Tuesday, May 05, 2009

I don't get no respect

Rachel and I just got back from an outing. Yesterday we had a little sandstorm and it was hot and dusty all day so we stayed cooped up. Today, though, was bright and sunny and it felt, shockingly, cool, so we went out. (Side note: I described to Sara our 26°C/78.8°F as "actually quite cool").

On our way home I was, for the first time ever in the Middle East, touched inappropriately by a man. I was pushing the stroller and he was coming straight at me and didn't look like he was going to move, so I moved over, and he mirrored my movements. I was barely able to squeeze the stroller between him and the car beside me. As he walked by he patted my rear end and then kept on going.

I must say that in my pregnant state my behind is much more voluptuous and womanly than usual, so perhaps it was a little more tempting than before I was pregnant and had no rear end at all.

Still, it was uncalled for. So I stopped walking and turned around to yell at the guy.

"HEY, YOU!" I screamed, "DON'T TOUCH ME!"

Not that it was very helpful because I was screaming in English, but still, I felt like screaming, so I did.

He turned around and indicated that he was deaf by making some mute squeaking noises and pointing to his ears. Now, I'm sorry, but if you turn around to tell someone that you are deaf, chances are you aren't all that deaf.


He rolled his eyes, waved me off with his hands and kept walking. There wasn't much else I could do, so I turned around and harrumphed the stroller into action again. No sooner had I done so than I ran into a nice lady who was out on a stroll with her son, who was on a bicycle.

She asked me something in Arabic that I didn't understand. So I told her that I didn't understand.

She started yelling in Arabic and waving her arms. A policeman jogged over from wherever he was stationed. She continued to yell and pointed from me to the man who had touched me.

The policeman pulled out his revolver and ran over to the man, waving it and yelling. The man turned around.

The policeman said something and the man, again, insisted he was deaf. Apparently the policeman didn't think that deafness was any excuse for violating a lady's personal space. He wrote out a citation, took some money, and jotted down the man's ID number. Oh, and he yelled a lot.

"Pardon," said the lady, "هو مش كويس/He's not good. خلاص/It's over."

She gave me a small, timid embrace, "مع السلام جميلة/Goodbye, pretty."

I thanked her and we went our separate ways, she with her son, and me with my daughter.

And that was that. Maybe I overreacted a little, and things probably did escalate a little more than I expected them to. After all, the man probably didn't deserve to have an armed policeman confront him. But he did deserve some repercussion. He can't just go around touching women, thinking it's normal.

In general, I'm impressed with the respect that I, as a woman, command in the Middle East. Single women seem to have a harder time, but I don't seem to find much trouble here. The role of wife and mother are very respected.

There are creeps everywhere, though, who don't respect much of anybody. And maybe they do deserve to have cops with guns run after them every once in a while. Who's to say?


  1. I love you, man.

    This an even better story than Pita clocking the cab driver (and that's saying a lot because that could be our very favorite Egypt story). Kevan thinks the only thing that could make it better is if Andrew had been there and clocked the guy. Kevan seems to like stories in which stupid people get clocked. (Me, I just like to say, "clocked.")

    Just now Emma and I were walking home from school and were negotiating the craziness in front of Kimo. A car came really close to us, and Megan yelled, "HEY GUY, DON'T RUN ME OVER!" I guess it's a girl power kind of day :)

  2. No one messes with my sister when she's pregnant!

    Actually, no one should mess with her when she's not pregnant. Andrew, you should beat him up. I'd suggest giving a good scolding, but apparently it falls upon deaf ears.

  3. That was supposed to read, "...Emma and Megan and I..."

  4. Grr, that makes me so mad. I'm glad someone stood up for you, though. And I'm glad you stood up for yourself :).

  5. That made me laugh! Not that you got spanked, but the part where you were yelling at him! I don't know if I would have yelled at him like that. I actually don't know what I would have done, but maybe I would be more violent if i was pregnant. It reminds me of the time in Provo when I was walking with my friend. She had her baby in the stroller and she was obviously pregnant, and I had Evelynn. A car slowed down and an older man leaned out and scream "Birth control!" So I screamed, "At least I get some!" Yeah, that's me on the streets of Provo, right outside of BYU.

  6. Hah, that's awesome!! I would have LOVED it if that had happened in Turkey. Luckily I never quite had that situation happen, but it was a bit nerve-wracking now and then.

  7. Good for you! And good for that lady! And bad for the deaf guy. Also good for your new womanly behind. :)

  8. Uh, weird. I got, like, none of these comments in my email so was like, "I got accosted on the street and no one cares! Waa!" But then I came here and saw that people really do read my if my whole self-esteem depends on it.

    @ Sara -- I realize now that the whole situation could have been avoided had I not moved my stroller over, played chicken with the guy, and rammed him. After all, my stroller is the size of a small car. He had no chance. Kevan probably would have liked that ending better.

    Also, Rachel yells at random cars all the time, too. Because we do. I'm glad Megan does as well! It's like road-rage, only while walking instead of while driving. I don't think road-rage can be helped here.

    @ Geneen -- That story is awesome. :)

    @ Heidi -- I totally know how you feel. It seems that foreign women are more of a target for staring at/creepiness in foreign countries. I could be wrong...but that's just how it seems to me. Maybe because they think we don't know what to do. I mean, I didn't know what to do and yelling didn't do any good because I couldn't threaten anything like calling the police. I don't even know the number to 911 (I think it might be 123 or something like that. Note to self: learn number to 911, not that I have any faith that it would come in helpful here; that's why they have police stationed on virtually every street corner, right?).

    @ Abra, David, Bridget, and Amy -- Thanks! :)