Some things are okay; other things are not, and somewhere in between, there are the things that are oppressive, sexist, or straight-up despotic for no apparent reason; these are the things Arabs refer to as ‘3eib‘.
Aside from religious beliefs, there are some traditions and rules that the people of the Middle East have been following blindly for years and years. However, we’re here to deconstruct them for what they really are; a need to control people. These are some of the things that are normal everywhere but somehow aren’t in the Middle East.
Short haircuts for women
There’s the idea that women need to look a certain way; in patriarchal societies, this is a universal thing. Women need to have long, beautiful, and straightened hair. If one gets a pixie cut, then automatically society judges them. “Why are they trying to look like a man?”, they say. It’s 3eib. Come to think of it, hair is just keratin on top of your head that firstly keeps you warm, and secondly is used as an accessory to look however you want. It’s amazing how a little bit of self-expression is now taken too seriously that it triggers people.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a septum piercing or a normal on the side nose piercing. That look has a correlation with being a promiscuous woman in the Middle Eastern mindset. Only “bad” women with no morals would do that. Yet if you think about it, it’s literally a piercing, just like the one young girls are given at the moment of birth. How things come to have such dark meaning is truly baffling.
Tattoos are disapproved of by parents, relatives, and sometimes even your friends. In some cases, it might be judged for religious reasons, but has anyone stopped to think about why they’re against someone coloring their own skin?
Jewelry for men
Circling back to the point where men should look a certain way and women another. It’s okay for women to wear jewelry, but god forbid a man wears them. Thinking about it, who is he really hurting when he wears a necklace or a couple of rings? It’s all about self-expression, and giving it more meaning is just uncalled for.
Women coming home late
It doesn’t matter if a woman is out late working or running necessary errands; if a woman comes back home late, then she must be running a shameful business. So, now the timing of when things are done is associated with personality and decency. Think about it, coming home is fine, it’s the after 10 PM part that’s problematic.
Men wearing shorts
Sometimes, men are judged for wearing shorts. Shorts, for god’s sake. It’s understandable when it’s against the dress code, but shorts in themselves do no harm. People have associated men wearing shorts with acting younger than their true age. People don’t take short-wearing men seriously either. Where in reality, it’s just an article of clothes that might be more comfortable or less restraining for some individuals.
Having guy friends
Young girls are judged for having guy friends. It’s not just for religious reasons, it’s for cultural and traditional reasons as well. However, at this time, this idea is outdated, as men and women are mixed everywhere, in the streets, in schools, at work, and even at the supermarket. It’s essential that women are going to interact with men, so not being friends with them is an impossible goal. I mean, they’re everywhere!
Here’s another form of self-expression that’s taboo. Makeup has been around since forever, Pharaohs and even the Prophet Muhammad used kohl and accessories. Yet applying makeup is considered bad, because even if you try to change how you look using makeup, everyone knows who you are. You’re the same woman who came home late.
Men straightening their hair
Alright, men, just stop trying to express yourself. Men can’t straighten their hair. Hell, men can’t grow their hair out, color it, and, most importantly, straighten it. That’s just another example of how obsessed the Middle East is with people styling their Keratin follicles.
Women’s lungs are different from men’s lungs. Or at least that’s how society views the matter. It’s not okay for a woman to smoke. It’s bad for her femininity and her image. If a man is smoking in the streets, no one would even look twice. So obviously, an unhealthy habit became way less than what it’s actually about: lung cancer and skin wrinkles. Now it’s about feminity.
Society has given more meaning to things than they do hold in reality. A word to the wise, please stop for a minute and think of the true reasons why you might be against something. Is it because it actually does harm? Or is it because somehow trivial things and accessories hold an underlying meaning that indicates someone’s behavior?