I have this skirt. It’s red and white and flowery. I got it from one of my friends from the Middle East. She gave it to me right before she left the US to go back to the Middle East, saying she wouldn’t have much of an occassion to wear it over there. It’s a really pretty skirt, full and cut right above the kness. It’s very modest.
In the strictest sense, I am a feminist. Let me explain. The denotative defintion for “feminist” is someone who thinks that men and women should have equal rights and treatment, especially in the political and social realm. I think that. I am hesitant, however, to volunteer to put myself in that category. You know why. The connotation of a feminist is very different from the dictionary definition.
When I call someone a feminist, I am usually referring to someone that seems to embrace the ideology of radical feminism. This movement of feminists was athe most radical, and it appears that they are the people who come off as men-haters and want women to basically run around pretending like they don’t need men.
For most of the people I know and me, “feminists” are annoying women, always paranoid that man somehow is looking to keep her down. I don’t think that is generall an aim that men in America hold dear, especially today, when they’d suffer harm for expressing such an ideology. So that’s why I don’t call myself a feminist.
I don’t want to talk about the inequalities, on either side of the sexes, because it makes me nauseated. Sufficient to say, there are some discrepancies, inequalities, prejudices that remain, toward both men and women, and the US seems to be the top of the pile politically and socially for trying to right injustices as they crop up.
I’ve been learning about a certain Middle Eastern country though, and as my fried pointed out, comparaitively, finding a gender inequalities to combat here is like searching for two fleas on a single monkey.
Let me tell you a little bit of what I’ve learned about this country’s gender inequalities. I’m not trying to pick on them, but I’m pointing out things you might not know.
One of my friends from this country has a couple kids. Once, I was taking her kids somewhere and the girl piped up from the backseat, “I wish I were a boy.”
“Why?” I asked her.
“So I could drive a car.”
In her country, women aren’t allowed to drive.
The woman that gave me the skirt can only wear beautiful and colorful clothes inside the privacy of a friend’s home or her own. Anytime she goes outside, any other garb must be completely covered by a head-to-toe black robe; her face is covered except for her eyes.
Women are not allowed to go anywhere in public, unless they are escorted by a male relative. I have been told they are not even allowed to be seen speaking to a man in public.
Once, my friend flew back to her country with her newborn to visit her family. Her husband remained here since he was studying at the university. When it was time for her to leave, her brother dropped her off at the airport. The official at teh airport almost didn’t let her board the plane. “Where is your father? Where is your husband/” She explained that her husband wasn’t traveling with her, she was flying back to him, and that her brother had dropped her off. Finally, she was allowed to board the plane and fly back here. Women can’t leave the country unless they are accompanied by a male relative or have written permission.
A man may divorce his wife but women are not allowed to divorce their husbands. Men may have more than one wife, but women certainly may not do the reverse.
It is interesting to note, though, that women retain their family’s surname when they marry, instead of adopting her husband’s last name. Any children they have, though, get the father’s name. My friends told me also that when a woman has her first son, she is no longer called by her first name but is referred to as “the mother of ______.”
I am told that it is not the wish of the general population for things to remain thus, and it is not even likely the wish of the monarchy there to keep things so strictly controlled, but there is a radical minority that is succeeding in preventing any changes to current policies.
So any change would necessitate a huge divergence from hundreds of years of tradition, not to mention somehow overthrowing or wooing the radicals who are able to keep such tight control in the country.
My friend was sad to go back to her country and lose the freedoms she had here. I got a skirt out of her shoddy deal and lots of perspective on gender inequality in this globe.
My parting thought: Instead of whining about how statistically in the US women make 98.999 cents on every dollar men make, maybe any men or women looking for a gender-equality cause to pick up could move to the Middle East.