In a society where married men feel free to hit on young girls…

Women get stabbed to death for much less.

The post-mortem virginity tests on the bodies of honour crime victims are just another kind of violation, methinks. It shouldn’t matter if a woman was having an affair or not. Her precious life was deemed worthless, and that’s the only thing that matters.

Jordanian society is lopsided to the point of deformity. Men have freedoms that women simply do not, and they act upon them with impunity. Even when they are at a disadvantage economically. I mean, how many Jordanian guys who sleep with sex-tourists in order to get by fear getting stabbed to death by their family members? No matter the guilt and shame that some of these guys obviously feel, their lives still hold fundamental value.

Women, on the other hand, are treated as walking support systems for hymens. After being violently purged from this world, their memories are further sullied by the “did she or didn’t she?” inquiries.

So what if she did? What if she even enjoyed it? She at least partly deserved it, right? Women should expect to be violently punished for acting upon their desires. They are not allowed to learn from experience.

It’s not a mentality confined to Jordan. Up until recently, it was the sexually active girl who was stabbed to death in horror films, while the virgin outwitted the serial killer (a stretched or broken hymen automatically renders one into a complete idiot who runs upstairs instead of out the front door, it’s practically a scientific fact, right?). Even rape victims are routinely expected to take “the honourable way out” and die.

In Jordan, there’s nothing abstract about these ideas. The violence is right there, in your local paper.

It was a huge wake-up call to me when I realized that the guys who sexually proposition me have nothing to fear. The conservatism of Jordanian society only extends in one direction. It doesn’t serve as any kind of deterrent, in this case. At most, they have something to fear from my male relatives (of course, being blond and foreign, you are assumed to be “of no tribe” and hence fair game).

For men, family serves a different function altogether. Family is their place of support. In most cases, their choices will be upheld or at least forgiven. Women often have to deal with an entirely different set-up.

Last year, I was in Amman, talking to a friend about how weird it was for him to have to run into the uncle of his ex-girlfriend.

(A vast amount of dirty language follows. Don’t read if you think you might be offended.)

“I just want to tell him sometimes – I fucked your niece. I fucked your niece!”

I told him I had similarly weird feelings about running into the father of an ex-boyfriend of mine back in the States.

“It’s not the same, it’s not the same at all,” he said. “You didn’t fuck him. He fucked you! You’re the… girl.”

I made some harsh comments about how I’m not some passive receptacle. He just gave me a weird look. “You’re the girl!” He kept insisting. “You don’t fuck. You get fucked. And when you’re getting fucked, your entire family is getting fucked too… and it’s weird. Like, I fucked her, it’s like a fucked him too. I fucked him! Haha! She was a slut too, she liked it.”

I told him I felt sorry for him. If he saw sex as some sort of brutal conquest, he probably had issues. Judging a woman for responding to you sexually is a sure sign that the child ain’t right, as we say in the south. There’s a deep psychological complex there.

“I can’t help feeling it, I’m a man!” He kept insisting. “I’m a man!”

“You’re a boy,” I said.

We left it at that.

I’m not bringing this conversation up because I think it paints an all-encompassing portrait of Jordanian society (let’s start with the fact that a big percentage of Jordanian men would never feel comfortable discussing what we had just discussed, and with a woman no less). But the hatred, the glee, and the disgust with which he spoke of – I see the same hatred, and glee, and disgust in the eyes of men who harass women in Jordan. The same hatred, and glee, and disgust is injected into the conversation on sex. I see it in Nas’s famous “Sex in Amman” thread. I hear it when men begin discussing me in Arabic without realizing that – holy crap – I can understand some of what they’re saying.

Of course, this immaturity is just part of the puzzle. But it’s a big part, methinks. How many men do, in fact, feel like they themselves have been violated when a female relative somehow ends up with a reputation that doesn’t exactly paint her as a blushing virgin? Where are the tools to help them deal with those feelings without erupting into grisly violence – especially when they’re part of a community that practically urges them on? Surely there are some, as not all men turn into frothing-at-the-mouth violent perps.

But in order for this debate to become legitimate, it must no longer hinge on the woman’s hymen. Seriously, there are far more important parts to a person than their sexual organs – such as their brains, such as their souls.

And, once again, please don’t tell me that all problems will end the minute that all members of Jordanian society are transformed into angels and all sexual indiscretions, real or imagined, miraculously cease. We’re all corporeal beings, and live in the real world, last time I checked.

29 thoughts on “In a society where married men feel free to hit on young girls…

  1. Umm, once again I am seeing total ignorance.

    Some facts:

    These girls are unfortunate, but if you know what’s going to happen, why do you act like a fool? Most Arab women have too much wisdom and class to end up like this anyway. I pray for the lost souls, but they know what country they’re living in. Yes sometimes the brothers act in anger without checking the facts, but you shouldn’t give your brother a reason to be angry. Of course not all men are like this, but these men were raised a certain way. It’s not their fault. It’s the society;s.

    And I don’t appreciate the crude and crass way you talk about the woman’s body. Not all of us see no value in our bodies. I’m proud to be a virgin and feel sorry for people like you who give it away. Nobody wants to marry a non-virgin, unless they are seriously desperate. It’s a fact sypported by science. Among Arabs we place esteem on the woman’s body and value it. I think you’re just jealous because you were never valued this way and you never will be, so you use nasty words to describe something that’s special.

  2. Dina, you’re still a moron. Please don’t speak for all Arabs. You never lived in the Middle East so your lectures on “ignorance” are crazy. Grow up.

    I had no idea that hymen was a “crass” word. As for the rest of the language, you were warned not to read. So why are your reading? Why are you here?

    Your mentality is “I’m a good girl and nothing bad ever happens to good girls.” You’re in for a severe awakening. Violence against women is not limited to honor killing and abusers exist on all levels of society.

    The lack of compassion displayed by you is not new. It’s exactly what allows the crimes describe to keep happening.

  3. Omar, great response.

    Dina, the death of these girls is UNFORTUNATE?

    Don’t give the brothers REASON TO BE ANGRY?

    You are right that it is society’s fault, it is as much the fault of mothers who think like you do and raise their sons the same way.

    Thank God that there is a generation of classy and wise Arab women who call it murder, rather than ‘misfortune’. Who raise boys to know their honor is not dependent on a sister and to manage their anger.

    Dina, your comments about Natalia reveal your character. Shame on you.

    Natalia, I know you know you are a valuable woman on so many levels. Don’t listen to her.

  4. I am afraid this outlook on sex is quite common in Muslim countries.

    I wrote about homosexuality in my blog, or rather, the particular way some azeri males look at using a gay man, or using sex with another man as a humiliation tool. A bit like in prison, I guess. I always found that bizarre. How can anyone claim he is straight and engage in a gay act? well, some men clearly can.

    As for virginity, again (sorry, I totally am not trying to sell my blog here, just funny how I can relate to this discussion) But I wrote about the way some traditional azeri girls paid money to restore hymen before wedding. and I always found fascinating that modern men can be that naive: to assume that

    virginity= innocence.

    I knew some so called “virgins” back home whose sexual experience would make any porn star blush. And virginity restoration operations are now being offered in the UK- because of the growing influence of other cultures, where women are still worried about remaining “pure”.

    Very sad. Very hypocritical. Very backward. But hey, everyone is entitled to their own values and principles. I definitely can say that girls back home are nowhere near as corrupt as some 15 year olds here. Sadly, I worry about my little daughter’s future in the UK. This country is NO1 in Europe for teenage pregnancy.

  5. Sorry I can’t stop…Dina! You are hysterical. “Nobody wants to marry a non-virgin, unless they are seriously desperate…”

    I LOVE it. Absolutely LOVE it. Thank you! This is like a glimpse into a mental patient’s mind. Priceless.

  6. Dina. Honey. You got issues.

    People who have a lot to prove generally do.

    Don’t have anything witty to say about honor-killings, except that anyone who calls that shit “unfortunate” is an idiot, a sociopath, or both.

  7. “Nobody wants to marry a non-virgin, unless they are seriously desperate” says Dina.

    Many men actually prefer to marry women who are non-virgins for a number of reasons, least of which is desperation.

    Recently in Canada, 4 female members of an Aghani family died in “honor-killings”. All 4 were “guilty” and in need to their honour “being protected”?

    How is it better to have women killed to protect their honour (especially if it is already violated)? Isn’t this simply making the woman a victim a second time?

  8. @ samnangp: The problem is a woman is a disposable “thing” men own. Nothing to respect. nothing to value. Except for the family name she might embarrass by having healthy needs.

  9. @ azeri: woman as disposable thing men own.

    This is a starting point for change. Women are not possessions like a car or a home or livestock.

    In the past, various cultures have seen women and men under these views. Consider that throughout the South Pacific men and women were seen as food for others to consume. And how many men and women were brought to the Caribbean and America as slaves, bought and sold like cattle?

    These attitudes have now changed for the most part. I cannot think of a single culture where cannabalism is accepted anymore. And outright slavery is illegal in almost every country (though I know it is still practiced in some places).

    I dream of a day when men and women will see each other as equal in importance and equal in value to one another.

  10. I dare say things are changing, you can see it everywhere. I feel hopeful when I see women taking important political roles in cultures I personally would never expect that to happen!
    (Benazir Bhutto) and men like Omar K. here who told Dina off. That makes me think this world has no choice but to progress forward.

  11. i usually skim through responses but one sentence today triggered a bit of anger and rage in me: Dina’s infamous line “Yes sometimes the brothers act in anger without checking the facts, but you shouldn’t give your brother a reason to be angry”, wow… um.. i really do hope you don’t speak out loud all the time… that is the most backward thing i’ve ever heard…

    I was in Amman a week ago on a visit… a few days into my visit i saw a scene which really shook me… i was going to write in the JT about it, just to share my experience and open people’s eyes.. but JT tends to have me on their blocked list.
    now on to the story…
    I was driving around with a friend running some errands when i see 2 cars speeding in sweifeyeh, one car had a male and the other a female. The male was trying to block the female’s car, almost trying to trap her so he can get her to stop… he failed a couple of times.. upon seeing this.. i followed the cars and dialed 191… i knew something was off about this story.. the woman looked genuinely terrified.
    The speeding rampage ended at a traffic light where the woman could no longer go anywhere.. she was trapped at the traffic light. the male parked next to her and i parked behind her…
    the male got out of the car and hit the passenger glass once, twice and broke it into pieces.. upon seeing this i got out of the car and screamed… asking people parked at the traffic light to help this woman out… the man pulled the woman from her hair and was attempting to pull something out of his pocket…. i immediately charged towards the man (not thinking of what he could do) he looked at me with the most cruel eyes and said she’s my sister and if anyone gets near i will *#$#$*#$*…. the 15 – 20 people that were charging towards him with batons, sticks and whatever they found in their truck paused…. as he if said the magic words… “shes my sister”.. as if that permits him to do what he’s doing.. as if that gives him all rights and a carte blanche…. it was terrifying, scary, not ONE MAN, not ONE NASHMI helped… they all stood there and watched as they filmed with their camera phones… my screaming stopped, i couldn’t scream anymore…
    the woman slipped out of his hands… crossed the street and got into a taxi…

    and everyone got back into their car and carried on doing what they were doing….
    just as we stopped at the next traffic light a gentleman stopped next to me and opens his window and says…”its his sister… same face”

    to that i couldn’t respond…

    So dina… this story is for you… if that was YOUR brother, and he jumped the gun when you havent done something wrong and did that to you… what would you do?

  12. LUMA!!! It’s so good to hear from you again.

    This is a horrific story, and also, not surprising at all. I can just see it happening in Amman. This kind of behaviour is a terrifying perversion of everything that family should stand for, but in many cases, it’s practically taboo to question it. Any involvement is seen as unnecessary meddling.

  13. Luma – Stomach-churning story. I hope that woman is ok.

    Dina – How utterly sad. Who said anything about women ‘giving their bodies away’? No one’s knocking your choice to abstain from sex & remain a virgin – it’s your body after all. Just as my body is my own, & my hymen was too.

    Esteem? Value? Placed on the woman’s body? To be valued for your hymen, for your subservience & obedience, & for abandoning autonomy over your own life & body is no honour at all. And to be murdered for not being a ‘good’ girl is a horror and a tragedy.

    Murder is murder. It’s about time we honoured women – truly honoured them – by recognizing that & by punishing the murderers.

    Natalia – great blog!

  14. Luma, what a nightmare. You are an amazing woman to intervene. Maybe Natalia and I should blog about your story, her story. God forbid she becomes another statistic this week.

  15. Ummmm, I never said honor killings are fine but thank you for totally misrepresenting my statements.

    Luma, I don’t give my brother REASONS to be upset, but even if I did, he was raised very differently than these guys and if we have a conflict we settle by talking. And you just described an anecdote that seems very hard to believe anyway. I don’t know what sort of guy would be as stupid as that, cornering his sister in a public place. A mobile phone video could be used as evidence later. So, sorry if I don’t believe you, but I have to be skeptical!

    Natalia talks openly about her boyfriend and it’s very obvious she’s not a virgin, and all that I am arguing is that maybe she should leave discussions of virginity to people who actually care about it. Sorry, but it’s hard to find respect for a Russian girl who comes to the Middle East and enjoys the male attention and then turns around and criticizes society.

    Arab women don’t prostitute themselves like the Russians, but judging by this blog and the comments, maybe if we did, we would all get respect! Hahaha. The ignorance on here continues to grow. This doesn’t mean that honor killing is OK but it means that Arab women know better than to end up compromised.

  16. Sorry, but it’s hard to find respect for a Russian girl who comes to the Middle East and enjoys the male attention…


    *wipes tear from eye*


  17. Dina says: “Arab women don’t prostitute themselves like the Russians”

    Just because a woman is not a virgin does not automatically mean she is a prostitute. Most “western” cultures have a healthy respect toward sex, especially where the women are concerned. Women have the power to say yes or no to men as they choose. Women can freely display their modesty as they see fit in dress. This does not mean prostitution, it means empowerment.

    Russian women are all-too-often high on the list of those forced into international prostitution because they are highly “prized” by males in countries where sex is based mainly on ownership and power. Notice that I said most are FORCED into it, meaning tricked into it or kidnapped; it is not a willing choice they make.

    I have not yet met a Russian woman that is not strong, self-determined, well-educated, and full of life. Each one I have met is certain of who she is, and makes her own choices in life. Perhaps this is the REAL secret behind why so many men find Russian women second to none.

  18. Dina said: “Arab women don’t prostitute themselves like the Russians, but judging by this blog and the comments, maybe if we did, we would all get respect! Hahaha. The ignorance on here continues to grow. This doesn’t mean that honor killing is OK but it means that Arab women know better than to end up compromised.”

    You now what’s even worse than patriarchal males turning on women? Its women turning on other women. Why resort to calling other women whores? What gives you that right?

    I’m an Arab woman & my views on this topic are diametrically opposed to yours. That doesn’t make me a ‘prostitute’ & if a man thinks ‘I’ve compromised myself’ for whatever ridiculous reason, that’s his problem.

    You keep saying that ‘honour’ killings aren’t right & yet, in the same breath, you make excuses for those who commit them. You don’t seem to have moral clarity on this issue.

  19. Dina, I find your outlook on life depressing, but I can’t change it. I just can’t see why you come here to harass Natalia. If you have so much contempt for her, just go away.

    I have nothing of worth to say, beyond this is a great post. And that’s terrifying Luma, good on you for stepping in at all. :\

  20. Dad poisoned the minds of his children with his irresponsible television viewing choices.
    Among other things.
    Dad is liked, so expect the intent was not there. However, I suspect the same cannot be said for his wife.
    Case in point:::Neighbor’s driveway sidewalk chalk art consisted of a girl’s name, a smiley face, other innocent, child-like offerings.
    In our driveway our kids drew body outlines, like those one would find at a murder scene.
    And all his son spoke of was guns, hunting and killing.
    The father’s irresponsibility was manifested in how the son spoke when he was younger. Just ask his former teachers.

  21. Ha I love how this works women can’t do anything because they have to respect themselves , but men can do whatever they want and people will still respect them! Honor killings suck! People who still believe it’s ok to kill a woman CAN SUCK MY BALLS!!! Arabs and their backward thinking continues. Im Jordanian but I know better than to be brainwashed by fucking RELIGIOUS AND TRADITIONAL CRAP!!! Fuck religion and your stupid traditions that’s why we still live in fuckin 3rd world countries because people are still clinging to the cave mentality!

  22. And for the girl who said Arab women don’t prostitute themselves like russians???? WHAT THE FUCK!? Guess what THEY DO!!! That doesn’t mean all Russian women are prostitutes!! Ignorance… That shows how much you really know!!Wanna see ARAB prostitutes?? I’ll give you names of places you can go check it out fuckin stupid shit

  23. And it’s a great post btw , people here don’t like to hear the truth , they like to think everything is underground all ARAB and MUSLIM women are angels. They don’t understand that human beings are sexual beings. Doesn’t matter if you’re a guy or a girl

  24. To Dina, they will never understand what you say, you need to understand Islam and how it treats both men and women equally, and how holly women are in our society to fully understand ur idea and views.
    P.S: No one supports honour-killing except those who have mental problems.
    To all the rest reading this: we got our own social codes in Jordan and you got ur own, urs don’t work here and so don’t our’s where ever you are, so either you accept them or -mind my language- get the f… away from our world

  25. Oh, before judging the Jordanian society try visiting Jordan and staying for more than a week and talking to more than one person

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