Sexual Harassment in Amman SUCKS

Just thought I’d get it out there. In case you were wondering.

I got dropped off near a store after work yesterday, at around 7 p.m. I bought some groceries and, laden with bags and my work satchel, clickedy-clacked in my favourite pumps up to the house. I love the sound those things make when they strike pavement. I loved the stars overhead and I loved the sound of someone playing “Jeshana” on their car stereo.

Of course, my mood was to good. Some dude came along to fix that for me. He started following me, trying to talk to me and get me to go somewhere with him, from what I could understand. I stoically ignored him.

I shook him after a few minutes, my pulse already quickened, fighting the urge to start running (I would have looked rather silly, anyway).

Then I passed one of the nicest houses on our street, a place where even in the winter it smells a little bit like jasmine. I noticed an older men and two kids that looked like his teenage sons, waiting by the door. The trio stared at me as if I had two heads.

Well, whatever, I thought.

Then, when I had already passed him, I heard one of the kids go – “5 dinar, baby.”

I whipped my head around, and there he was, grinning at me like an idiot. I considered tossing one of my beer cans at his head, but it would have been a waste of a perfectly good beer. So I kept walking, the bags feeling just a little bit heavier in my hands.

Just another evening in Amman.

84 thoughts on “Sexual Harassment in Amman SUCKS

  1. Natalia, maybe I am mixing you up with someone else, you are in Amman, not the US? Or you moved and I missed it? Anyway, yes indeed it does. Sick dad, sick son.

  2. I think it’s worse when one is an expat. The cultural clues are not available in the same way. I’ve had similar experiences. Horrible man and boy *hugs*

  3. I have a question… I’m curious about the culture in Amman.

    I did do a little bit of research, however standard party line research from sources both reliable and borderline reputable, are never as accurate as personal experience.

    Would you say that this type of treatment; as abhorrent as it is; is directed strictly on a cultural assumption basis? Or is it perhaps a digression of the culture with the influx of tourism, and perhaps types and styles of “industry” which were not as prolific in history past?

    I have to view this clinically and hopefully that won’t offend you, however, here in Canada there isn’t any difference if you want to know the truth.

    If a woman is of eastern european extraction there are basically three (obviously limited in mentality and perceptional) assumptions which are made off the hop:

    1: She is here to find herself a husband.
    2: She is good in bed and a whore.
    3: You had better watch out, because she’s eastern european, and they can’t be trusted.

    I can say this that way because I have done my observational research. If that occurs in places such as Canada and the USA, I’m curious as to whether or not this same assumptive attitude exists in other countries, not defined as “western” in character…

  4. Oh and coincidently I do not have these viewpoints. I’m less than provincial at best, and far too experienced for the other to make such pathetic expulsions to declare myself limited.

  5. Dear james i think maybe from my personal view i might answer some of your questions being half jordanian/Ukrainain, my mom first came to jordan in the early eighties, during that time lots of jordanian were studying in the eastren bloc beuse of the economical status of the country and the free education offered by the eastren bloc at that time, lots of them got married to women there and to my own knowledge there is a large number of eastren euopeans married to jordanians for example i have 6 uncles 5 of them are including my father obviously! So the image wasn’t like this at those times and that is according to my talks with my mother, the people used to look at them in a strange way because they were different and they weren’t used to foreigners but it wasn’t in bad way… what happened is after the collapse of the eastren bloc most of the russians and ukrainaians who come to jordan are girls who come to work in the bar industry!!and not to be mistaken with other surrounding countries we don’t have trafficking in the real sense of the word in jordan or forced prostitution they come and work as waitresses (actually the system is that you invite a girl for a drink to chat with her and the drink is around 20 dollars 10 go to the bar and 10 to the girl), but the jordnaian conservative community doesn’t differentiate alot in these matters, to them they are involved sexually in either way!! so what happens is when the people see a blonde girl walking the street they assume she is a russian (because to them all eastren european women are) because i’m sure that they represent the largest number of foreign girls in Amman…and thats because the men go to the Bars in amman, married,single young old sexully frustrated as the only way of having sex in Amman in general is by getting married or visting a brothel so they go some just for the chat with a beautiful girl, some for a chance to have sex and that is not by paying them money directly its by dating the girl,they are normal humans at the end and some fall in love or like a certain customer and here comes the sexual part but that is the same for the rest of the world!!! i mean a guy dating a girl in any part of the world usually it ends up with a sexual relationship but not for the jordanian men because a woman has to be a virgin until she getts married and hence the labelling comes!! it’s a kind of cultural double standards which is related to the male ‘s image in the middle eastren countries, a man is allowed to have sex before marriage but not a girl!!!!
    i know this has been along reply but i couldn’t stop 🙂

  6. Kinzi, thanks! I’m in Ukraine right now, but I’m back on the 15th. 🙂

    As per everything else being discussed – I’m not even going to bother thinking about it at the moment. I am away for a few days, might as well enjoy not being treated like scum. That is all.

  7. Ammar, thank you very much for your expletive. What you expressed and the difference of treatment after the collapse of Eastern Europe was what I has suspected and am glad I wasn’t misunderstanding.

    I think that has rather happened all over the world then quite simply. As it is the same mentality here in Canada, and yes, the United States. I’d have to say that Canadians, as a whole, are more respectful over all, due to the nature of cultural diversity, however do not be fooled by the “nature of acceptance” in comparison to the reality of bigoted mentalities.

    I would say that the only difference between the USA and Canada is that in Canada, racism is an undercurrent, denied as it’s practiced, and declared untrue in the midst of it’s performance.

    In the USA it is still legal to be a bigot and propagate slants towards cultures – as these last 8 years have clearly demonstrated, and which this last election has clearly proven.

    I am happy that you were able to speak to me intelligently and without attack or insult, as it would never be my desire.

    As for Ms. Antonova, I hope you have a festive break with family and friends while in Ukraine, and return rested and strengthened 🙂

    Happy Holidays to you both!

  8. Hi Natalia, James and Ammar..
    I came across this page by accident and I kinda liked what i read (the post and the comments).
    So I first of all, would like to say to Natalia, she’s a beautiful girl and a respected person, even if she had this feeling of being looked at in a different way. So my comment is that what she had gone through that evening is not because she’s eastern or blonde, but rather that she’s a girl walking alone in the evening…

    In other words, this would have happened to a local jordaninan girl… due to the prototyped look of the local teenage boys in Amman (and other places in the region, including my country).

    And to James, i’d rather say that no not every one looks at eastern girls the way you observed in Canada and USA. I even wonder if that’s true, bcz if a blonde girl walking in the street, how would any one know she’s from Eastern or Western Europe??

    To Amma, I agree with wat you said and lots of men in my country married to Russian, Ukrainian and Bulgarian women in the 80’s where they used to study.. and when coming to Jordan or Syria, they were looked at as being “different”, but never cheap…
    Natalia, sorry for having this discussion on your blog and I hope you’re having a great time back home :)…
    Merry Xmas in advance

  9. i think you have earned it. i apologize for not paying lip service to the feminist custom of the moment, but you went over there with hair and face uncovered and expect to be treated like a princess: is that right? why did you not bother to grasp a few basic details of life in a muslim country before going to work there? nobody in jordan owes you a thing as if you had a little respect for their traditions you wouldn’t be in this mess to start. so you accept these people’s money but won’t accept the basic rules of their society, correct? you have an arrogant and entitled way of carrying yourself then. a typical westerner who demands that things must go her way in all of life’s situations. i see from your picture on the top that you went to duke and that fits the picture. you probably have a rich, bored mother who spends money that could be donated on plastic surgery and your father is probably sleeping with his secretary. you try to escape it for a little “ethnic” getaway in a muslim country. i’m so sorry that it’s not working out. i think you should go back to where you came from and come back only when you have some basic humility. the neo-imperialism and orientalism that you engage in is not helping things. you’re a walking insult to these people.

  10. “You went over there with hair and face uncovered…”

    You’ve got a point, dude… here I am, in a mixed office, and only one of the girls has her hair covered, and even she is wearing this tight, oooooh so tight pair of jeans… and…. ahhh…… the others, their perfume and long, flowing hair and ankles…. and… uh…. when they speak through their mouths…. they……. urghhhh………………….

    Sorry, could you pass me the Fine……….?

    Seriously, it must be hell to be crippled by the mere sight of one member of 51% of the world’s population.

  11. Cranky Liberal,

    As a Jordanian male, I am quite amused by how easily you label Antonova as “orientalist” and neo imperialist without examining your own words which are in essence an offensive over generalization of the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims, the Arab World’s 400 million people and the 5 million people living in Jordan as per the following:

    1) Without any understanding of local custom or culture, you insinuated that a woman revealing her face or hair is an insult. The fact of the matter is that a large matter of local women in Jordan do no cover their hair plus covering the face is not at all common here or local. The implication here is that you are appropriating the customs of what you deemd to be “Muslim” and generalizing this perception over a very large number of people. Yes Jordan is a muslim country but one with secular traditions and one with a diverse cultural landscape as is the entire Arab and Muslim world. There is no such thing as a unified socio-cultural construct that defines what the Islamic or Arab word is like.

    2)You assume that Antonova wants to be treated like a princess, whereas all I see her is that she just wants the respect to be able to walk down the street without being harassed for being different. I would consider that a fundamental human right.

    3)The cause of said harassment is the end result of these so called “local traditions” which you hold so dearly. There are many Arabs, Muslims, Jordanians who strongly resent some of these so called traditions. If you had educated yourself on Arab and Islamic history you would know that Arabs and Muslims have historically been very accepting of foreign customs and types of attire. I

    4)Covering the Face/Hair or any other way is not a “rule of their society”. I strongly resent the fact that you claim to know what your local traditions are. And even if you are of this tradition you cannot claim to impose a form of societal conformity over all, that would be tantamount to fascism. Again, we must respect that there are different cultural understandings and perceptions even within tiny Jordan, there is no such thing as a central Jordanian societal culture, instead there is a myriad of viewpoints and all must be respected in order for society to function

    5) I think your over generalization and just going out there and brandishing the label “Muslim Country” is the ultimate form of orientalism. Orientalism as defined by Edward Said is the inference of what a culture is and attaching cultural stereotypes to a society. That is exactly what you have done here, you’ve made over arching assumptions regarding what Muslim society is and decided to appropriate it to all Arabs, All Muslims and All Jordanians.

    Besides the insulting orientalist thinking displayed by yourselves above, your approach in making assumptions regarding Antonova’s family life and background are just as idiotic. How can you know what her life story is and whether or not she wants to be treated as a princess.

    It is the right of every human being to be able to walk down the street, any street, without being harassed in any way due to ethnicity/religion or even dress.

    There are a large number of Jordanian Men and Women who abhor this behaviour, but unfortunately it is a reality. You endorsing it in this way is a disservice to Jordanians, Arabs and Muslims everywhere.
    I would request in future that you do not claim to speak on our behalf, we have our own voice.

  12. Dear Dipshit Liberal,

    You have me all figured out, don’t you? Just like you have “these people” and “muslim countries” figured out as well (talk about Orientalism, you stupid fuck).

    Where do I even begin?

    For starters, hijab and niqab are not required in Jordan. Muslim countries are not all the same. Look this up sometime, you self-righteous swine.

    In some neighbourhoods in Amman, it would be uncommon to see a woman without hijab. In others, not so much. And not all women without hijab are foreigners either. You would know all that, if your tiny brain had the capacity.

    Very obviously foreign women like me rarely stroll around by themselves. And I must stroll around, if I am to get anywhere. Of course, I can’t afford a rental right now. Couple that with blond hair (I was going to dye it dark again, but my hairdresser went completely beserk and told me that it would just make me feel miserable – to not be able to look the way I want to look, and I agree), and I stand out a lot.

    Am I a walking insult to *some* people? Sure, I am. Anyone can be a walking insult everywhere they go, this situation is far from unique. Many fat people get harassed and shamed for stepping outside while fat, for example. Some people are insulted by the sight of a particularly gaudy Versace bag. Many Muslim women living in the States are harassed and even threatened for wearing some type of Muslim garb – would you tell them that they deserve it? By your own brilliant logic, you ought to.

    Harassing a woman, any woman, is frowned upon in Jordan by anyone with any common sense. Jordanian society is a little more complex and nuanced than you could possibly understand, you anti-imperialist, you.

    I love your comments about Duke as well. Yes, there’s a reason why I left the States for a better-paying job elsewhere: it’s called student debt. Look it up sometime when you’re not busy trolling with your left hand.

    Thanks for insulting my family as well. They presently live in Kiev, and have no hot water at the moment. I’ll let them know all about the plastic surgery and the hot secretary. They might have a laugh.

    Thank you so much for gracing this blog with your superior brand of wisdom, above all else. Fuck you. Gently. With a chainsaw.

  13. my, i have touched a nerve. several nevers.

    lowfields – why do you assume that i am just a pervert? to be clear, if we lived in a perfect world harassment would not exist. but we don’t. some women don’t invite this kind of thing but in the case of natalia antonova, it’s very clear that she isn’t taking the necessary steps to protect herself and blaming the indigenous people. maybe you don’t have a problem with tight jeans and long flowing hair, but other people do and it’s due to culture and upbringing.

    kbt – with all due respect, i have been to jordan and saw that most women do wear some sort of islamic dress. it’s easy enough to avoid harassment if you conform out of respect.

    natalia – you are simply vulgar and i’m sure that you’re vulgarity is another impediment in your life in jordan. most arab women don’t carry themselves like you do. you’re cocky and proud and you don’t want to accept the fact that being more humble would earn you the right to be treated the way you want to be treated. and you chose to go to an expensive school like duke so please stop feeling sorry for yourself already. there are people in the world who are starving, you’re not one of them. so your petty concerns don’t have any significance in a country with as much poverty as jordan. oh you can’t afford to rent a car? how tragic. in your essay, “natasha from russia,” you admitted to being “pampered,” so just stop pretending.

  14. You see, CL, that’s exactly your problem…

    I didn’t assume you were a pervert, I assumed that you couldn’t relate to women without instantly attributing sexual connotations to them – which is the behaviour of a 14 year-old.

    I’m genuinely sorry you see women as nothing more than tormentors of your underfed libido, but if you spent more time with them – and less objectifying them from behind the facade of your medieval morality – you would overcome your nascent fear of feminity and appreciate just what they have to offer modern societies.

    You’ll probably also learn that, however they dress, they have precious little interest in seducing people like you.

    Grow up. It’s 2009 in two weeks, you know.

  15. I hope you have your smelling salts on you, precious, because you ain’t seen “vulgar” yet.

    How is it that Arab women are supposed to “carry themselves,” exactly? Having lived in the Middle East for about a year and a half now, I see Arab women, both Muslim and non-Muslim, veiled and not veiled, carrying themselves in all sorts of ways. Thanks for another stereotype, assclown.

    I see that you hail from the “we don’t live in a perfect world” school of thought. What a familiar line. “In a perfect world, a man wouldn’t have tried to rape and kill you, but you don’t live in a perfect world, so don’t go outside, little girl.” A chainsaw is too good for you. I hope you get dismembered by a platoon of giant squid.

    My parents didn’t sell me to a brothel, didn’t abandon me, they were able to provide me with food, clothes, and a roof over my head. They pooled their money and sent me to a nice American private school when I was 11. They sacrificed a lot – so much, that they are markedly worse off as the result. This all counts as pampering in my book. Sure, I was lucky. Did I earn or deserve it? No. No one deserves anything.

    People don’t deserve getting harassed, or getting bombs dropped on their heads either. Just saying.

    Now, you want me to pretend to be Muslim in order to “fit in.” How charming. Have you ever considered how disrespectful that would be? I’m not a child playing dress-up, you moron.

    If my concerns are of no concern to you, why the hell do you read my blog? For someone who’s concerned about the big picture, you ARE mighty obsessed with what I wear when I step outdoors. The gentleman doth protest too much. Are you, like, wanking in the shrubbery outside of women’s houses, or something, while you wait to examine if their dress and behaviour is culturally appropriate enough? I wouldn’t be surprised.

  16. PS. Are you actually arguing that men can’t exercise any form of self-control when confronted with a women in a pair of jeans?

    Are you that f***ing feeble?

    Sexual harassment isn’t Tourette’s, you know. Us men aren’t biologically compelled to cat-call long-haired strangers on the street… In the real world, we can deal with the other half of the planet’s population in a mature, reasonable manner.

    Is that beyond you?

  17. lowfields – you certainly are projecting. i am talking about CULTURES. cultures treat femininity differently. if women like natalia could only choose to grow up and accept that, they wouldn’t run into so many problems all the time. you come from a culture where a woman in jeans is mostly ok. congratulations and good for you. others do not. it is obvious that you do not have any basic respect for the muslim culture either. that culture is diverse but it also contains pillars and unassailable truths.

    natalia – i certainly do feel sorry for you. you’re very infantile and don’t want to listen to basic facts. you’re a good writer and a good-looking woman, so i am guessing that you have a pretty big head. now you’ve run up against something that you can’t fight or understand so you get obstinate. you’ve had it easy in life, and now you don’t understand why you must suffer. the low wage jordanian workers who cat-call you and follow you down the street are real victims. not you.

  18. Gee, Cranky, you really got me there. Quite obviously I don’t give a shit about poverty or anything else, because I dare to complain about a situation that many other women complain about daily, whether in Jordan or elsewhere. Gosh, if only those uppity women would shut up and let the men get on with their manly, important tasks – all the wrongs of this world would surely be righted.

    And you still haven’t answered my question: do women in traditionally Muslim dress deserve to be attacked and harassed on the street in the United States?

    Keep wanking in that shrubbery of yours.

  19. “It is obvious that you do not have any basic respect for the muslim culture either…”

    You’re a fool.

    Are you suggesting that sexual harrassers are UPHOLDING Muslim values by seeking to have sex (consensual or othewise) with a foreign women?

    Let’s be clear, the Muslim man you’re defending wasn’t trying to point out the immodesty of this woman’s garb… he was trying to commit adultery.

    I really hope you’re not saying that extra-marital sex, possibly rape, and disrespect to women are tenets of Islam that foreign visitors have to respect…!

    Your logic is as flawed as your humanity.

  20. I’m sorry if I am just going to say something obvious or maybe offtopic, but I was introduced to Natalia’s site via a small, private support group started by childhood friends and survivors of trauma. Natalia is one of the few internet writers who, using her own name and image, enters into discussion about trauma and survival. Her essay on a Catholic abstinence only group and its view on rape was read by all of us it was in the top of WordPress for a while. I can imagine that living with harassment in any country is even harder for someone like Ms. Antonova due to her status as a trauma survivor, and I’m shocked to read comments accusing her of having it “easy” and being unfeeling and callous.

    Cranky Liberal you should be ashamed.

  21. Hi Taylor, thanks for your comment and thanks for reading that post about the abstinence group and rape. I don’t really think my own personal history matters much in this specific context, if only because I don’t want anyone to think that I somehow deserve safety “more” than anyone else. I know you weren’t actually saying that, but I just didn’t want anyone to misinterpret anything on here. As I understand, Dipshit Liberal basically argues that women deserve whatever they get, for as long as they fail to anticipate the “expectations” of whatever man they come across. That’s the gist of it, I believe, anyway.

    P.S. Yes, it’s sucks. Just like it says in the title of this post. 😉 I don’t know if it sucks more or less than any other specific individual, but I feel beaten down and very tired at times.

  22. Am I the only here who thinks that C.L. might have a tiny point? Understand, he’s not talking strictly about Islam, he’s talking about how men from certain cultures have natural and understandable responses to women like Ms. Antonova.

    Natalia, you’re not above using your looks to promote yourself. I saw your author picture on the site you edit – GC. It’s cute. Your pictures on here – cute. I’m sure you’re decently cute in real life too (just look at all of these peoples rushing to defend your honor).

    There’s nothing wrong with it. Milk it for what it’s worth while you can. But it does have consequences and even more consequences when you are living in a Muslim country, that’s just some common sense for you.

    I say go back to America or Ukraine or whatever if you can’t handle it.

  23. You know what, Fucker… Sorry, Copper, it’s funny how discussions on this blog routinely cycle back to “but you have a cute picture on your avatar, SLUT” or something along the same lines, but perhaps with a bit more finesse.

    I have no clue as to how anything you have said after your first paragraph even relates to the discussion at hand, but I do know that I sort of want to punch you. Using my looks to promote myself, eh? Tell me, do you accuse men with reasonably cute pictures of themselves of the same deadly sin, or is it just the little ladies who must cover up their shame so you can condescend to treating them as pseudo-human beings?

    As for the “understandable” and “reasonable” action of following a woman down the street for three blocks after she’s made it abundantly clear that she wants nothing to do with you – funny how *most* Jordanian men don’t engage in this behaviour, isn’t it? I mean, if this were the national standard, I’d have entire hordes following me from shop to home, correct? But nooo, I obviously have to pretend like the actions of those that cross the line into pure and unabashed harassment are somehow perfectly OK regardless. Good to know.

    Idiot.

  24. Well honestly although i’m trying to hold myself not to comment but i couldn’t….i’ve lived in amman for 23 and just left 2 years ago, i’m originally from kerak a city that lies in south of jordan half of my family lives in irbid which is in the north i’ve worked in zarka, al agwar, east amman and other places so trust my opinion when i speak about jordan.
    and from the comments of Mr.Liberal or copper they make me feel as i’ve been living in kandahar or some village in afghanistan.” how men from certain cultures have natural and understandable responses to women like Ms. Antonova. ”
    natural reponse 5 Dinar baby is a natural response well if it is natural response to you i can understand that and honestly i don’t blame you because for me the case has ended here and it indicates from which level you come from and its ok don’t get angry from the people responses because they don’t know you’re situation.
    To Mr.Liberal
    “but you went over there with hair and face uncovered and expect to be treated like a princess: is that right?”
    Our Queen which has an unprecented popularity in jordan or all over the world is not wearing a hijab
    which means that either wearing a hijab or not has nothing to do with the respect to women .
    this is not iran nor saudi arabia which i thank god that we’re not.
    i’m not gonna argue about amman because anybody who has been there would understand what i mean.
    So if our society is not behaved and sexually frustrated and their balls control their life its not a women’s fault to walk in the street and expect not to be harrased….

  25. Damn.

    CL, honey, so you’re basically saying that a wage/culture/class/status differential make sexual harassment OK? Incorrect.

    But I’ve met boys like you. You’re the “progressive” boys who still like the idea of women as ho’s and sexbots for your amusement. You get all righteous if a worker somewhere doesn’t get his paycheck, if that worker has a dick between his legs.

    Orientalism my ass. If you feel like seeing an Orientalist, take a look in the goddamn mirror.

  26. Yes, Internets Crank #418375q344732, and Tinfoil too, clearly it’s deeply colonialist and -spoiled- for any woman anywhere to not enjoy sexual harassment, and clearly you know -all about- life Over There (as witnessed by the other posters in this thread who actually know what the fuck they’re talking about): what you are saying is in no way the same as every other shithead reactionary MRA-esque “she asked for it” with an added charming dollop of concern troll racism. And obviously the only reason she’s over there is because of her American princessy tourism, not because it’s where her goddam life is right now. I mean, it helps to be able to identify if one -has- a partner or career one would move to another country for, or at all, but, you know, I understand the blow-up dolls aren’t so demanding. Not that -you- are -entitled- or anything, you sad fucks…

    Yeah, Natalia, you do seem to get the same one or two dreary troll templates over and over again. What is it with these assclowns? Such fail, it is underwhelming.

  27. lowfields – i’m not talking about the actual teachings in the koran, but about how a culture (islamic, in this situation) produces a mindset. i know that the koran places value on modesty, but natalia is oozing expatriate entitlement which is very immodest. i want to be clear: i’m not assuming that she was wearing a miniskirt. it’s not about clothes, but also about an attitude. i refuse to blame the indigenous jordanian male for the “five dinars” incident. i blame natalia because she should know better because she is the one with the advantages and not him. i blame you for blindly siding with the woman. it is very obvious that you are the pervert in this situation and not me. you like women a bit too much, that’s your problem. you don’t see them as adults who should take responsibility for unfortunate incidents if the responsibility is theirs to take. natalia, with pale white skin blue eyes and blond hair, may want to understand that she presents a walking symbol of something that undeprivileged men are told they must have. she confuses and excites these people. of course you’re so obsessed with the white blond woman too that you are not able to see my point. take a cold shower.

    natalia – your question about muslim women harassed in the u.s. has no basis in this discussion. muslim women are an oppressed segment. you, being in jordan, are not an oppressed segment. are you unable to see the politics in all of this? i didn’t suggest that you pretend to be muslim but i suggested blending in more instead. it’s not that hard and neither are rentals very expensive in jordan.

    copper – thank you for being a small voice of reason.

    ammar – with all due respect to queen rania, she is a queen and not a woman walking down the street in the evening. but it was not my intention to insult anyone.

    kbt – very “clever” argument. i am impressed.

    lal – why shouldn’t class or power differences have something to do with harassment? is this what you believe: that someone poses a real threat to a woman like natalia who lives in jordan? nobody could touch her if they tried, because attacking foreigners is actually very rare. sticks and stones may break your bones, but not words like “five dinars.”

    belledame222 – you are the only one who is actually trolling, i think.

  28. and taylor – why should i feel ashamed about anything? i am assuming that natalia antonova is an adult who is capable of entering a serious discussion on her own politics, not to mention a privileged position in a society where she is a guest. i think it’s very sad that she has survived an attack (or several attacks?) elsewhere, but she also seems to have moved on and i am not going to treat her like a child. i think you are insulting her, not me. i am also prepared to argue that some people who survive attacks may eventually come to see threats everywhere. it is very possible that this is what is really going on, with the indigenous jordanian male being blamed.

  29. Cooper,

    So, women, simply by being women, are inherently sexual objects projecting their bodies for male consumption?

    Do you retards actually have mothers? Are they also whores and sluts whose mere presence in public is an assault on masculine self-control….?

    Which century are you living in?

    I would suggest that our society here in Amman would be considerably better served by you moving to Saudi than Ms Antonava returning to the Ukraine.

  30. CL,

    “You like women a bit too much, that’s your problem. you don’t see them as adults who should take responsibility for unfortunate incidents if the responsibility is theirs to take.”

    Priceless.

    And a bit frightening.

    And dead wrong.

    So, treating a woman like an adult means following her down an unlit street at night, and offering her money for sex?

    Whereas NOT treating them like an adult means refusing to judge them solely as objects for man’s carnal satisfaction?

    What the fuck is wrong with you?

    You talk about a woman’s responsibility, but what about a man’s responsibility to NOT SEE EVERY FEMALE AS A HOOKER???

    Let me be clear, dickhead, a fully-clothed woman walking back to her apartment from a trip to the supermarket has no responsibility to anyone or anything.

    Why do you despise women so much that you regard the mere act of being out after sunset an invitation to sex?

    Again, WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?

  31. Cranky, thanks for coming back, lovey, my morning was getting boring without you. You remind me of Nagla Al Imam. She said that Israeli women should suffer sexual harassment from Palestinian men. A fabulous way to ensure a peaceful future for the Middle East. I think you two are a match made in asshat paradise.

    So now I’m making all of it up, am I? Why not take it a step further? Maybe I’ve made up everything that happened to me in the past as well? Because I love putting down the wee wittle men so much, you see.

    In fact, all women are lying slutbags. Isn’t that what you really want to say? Tell me, does being an embittered misogynist twat come naturally to you, or do you have to work at it?

    I would very much like you to point out where it was that I’ve said that I am “oppressed” in Jordan. I’m not oppressed, but sexual harassment is exhausting and frightening – for any woman, regardless of hair or eye colour. Your suggestion that there is nothing threatening about sexual harassment is one of the dumbest, most ignorant things that anyone has ever said on this blog.

    How about you try it on: see if you enjoy having a man twice your size following you down a dark, uncrowded street. See how he obviously notes the house where you are living. Does he want to rob you, or worse? Live the adventure, sweetheart. Tell me how you fare.

    Everyone one of us has some sort of politics attached to their public image. Do you think you’re the exception? You know, Lal is right, self-important douchebags like you are depressingly common in certain circles. I guess you keep a copy of “Orientalism” around in order to conceal your hard-on. Go fuck yourself. ‘Cause hopefully no one else is willing to do it.

  32. Cranky,

    Your argument is an ingenious as it is wholly unsound.

    The whole premise of your argument is based on the fact that
    a)Muslim/Arab/Jordanian men in general cannot control lust
    b)Jordanians are all poor vs. All westerners are privileged
    c)Antonova was strutting about highlighting her “western” privilege
    d) “indigenous jordanian male” What are we some sub-species of macaque?

    All of the above are deeply offensive/orientalist to any Jordanian

  33. Cranky,

    Re-reading your comments

    “She confuses and excites them”. It seems you think we are sub human and some form of monkey

  34. lowfields – i don’t hate women. i think many women are infantilized and not encouraged to have any personal responsibility. i see this in many political situations and not just on the street. you have to admit that some women, not all of course, do ask for this attention. why would the men notice them if this is not the case? very obviously you have no idea how the dynamic of oppressed and oppressor actually works, otherwise you would not be cheering on natalia in her white, western arrogance. and i don’t know about your mother, but i can almost guarantee that my mother would not invite this particular type of harassment onto herself. it has to do with a way of carrying yourself and not thinking that you are the center of the universe.

    natalia – yes, i happen to be a progressive man who thinks that feminism today is a failure. most feminism today is self-centered and economically unsustainable. feminists encourage each other to go to hairdressers, like you do, instead of being on the front lines of the fight against real social injustice. you fail to have any sympathy for the indigenous jordanian male and it speaks for itself. keep going to hairdressers, see if they make you smarter. also, i didn’t suggest that you’re a liar, but i suggested your perception may be off-base and colored by your general experience.

  35. CL,

    “My mother would not invite this particular type of harassment onto herself. it has to do with a way of carrying yourself and not thinking that you are the center of the universe….”

    Wow, you even disrespect your mother’s humanity…

    In a nutshell, your message to women is: be embarassed of your gender, hide it away, be subservient to men, stay indoors…. YOU ARE UNCLEAN!

    Seriously, move to Saudi. As you’re obviously so disgusted by feminity, you might have the immeasurable joy of never having to encounter it.

  36. lowfields – i most certainly do not disrespect my mother’s humanity. the idea is absurd. what i am saying is that my mother respects her own humanity: by being something more than a woman who chatters about hairdressers and all of the men who have wronged her. neither does she buy into the capitalist lie, or the lie of her own privilege. you do not even want to engage my argument regarding oppressed/oppressor, is it because you cannot grasp it? clearly, there are things we celebrate about femininity, and yet there are other things that we should not. do you understand a woman’s true worth? i personally count myself very lucky to have never been involved with an entitled woman like the author of this blog, and expect i never will be. it’s not about staying in doors and being ashamed, it’s about caring about fitting into a society where you are a guest. a problematic guest as well, if you dare to consider the history of colonialism.

  37. You know, I find the fact that this schmuck has not responded to any of the actual Middle Easterners’ comments (except to one, very patronizingly, and not addressing any points) quite telling.

  38. Dipshit,

    You mean… you won’t date me?

    I… I don’t know if I can survive this dreadful blow.

    I’ll be locking myself in the bathroom with a bottle of Nemiroff, to contemplate the rusted razor in the corner.

    If I don’t make it, I will my laptop to my boyfriend (the one who could never quite satisfy me like you can, with all of your cliches and the big words clearly beyond your comprehension), and all the people that I’ve worked with can divvy up my DVD, book, and sparkly capitalist thong collections. I’ll make sure to have someone send you a dried rose from my lonely grave.

    I just don’t know if I can go on. I mean, my dream of dating a self-important internet troll typing from his mother’s basement has been forever shattered.

    I am gutted. Crushed like a bug. Demolished like a shitty 1950’s era bungalow in an economically depressed suburb. WOE IZ ME.

    *rending of garments, sprinkling of ashes, et cetera, et cetera*

  39. Why is it that so many leftie types seem to think they can speak on behalf of “indigenous Jordanians” in the name of protecting us from neo imperialism.

    I find your consistent reference to Jordanians as animals to be particularly offensive. I don’t see why you need to use words like “indigenous”, “excite and confuse” etc.

    Moreover, what the hell is “entitlement” or privilege by your definition. Is it based on race/ethnicity/citizenship. If someone is white does that automatically make them privileged

    By simply being Jordanian does that make me oppressed, earn a low wage and confused by the sight of a woman?

  40. CL,

    Poor, poor man… Your self-worth must less than zero if the prospect of a European woman – with, gasp, hair!!!! – walking from a shop to a house OPPRESSES you!!!

    You are beyond pathetic.

    What you’re actually oppressed by is the fact that 51% of the world’s population are no longer prepared to cower beneath the social mores of the 14th Century.

    Buddy, I’ll make this simple:

    Women are people. Got that? They’re humans.

    In decent societies – societies that have matured above the feudal and the doctrinal – they have no more and no fewer rights than men, and they should be afforded no more allowances, or any less respect than men.

    No one “deserves” to be the subject of anti-social, intimidating and possibly illegal behaviour because of the colour of their hair, their nationality, or the fit of their jeans.

    Understand?

    If you don’t, then I will be happy to mug you the next time you’re in Amman. I’ll steal all your money just because I saw the outline of your bulging wallet in your back pocket.

    You see, you were oppressing me with your wealth. You were flaunting your material status. You were carrying yourself in an arrogant, monied way.

    You were asking for it.

  41. culture (islamic, in this situation)

    There’s more than one Islamic culture, dipshit. It’s a religion, not a monolith.

    Sorry your offline trolls attracted online trolls, Natalia. I guess birds of a feather really DO seek each other out.

  42. lowfields – you twisted my words, congratulations. it’s not about female humanity, i never called it into question. this is about class privilege and cultural privilege and the history of colonialism. it is either that you don’t know anything about it, or that you are deliberately acting ignorant, or maybe you buy wholesale into the idea that femininity must be used as a tool of oppression which is both economic and cultural in nature. WHAT part of blond, blue-eyed woman as a prize for these men is it that you do not understand? have you not noticed that natalia has not actually been attacked in any shape or form? it’s all words.

    natalia – i am dead serious when i tell you that your self-worth is compromised. i’ve taken a look around your site, it’s full of celebrity pictures and other nonsense, just as i had thought. you are actually the perfect expatriate, too wrapped up in yourself to positively contribute to the culture you are living in. i guess you have many boyfriends from the amman’s privileged upper classes, the ones that can afford to take you to the nightspots where you conveniently ignore the poverty and social probelms of the country you are living off of.

    kbt – i am talking about a specific group of males. indigenous is a perfectly normal term, though i have to apologize if i had indirectly caused any offense.

    deoridhe – i am talking about a specific culture as it relates to the lower classes of society. are you also deliberately ignorant on this subject?

  43. The title of this post makes it sound like sexual harassment is something that is actually enjoyable, except in Amman! 😀

    Sexual harassment sucks everywhere.

  44. No, it’s meant to emphasize that it’s worse, by comparison, than most other places I have lived in.

    Cranky,

    You’re boring me now. If my self-worth is compromised in YOUR eyes, then I’m obviously doing something right, and I suppose, so is every other uppity bitch who doesn’t shut up and take harassment when it happens to her.

    Are you as dense as to suggest that no Jordanians themselves have blond hair and/or blue eyes…?

    You’re such a bad joke that it would be painful, if it wasn’t so hilarious.

  45. Is it just me or is there something paternalistic and racist about cranky’s attitude? Kinda like “can’t expect those brown savages to act human cos you look too western”. Maybe it’s just me.

  46. CL, it’s not just words if a man follows you.

    I’m no stranger to cat calls, and honestly, they usually make me laugh. But theres an instinctive difference for me between a man who is joking around and someone who makes me walk faster.
    And I don’t think it has to do with the man or woman’s privilege or setting at all. I was grabbed on the subway midday in Paris on a train in the 16th arr. (basically the snobby Upper East Side of the city). Forgive me for wearing a dress in Paris in July! I MUST have stuck out in that train as a “Westerner of privilege”.
    But hell, I’m also familiar with the “taxi driver proposal of marriage” in cities such as Amman. You would think that being stuck in a car with a stranger who says he wants to whisk you to the countryside to drink milk and play in fields (yes, I’ve gotten that offer, though clearly not in Jordan ha ha) would be scary or at least creepy, but for the most part, I’ve always felt at ease.
    Either way, trust me when I tell you that most women I know can instinctively tell the difference between harmless bullshitting and something thats a little too real.
    On another note….for all your high-minded talk about class wars and the oppressed, I suggest you check out Natalia’s recent post about Holodomor. It’s just one example of how angry radicalism in the form of intellectualizing “the people’s struggle” or the rights of the “indigenous” (btw, seriously????) can be incredibly destructive. It’s very sad that the far-left and the far-right have both been responsible for the ugliest movements of the 20th century.
    Last thing. I resent the idea that just because a girl gets highlights or watches trashy tv, she’s automatically an anti-intellectual, self-absorbed, airhead. Some people simply need an off-button at the end of the day, and really enjoy those simple pleasures.
    You may have time to suffer 24/7 over the injustices in the world but then 1) you’re clearly not busy enough and 2) you might as well drive yourself to heroin now. Stop being so damn cranky, live your life, and get out of Natalia’s.

  47. I love how the liberal response is to continue to perpetuate every degrading stereotype about people the right believes and just be an apologist for it, like that makes their assumptions any better. I am so ready for the war on terror to move the fuck on and these idiot crackers can start learning korean/russian/bengali/whatever’s cool next instead and pretending they know everything about their culture.

  48. omg, I can’t believe people like cranky liberal actually exist and hold these views. I’ve amazingly never come across a debate with this kind of view point being put forth before. I’m actually kind of enjoying the way the man is making a complete fool of himself here. And yes I do find your beliefs to be insulting and degrading btw to myself as a woman and also to my father, my brothers, and my uncles who happen to be amongst those confused and excitable brown savages you’re going on about (who of course must be impoverished, seeing as how they’re not white). The way you’re writing about Jordanian men seriously sounds like you’re writing about an animal species. You seriously need to go educate yourself.

  49. I’m a proud Jordanian, and I hope you understand why whenever I hear or read a negative mention of my country, I try to say something that might not fit well with expectations.

    Having grown up in Jordan, I’ll be the first to admit, some guys are plain idiots. But after having studied and worked in the US for almost 10 years, I’ll tell you it’s much worse there. I’ve seen college girls get stalked on the street at night in college. A girl even knocked on my door in freshman year after having fought off a rapist behind my building (thank God she managed to escape). That same semester, a girl in my comm group was also attacked inside her dorm, but managed to fight the guy off.

    I have seen far too many cases when a guy grabbed a girl’s ass in a bar. It happened to a couple of my friends.

    At my school, there were two riots in a span of just 3 or 4 years because of college sports, and girls would be harassed, molested and carried around by the drunken mobs because all it takes is one drunk girl who’s willing to flash her boobs to the cops to set off guys (mostly American).

    The “5 dinar, baby” comment? Yeah, the guy is an idiot and I guarantee you you will probably hear that again, and you have every right to be pissed. It pisses me off too because it’s not just sexual harassment; it’s also a stereotype. Whenever people in Jordan hear the word “Russian” or actually see a Russian girl, they automatically think prostitute. You’re probably already aware of this, and I know it must piss you off, because it pisses me off too and I’m not even Russian.

    But having said all of that, when you think about it. I don’t think this incident warrants the smearing of an entire city’s name, because I think that’s what this post might have unintentionally done.

    I don’t think we will ever read a top ten list in a magazine that ranks countries or cities in terms of which one has the worst types of sexual harassment. I don’t think such comparisons make sense. There are much worse forms of harassment than this in and out of Amman and Jordan, and you just happened to fall victim to this behavior here in Jordan because you’ve been spending a considerable amount of time here.

    If you are a pretty girl, which you probably are, then you’ll probably have similar experiences wherever you go, except for that prostitute comment maybe.

  50. Well, I was born in Ukraine, lived in the States for 12 years, lived in Dubai for about 6 months, and have been in Amman for about 6 months now as well.

    The problem with Amman is the frequency of it, rather than the intensity. It wears you down gradually, over time. I talked to Nas (of Black Iris) about this, and he mentioned how at least it’s not Cairo and yes, I agree, it’s not Cairo and hopefully will never be Cairo, but when I walk down the street and some guy starts following me, whispering “it’s not Cairo” to myself doesn’t immediately help me.

    I’m writing about a topic that makes my life difficult, for a number of reasons, not the least of them being a relative stranger. In Ukraine, I can easily laugh off a guy who grabs my ass (or get his ass kicked in return – much like in the States); in Amman, it involves getting turned into a zoo exhibit, where occasionally, people decide to poke you with sticks, and you can’t usually *do* anything about it, though sometimes I’ve found that plain shouting at people really helps.

    Men aren’t the only ones who do it. Try having entire groups of women acting shocked and disgusted that you entered a bar with a few friends after midnight. It happens once, you decide you imagined it. It happens twice, you shrug it off. Then, after a few months, you need to *talk* about it, because you start going insane with frustration.

    It has to do with both being an expat and being routinely taken for a certain “kind” of expat; being targeted based on your ethnicity doesn’t make me angry, it makes me feel helpless. I don’t have the energy to be upset. If it was just anger I was feeling, I might be better off.

    Many of the ethnic Slavic women I have met here report similar experiences – so what, we don’t get to talk about it? Or else talk, but not in public? Because it might smear a city’s name? Or because it’s worse someplace else?

    You know, if you ever come to my hometown of Kiev, Ukraine, there’s a good chance that you’ll experience racism and/or xenophobia. It wouldn’t be a reflection of the entire city’s population, but that wouldn’t make it any easier on you, I guarantee it.

    And if you ever wanted to talk about it, I wouldn’t jump all over you for “smearing” anyone or anything.

    Because your lived experience counts as much as everyone else’s.

    I wouldn’t tell you, “well, it’s much worse in Voronezh, so this might count as a smear.”

  51. How could ur guys type all these lines i wonder the way a man can type while it’s all about a femlae

    nice

  52. “If a woman is of eastern european extraction there are basically three (obviously limited in mentality and perceptional) assumptions which are made off the hop:

    1: She is here to find herself a husband.
    2: She is good in bed and a whore.”

    Are you saying that native Canadians are against marriage and are no sexually active lol? I find it hard to believe.

  53. Привет,

    Great discussion. I have one comment. If you visit Jordanian homes, you will change your mind totally. Your bad experince dear Natalia is mainly happening on the streets, so it is street talk!

    You lived in the states and you know that despite the “freedom” they claim they have, they have the highest rape rate in the world.

    So, street talk is street talk, you are a big girl, you can handle it 🙂

    Try to mingle with real people, visit them at home, try the intellectual side of Amman.

    Welcome to Jordan.

  54. Ahlan, Ra’ed.

    I think you’re 100% correct in this being a street phenomenon.

    However, I cannot always handle it. Like I said in another essay, someone saying “wooow” or whatever I don’t mind. When someone follows me around or offers me money for sex or tries to grab me from a moving vehicle, or, like on one memorable occasion – nearly runs me over while trying to follow me – that’s when I get extremely angry and afraid.

    Spending time at people’s homes is a huge contrast, of course. Jordanian hospitality is famous for a reason.

  55. fuck u rami , who the fuck do u think u r ,,, fucked up asshole , and btw if u dont like jordan dont come to jordan , asshole …….

  56. yes i agree that there are some assholes in jordan but not everyone i mean come on i went to the uk and i saw the same thing in my eyes , so assholes are all over the world , and u can if any person from a moving car does anything just take the number and call the police and they will bring him to u in the same day and when they do , make them arrest him for a day or two then everyone will take a lesson from him , and if anyone make a move just say the word police then he will run away from you

  57. life in amman sucks, people r stupid and all they can think about is food & drink, i isolated my self with not talking to anybody, people in amman made me hate everything,,,

  58. I think life in Amman is really great for some people, and not so great for others. And for most folks, it’s just average. I was definitely in the “not so great” camp myself, sadly. Even though I miss Jordan on the whole. I just know that I can’t live there.

  59. well natalie privete first and i am one of the lebanese people who lived in amman with my wife (she is ukrainian) and not different than your situation i was walking with my wife and like all jordanian people just ignorent and when they see a blond girl walking on the street they start to act like dogs. one guy followed us on the road and he was tring to make some joke to me and my wife and he wasnt concentrating on the street so unfortunatly he made an accident which lead to his death. this is the way jordanian guys are in amman they are so stupid in a way they think themselves clever and the can get girls easy especially russian and ukrainian they can buy them by a bottle of beer or something. wake up ignorent guys try to go ahead of your ethics.

  60. you decided that i was a discard…you’re one of them arn’t you…you guys are not going to win. in france they shaved your heads when you lost.

  61. To cranky liberal!
    I’m Jordanian and you are a dumbass!!! First of all Jordan is not Saudi Arabia! Second you obviously don’t live in Jordan to know that! A lot of LOCAL Jordanian girls do not cover up at all, they go clubbing, they drink they have sex…etc! If you were taught by your muslim parents not to respect women who don’t cover up then I really pity you and your whole family for the way you think! And talk about double standards.. Why do Muslims in western countries demand respect when obviously they don’t follow traditions there? They should ban hijab in western countries and building mosques and all that and people like you should respect their laws and traditions! Yet for example muslims in the UK demand to have sharia laws? Hypocrite much? You are an uneducated ignorant bitch!

  62. To Hani

    I do apologize on behalf of the decent people in Jordan, but please don’t generalize. There are good and bad people everywhere you go. But unfortunetly , bad people are more visible than good people specially in middle eastern countries which is sad and pathetic!

  63. I know it has been a couple of years since the first comments were made here but I feel I must contribute to this conversation. For starters, I am a female, western, expat currently living in Aqaba (southern Jordan). First, let me just say, I have always dressed VERY modestly when I venture around town here…I have lived in various Muslim countries and I have tried to adapt to a below-the-radar kind of style (not for everyone I know but it has worked for me – until recently…see below). I am blonde, slim, and I know I stand-out like a sore thumb here. However, I wear my hair up so it is less visable. I don’t wear make-up out unless I am with my husband. I wear baggy, shapeless, dark clothes (that are quite unflattering but I am not trying to impress – and, I just had a baby as well) and I wear sunglasses. I don’t make eye-contact with strange men/boys. I don’t start conversations either.
    However, this has all been in vain…
    The other day, as I walking to the store (2 minutes away from my house) with my 10 month-old daughter in tow, I was harassed by 3 teenaged boys. They shouted insults at me, grabbed my ass, spit at me, and threw a rock at me. SO, IN SUM, IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOU WEAR, HOW YOU ACT, SINGLE OR NOT, WESTERN OR EASTERN – IT HAPPENS if you are a woman. Walking alone. You will get harassed here, period.
    P.S. I have taken up skinny jeans, shapely t-shirts, and make-up again. Screw it.

  64. Oh, forgot to mention (as if my experience wasn’t bad enough)…I was kicked in the back as well.
    Also, let me make a pre-emptive explaination regarding my statement… I am not generalizing this behavior to all Jordanian men or all Muslim men for that matter. I have had some scary harassment experiences in the USA/Europe as well for that matter. Furthermore, the a-holes that do this are a minority. I am simply trying to say that, from my perspective, there is nothing that a woman can do to prevent the small percentage of these kinds of men from acting this way.

  65. Wow, sorry I haven’t replied sooner. Just saw the reply…
    Yes, I did contact them. I even had a photo of the main perp. (taken with a phone). But, they never once contacted me back! So frustrating.

  66. If you don’t see hookers as “hookers” then you won’t see women as hookers. The trick therefore is to see hookers as women. Many of them are actually pretty nice people when you bother to speak to them and get to know them as humans.

    I’ve lived in many middle eastern countries and as far as I can tell this is a religiously seeded cultural norm. Most people don’t think about their behaviour they do what is the acceptable norm. We all drive a little over the speed limit; for example. We all cheat (a little) on our taxes.

    Middle eastern men have formed this behaviour over years and they can get away with it in their culture especially with foreign women. It is annoying for visitors but it’s going to take a lot of time to change I feel. Obviously they don’t feel like pervs or deviants when they hassle a woman.

    It’s all about upbringing and values instilled into you as a young child and how you see your peers treating people. What is acceptable, unacceptable and what will make you an outcast.

  67. I know how u feel , their are many ppl in Jordan are ignorant and don’t understand your reason why u are traveling all the way here to work if u need any help send me mail .. I lived outside and I am open minded how treat all kinds of human beings 😉

  68. Hey Natalia, I just realised we lived in Amman at the same time! I was there 2008-2009, in Jebel Hussein. I also found the harassment pretty grim, although of a very different flavour to Cairo (in Amman in felt more like snoopy gossip and *that* predatory male-gaze look, rather than Cairo’s nothing-you-do-shocks-us,we’ve-seen-everything…but-also-full-on-harassment stuff). That’s so strange we lived there at the same time. Hope we’re one day in the same city & I can say hi in person!

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