Sex: Don’t let words deceive you ~ Omar Ghraieb

Gaza, December, I am not known for choosing controversial headlines to spark traffic or discussions, not that is a bad thing. But perhaps I needed to start this post by a reminder to myself and to you all: Don’t be deceived by headlines, words, covers and\or preconceived notions.

It’s always better to dig a little deeper. I know that sometimes we end up discovering a rock after digging up hard, but sometimes we come across a diamond while excavating. I don’t know about you, but personally I think that risk is worth the effort. You will either find a diamond or find the truth. Arent they both worth the digging?

By sex here I mean gender. Males and Females, and everything that falls in between. I am not here to lecture you in science or repeat historical theories and findings about males and females and the endless yet limited differences between them. I am here to talk about a whole different dimension.

I wish it stops at education and science, when it comes to learning about males and females, but it doesn’t. Everywhere around the world, whatever the diverse culture is, we are all raised on pre-defined notions and definitions. Whether its related to morals, or religion, or traditions, or terms or even the simple meaning of things. We are grown to absorb everything as it was decided by others. And we are told that asking questions is bad, it might even label you as an outcast or a rebel.

We become adults based on very old stereotypical definitions that were passed through generations without any effort of thinking things over or adding value to those terms. I am not talking about “modernizing things”, I am just saying that we were given a brain for a reason. Therefore, we should use it and learn that it is ok to challenge old or new meanings. We will either be convinced that they are right\enough, or maybe add to them or change them.

Nobody can define love in a specific way, or success. Love is said to be so many things. Some say it’s a feeling, others say it’s a state while its also said to be a chemical or scientific process. Success too. How can you define it? Is it having allot of money? Or being happy at what you do? Or is it being famous? Or have allot of following? Or maybe all the above? Who knows. And why should we know? Why do we have a hunger to define things and pass them on as the “right definition”?

In different cultures around the world, including the Arab world, we are brought up to believe that men don’t cry, men are indestructible and super strong. Males are raised to become emotionless Hercules who will be judged upon and measured by how much money they make and how many girls they toy with.

Yet, men are expected to be religious and well mannered. Exceptional husbands, amazing fathers, great brothers, obedient sons and good friends. They are expected to remember birthdays and show emotions and really care. But how? And what emotions? If they are raised to be heartless and strong?

Females are raised up to be weak and soft. “The weaker you are, the more men you attract”, and then she falls in love with someone who tells her she is too weak and breaks her heart. Women are told to be stupid, because if they are smarter and more successful  (and they usually are) then men will feel threatened and run away. Women are expected to be a superwoman who happens to be a great wife, marvelous mother, tender sister, obedient daughter and a true friend. She is asked to “find a balance” and “juggle everything at the same time”. She is expected to be the first in her class, yet act dumb. She is expected to soar for success yet let the man feel like he has the superior upper hand. She is expected to be amazing at work and home. She should raise kids, cook, clean, be the perfect maid and yet take care of herself for her husband while she studies and works and does a million thing at once.

But how? And why do you expect her to be strong when she is raised to be weak? How will she believe in herself when she is told she is dumb and must always submit to men? How can she be confident when she is degraded to feel like a maid in her own house?

Men are not brought up to respect the sacredness of marriage. In most cultures, men aren’t shamed for infidelity. And women are raised up to be in competition with each other, not in work or education, but in getting men. So its ok for men to dive into betrayal and infidelity yet they are grilled for it. What do you expect from them when they are raised to fall into such patterns?

Women are raised to be emotional yet oppress their feelings. “Don’t challenge your man, don’t speak about your feelings, don’t complain …..etc” and the list of “Don’ts” continues. Women are told that divorce is shameful and a disaster and that they are too weak to handle it. Yet, they are blamed for staying with abusive or womanizing men. And women are asked to never discuss sex with their own husbands, its an indicator of bad upbringing yet its ok to talk about it with her mother and girlfriends. How do you expect women to be strong and stand up for themselves if they are raised to be mute obedient maids?

And let’s not forget the old tale of all times: “Men are breadwinners, their duty as fathers and husbands is to put food on the table”. Then we blame men for being unfit fathers who don’t help their wives with anything.

“Women are the center of the house, you are expected to do anything and everything and never ever complain or ask for help”. Then we blame women for being too weak and handling too much and neglecting themselves and not caring for their husbands.

Gladly, we reached an era where we are aware and educated enough to use the unlimited resources we have to questions things and redefine concepts that perhaps we feel like we need to make better. We are no angels and I know no matter how hard we try not to judge, we end up judging. Fine, judge people and things but do go a step further to explore whether your judgment is right or wrong. At the end of the day, you are not god and you are not always right.

We always try to grow as humans, which is necessary and good. But we should also care about the growth of the surrounding environment and the society you live in. Otherwise, your growth will feel minimal. Yes, you need to start within but do aspire to external and widespread change after you start with yourself. And think, by questioning and challenging preconceived constants, you might be paving the way for a healthier better generation.

Writing and reading are therapeutic. I hope you don’t consider my writing as lecturing or telling you what to do. It’s more like sharing my personal intimate thoughts so I could grow with you. We all have our trials and tribulations. Instead of judging each other and growing apart, I believe we should help each other and grow closer. Our time has many advantages but also one of the downfalls is that we are becoming lonely by isolating ourselves by relying too much on technology.

Life is tough, and a constant learning experience. But its limitless too so never stop using your brain or advancing because nothing is impossible and trust me, you are definitely not alone, even though it feels like it most of the time. So let’s get it together.

From Gaza with love,

Omar Ghraieb

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