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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Sexual Harassment in Cairo

I read these sadly familiar accounts of sexual harassment from women living in Cairo. I would hazard a guess that any woman living in most Middle Eastern countries is just as familiar with this sort of treatment, not just from fellow citizens of their particular country but from a majority of expat males too. Now I know that sounds pretty harsh, all encompassing, and sexist, but their stories could easily be my own and so my perspective is a little tainted. It begins when you're a toddler, continues throughout your childhood, becomes more sinister in your adolescence as you begin to understand what it is they want from you, then becomes a mundane expected facet of your life as a woman, married or single, with or without children hanging off your arms... What is it about the region that perpetuates this treatment of women? What is the common denominator? Whatever it is, it must be dissected, exposed, and treated for the cancer that it is.

33 comments:

Abel Undercity said...

My personal hypothesis is that it's the perpetuation of a toxic "boys' culture". One that says "if you do not do thus and so, you are not really a man". This culture is by nature competitive and judgemental, so extreme behavior becomes increasingly commonplace.

Anonymous said...

so what do you prefer instead of harassment ? That you get fucked the minute you start getting a period by nearly all your class mates and you continue to get fucked by every guy you date for nothing ? Why is harassment in the middle east bad but child sex in the west good to you ? Not to defend the middle east but your analysis drools of hypocrisy and is typical of a women who was never brought up in the west, I'm sure when your daughter grows up she will tell you a different story.

kinzi said...

Anon, there is just as much child-sex going on the Middle East as West, for boys the rate of sexual abuse is double as they are more 'available'. Whats worse is that in the Arab world, it is even more likely to be incest within the family.

The difference is a level of self-control. I don't think Western men in a 'free society' are having any more sex than Easter men in a more closed one, but they don't slime all over you in public whether you are carrying a baby or not.

Another is just that any woman who is visible is fair game, and women are toys to play with.

I was brought up in the West. Her analysis is spot on. Maybe you are the one who needs to get a reality/hypocrisy check. :)

PrincessPi said...

First of all, let me respond to the anonymous person. Why should a woman have to be a whore as the only alternative to being harassed? At what point did Teacherlady state that child sex in the west is good? Have you read any of her other posts? Do you know what she does for a living and the kids she deals with and their behaviors?

I can't stand when people respond with insults but don't have the balls to post who they are. Easy to hide behind an anonymous tag...

Secondly, maybe a good response for the women to make to these men who pull out their wieners at them is to point and laugh, giggling at how small their junk is. Or just give them a nice kick in the nards.

'liya said...

It really is sad the way some men are brought up with no self control.

Anonymous said...

Kinzi,


"there is just as much child-sex going on the Middle East as West, for boys the rate of sexual abuse is double as they are more 'available'. Whats worse is that in the Arab world, it is even more likely to be incest within the family."


No there isn't I was brought up in both the west and the middle east and I know both english and arabic.

Every girl I studied with lost her virginity at 13 or 14 some lost it in primary school ( in the west ) I never saw that in the Middle east. Not to mention onenight stands and rainbow parties and all the other imorality which I've still to see in the middle east. I know you live in Jordan and probably in an expat area what you see isn't reflective of the society not to mention that you are an evangalist preacher from the bible belt so your view is biased and you won't ever admit that we are better morally. As for your notion the incest within the family is more dominant ? Are you serious don't you know about all the cases of incest in Europe ? and in the BIBLE BELT . If you've forgotten let me remind you of the case of a woman that was selling out her five year old for sex so she could pay for the nursery for her 1 year old to groom her for sex prostitution as well.

http://kgbt4.com/news/news_story.aspx?id=178723

here are some pregnant sex prostitutes :

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,394242,00.html

And before you start comparing the middle east to the west, remember in the middle east there is poverty which is the reason for prostitution in the west you are rich and free, why do you do it ?

continuing,

Anonymous said...

"I don't think Western men in a 'free society' are having any more sex than Easter men in a more closed one,"

No they are and I'm the man. I'm a virgin and out of 20 close friends I can vouch only 2 have had sex before marriage, and it was abroad and that wasn't what i saw in the west.Not among men nor women. Lest not forget that nearly all your men loose their virginity in high school, which affects their sex drive, can you or any of the other girls here seriously argue that that is the case in the middle east my two friends who lost virginity did so after 20 years of age not before !

http://womensphere.wordpress.com/2008/03/13/quarter-of-us-teen-girls-have-sex-related-disease/http://womensphere.wordpress.com/2008/03/13/quarter-of-us-teen-girls-have-sex-related-disease/


It wasn't far ago that i was walking in front of two girls and I could hear them talk about a guy and the girls were totally geekish and looked innocent. Do you know what they were saying about the guy ? They were laughing at him for being a virgin at 20 ! Ever heard that in the middle east ?

Even though I agree you kinzi might be left with that impression but I'm not arguing that individuals are better but rather that cultures are and most of the people you meet and mix with are affected by western culture and speak the language so its not strange that they pick up other aspects of their culture like indecency, which is why you think its widespread ... its only widespread among the people you know.

Another thing didn't you read the report a while back that a quarter of US teenagers have sex related disease's ? wouldn't that mean that its fair to say that more than half have sex ? Are you seriously arguing that same percentage of middle eastern teenagers are having sex ? and if not who are the teenage male middle easterners fucking ?

Anonymous said...

"but they don't slime all over you in public whether you are carrying a baby or not."

Because they are doing more than one woman at a time or they've had so much sex since they reach puberty they've lost most of their sex drive.

Anonymous said...

"I was brought up in the West. Her analysis is spot on. Maybe you are the one who needs to get a reality/hypocrisy check. :)"

So was I maybe you need to learn Arabic get out of your elitist circle and see more middle eastern countries and not just western allied ones before you speak of the middle east ? Not to mention that of course she didn't speak of the west at all in her post which is the cause of my outburst ! P.S. are all right wing red necks like you in their twisting of words ? I thought it was only in politics ?

Abu Dhabi/UAE Daily Photo said...

"Every girl I studied with lost her virginity at 13 or 14 some lost it in primary school ( in the west ) I never saw that in the Middle east."

I find that shocking. EVERY GIRL you studied with lost her virginity by the time she was 14? What the hell is a rainbow party? If you think that girls in the not-so-monolithic "middle east" aren't having sex, I suggest you dig a bit deeper. While there are MANY naive and shelterd girls, there are also many quite the contrary. You can't say the ME has poverty as a blanket statement...how do you explain the wealthy Gulf nations and the RAMPANT prostitution that goes on there? Oh right...it's foreigners catering to the needs of local male population. So, why is it ok for the men to be whores but not the women? Let's contrast the Gulf countries with a poorer ME country like Egypt. Pre-marital sex is alive and well, as is that surgery that replaces the hymen W(widely popular in the region). While schoolmates in the "west" might be more open about their sexual escapades, just because girls in the "middle east" don't say they're doing it, doesn't make it so.

Anonymous said...

i do incest with my sister all the time. Its my right as a Muslim. Im like thh arab borat :P











You see anonymity has a disadvantage.

Anonymous said...

princess,

"Why should a woman have to be a whore as the only alternative to being harassed? "

She shouldn't that's just men. And its not all of them; but that's the way they are when it comes to sex they are animals in every culture if a woman opens up she will be trampled over. I'm disgusted of it and I hate every single man who does it regardless of ethnicity or religion; but I can't stop all men; which I could I have sisters and female family members as well.

"At what point did Teacherlady state that child sex in the west is good?'

When she lamented middle eastern culture without mentioning that the alternative to all this harassment in the west is just as bad if not worse. I've been in Egypt and I've been watching to get a glimpse of all this harassment, that I read about, unfortunately I've still to see it I wish someone would do it in front of me so I could slap him but to be honest I haven't seen anything it seems they have to get them in private to harrass them I don't know; but I'll tell you you this its not the same everywhere in the middle east. Oh and harassment of westerners does't count as most come for sex tourism ( a western girl once told a tourist guide she wanted him to fuck her so she can tell her friends she had sex under the desert moon )and the perception that all western women are whores courtesy of course of Hollywood; which I believe is wrong of course.

Anonymous said...

"maybe a good response for the women to make to these men who pull out their wieners at them is to point and laugh, giggling at how small their junk is. Or just give them a nice kick in the nards."

It would be a great response I wish they would! and If I ever see a man do it I would kick them there and trash them. The only time I've seen a man harass a woman in the middle east was when a guy was blocking a girls path because she didn't want to talk to him and i beat the crap out of him.

TeacherLady said...

Anon, if you actually read all of my posts, you'd see where I condemn teen pregnancy here in the States, but you chose to limit what information you wanted to take in from me. It's sad that your first response wasn't "Yes, it IS WRONG to sexually harass our sisters, mothers, daughters. I don't do it, other men can practice the same restraint" but instead you chose to be rude. I'm not going to bother pointing out how inaccurate your perspective is (and your assumption of my beliefs and opinions) because it's obviously extremely limited... So limited you don't even see my other posts. If people would stop leaping to blame others for the ills of their own society and take on a little more responsibility and actually acknowledge and address the problem, we're one step towards solving it. Pointing fingers across borders and refusing to acknowledge it even IS a problem means the little girls of the Middle East have no hope in hell of ever being treated with respect by their own brothers (literal brothers and otherwise). You're proof that the problem will never go away because you refuse to look at the problem at all and instead rant on about the evils of the West. The West ins't perfect, God knows, but I wasn't talking about the West in this one particular post.
Princesspi, sadly when I was about 5 and a man pulled me from my front garden into the garden of an empty house, I was too young and scared to know to laugh. When the man who claimed to be my father's friend held on to me when I was 10, I coldn't laugh. When the man asked me how much I wanted for sex when I was 13, I couldn't laugh either. The list goes on. Now that I'm a woman and I go back to the Middle East on vacation and back into the leering and groping, I don't really feel like laughing either because otherwise I think of all the other little girls who will go through what I did and worse. Thanks for understanding who I am better and speaking up for me. You're a sweetie. Ladies, thank you for recognizing something is wrong at home. To the one man, I'm sorry you don't see the problem there.

Anonymous said...

If you think that girls in the not-so-monolithic "middle east" aren't having sex, I suggest you dig a bit deeper.

I didn't say they aren't and as I said I'm not arguing that people are different I'm arguing cultures are. I know some are; but they do it at a much older age and are alot less in numbers .
I'll share another story I was in a bus and two eastern European girls and they were saying that they don't know if they are straight or gay, they still haven't figured out. One of them said I prefer girls they satisfy me more . she says its not that I hate men but I haven't found the guy who sweeps me off my feet yet. They were both under 18, tell me how many under 18 girls do you know say that ?

explain the wealthy Gulf nations and the RAMPANT prostitution that goes on there?

The prostitutes are poor girls from Egypt Lebanon or Syria and morocco . And they are prostitutes I wasn't talking about prostitutes in the west I was talking about your average girl.

"So, why is it ok for the men to be whores but not the women? "i

It isn't where did I say it is ?

"as is that surgery that replaces the hymen "

you can figure it out, plus the girls I've heard about here in Egypt have sex for a kentucky family meal they don't eat but return to their family after the sex I doubt they could pay for that operation.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous not me :

I was discussing as anonymous as you and almost everyone else here because I am, and still want to be. the blog owner has the right to delete my comments. I presented argument from my personal experience and I know most people who have seen what i have on both sides of the spectrum will agree. This is a sensitive topic and there is no way to discuss it without using crude words and statements and I apologize for that.

kinzi said...

Anon, wow, that was some diatribe. I'll take some time to think about it while I go pick up my kids from their Arabic school and spend the afternoon helping them with their Arabic homework.

Then maybe I'll read my Arabic Bible and go out on the streets and preach, lol. If I was the great preacher you think I wouldn't have been here for 17 years, five of which were in Jabal Hashmi, where you have probably never set foot. I wonder why we chose to raise our family here if I think this culture is inferior?

Then I'll tell you about the sexual abuse victims I work with, what the Jordan River Foundation and Family Protection Unit would say about your opinion.

I'm glad you are a virgin, btw. good for you! (no sarcasm, 3anjad)

PS. I'm a Californian.

Anonymous said...

@ teacher lady :

I did say that in my comment it is all actually one comment I just broke it up because it was long and i lost my connection from my first comment.

I said more than that and I'm serious about it. I've gotten into fights over a lot less than harassment I've gotten into fights with men bad mouthing women I have no relation with nor interest in for no reason other than them being decent respectable women.

teacher lady I'm sorry i don't see your other post, the one you mentioned. And I don't object to this issue being addressed nor highlighted and I have signed many petitions relating to this issue. But what ticked me off was your generalization of Arab men. when you say what you said if though I'm not that type of man and I'm quite the opposite, how do you think I feel ? How would you feel if someone generalized all women as whores ? That's what offended me I think it would have been nice of you to acknowledge that not all men are the same right ?

and I didn't mean to be rude, seriously so please don't take my comments as personal.

Anonymous said...

kinzi,

Sorry I over reacted to you comment .. I'm sorry.

TeacherLady said...

Anon, for all the times you stand up for a woman's honor I thank you. I recognize my bias, be it fair or unfair, because I explained that it is based on my own experiences. Of course I realize not all Arab men are sexual harassers, I'm sorry you felt I was saying that.
Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts. I don't care if your opinions differ from my own. My priority is to recognize our differences WITHOUT losing it! I may have to remind myself of this goal once in a while, but who's perfect? I don't delete comments as of yet, hopefully the need won't arise too often, but I am glad that you recognize my right to do that if I were to choose to do so.

Anonymous said...

Teacher lady I am really sorry I really hadn't read your previous post and regardless of what you said in this post it doesn't make up for my comments ... again I'm deeply sorry.

If you will allow me to follow up, I would like to say that no man - and here you'll have to make the distinction between males and men - would accept or allow such action to happen in front of him without stopping it and no decent man I know would ever accept such actions and I know men who were beaten up for standing up to women harassers; because they were outnumbered, as you may know they go in herd.
My fear is that with the increased indecency in the middle east and parroting of western values - which many will disagree with me on - things can only get worse for women in the ME especially with the political and economical situation here it would be a thousand times worse and I fear there is no avoiding it .. .I guess that's why its a sensitive subject for me.

Again it's no excuse but I hope you can understand my perspective. And to kinzi even though I disagree with you; it is no excuse for my outburst i apologies again.

kinzi said...

Anon, I completely understand how hard it is for a man of honor to be tainted with the dishonorable behaviour of other men.

I also know what it is like to have my culture/defined branded and defined to suit the whim of the writer.

Of course I forgive you, I was even praying for you on that car ride.

You are young, you are reading a lot on the internet and are forming opinions. This is VERY good! Even better, you desire to be a man of honor and defend women.

Now you've heard our stories and how hard it is to be treated like trash, have our innocence taken.

Now, you can speak up for that woman on the street who is being harassed. If people feel they can get away with it, they will, whether from East or from West. But when there are more men like you watching our backs (but not our butts)the tide CAN turn.

I appreciate your latest words. May God help you to help us.

Teacher Lady, my heart goes out to that little 5 year old. I wish I could grab her away from that man and hold her close and empower her. You are that kind of woman now, may God bless you!!

Anonymous said...

"n, I completely understand how hard it is for a man of honor to be tainted with the dishonorable behaviour of other men."

That is my problem ... thank you !

"I also know what it is like to have my culture/defined branded and defined to suit the whim of the writer."

That is also another problem too, Islam and the middle east is under an - what seems to me - as an unfair onslaught for nothing more than oil and geopolitical interests which I think is actually impeding any development. As i believe that any society, even if it see something wrong that it wants to fix, won't do so under foreign pressure for any reason.

"You are young, you are reading a lot on the internet and are forming opinions. "

I would hope that you are reading too, even though I am young but not that young. I only used the stories I linked to, because as an anonymous I really don't have much credibility and since we are communicating through the net it would only seem fair that I use it as a reference . I have experiences of female class mates who were abused by their mothers boyfriends while we were no older than 10 and it went without any action even though the black eyes where there, I have never seen that in the middle east even though I have spent half my life in the west and half in the middle east.


"I appreciate your latest words. May God help you to help us."

May God help us all and empower women to help themselves more against such actions ( only because we can't be there all the time ).

Abu Dhabi/UAE Daily Photo said...

Arab chic: Having lived in Cairo I think the main reason for the increase in harassment has more to do with an increase in conservatism. The more women feel forbidden and like pieces of meat, the more men want them. Men seem less animalistic when they're not treated like beasts without self-discipline.

The UAE, in comparison, seems to have more societal pressure placed on public harassment. Emirati men fear the repercussions more than they do in Egypt.

Abu Dhabi/UAE Daily Photo said...

"The prostitutes are poor girls from Egypt Lebanon or Syria and morocco."

Not in the Gulf, they aren't. Arabic speaking prositutes bring top dollar, and they're often kept women, as oppose to hookers on the street. Those women are eastern European, Chinese, and the like.

"you can figure it out, plus the girls I've heard about here in Egypt have sex for a kentucky family meal they don't eat but return to their family after the sex I doubt they could pay for that operation."

The girls getting hymen replacement operations in Egypt and the UAE are not prostutitutes. They're part of society. In fact, the likelihood of sex outside of marriage increases with wealth in Egypt-the poor women (aside from those poor village girls that get sold off to a Saudi man for a day or a week). Hymen replacement surgery is quite popular. You visit the same doctor who performs "medically necessary abortions".

I would suggest that you are very much out of touch with what women in countries like Egypt are really doing.

Abel Undercity said...

Re-reading what I wrote before anonymous came a-trolling, I have a clarification to make: I wasn't trying to tie the "boys' culture" I wrote about to any specific geographical region. To one degree or another, this dangerous preoccupation for a guy to "prove" one's maleness seems to be everywhere, much to the general detriment of humanity (George Carlin called this "The Bigger Dick Theory of Warfare": "What? they have bigger dicks? BOMB THEM!"

Chris said...

Wow, late to the party but from anon

so what do you prefer instead of harassment ?

I volunteer "not being harassed" as an alternative.

A simple answer to a stupid question.

TeacherLady said...

Abel Undercity, true, the Bigger Dick behavior is prevelant eveywhere (nice Carlin quoting, you rock), and it manifests itself in a variety of ways... I guess because I experienced such overt, hands-on expressions of it in the ME, I wanted to brainstorm theories as to why it manifests itself in an apparently open and almost expected way in a part of the world that usually prides itself on protecting the "weaker sex". Arab male friends are capable of such enormous brotherly, respectful affection towards their female friends that it's a wonder that the same society would create such boors too.

Chris, did you park your white horse next to where you left your shining armor? And sadly, that logic eludes people who see women as either whores who were asking for it, or women who should understand that "men have urges" blah blah blah... Either way, you get screwed. So to speak.

I felt a little uncomfortable exposing such a raw nerve in my own body, especially since I have good friends who read this blog and who probably don't want to know this much gritty detail about me, but it just seemed to be the right thing to discuss...

Abel Undercity said...

I wanted to brainstorm theories as to why it manifests itself in an apparently open and almost expected way in a part of the world that usually prides itself on protecting the "weaker sex".

I suspect that the urge to protect and the urge to harass are two sides of the same coin. Both cast the woman in the "weaker" position and reinforce (at least in the man's head) the perception of strength in the head of the man doing either. Of course, the harasser is the lower form of the dichotomy, feeling the bully's urge to punish weakness in order to address his own shortcomings.

Caveat: Do not mistake anything I say for expert opinion. I'm just speculating based on what I've seen in human behavior over the years and may just be caught up in my own bullshit.

Abel Undercity said...

(winces at the phrasing)

I really should learn to hit preview first...

tim said...

Sorry for being so late to this discussion. I'm glad to see towards the end Anon apologized, etc.

I wasn't going to post anything until he said that he had been in Egypt and didn't see anything.

We lived in Egypt for 2 years and sexual harassment for my wife was a DAILY occurrence. Even though she was dressed VERY modestly and culturally appropriate... and even though she could have my 3 month old son with her. Butt pinching, name calling, whistling, men undressing women with their eyes, porn in cafes behind the curtain, men masturbating on women on the Alexandria trolley, taxi drivers masturbating in the front seat and then wiping their semen on women's hands as they pay for the fare.

You don't see it so much, Anonymous, because you're not a woman living under the dark cloud of the evil that this is.

This stuff happens all over the world but we've never seen it so bad as when we were in Egypt.

To think that you would defend those that "slime" all over women with saying that the Western men don't because they're having sex and the Eastern men have pent up sexual tension. That is the worst type of reasoning. This type of behavior is unacceptable in any form or fashion and there is no excuse... period.

And let's not go blaming the West for everything. Yes, the West is screwed up. Yes I stand for changing that and hate how prevalent sex is. The problem isn't the West however. These problems would be occurring the Middle East even if there weren't Western "values" to "parrot".

The problem is that we are all "beni Adam" and we have all been subjected to the curse of sin. So why don't we go back to the real source of these problems... Satan and man's choice to sin rather than honor God. Let's quit blaming on the Middle Eastern version of Satan... the West.

tim
www.culturerage.com

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