The false accusion of civilization

I have a friend serving in Baghdad right now–a member of one of those Human Terrain Teams the APA dislikes so strongly–and she periodically sends snippets of life in a war zone.  I haven’t published any of them, because she is likely to do so…and I don’t want to shortcut your pleasure discovering her experiences.  But today I’m moved to share something she sent, from a “sheikh friend”, which she describes as “summing up gender relations in the Arab world.”  I am struck by how much is resembles the average American man’s perspective on same.  I think it is titled, “Women.”

If you praise her, she thinks you are lying
إذا مدحتهــا تعتقــد أنـــك كـــــذاب
If you don’t, you are good for nothing
وإذا لم تمدحهـــا تعتقد بأنك لا تصلــح
لشيء

If you agree to all her likes, you are a wimp
إذا وافقتها على كل ما تريد تعتقد أنك بلا
شخصيـــة
If you don’t, you are not understanding
وإذا لم توافقهـــا أنت رجـــل لا يفهــم
شيئاً

If you visit her often, she thinks it is boring
إذا زرتهــا كثيراً تعتقد أنــك رجــل
غثيــث
If you don’t, she accuses you of double-crossing
وإذا لم تزرهـــا فـــأنت شخص لا مبالي

If you are well dressed, she says you are a playboy
إذا كــنـــت مهتماً بمظهرك وشياكتك فأنت
رجـــل لعـــوب
If you don’t, you are a dull boy
وإذا لم تلبــس جيداً فأنـــت رجـــل تحرق
الأعصـــاب
If you are jealous, she says it’s bad

إذا كـنــت رجلاً غيوراً فـــأنت سيء
الطبـــاع
If you don’t, she thinks you do not love her
وإذا لم تظهــر لها غيرتك فإنهــا تعتقــد
أنـــك لا تحبهـــا
If you are a minute late, she complains it’s hard to wait

إذا تأخرت عليها دقيقــة فإنها تشتكي
وتتذمر وتقول : ما أصعب الانتظار !
If you visit another man, you’re not putting in ‘quality time’
وإذا كنت تزور أحــد أصدقائــك فإنها تقول
: بأنك رجــــل فاضي !

If you fail to help her in crossing the street,you lack ethics
إذا لم تتوقف لهـــا حتى تقطع الشارع فأنت
رجـــل عديـــم الأخلاق
If you do, she thinks it’s just one of men’s tactics for seduction
أمـــا إذا وقفــت فإنها تعتقــد بأنك
واقف حتى تتفـــرج عليهـــا

If you stare at another woman, she accuses you of flirting
إذا كنت تراقــب أحد النساء فإنك رجل
تغــازل وعيونك زايغـــة !
If she is stared by other men, she says that they are just admiring
أمـــا إذا نظر إليها أحـــد الرجـــال
فإنه أحـــد المعجبيـــن !

If you talk, she wants you to listen
إذا تكلمــــت فإنهـــا تريـــد أن
تــســتــمع
If you listen, she wants you to talk
وإذا سمعـــت فإنهـــا تريـــد أن
تــتـــكلم !

In short:
وباختصـــار

So simple, yet so complex
بسيطـــــــــــــــات ومعقــــدات
So weak, yet so powerful
ضعيفات, لكنهن قويات

So confusing, yet so desirable
متناقضات ومنطقيـــــات

can’t live with them..
لا تستطيــــــــــــــع العيــش معهم
can’t live without them …
ولا تستطيــــع العيش بدونهـــم

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “The false accusion of civilization

  1. Wowsa. It does sound pretty identical to Americans.

    Actually, just this morning I heard a horrifying story about this human terrain program on Day To Day. Apparently there was an incident in which a female social scientist approached a local man she knew to ask a question about the gasoline he was holding. After a short encounter, the man poured the gas on her and lit her on fire. Her companion–not a social scientist–shot the man to death upon hearing about the severity of her injuries. I believe she was burned over 60% of her body. No one knows why the man did this terrible thing, but there is speculation that it was because she didn’t have a head scarf on.

  2. Jenn Lena

    The story you link is both horrible and exceptional. It is also from Afghanistan, where the local political situation is pretty different (than that in Iraq, where my friend is living). That said, I can do without the detailed reminders of the dangerous circumstances in which my friend has chosen to put herself. The APA has a programmatic stake in the issue, but I have a personal one.

  3. I’m so sorry Jenn. I was completely not thinking. I think I just became distracted by the details of the writing you posted combined with the memory of the story I had just heard on NPR, and did not remember that you’d started your post saying that your FRIEND sent it to you. I’m so sorry.

  4. Jenn Lena

    Of course, I accept your apology, Kristina. No harm done. I need to keep my concern for her within reason, and this is a good reminder.

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