Sure, there are plenty of things in the Middle East that should never have been normalized. Aside from the rampant sexism, racism, classism, and homophobia, there are a few other issues that deserve to be highlighted:
1. Male rage in public spaces
Why is it that some men, especially in the Middle East, believe that it’s totally okay to go into blind rages in public spaces? Maybe it’s because they’ve been told their entire lives that inordinate displays of testosterone make them seem “manly” (defined according to society’s problematic definition of masculinity), so they let themselves go unhinged. Maybe these individuals have never been told “No” in their lives. Or maybe they have, but they don’t fear the consequences since there generally are none.
Let me tell you this: There is nothing “manly” about a man’s inability to control his emotions. In fact, it makes him look like an overgrown toddler who lost his binky.
That said, if a woman were to have the same temper tantrum in public, she would be scorned. What then, happens, if two people – a man and a woman – fight in public? The public naturally sides with the man, who according to them, is acting in congruence with societal norms. He is faultless. It doesn’t matter who is right. Public perception always favors the man. Ugh, infuriating, no?
2. Emotional abuse in relationships
The amount of shit people in the Middle East are willing to put up with in their relationships is incomparable to anywhere else in the world.
Is it “devotion”? Or are you just forcing yourself to stick around because you’re afraid of the fallout? Ask yourself this: If you believe you might be a victim of emotional abuse, is it worth it to spend the rest of your life miserable?
Many couples in the Middle East, for whatever reason, seem to lack awareness in terms of what a healthy relationship looks like. Perhaps it’s because of the lack of examples perpetuated by centuries of patriarchal institutions that have forced women to submit, with little political or social power to resist, to the wishes of men.
A healthy relationship is a relationship based on mutual love, respect, and trust. Key word: MUTUAL. If your relationship is based on double-standards, fear, or control, it is neither healthy nor sustainable. One partner should never be sacrificing more than the other.
If they’re beating you, leave. If they’re threatening to harm themselves if you break up with them, LEAVE. If they’re constantly manipulating you into feeling guilty when you call them out for things that are actually their fault, leave. If he or she cannot be honest with you, there is no trust, and at that point it’s already over: So LEAVE. Unfortunately, it probably won’t get better. In fact, over time, abuse usually gets worse, because the longer you put up with it, the less your partner will respect you.
That said, it’s also time for Middle Easterners to put aside their stigmas about therapy. Therapy is not just for “crazy” people. It’s for normal people who have been through emotional trauma and want or need help getting through it. There is no shame in helping yourself find the happiness you deserve.
3. Materialism and elitism
Okay, so she has a brand new Louis Vuitton purse… So fucking what? The elitism is suffocating. Just because someone has (or was born into) an abundance of wealth in no way makes them inherently superior to you or anyone else.
When did this conflation between “wealth” and “value as a human being” become so rooted in society? Wealth does not make a human being worthy of respect. These qualities do: integrity, morals, and compassion for the greater community. If nothing else, have some self-respect. There is soooo much more to life than amassing large sums of money. Like, accomplishing meaningful things or being happy with yourself, for example.
You can be rich and still be a shitty person, whereas you can be poor and be the best person on Earth. Here are several phenomenal human beings who lived in poverty: Abraham, Jesus, Mohammed (by choice), and the great majority of spiritual teachers.
Did we miss any? Tell us in the comments or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.