I was in a park in Beirut with children playing all around me. I am still a foreigner in this country and still analyze anything I look at and draw comparisons between Lebanon and Yemen, my native country.
A boy and a girl, each about eight years old, caught my attention. The girl was sitting on a swing and the boy was waiting his turn. It seems the girl played for longer than she was supposed to, so the boy impatiently said: “You played for a long time. Now it’s my turn.”
The girl was upset and left the swing. She stood there, watching the boy swing with a sad look in her eyes. Suddenly, the boy stopped playing. He had been on the swing for just one minute but he stood up and told her: “You can play now, don’t be mad.”
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The girl was happy as she started swinging and asked him to sing to her. I expected him to refuse or be annoyed by her numerous demands. However, he actually started singing as she played happily on the swing.
"The wife would smile sadly and wait for Allah to reward her in another life after death, just as her husband told her.
I was surprised because I had never seen boys in my childhood with so much sympathy and compassion. Rather, a boy had to show his displeasure with girls to prove that he is a “man” and that he would rather be playing with boys than with girls. Those who liked to play with girls were taunted by other boys and labeled as “a girl.” Even parents would tell their sons: “Man up, play with boys and steer away from girls.”
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Such a girl-hating boy would then grow up into a women-wanting man, but this desire would be purely sexual. A woman, for him, is an alien creature defined only as a “recipient” for him to unfurl his desires. All he has to do is to pay this woman’s parents money – or the so-called “dowry” – in order for her to provide him with a full range of services, including food, cleaning, child-raising and pleasure-giving.
Unlike the woman though, his duties do not cover helping with house chores and raising the children. His own mother taught him not to help her with anything while his sisters would fetch everything for him, even a glass of water.
He analyzes the meaning of a woman’s smile as an invitation to have sex and is thus emboldened into harassing her. Then he fails to understand why she is mad at him: Isn’t she the one who smiled at him? Then she is to blame. Isn’t she the one wearing those pretty clothes to catch his attention? Then she must want him to harass her.This man does not know how to treat women. Women change but he doesn’t. Women are reaching high-ranking positions and he has to deal with this change. Times are changing, yet he still sees women merely as recipients.
All he knows about women is that they were created to serve men. Why are they demanding their rights? They want to corrupt other women so that they would become like them. No, I shall never allow anyone to tell my wife that I should help her around the house. I shall never allow anyone to tell her she is entitled to some rest and to have me help her in raising the kids, or that she is entitled to her own opinion.
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I shall never allow them to deprive me of my manhood. I shall deform any woman who thinks about that. Then he would go to his wife and tell her: “Look at these women calling for women’s rights. Their reputation is ruined and no one thinks of marrying them. Many are divorced women whose husbands left them. The fate of women who, like you, obey their husbands shall be in paradise. I am happy that you are keeping away from all this and that Allah is pleased with you.”
The wife would smile sadly and wait for Allah to reward her in another life after death, just as her husband told her.
This article was originally published in French by TV5monde