Unwelcome interactions with them, specifically.
Now…I had read up on Arab culture a bit before coming. I was forewarned and prepared by ladies here once I arrived. And, frankly, unwelcome interactions with men are not just location specific, I’m pretty sure they exist everywhere. However…the culture here and the way things happen here are different. It is a male-run society. Men have more rights and more freedoms. This affects life for both sexes in most every way.
I don’t know for sure if God protected me a lot in the beginning when I got here, or if things have just gotten worse in the last few months. I tend to believe the former. I know that I interact with males differently here than back home. I have to. I don’t look up at them, I don’t make eye contact on the street, I don’t smile if I don’t know them, I ignore anything any of them may say to me in passing. I am immediately wary, avoidant, and quite honestly rude sometimes. But I have to be.
But since the groping incident a few weeks ago, I have become…on edge. I noticed it the other day. I was sitting next to a lady on the bus, relaxed, day dreaming, in another world altogether. She snapped and got off and a man slid over into the seat, as you do. Immediately I was back in the present and keeping an eye on him. When he moved his hand to scratch his leg I tensed up and started praying that he wouldn’t touch me.
I was talking with some local girls about it. They say this stuff happens all the time. They acted like it was no big deal–being touched and victimized. They can’t cause a fuss about it generally because the shame will go on them, not the guy. I heard that a popular thing for them to do is to pull a pin from their headscarf and nonchalantly poke the man with it.
Sin manifests itself in different ways in societies. And I’m not trying to say that all the males here are dirty old (or young) men. But I am saying that ladies being victimized is not ok. And that I am having a difficult time at present dealing with that.
When I deal with creepers on the street, and when I hear about the worse stuff that happens I don’t wish ill on them. That is not Christ’s way. I know that I am broken and sinful, too and without his grace who knows where I would be. I get upset about it. But I don’t want to become bitter or hardened. Choosing to live in love and not live in fear or bitterness is a daily battle. I struggle with what that means in the day to day. But I’m learning. I hope. And God is good. He’ll cleanse, renew, and refuel my heart every day as long as I let him.
“People who have come to know the joy of God do not deny the darkness, but they choose not to live in it. They claim that the light that shines in the darkness can be trusted more than the darkness itself and that a little bit of light can expel a lot of darkness.” Henri Nouwen