Feminism, Humanistic Psychology, Uncategorized, Violence, Women

I Walk

I walk with you because I am that woman who felt the burning pain of a slap, the punch of oppression, and the embarrassment of being pushed while others laughed, or looked away nervously because” I had it coming” for daring to question the unfairness of patriarchy.

I walk with you because I am that woman who had a gun held to her because I dared to stand up against a controlling man that should have never been allowed to possess a firearm.

I walk with you because I am that woman who knows what it is like for others to discount your pain, blame you, and make excuses for a man’s violence.

I walk with you because I am that woman who held my silence of unwanted sexual advances, sexual harassment, and sexually being groped because I did not want to be the “bitch that brought it upon “herself”.

I walk with you because I am that woman who knows what it is like not to have health insurance and wondering whether to buy food or go to the doctor.

I walk with you because I am that woman who knows what it is like to be a young divorced mother raising a child financially and emotionally on her own.

I walk with you because I am that woman who knows what it is like to have love for another that is not seen as acceptable by the masses.

I walk with you because I am that woman who knows the beauty and love of others that may not look or believe like me.

I walk with you because I am that woman who has been called a “ crazy bitch” for being strong and motivated.

I walk with you because I am that woman who has been paid less than my male counterparts although they had less education and less experience than me.

I walk with you because I am that woman who has dared to empower her daughters to have an opinion, to have a dream, and to not let their gender determine their outcomes in life.

I walk with you because I am that woman who believes that it is better to build other sisters up worldwide than tear them down and scoff at them for breaking socially gendered boundaries.

I walk with you because I am that woman who believes that patriarchy is not only detrimental to women, but it hurts men as well.

I walk with you because I am that woman who believes women should have the choice to make their way through the world with their hair covered or uncovered and not fear for their safety.

I walk with you because I am that woman who supports other women who forge careers into unchartered territories, but also supports the women and men who decide to stay at home with their children.

I walk with you because I am that women who has seen the results of bringing children into the world that were not wanted.

I walk with you because I am that woman who believes in a higher power, but also know I was giving the ability to think, reason, and communicate that serves a purpose beyond myself.

I walk with you because I am that woman who does not see a world that is black and white, right and wrong, but a spectrum in between that tells the story of each individual.

I walk with you because I am that woman who know others may not support my beliefs, but they do not have the right to dictate my choices. My choices are between God and myself.

I walk with you because I am that woman who knows each of us has our personal path, but we can support each other in the walk.

I walk.

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Feminism, Saudi Arabia

Finding a Voice in the Dessert

desert

We whisper in the desert, afraid that our voices may be heard.  We have been conditioned by the stories of the desert to believe that a voice above a whisper may awaken the harsh desert winds that fill our mouths with searing heat and stinging sands, strangling us into silence.  We close our mouths, we cover our faces to sneak across the desert, cloaked in black silently to avoid awakening the snake and scorpions that are awaiting their easy prey.  The predators of the desert have learned that the winds of the desert have made us easy prey.  We silently fall to the ground without an audible voice believing that our voices have no power of the truths we may speak; we have been conditioned by the desert that our feminine mystique makes our God given gift of voice, is instead an error of our evolution.

There is beauty in the desert, in which silence has its place: a time of reflection, a time of introspection, and a time to nurture ourselves at the oasis.  My journey across the desert has taught me survival skills, in which silence does not always have a place.  The scorpions and snakes, which await their prey, often scurry into the sand when a voice calls out, putting them in their place.  The mirages in the desert can make one lose their way, wasting a voice on illusions, and losing one’s footing as quicksand sucks them into the ground.  Surviving the desert involves learning when to whisper and conserving our energy, and when to raise God’s gift of having a voice.  Thus far I have survived both the beauty and hell of the desert  as the changing winds blow,  the gritty sand may find its way to my mouth; a  price to pay for having a voice, but alas I have survived.

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Culture, Feminism, organizational psychology, Psychology, Saudi Arabia, Saudi women driving, Women

Saudi Women Working from Home: A Productive Strategy for a Cultural Problem

abaya half face

Women in Saudi Arabia are just beginning to emerge in the workforce.  The role of women in the workforce in Saudi Arabia has been mostly limited to either careers in education or the medical profession.  Cultural factors such as gender segregation, transportation issues, and social perceptions of women working have been some of the major influences of keeping Saudi women out of fully joining the work force in full ranks, although the number of Saudi women in the Kingdom graduating with college degrees outnumbers their male counterparts.  The Ministry of Labor (2010) reported that more than 80% of female Saudi college graduates with at least a bachelor’s degree are unemployed in the Kingdom.  This number represents a significant amount of unused talent that is currently underutilized in the society.

For those unfamiliar with Saudi Arabia, the question may be asked “What is keeping women from joining the workforce?”  There is not one specific reason, but instead of culmination of different social factors that have led to the limited employment of  Saudi females in the Kingdom.  Saudi Arabia’s government rule is based on a sect of Islam called Wahhabism, a more strict interpretation of Islam, which has been interpreted in the Kingdom in the form of  gender segregation of males and females unless they are related to each other, or married.  This has forced organizations that hire females and males both to develop work environments in which males and females are segregated and have limited contact.  From a financial standpoint, one can understand the reticent behaviors of some organizations to hire women into an organization because of the special accommodations that must be given to the work environment to accommodate women in full force.

Another issue that has hampered the efforts of women to enter the workforce in full force surrounds the issue of women not being allowed to drive vehicles within the Kingdom.  A woman must rely on a male family member, a private driver, or some type of private taxi service to ensure being able to arrive at her place of employment.  Currently Saudi Arabia does not have a public transportation system, which would allows women to move freely in the cities.  While this not may not pose a problem for women from the upper socio-economic classes of Saudi, who can afford a private driver, as well as the expense of having her own car, those with limited financial resources may find it difficult to afford having a personal private driver.  In addition, even for the women who can afford the luxury of having a private driver (and this is speaking from my own experiences) there is nothing more frustrating than recruiting a driver from another country, paying the fees to have them brought to Saudi Arabia, only to have them disappear in the middle of the night to seek other employment.

The current changing economic and social factors in the Kingdom require that women be able to pursue employment.  As the growing young population of Saudi Arabia has exploded, the practice of the majority of the citizens being supported by their families, or through government “gifts” is no longer practical.  In addition, the divorce rate among Saudis has been estimated around 60%, one of the highest divorce rates in the world (Le Renard, 2013).  A possible strategy for certain job classes of women would be allowing them to work from home.   Most of the organizations within Saudi Arabia manage people that is similar to the time period of the industrial movement within the United States, where quantity produced( Greenberg, 2011), it considered superior over quality, although many of the organizations are trying to create knowledge based environment.  Digital and internet services within  Saudi Arabia has the highest rate of homes and usage of internet services of any other Arab country (Simism, 2011), making the practice of some women being able to work from home a transition that in terms of technological infrastructure, not difficult.   As positions across the world continue to transcend into a more service, instead of production oriented type of work, a phone, computer, internet service, and a place to work in the home have facilitated the process of allowing employees to transfer their workplace from office space to home space (Turcotte, 2010).

Phillips, Phillips, & Robinson (2013) showed in their case of performance of individuals working at home that it increased productivity, decreased stress for employees because of removing the stress of the commute to work, as well as reduced traffic congestion by allowing employees to work remotely.  In addition, organizations can benefit from this practice by reducing operating costs by reducing the space needed for office space, as well as increased employee performance, engagement, and reduced turnover.  This would be especially promising in terms of Saudi Arabia because of the reports of low employee performance and engagement, as well as high rates of turnover with Saudi employees (Sadi & Al-Buraey, 2009).

This is an underutilized option to employing women within the Kingdom, but setting up the management and training of people working at home would be critical in implementing practices with organizations within the Kingdom.  This option would open up careers, as well as organizations that have generally not been open to women because of the social stigma, or the reluctance of some organizations to hire women because of the issues regarding gender segregation.  In addition, this would allow women to circumnavigate the transportation issue that continues to be a hurdle for many women, through either financial strains, or the on-going problem of losing a private driver and being unable to get to their place of employment.

 

References

Alharbi, (2010). Minister of Labor: 80% of unemployment graduates women and mechanisms to

Address obstacles to women’s work within 8 weeks. Alwatan. Retrieved from

http://www.alwatan.com.sa/Local/News_Detail.aspx?ArticleID=31220&CategoryID=5

Greenberg, J.  (2011).  Behavior in organizations (10th ed.).  Upper Saddle River, NJ:  Prentice Hall.

Le Renard, A. (2013). Young urban saudi women’s transgressions of official rules and the production of a new social group. Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, 9(3), 108-135.

Phillips, J., Phillips, P., & Robinson, R. (2013). A case study of ROI in organizational performance of working at home. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 25(4), 111-131.

Sadi, M.  & Al-Buraey.  (2009). A framework for the implemental process:  The case of Saudiization.  International Management Review, 5(1), 70-84.  Retrieved from http://www.usimr.org/IMR-1-2009/v5n109-art6.pdf

Simsim, M. T. (2011). Internet usage and user preferences in Saudi Arabia. Journal of King Saud University-Engineering Sciences, 23(2), 101-107.

Turcotte, M. (2010). Working at home: An update. Canadian Social Trends, (91), 3-11.

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Betrayal, Culture, Feminism, Islam, Misyar, Relationships, Saudi Arabia, Women

Misyar Marriage: The Prostitution and Betrayal of the Female Gender

abaya half face
For those living outside of the Arab world, the concept of “misyar marriage” is a foreign concept, although the equivalency of misyar in the Western world is that of having an extra-marital affair. A relationship that is often based on meeting the sexual needs and conquest of men, and perhaps women, with no strings attached as far as responsibility on the part of the male. Misyar marriage is a secret marriage contract entered in by a woman and a man, in which they engage in sexual relations, in which the man has no responsibility to provide financial support, no responsibility of any children that may be born out of the sexual unions, as well as there is typically a “time span” in which this secret marriage is valid for. The women that engage in these marriages, may temporarily benefit in terms of materialistic gifts, vacations, love nests that are temporarily erected to carry out the acts of sexual relations, as well as meeting their own sexual desires. Perhaps these women also may have secret aspirations that the misyar marriage will transform into a traditional marriage through time. These types of marriages are not registered with any type of government agency or authority, and they occur in secret, often away from the knowledge of legitimate wives, family members, or recognizing the temporary union to the public. The Islamic religion strictly forbids sexual relations outside the boundaries of marriage, hence the human creation of the misyar marriage, which allows people to fornicate, perhaps only once or numerous times, while avoiding the worldly consequences or responsibilities of engaging in sexual relations.

In these situations, it would be easy to buy into the worldview of the evil temptress whore, that uses her sexual energy to lure away the family man into lurid sexual activities, but to be completely honest, the only individuals that benefit at the end of day from these situations, are those that advocate the social acceptance of misyar, and the men that engage in the secret “affairs”. I am going to call it an affair, and not refer to it as a marriage for the rest of this piece, because calling it a “marriage” degrades the sanctity of what marriage stands for in terms of respect, honesty, and authentic pure intentions. In addition, in terms of the Islamic principles of honesty, truth, and compassion, this practice is devoid of any of the aforementioned virtues. Misyar is built on the intentions of secrecy, deception, and in all reality, a lie. A lie not only to the legitimate wives and children of the men that choose to engage in this practice, but also to the women that agree to enter into the practice, as well as the risk of children being born out of these unions that have no legal and social rights of having two parents with the benefits of being recognized as a child of both parents. The women that are affected by this practice either by choice or by being legally married to a male that practices this way of life are victims. The children born out of these sexualized temporary unions, as well as the children of legitimate marriages in which their father engages in these practice are victims, forever being scarred by the father’s lust, selfishness, and disrespect of the female gender.

Most men and women enter into a legal traditional marriage, with the expectation that love, trust, honesty, respect, and honor will be the pervading values of the union. It is often viewed as a lifetime commitment in which the two people merge their lives in their efforts to form a family, grow together through the different developmental life stages, as well as often have offspring to continue their own legacies into the future. While indeed Islam does have practices that provide routes for men engaging in polygamy, in which they are permitted to have up to four wives, in reality even Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) did not advocate the practice of polygamy by the conditions in which were set by the act of taking more than one wife. One of the conditions is the man must treat the wives equally in terms of his affection, and material provisions and gifts. Perhaps a man can give equality by the material possessions and gifts that are given, but the equality in terms of affection is almost humanly impossible. In other words, it is permitted, but do not do it because even Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) could not equate his affections equally among wives. In addition, the first wife must agree to the husband taking another wife and if she does not, she is permitted to divorce the husband.

This case scenario illustrates traditional marriages, but the practice of misyar does not even inform the wife of her husband engaging with sexual relations with another woman. The practice of misyar is not only a form of deception and lies to the legally sanctified traditional wife of a man practicing this form of deception, but it also puts the wife’s very health and life in jeopardy. Many countries require testing prior to traditional legal marriage of both the man and woman undergoing testing for the presence of sexually transmitted diseases (STD). Two of these STD diseases such as AIDS or hepatitis most often are fatal to those who are infected in the long-term. In addition, other sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia can cause infertility, or genital warts, which increases a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancers, and least of all the embarrassment and humiliation of being diagnosed with the social stigma of an STD. The practice of misyar, because it does not require the marriage to be legally registered and is engaged in deceptively, does not entail the male or female to engage in testing of STDs. This is a lethal way to spread the transmission of STD’s not only between the two people that are engaging in the deceitful practice of misyar, but also to the innocent unsuspecting wife who believes she is in a mutually sexually exclusive relationship with her husband. In all honesty, neither the men, nor the women who engage in the misyar marriage are virgins who have abstained from sexual relations in the past, and are most likely to have the highest risk of carrying an STD. In fact, some of the women who engage in misyar relationships have a history of engaging in “secret sexual liaisons”, or misyar, one after another, to finance their style of living. For those of you from Western cultures who may be reading this article, we do have slang terms for these women such as “sluts”, “prostitutes”, or “whores” in all honesty.

The traditional legal wife is also an innocent victim in terms of dealing with the emotional and financial drains of her husband engaging in this type of deceitful relationship. As the husband sneaks off to engage in his sexual liaisons with the “secret woman”, this robs not only the wife, but also any children of time and support in the family household that should be available from the husband/father. In addition, the husband is spending the financial resources and future inheritance of the children as he engages in arranging vacations, apartments, as well as gifts to be given to the “other woman”. Perhaps the most painful of all of this experience, is to the wife that finds out about the “secret relationship” and the emotional of feeling betrayed, belittled, and the feelings of inadequacy of worthlessness that accompanies many individuals that have experienced their partner engaging in an affair. Infidelity and the long-lasting scars can cut to the very soul and perception of one’s self as they question why their spouse has engaged in this type of relationship, that is if the wife ever discovers her husband’s extra sexual activities. It not only damages a woman’s perceptions of herself, but can also affect her ability in other roles in life, such as a mother, friend, or employee as she tries to work through the negative emotions that are often associated with this type of betrayal.

Although the women who engage in misyar are often portrayed as evil women with the intentions of gaining financial means, or the plots to secure a future legitimate legal marriage, they are also victimized through this practice. These women are typically never acknowledged as a legal wife, nor do they reap the benefits of inheritance from their sexual liaisons, or the security of a legal marriage. They are often used as a temporary escape from the reality of family life, in which men are able to fulfill their sexual desires outside the traditional boundaries of a public marriage with no future obligations to the woman. In addition, the social stigma involved to the woman that engages in such a type of relationship is often that she is “damaged goods”, either because of divorce, social status, nationality, social economic status (SES) that has been relegated to the role of servicing the sexual needs of a male without the benefits of a legitimate marriage. While some advocate the misyar also is a benefit to these women, examining this practice in regards to these women, they are marginalized, used for sexual pleasure, and are not viewed as worthy enough to legitimize their presence publicly. Their motivation to engage in this type of arrangements may be done in part for momentary financial gains, but I am sure that some of them have the secret hopes that the relationship will develop into a long-term lasting eventual legal marriage, which typically does not happen. The hope of the man acknowledging this “secret women” in the future is bleak, because he has engaged in this type of relationship out of his own sexual lust, but most often will not risk the social condemnation, his legal wife, children, or reputation to have a long-term committed relationship. While he may eagerly profess his love to this woman, you have to question whether he truly has authentic love for anyone to engage in this type of relationship to manipulate and risk his legal wife and children, as well as the “secret woman”. He engaged in a misyar relationship through using deceit and lies, and rest assured this is a character of the individual that carries through in other relationships, including the misyar relationship.

The concept of misyar is built on the concept of “secrecy”. Often when we speak of secrecy, someone is being deceived, lied to, and betrayed. While the women, who engage in these types of relationships with men are often portrayed as the temptress set out to destroy the sanctity of marriage, in reality, the real transgressors in these types of arrangements are the men that are not only betraying their legitimate legal wife and children through their egotistical actions to satisfy their sexual urges, they also are manipulating and using the very women that they engage with in these secret sexual liaisons behind the closed doors of deception and secrecy. The difference is one woman has chosen to engage in the practice, while the legitimate wife is often kept in the dark of the fraudulent behavior of her husband. The women in these types of arrangements may be marginalized by some type of socially constructed grouping in which they have been categorized either by life experiences, or by birth, but they too are humans with aspirations, dreams, and needs. Those that advocate and practice this type of secretive behaviors are the lone transgressors and oppressors of women and children, as well as illustrating the treachery and sham of dishonesty that humans can choose to engage in by their animalistic sexual urges that rob them of values, virtues, and honesty in relationships. The practice of misyar is not a practice of Islam, because Islam advocates truth, honesty, humbleness, and respect. The practice of misyar is a creation of patriarchal men, who happen to be associated with the faith of Islam, but have bent the rules to satisfy their own selfish carnal needs, and have disregarded the female gender as human beings worthy of respect. For those who have limited understanding of the Islamic faith, this is not Islam, but is a construction of a practice by humans that seeks to circumnavigate the rules of Islam to quench sexual desires, while avoiding responsibility, honesty, and respect for the female gender.

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Betrayal, Feminism, Personal Growth, Relationships, Saudi Arabia, Women

Living in the Shadows of the Cloak of Darkness

shadows
I have been living in the shadows, the shadows of sorrow, pain, and broken trust that have kept me out from my own inner light. You helped me create those shadows, by blocking the light with your words, you actions, and the images of betrayal that left me in darkness. You cloaked me in black to cover my inner light, expecting me to thrive out of the spotlight, while I slowly withered away into a state of the breathing dead.

Objects of reality only create shadows, and you do not represent reality, or an object that is solid and real, but a hollow figure that is nothing more than an illusion of deception. Just as I moved into the flimsy shadows by my own free will, I am stepping out of the shadows and casting away the cloak of black, back into my light to take my place among the living, escaping the shadows of doubt. I will leave you to your own drama, with all of your fellow actors to play on your stage in your shadows of deception. Shadows possess no depth, dimension, or color, but are superficial images cast on walls perhaps to spark one’s imagination of creating stories and tales. Shadows cannot exist without light, and no longer will I allow you to steal my light for your shadowy manipulations, but I am reclaiming my light to see my world as it is.

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Feminism, Humanistic Psychology, parenting, Personal Growth, Psychology, Relationships, Women

Knowledge of a Mother to her Daughter…..

mother daughter

I do not know everything, but I know that you are part of me and I am part of you by the blood that flows through our veins, and by virtue of being females.

I do not know everything, but I know that I will bestow in you the belief in yourself that you are worth respect and dignity.

I do not know everything, but I know that if you have a dream, do not let others try to dampen your inspiration, those inspirations can only become a reality by your own perspiration.

I do not know everything, but I know that you will walk through life with both sorrow and joy, embrace both emotions, because you cannot know one without the other.

I do not know everything, but I know that you are more than the face that your Creator has given you, you are more than your possessions, you are a soul filled with passions, fears, and needs that you can only fill within yourself.

I do not know everything, but I know we are more than just the titles we carry, the duties we perform, and the roles we play, we are a creation of God that gave us the ability to think, love, and live for a limited time.

I do not know everything, but I know that some other souls in the world are filled with hate, jealousy, and greed.  Do not go to their level, and learn to rise above the maleficence to find kindness, caring, compassion, and respect to other living souls.

I do not know everything, but I know that we will both make mistakes, but learning from those mistakes and taking a lesson in how to go forward is the only path to finding meaning.

I do not know everything, but I know I have been blessed by the life that I carried within me, and with the blessing of watching you grow and finding yourself becoming a woman, with your contributions that you will pass on to the next soul of what is it to be a female.

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Feminism, Personal Growth, Psychology, Women

The “Happily Ever After” Effect

The "Happily Ever After" Effect.

Many from my generation and after have been brainwashed into what I called “The Happily Ever After Fairytale Syndrome”. We were brought up on Disney movies and fairytale books where the beautiful princess has great trials and tribulations in her early life, but with the help of a handsome prince, she finds the courage to overcome these barriers and lives with the Prince “happily ever after”. They ride off into the sunset in a carriage leaving to our imagination that splendid life the two have before them of children, palace, and gracefully beautifully aging together. We hear the trumpets blowing, birds singing, and a chorus singing enchanting themes enthralling one’s soul into a surreal bliss, with the words printed “and they lived happily ever after. The end”. This magical unrealistic view has been imprinted on generations of young girls of what they believe their future beholds.
What these fairytales failed to mention was that “happily ever after” is going to have those painful moments, and for at least half of the fairytales, there would be no happily ever after, but instead future challenges would be faced as the princess moved through her future developmental life phases. These stories failed to show the frailness of life itself and that overnight one’s life can change in a moment. Overall, these stories failed to show that even though our heroine in the story has overcome a major obstacle that her life, ahead would include many too come, which is the experience and art of living.
Life in itself is not a journey of “happily ever after” because the cycle of life is like a roller coaster with pivotal peaks as well as times we feel ourselves spiraling down towards the ground. The momentum and feelings that are associated with these peaks and valleys are alike in that they are both intense, but they differ in the experienced emotion. Our peaks are filled with emotions of excitement, joy, pleasure, and safety, while our times down low are filled with sorrow, regret, pain, and questioning our purpose in life. It appears to me it would have been far more helpful if the writers of these “happily ever after tales”, would have shown the princess experiencing more than just one obstacle in her life. If they would have shown how the princess picked up the shattered pieces of her fairy tale “happily ever after illusion”, moved forward, and continued living.

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