Man Problems...

Trip Start May 22, 2009
Trip End Feb 16, 2010

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Flag of Syria  ,
Monday, December 28, 2009

It all started in Greece.  I noticed that the number of women were becoming less and less.  At least the visibility of them outside was.  Then in Turkey, I almost wondered how the population sustained itself.  Other than the occasional women shopping at the market, I didn’t see any!.  Women and children appeared almost non-existant, while on the other hand, men were everywhere!  Tea houses burst at the seems with them, stores were crowded with them, sitting along the side of the road, walking, driving - men, men, men!

Now in Syria, it seems to be very much a ‘man’s society’ again with men everywhere and in large numbers.  But women are much more visible than in Turkey and Greece.  (Well, depending on their dress).  Families are seen together walking in the streets and large groups of girls walk arm in arm.  It’s nice to see again.  

But I don’t fit.  

As a non-Syrian woman I’m struggling to find my place.  Trying to respect muslim culture I’m wearing long sleeves, long pants, have a scarf around my shoulders and usually have my hair tied back.  It still doesn’t stop the stares, but I don’t mind them so much.  It’s when the stares turn to something more...

The last few days Brian hasn’t been feeling well and I’ve been going a bit stir-crazy sitting in the hotel room, so I’ve tried going out for walks around the town.  But every time I do, I have creepy guys propositioning me. 

This is soo frustrating!  I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.  No one seems to be doing it to the Syrian women, and some of them are wearing skinny jeans, high boots, plastered in make up with hair blowing in the wind.  What is going in?  Am I giving off some sort of signal?  Is making eye contact too bold?  Do they think all western women are prostitutes?  I just don’t know.

I have since figured out a few of my downfalls concerning these issues.  First of all, the opinion of 'western' women is not necesarily that is upright respect.  Most of the knowledge these men have of us comes from dirty magazines and filthy videos that are available on the black market.  So upon seeing a 'western' woman, certain generalizations are made.  This coupled with me making eye contact, and perhaps smiling...well...Plus, I think I may have made the biggest blunder of all - going outside with wet hair after a shower.  Aparantely that mean's I've just had sex - confirming all suspicians!  Can't I just be 'clean'?

What makes it even more frustrating, is that when I’m with Brian - there’s nothing.  He can walk behind me and watch the men look at me, get a silly smile, see him, then look away.  Plus they’re very nice when Brian’s around as well.  Lots of friendly handshakes, invitations for coffee and conversation.  Nothing funny at all.  Brian makes friends instantly while I stand off to the side (like a dutiful wife should I suppose).  I’m calling it the 'power of testosterone'. 

He gets the eyecontact during conversations, tea poured first, and even flowers given in the street.  So strange...

However, this is causing some issues as we change who 'wears the pants in the relationship' so to say.  I tend to be a little more outgoing - asking directions, buying the food, looking for rooms, learning the language, etc., etc.  Brian prefers me to take the lead in these things, but now we're being forced to change.  Not that men won’t talk to me or interact with me, but the interaction is different when it comes from Brian. 

Still trying to figure out what it appropriate and what is not.  How do I find a way to function appropriately in society?  And most importantly, why do all of women’s problems have to do with men?
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Fay on

I'm laughing at your last question. What surprised me that already in Greece, you were noticing less appearances of women.

2totango on

actually on the ferry from Italy to Greece. Saw one or two at boarding and disembarking, but the rest of the time they were well hidden...?

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