Sunday, February 7, 2010

Earth girls are easy

posted Tue, 05 Jul 2005

What is it with Middle Eastern men and American women? When other men treat their sisters the way they treat us, they kill their sisters for dishonoring the family. I don’t know why they don’t kill the man instead (that is, if they must kill someone), but I’m not in charge of the rules over there.

Yet here in the US, it is perfectly OK to treat an American woman disrespectfully.

Why are we so deserving of this disrespect?

Maybe I need to wear a chador when I go to this store. I thought my sundress was modest. I guess not.

And why am I ranting about this?

Yesterday, I went to the Mideast grocery store near my house. It’s a neat place – and it was one of the few businesses open on the Fourth. I had foolishly let my cupboard become bare and was hungry for more than oatmeal and tuna.

As I walked into the store, I was changing from my sunglasses to my regular glasses, so was in that in-between stage of blurriness so familiar to my astigmatic, myopic peers. A Middle Eastern man walked past me and said, “Hello.” This was not a casual hello. It was a “Well, hello baby!” kind of hello. I have finally learned to tell the difference.

I don’t know what inspired him to say anything at all to me other than the fact that I am an American woman. I was not looking at him – I was looking into my purse. Even if I had been facing in his general direction, I could not have made eye contact with him because without my glasses, I cannot focus more than a few feet in front of me. Even with my glasses, I am not inclined to make eye contact with men I do not know. (See previous posts on salsa classes for more on eye contact with strangers and my intense dislike of it.)

I noticed this phenomenon in Chile as well. Men would treat me differently from Chilean women. I finally got so annoyed and frustrated that I started calling them on it. “Would you treat a Chilean girl like this?” I would ask. “Is this how you would want someone to speak to your sister?” That would usually stun them into silence.

But I do know why they do it. It’s obvious. Look at what we export. Watch almost any American TV show or movie. This is what the rest of the world thinks the US is like: American women are sluts. We will have sex with any guy in a second – and it’s almost all there on camera. Thanks, Hollywood. You make international travel and living for American women so easy.

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