I am not an object, I am a woman, men around here tend to forget that.
Living in lebanon (I’m not sure about other countries), I’ve always been objectified by the mass of random men on the streets.
In an office discussion over lunch the subject was opened by a variety of sexes and age groups. The men were convinced they were giving us compliments and that we should simply be happy about it instead of looking offended; as for the women in the room, we were appalled by such ideas.
I have to confess it sometimes feels nice to get a compliment from a total stranger, but there are limits that lebanese men tend to overlook.
For example let’s say you go for a walk or a drive, will you really feel good about random guys on vespas shouting out “chou ya ashtaaa” or “kifo el 3asal” (what’s up sweets, how’s the honey) to you? same goes for the whistling, hand gestures and winking, honestly it makes me feel ill at ease.
I’m not a feminist, please don’t get me wrong, but this objectivization that women go through on a daily basis needs someone to point it out (and who better than a local?).
I am not an object you can throw your dirty thoughts on and expect me to be grateful. Staring in a perverted way and whistling in our direction harms us instead of complimenting us.
A month ago a friend of mine was walking over to my place when an elder man followed her with his face stuck down her chest (no she wasn’t wearing any cleavage or provocative clothing), when she finally got fed up with him and politely asked him to back off, his reaction was: [translated]”but I’m an old man! I don’t see such beauty anymore, plus you must take it as a compliment since I’m taken by you and not by another woman!”. Her reaction? A clean slap across the face before storming away; and that’s when you hear the endless tantrum once again: “you b****** don’t even know how to take a compliment!” [With many other profanities I prefer not to print].
Another one of my friends was stuck in traffic during rush hour when her car neighbour starting licking his lips provocatively with added hand gestures to explain his intentions. In that case you have two choices, unfortunately neither of them is a good one. You can either give him the finger and try to make him feel ashamed, or simply ignore him and keep busy; but both will excite him even more, and make him direct more profanities your way, whether it be “chou ya metwa7cheh bayyik 3allamik et def3e 3en nafsik” (Oh you rabid woman daddy thought you how to stand up for yourself) or “yi 3leiki akbar men heik mfakkertine ma beswa 2addik” (Oh sweety you think you’re more important/richer than me) etc. I could go on and on but then that would be too crude to even bother to translate.
Lately I’ve been wondering about these men’s parents, how badly can you educate your son for him to turn up to be so crude towards women and to believe that these ‘pick up lines’ are ok to use on a daily basis towards strangers? How will they react if some stranger talks to their mother, wife, sister, or daughter this way?
Would they go”lebanese” on them (which is unfortunately a stereotype that the lebanese people have aquired and that I can’t even seem to shake off); aka fight, beat the guy, or pull a gun out at him to “protect their family’s virtue”.
Obviously the saying Do to your neighbour what you want to be done to you doesn’t fit this culture. Most of them expect you to treat them correctly and with respect while they mistreat their next of kin.
Objectifying women is not giving them compliments, it’s offensive and most of the time repulsive. Dear readers, males and females, what do you think?