“Yeek-yeek, woop woop, Why you all in my ear? Talking a whole bunch of shit that I ain’t tryin to hear.” – Ludacris.
Logging in this afternoon, I found a particularly heartbreaking comment – more akin to a rant, actually – in the moderation queue to this post, which deals with some of my more recent experiences with sexual harassment in Amman, Jordan.
I won’t reproduce it here; I have my limits.
To summarize – what it said is that by moving to an Arab country, I have betrayed all women everywhere, that I deserve everything that happens to me, that I am disgusting for dating a “filthy” Arab, that women like me should be paraded through the streets as an “example.” The author concluded by expressing her wish that I get “dragged out of [my] house by [my] hair” and then “get raped.”
I went to the gym today, and spent some time on the treadmill wondering if I should even respond. What’s the point? You’re just feeding the beast, right?
Actually, I went to a sexual harassment focus group last night, and one of the things we talked about is how ignoring harassment doesn’t really make it go away. Considering that these sort of words have been flung at me before, I believe that by doing nothing, I am only giving the batshit accusers their validation.In addressing racism against my boyfriend, I shouldn’t center my own precious feelings. Having said that, I have to point out that women of my background inevitably attract comments that imply or flat-out state that we are “sullying” ourselves. We have no right to choose a partner either. Or we do, but only if we make the “right” choice (which, once again, means that we never had a choice to begin with).
In the proud tradition of racism, the comments assume that “Arab” amounts to some sort of monolithic identity that women like me are attracted to – because we’re self-loathing, because we are traitors, etc. I certainly could not have fallen in love, with, say, the common ties that bind “normal” couples together: shared tastes, shared views, kindness, a shared love affair with Star Trek and barbecue, et cetera. Arabs don’t watch Star Trek. And they can’t be kind.
It’s funny, because in this kind of atmosphere, I can’t even complain about my boyfriend not picking up his socks, without being constructed as a willing victim of the monstrous Arab. It’s exhausting. While he and I bicker quite a bit (then I bugger off to Ukraine for a few days, and then I come back and complain, and then we screech a little at each other, and then we watch some Star Trek), I still have more in common with him than with any man I know. I don’t know what the future holds – we met while we were very young, statistics aren’t on our side – but whatever happens, love is love. You shouldn’t have to justify it to the Race and Ethnicity Polizei, not ever.
Moving on, I naturally “deserve” harassment because I chose Jordan. Women who were born here, well, they get a pass. Sort of. Most women in Jordan are subject to some form of harassment or another – subject to ever-shifting hierarchies that define who gets to pass through a public space unmolested and who does not. And hell, some men make a point of harassing local women a whole lot more – since they think they have a particular right to police them.
How do you figure out who “deserves” what here?
Naturally, I shouldn’t even try to humour said troll’s so-called point. I just find it amusing in its stupidity, especially since the troll purports to address the issue of my “deviancy” from a feminist perspective.
But it’s the “I hope you get raped” thing that really got my attention, because the way it was framed made me think that the troll was coming from a place of real pain. I think you have to be in pain, one way or another, if you wish something like that on anyone. It made me wonder if the troll is a survivor of sexual assault – and whether or not the perpetrator was Arab.
A female relative of mine was attacked by an Arab man. A string of associations was formed. It was inevitable.
Inevitable, but not ever-lasting.
So far, the violence and assaults perpetrated against me have been the exclusive domain of several Ukrainian men. I associate some of the worst moments of my life (so far – it can always get worse, yay!) with Ukraine. I’ve only ever really dated one Ukrainian man, and that I was terrified, terrified, of kissing him. He was a nice guy and we still keep in touch, but there was a barrier there, and I couldn’t bring myself to cross even when I had really wanted to.
Do I get angry at women who choose life in Ukraine, or Russia, and are able to lead enjoyable lives? No. I’m somewhat jealous of them, truth be told. There is a part of me that will always be bereft – that will long for impromptu renditions of “Cherniy Voron” at two in the morning, that will miss skinny-dipping in the Dnipro and eating vareniki at Puzata Hata. It’s not that I have any illusions about a life made out of beer and sunshine, somewhere over the rainbow, in Mother Ukraine – it’s just that I know that you not only gain things by moving away and staying away, you also lose things, and that’s just life.
So I guess I am especially bewildered when my life in the Middle East is dragged out as some sort of example of pure Satanic barbarism. My initial instinct is to ask – “But don’t you want me to be happy? I mean, I’ve been unhappy for so long, I’m really trying here. You seem to know what it’s like to be unhappy, don’t you have like, any sympathy at all? Or should everyone feel like shit because you feel like shit, eh?”
This point is as old as the world – but apparently it needs to be repeated, over and over again: evil begets evil. I can’t really imagine the sort of problems that my troll is having – but I can only hope she gets some serious farking help.