philosophy politics

Arab Pigeonhole Communities: Havens for Young Women, Feminist Men and LGBTQ

She either becomes an example or a warning depending on the perceived lines she crosses.

I can tell this will be a long but necessary post. I rarely put on this “Arab” young woman hat; but I choose to wear it for now, and see where it takes me and you dear reader.

I raise the volume of my instrumental music so I cannot hear myself think; when was that ever such a problem? When was it ever a problem for a woman to think too much? {Haha Yeah I know… the drama! the irony of our destinies} We were always considered too fragile or too strong, too eloquent or too silly… the list of antonyms and descriptions can continue on…

But here’s a Beyonce Gif to get you through this word mountain.

Believe it or not, growing up I never viewed myself as a girl in contrast to boys; I viewed myself as a person thanks to my wonderful well aware parents. Except, you cannot but face the labeling and the judgement, you cannot understand the differences set forth by a regressive “Arab” society until you are fully immersed in it. This is not to say that all the micro communities are the same; people vary in opinions and practices like night and day, but one must take a look at the majority. People tend to prefer you in a certain way; thinking certain thoughts, behaving in a particular way and wanting familiar things. So where does that leave a modern young woman in pursuit of so much more than what her gender grants her in “awards” vs obligations?

I find that the journey is particularly interesting for young Arab women simply because of the tidal waves of expectations, traditions and norms laid upon their fates. A modern woman hence finds herself not just trying to figure life out as any person ought to regardless of gender or sexual orientation; but also trying to balance social, religious and cultural duties along with her education and career. She either becomes an example or a warning depending on the perceived lines she crosses. I do nevertheless realize that this might not just be an Arab women thing, but a gender thing.

Where does that leave us? Where does that place the young and modern Arab man?

Well, to say the least, that is where the mini communities play their undeniable part. That is where a young man can express his feminist thoughts without being stared down by peers as weak or as a sucker for women. In those mini communities where young people are attempting to become more human and less bias is where young modernists find themselves in more comfortable settings. You find people from different walk of life all gathering around a unified understanding that we need to work together and accept one another to make it through, to create a more positive life for those around us and those coming after us. The mini communities are small for an unfortunate reason however; that is, that most young men and woman with the ability to leave the larger community simply get on that flight and rarely ever look back. They take an observant attitude and only indulge virtually until maybe someday they could become included in the larger communities. Not to mention, that such communities are able to coexist with their larger ones because they are not posing any threats or imposing any practical change to systems and thoughts. Politically, those communities are in their earlier stages, still ruled by fear, misalignment and inexperience.

So the young Arab woman who stays, shuffles through and finds some balance if fortunate. If unlucky however, she might just find out how harsh and unforgiving society can be. Outside of the carefully niched boxes, she might become a witch. Surely, the image is bleak from a singular perspective, but one must paint the bleak in order to qualify and determine the extremities of the issue. So it could be THAT bad, but it’s not always so. Then again, I was well educated in diplomacy and social sciences, so one must never be an absolutist because then it is not a true portrayal of the world.

You still hear tragic stories of lives put to end because of social, religious or cultural norms. You still learn how dangerous it could be as you grow up, but then again there remains hope in the pigeon holes of the larger community. Love and inspiration and yogic values arise in the midst of unpleasantries despite the cat calling and shaming, in spite of the difficulties and bad experiences. The smaller communities are still young and inexperienced but they are still there and that is the point; that is where change begins.

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