May 16, 2006

The homosexuality discussion; and our blatantly latent society!

Western societies are maturing with their endeavor of establishing a flexible & capacitating set of social norms & standards to the point that organizations are now not only defending the rights of homosexuals (or more inflammably: GLBT), but also the right of the latter to choose to revert back to their (I can’t help but say it) instinctual heterosexual (normal) status!

In the meantime, at this defeated part of the world, we still seem to be dragged into following the same progression route of western societies when dealing with this issue! That is to say to start with a total oblivious tabooing of the issue, while it’s a reoccurring phenomenon in all societies across time is an established fact even in Holy Scriptures!

Then you got groups forming to defend the rights of homosexuals capitalizing on the rising liberal environment throughout the 19th & 20th centuries, declassifying it as a psychiatric illness, to the point of total embracement (if not celebration) of homosexuality while proving its normalcy (it’s Oh-my genetic you know! So does cheating-on-one’s-wife as they say too).

Finally, & as you may expect from any society sincerely seeking social justice & equilibrium, they arrived to the conclusive underlying fact that homosexuality (whether genetically triggered or not) is like any other “lifestyle”, a matter of choice that (within the context of social justice in such societies) shouldn’t be condemned nor judged or segregated against, hence the flourishing of groups trying to help existing homosexuals who suddenly find themselves inclined towards the other sex (Again, I can’t help but saying) as they should!

So while people out there are choosing (replace with “discovering” if you are soft on the subject) that they are gay & others are discovering that they no longer fancy same-sex mates & struggle to come out of their new closet… Here at this oblivious part of the world, we choose to follow the same road pathetically.

Be it the backward-minded “religious” folks who view homosexuality as a product of the west (will, the hype around it definitely is, but that’s another story altogether) to the out-right liberal who think we should “learn” from the west how to embrace homosexuality with love & respect… the whole spectrum of opinions got it all but too wrong in my humble perspective because they fail to cherish the very fact that we could possibly have a different case.

Take for instance the Arabic (English speaking/written ones as well) media, chiefly the numerous satellite channels, they all approach homosexuality among other topics as an opportunity to be the lucratively first Arabic media outlet to break this into the public awareness & discuss it… now this is good at face value, but the methodology is what counts!

I have yet to witness a sincere attempt to put this subject in a unhyped & sincere format that tackles the subject without the viewership-ratings/magazine-sales boosting drama...

I’m all for taboo breaking & the exposing of our society for the illnesses it truly harbors in order for it to be remedied, but the hurtful fact is that even when we decide to discuss such matters, we erratically pick it up from where others have left the subject without any measure of scrutiny if they (the west in this case) have gotten it right to start with!

Why can’t we start something new despite our total cultural defeat, why don’t we dismiss the fad, hype, commercial exploitation & other aspects that surrounds sexuality in general & homosexuality in specific & isolate the matter in order to eruditely discuss it & come out with something that is fit for our oblivious society!

Sexuality is way too exploited in the west that even some chose an asexual “lifestyle”, reminding me of the Arabic proverb
"بدك اتحيرو خيرو"
; it’s all a matter of “lifestyles” after all, isn’t it? The freedom to decide on the “lifestyle” that perfectly fits one's idea of “individualism”...

Within such context, it really makes no difference when a man (because of the gay genes, sick, frustrated or for whatever reason) start “feeling attracted” to other men, (can’t help but rubbing it) young kids or a rare Mongolian chimpanzee, it’s all about the quest for the ultimate sexual satisfaction… All I’m trying to say is that the issue surpasses homosexuality and onto the way love, relationship , family, sexuality among other things is valued (or devalued for those matters) & dealt with accordingly.

Homosexuality in our societies varies distinctly from that in the west, of course the openness of western societies & their gracious ability to be capacitating (generally speaking) makes it easier for every passing mental wimp to turn one into a homosexual, yet over here the case is different, there are in general intrinsically solid reasons for this phenomenon, beside the natural reoccurrence of it, & other than being a spoiled rich kid from western Amman who’s trying to identify him/herself with the stereotypical conception of how one should be gay who must suffer oppression & seeks endorsement from the harsh society!

My fiancée is studying anthropology, my envy to her only matches my enthusiasm for what I can learn from her, as I wish I can systematically identify & categorize the trends in our society, though I can guesstimate-ly think of few now; such as limited access to the other sex (chiefly in Saudi) where the total segregation between genders intrigues individual (though perfectly comfortable with being heterosexual) to take the roll of the other sex in some circles to vent out some of the steam… I can hear deluded-into-feeling-well-informed folks shouting “Oh, but that’s called bisexuality or roll-playing”… BS… we don’t need to be conformed to the same set of labels & diagnosis.

I can also think of a kid going “soft” in the classical setup of an authoritarian father who conjugate his manhood with his masculinity in a house full of women (the mother & a half dozen of sisters) in which the poor little kid seeks refuge in the more appealing & definitely comforting feminine surrounding.

(I’ll say it on your behalf:) this is at best an unverified speculation spoken beyond the realm of established facts, yet what I’m trying to establish here is that we don’t need to vividly mimic homosexuality in our society & deal with it the same way others dealt with it!

We must certainly do the same in terms of acknowledging the fact it exist among us, but rather be empathically capacitating (yes, I too still they’re still humans) but without being acceptingly embracing (major difference) & then see how the matter can be eradicated or lived-with until it eventually dies off or get ridiculed to the proportion it fits.

Even the hyped & tabooed nature of the homosexuality discussion in our region is mimicked, liberals & open-minded folks think they made a rub-it-in-your-face achievement when they break the replicated silence around such topics, little do they know that the matter has been comfrotebly dealt with throughout our civilization in all sort of ways (from the the total acceptance to the out-right criminalizing), but alas… even obliviousness strikes the self-acclaimed open-minded of us.

What I’m advocating for here is to look at the matter from an alternative perspective, have a sense of falsification while blindly orienting ourselves with both how we identify sexuality & how we deal with it as the "west" did!

A quick disclaimers here, I sincerely believe that those choosing to orient themselves as homosexuals are normal people behaving abnormally (whether sexually active or mere tendencies only), they're no different from a perfectly sane man cheating on his wife or addicted to smoking! But definitely I cannot differentiate between the sexual & mental build-up that leads to any abnormal sexual activity or behavior, be it asexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, try-sexuality (if such thing exist), incest-sex, pedophilia or having sex with animals…

May 03, 2006

The man-made maid dilemma

Following the topic led by a number of entries about the maids (domestic workers, huh?) in Jordan, methinks that being sympathetic towards those we hire to work for us in our homes is rather a flawed approach to a circumstantially unique issue; what’s needed is a degree of empathy, beside the social aspect of the issue!

In my case, our house back home is rather large, and I must confess we had two maids at one point, all of my 2 married sisters & sister in-law have maids too, though their household is comprised of their non-working selves, their husbands & 1 to 2 loud & demanding kids living in a 200sqm apartment (at best)! A typical well-off family setup, my fiancée’s sister also has a similar situation!

Being sick-off & fundamentally opposed to the excessive dependency on maids, I started the discussion with my fiancée at an early stage to establish a provisional agreement upon which I can keep poking her with once we’re married! Perhaps not; but I’ll use it to negotiate my way out of it when I’m cornered with the possible demand of hiring a maid…

The thrust of my premise & opposition stems from the fact that the size of the household of my sisters does not require the hiring of a live-in maid, neither their age or their health condition, as a matter of fact, the maids they hire are either their age or older, probably has left behind kids of the age of my nephews & nieces… at best, a per-hour hiring of a maid ONCE needed seems more sensible!

The problem with such proposition is that you get instantaneously hit with the heavy brick of “If you think it’s THAT easy, why don’t you do it for yourself?”, and to my "feminist" naysayer readers; I plead for a hint of a benefit of doubt here…

The other premise I argue my case with is the fact that when a maid is available –typically- 16 hours a day increases our dependency upon her service, intriguing laziness, and lack of intuition in house-keeping and swarms of other deficiencies, not to mention the cultural, linguistic & general negative influence over the kids & the household in general!

No I’m not xenophobic-ally worried that my kids will be deluded & start carrying a cross or worshiping Jesus –peace & blessing upon him- or rub a deformed golden elephant statue every morning for luck! Rather, I’m worried that my kids would fall into the comfortable feelings of superiority over a consistent observation of maids coming from certain backgrounds, among other issues...

It took me a 4-year solo stretch living on my own & 6 month washing dishes at a restaurant while studying abroad to appreciate & understand the very household demanding necessities that I’ve took for granted the whole of my life! statements like “Leave the dishes, SHE will take care of them”, “Never mind the untidy living room, SHE went out to walk the dog & SHE’ll tide it up once SHE’s back” or “Oh, I’m late to work, never mind turning the bed, SHE’ll take care of it” creeps a fit into my knick.

And my closing paradigm is rather economical, as I don’t understand how a country with a per capita GDP as low as $4k is capable of paying (on average) $120 monthly for over 50 something thousand maids coming from a country –Philippines- with a higher per capita GDP (ok, slightly higher)! Probably the math works out the same way we ended up with 10 H2 Hummer vehicles for every 1000sqm of Amman costing JD14 to travel for 100km distance (the per litter cost for premium unleaded is JD0.6 & the H2 mileage is 22litters per 100km, fire-up Google & get your calc. out if you find me unworthy of your trust)

On a lighter note, I utterly demise the hierarchy of the hiring process which is based on prestige in essence (and hence the pay they get): Who decided that the Iraqi widowed maid is better than the dark-skinned young woman from Ghour? Who decided that an Indonesian maid is better than the Iraqi widow? Who decided that Chandra & her sisters are better than their Indonesian counterparts? Flippin heck… who decided that their Filipino counterparts are more hardworking & prestigious?

Oh, with the hurl of exceptions of Moslem Filipinos who are mostly dump & will probably churn at an early point, along with the niche Egyptian couple (a guard & his wife) being a spot-on preference of differentiation! That’s infuriating& out-righting pathetic…

Now, despite a (believe it or not understandingly) probable disposition with regard my humble self being not so feminine-friendly, yet I’m still a firm believer in the distribution of roles between the –equal in rights- men & women of society, where in the majority of typical families, the man is a provider while the woman is a sustainer, the man provides a living to the family, while the woman makes this living possible!

Why should a woman leave her home and kids to work in order to afford a maid that will fill in for her where she is mostly needed? I’d like to emphasize on the use of the term “needed” as opposed to being obliged or required to; for this distribution of roles stems from an intrinsic (and I sincerely believe: instinctual) understanding of the capacity of being a wife & a mother!

Why should the whole family suddenly become so dependent on the service offered by the maid or even the –mostly- helpless housewife or the dozen of sisters, while each and every member of the household should take care of his or her bit and contribute towards the general welfare of it!

Obviously, I understand the need of a maid for a larger households, like having a 400+ sqm home, with half dozen or more kids, I can understand the need for a maid with an elderly living alone, I understand the need of a helping hand with a young woman whose either pregnant or recently gave birth, so on & so forth…


So you hired a maid, huh? Obviously you shouldn’t treat them as slaves, common sense one might think, yet a good chunk of our oblivious society take such things for granted & end up treating their maids as such!

All that’s needed is a principle understanding of the contractual obligation between both parties, you hire a woman regardless of the circumstances that led her to taking such job, you pay her fairly, give her the agreed upon leaves (be it the weekly, monthly or bi-annually) & don’t force her to work over hours.

Along with the essential good manners & no-brainers tactfulness of recognizing that she also may suffer from a crippling fatigue after a Jordanian family feast or gathering even if she was being paid to do the job she’s doing at such occassion(s).

On the other hand, the maid should understand that she’s not being done a favor or being subject to a charity pay camouflaged in a form being paid for a job! it might not be the best job in the world, but it’s her reality; a cumbersome job that provides the money needed to support the very family she left behind.

Now this was strictly business talk, and that’s too crude and does not address the uniqueness & intimacy (in the family sense of it) of the situation, therefore the family who decide to hire a maid should acknowledge the fact that the woman they hired did actually leave her house to serve in another thousand of miles away…

No, that doesn’t mean to be arrogantly be sympathetic or pampering her with insincerety, it means that the environment where she works at should be capacitating:

Ideally, it should feel like her second home, for her to feel considered as part of the family (for she is), as she wakes up wit them, live with them, eat with them (yes on the same table & at the same time while the food is hot) & essentially being allocated a decent & acceptable place to sleep (the washing machine room is not a sleeping quarter) while she carry out her due diligence!

All that is needed is a level of empathy (I can’t emphasize more on the essential difference between it & sympathy) and understanding! Rubbing a JD10 note in her face on Christmas or Krishna’s anniversary wouldn’t cut it as being nice! It’s the general attitude & overall good-mannered treatment that counts and should be widely recognized as important.

Finally, if you’re a non-working elitist mother who's out'n'about doing her nails at Perfect-nail (they should start paying me for over mentioning them) or the hair at TONY&GUY while the entourage of specialty maids are taking care of the dog, the kids & the house… (respectively) I'm inclined to speak of your likes viciously, yet the more articulate & well-spoken “foreigner” among us had it better...