Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Actions Speak Louder than Complains...Part I of the Women's Rights Series

The women’s rights movement has become a topic with increasing popularity in Middle Eastern countries in recent years. More and more women are speaking up and demanding equality with their male counterparts. So I wanted to right a post about women’s rights in the Middle East (ME) and the flaws that are associated with it, but my post was running really long. apparently, I have a lot to say about this topic, so I decided to turn it into a series instead with this post being the first part of it.
After seeing many ME women from family to friends to women I watch on TV, I have reached the conclusion that 50% of the blame, if not more, for the way women are treated in the ME lies on the women themselves! ME women are constantly accusing men and the male-dominated societies as being the sole reason for their oppression. These days, they go on protests when allowed, write, and try to make their voices heard in other ways. All this in an attempt to change the societies that have long been male-centered with the women treated more like property than as a human being let alone an equal. Good for them! These societies certainly need to be changed, and women definitely must become man’s equal, but these women’s rights ardent supporters as well as all ME women in general must understand that they need to cure themselves first before attempting to change society.
In my opinion, most ME women only complain and whine about the way they are treated without taking any actions. You see them complaining about the man not helping around the house or with the children, even with the fact that many women have an outside job these days just like the man. They complain about the husband being the one in control with his word being the final one around the house. The list of complains goes on and on, but what are the women doing about all this that they complain about? NOTHING!!! Complaining seems to be as far as they will go, then they relapse to their obedient good-wife/good-daughter selves that does not get them any further in their struggle.
Now, I am not saying that women should declare war against men; rather, they should find a peaceful solution to change themselves and their men through educated discussions. Usually such drastic changes in societies start with the educated class and then spread to include everyone; thus, I will be concentrating on the educated class more in my post.
First, women need to become stronger and more confident, and they must NOT fear the men in their lives whether husbands, fathers etc. Fearing the husbands and fathers has nothing to do with respecting them, so do not tell me you are doing such and such action and giving away your rights out of respect for them. You can be the most respectful wife or daughter without sacrificing your rights. Let me give you a personal example to demonstrate: my dad is one of the people that I have the utmost respect for in my life; my mom used to tell us that when dad expresses an opinion we are not to argue with him…excuse me??? That did not hold well with me or my siblings and we would tell her “mom we are just discussing stuff with dad, DISCUSSING…he is our father and we can tell him when we agree or disagree with him on certain topics”. Now, with dad being an open-minded person, and mom seeing our objections, she stopped telling us not to argue our case anymore! In addition, anyone who knows me well in person and knows my siblings recognizes how much we respect BOTH our parents. Hence, as I said, fear is not respect because a person can be respectful without being fearful.
Second, from my experience with ME families, I have seen so many mothers complain once their children grow up and start understanding the world, that they listen to their fathers more than listening to them (the mothers). That creates endless battles around the house with the mother yelling and saying that her word is also important, that she is their mother too and her word must be listened to just as much as their father etc. etc. etc. Well, excuse me all you ME mothers out there, but whose fault is this? Remember, when the kids were growing up and they would ask you for something that you do not want to make the decision about? What was your answer to them? “Go ask your father”…“we will see what your father says” etc. So, naturally these kids grow up believing that fathers have the better judgment and that they make the final decisions around the house.
You want to have your rights back? Start inside your house, and once you fix that then you can go out and demand that the government and society gives you equal rights with the man. When your kids come ask you something, do not weaken your position by telling them things like “I will ask your father first” or something to that extent. Even if you do not want to make the decision solely but want to share it with your husband, then that is OK just tell your kids “I will DISCUSS it with your father” or “I will think about it and let you know”. There are many ways that you can avoid making the decision yourself without appearing weak and dominated by your husband in front of your kids who will sadly grow up believing the same things unless you SHOW them (not just tell them) otherwise. In addition, do not just say it in front of the kids, but actually do what you say you will do. Do not just go up to your husband and ASK him if the kids can do such and such. You discuss it with him; if you both agree on one decision, then great! Problem solved easily. But if you disagree with him, then you both need to share your opinions with each other and say why you disagree until you reach a compromise rather than just going along with what he says. In fact, I believe that will help create further understanding between the two of you as husband and wife, and the husband will also see you more as an equal and partner rather than someone he can manage any way he wants to.
Episode 2 of “women’s rights” series coming soon to your nearest computer screen …

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