Naseem recently published a great post about the AIDS awareness campaign in Jordan – and the debate has been interesting.
One issue that has come up several times is the idea that the promotion of abstinence is an integral part of Jordanian society. I believe that it is an integral part of Jordanian society on the surface. I think the reality is different.
I am writing an article on similar issues at present, but without giving too many details away, I want to say:
Guys, come on. I’m a blond, foreign woman in Jordan. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been propositioned. I’m not talking about street harassment, something that I focus on regularly on this blog – I am talking about specific situations wherein men, both single and married, have pursued me as part of common, daily interaction.
Abstinence is the farthest thing from their minds. Because I am a foreigner, and therefore assumed to be “easy,” I run into this on a regular basis.
When you dig deeper, you realize that it’s all around you. A friend of mine recently went through it with her (now former) landlord, a man old enough to be her grandfather. Another friend went through it with her (now former) boss.
Foreigners talk about it more, since we don’t have the pressure of upholding the family’s image – but have a few honest conversations with Jordanian women, on an anonymous basis, and the same exact issues pop up.
Just because it isn’t talked about, doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
You might say, “surely, these men aren’t really getting laid. They’re just trying.” It’s true that the male capacity to exaggerate their so-called conquests is limitless. But the men I interact with are not blushing virgins – they’re old hands at this sort of thing. They act friendly and approachable and normal and then bam – they go in for the kill. If they’re not paying for the sex, they are coercing/raping/seducing or, in the best case scenario, they have clandestine relationships with women who *gasp* desire them back.
We can talk about whether or not blunt, clinical language in regards to AIDS awareness is helpful (I say yes, but that’s just me), we can talk about different approaches, be they religious or secular, but if saving lives is a priority, let’s admit that condoms are going to do a whole lot more than merely insisting people stay “pure” until marriage.
The entire social framework of Jordan insists just that – and it isn’t working.
P.S. Of course, you can lay the blame solely at the feet of the women. You can say – “Natalia, people like you tempt these good men with your very existence, so they veer off the straight path and wind up in the ditch of debauchery. If it wasn’t for evil women, walking around, all desirable n’ stuff, the men would flutter through their lives like angels with not a single feather in their wings out of place.” And I will laugh and pinch your widdle cheeks.