Apparently, there’s a whole range of animated sketches about Jordanians (and Arabs in general) up on Youtube. Now, I’m not saying they’re not humorous at all—a lot of people think they’re absolutely hilarious, and I have cracked a smile or two at some parts. But what’s unsettling is why they’re funny. It’s because a lot of the videos accurately depict the attitudes and situations going on around here, and ring true to the viewer. But that’s the thing. I think that because these attitudes actually do exist, we shouldn’t be laughing.
This video starts with a young man phoning home from the US. He tells his mother (in a very exaggerated injection of the American accent into the Arabic language) that he will soon be returning to his hometown, and that he wants to find “the other half” of his religion. Hence, being sick of the so-called promiscuity he’s noticing in Western girls, he wants his mother to find a bride for him: a religious girl who speaks to no other males besides her siblings, and one who will not leave the house without wearing clothing that will show nothing but her eyes.
Marriage over here (in Jordan)—it’s been bothering me ever since I first started to understand it. This doesn’t happen with everyone, but it’s the way most religious or conservative families go about it.
So, you’re a girl, yes? And you’re at the “appropriate” age for marriage, meaning you’ve finished high school, or in most cases, are almost done with university. So, everyone you know—extended family, neighbors, friends—wants to relieve your parents of the burden you impose on them. Thoughtful, no? They go ahead and take the liberty to tell parents of prospective husbands that you’re available, with details like your age, your field of work, and whether or not you wear a headscarf. You, of course, are not aware of this, until the parents of said prospective husband decide that …
I’m fifteen, and I live all the way in Amman, Jordan. I do get a lot of, “Jordan? Is that, like, behind California?” but that’s not the point. Jordan is a Middle-Eastern country—“Wow. Do you ride camels there?”—and has a population that is predominantly Muslim.
As such, it’s not the best place to be a feminist, or a female, for that matter. Surprisingly (or not), the prospect of female empowerment is suppressed not only by religious extremism, but by pop culture.
I know, I know. That happens everywhere. But the thing is, there just doesn’t seem to be a middle-ground, per se. It’s either oppression in the name of religion, with work, and covering up, and honor killings (which I have quite a rant on), or fake empowerment–you know, as …