December 12, 2009

Aggression and Testosterone

Anyone who knows me knows that I like men. I've worked in male-dominated departments for years with few incidents. I don't think I've ever been accused of being a feminist man-hater.

Having said all that, however, I've come to find myself quite ill at ease in this male-dominated society I now live in.

I am surrounded by men and more than that, I am part of a society that seems to have no place for women. And certainly not Western women.

There is an aggression here that is unsubtle. You see it on the roads, and in the sheer numbers of men out on the streets. But I don't fear for my safety; I fear for my visibility and my sense of self.

In this society, I don't really exist. And that's weird. And rather than inspiring me to step up, it has made me shrink back. Serious business deals aren't done with women. The real estate agent addresses Paul and I'm just in the back seat of the car, along for the ride.

Women here wear the abaya for religious and cultural reasons. It protects them from the prying eyes of men who are not related to them. And I actually get that. But it also puts them in the background. They are shadows that fill in the margins around the men.

And so I struggle to find my place among all of this.

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