping out on his marriage for the “fun of it?” This one customer actually pointed his ring finger at a server and said “look, I’m married, but I want to take you out after your shift.” She said no, and he kept pursuing it, going as far as leaving her a large tip at the end of the night. I know who he is and who his family is and I could easily shame him in the community, but what good would that do? I’d probably end up being the one who is shamed for exposing him, as that is “unlady-like.” Fuck off.
The other type of married man is the sexist misogynist. These guys come in almost every night and stay until close, hanging out with other married men. They never bring their wives. I know the majority of them and know they are married, so one day I asked a group of them why they don’t ever bring their wives. One replied “we have 4 kids, who else will babysit?” I stared at him in disgust and told him “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize your wife is your babysitter.” He gave me a dirty look (because God forbid I call him out in front of his friends). The other guy with him told me that his wife goes out with her friends other places, during the day while the kids are in school. So I asked if she ever gets to go out at night, and he said she can’t because they don’t have anyone to watch them and they don’t trust babysitters. When I suggested maybe he could watch his own kids- gasp!- he stared at me blankly, as if the concept was foreign to him.
Another married man calls in on his way home from work for me to get his hookah ready, as he usually only has 45 minutes or so before going home for dinner with his family. The one day he was talking to one of my bosses, and his wife started calling. He groaned and silenced his phone, then started a tirade against his wife, calling her a nag. I was sitting there and looked up from my phone and replied “well maybe she wouldn’t be a nag if you didn’t force her to stay at home with the kids and allowed her a life of her own.” He laughed and said “oh, now look, we have a feminist amongst us!” As if me advocating for women to be something other than an imprisoned housewife is something to be laughed at. Asshole.
Now, when any of these men tell me that I should get married, I say “why? So I can be like your wives who sit at home with your children, cleaning your house and washing your clothes, just so you can be here smoking for 4 hours while you piss me off with your misogynistic rhetoric? No thanks.” I know a hookah lounge is probably not the best place to argue my feminist points, but when this is all I see every day, I can’t help it. It’s an uncomfortable feeling when one of these men tells me a hookah lounge is no place for a woman, but they have no problem with me serving them or them looking down our other server’s blouse.
They want to be hailed for keeping their women at home and “protected” from men just them; men who will ogle and harass the few women who do enter the lounge. Men who seem to have an opinion on everything I do: smoking hookah, living away from home, being single, and not wanting kids. They want to “fix” me; they want me to be just like the women in their lives. Why? Because I scare them with my decisiveness and independence. I talk back; I fight. I make it clear that the lives they have provided for their wives hold no interest for me. I’d rather be working 48 hours a week, exhausted and weary, driving my old car and living with roommates, than live in their mansions and drive their luxury cars with a diamond as big as a pistachio as a center stone.
The talk I hear about women from the men who come in either show them as sexual conquests or their domestic employee. But women are not your damn slaves; we were not created to do things FOR you. Unfortunately so many women feel as if they have no choice because of the way they were raised. So what we need now is a revolution, one where women will start shutting down these men and their ideas of what it means to be a woman in this world. Only then will men start to realize that we will no longer be silent in the face of their sexism and misogyny.