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Sara Al Mheiri: Are you not ashamed?
August 15, 2014
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Dear Men,

I wake up every morning, excited about the prospects that I will be facing that day. I turn up the music and dance about in my living room, my energy high. I try on an outfit. Then another. Then another. And then another. I finally decide, put it on and open my front door to leave my apartment, take one last look at myself and shut the door again. Once again, I change.

 This isn’t an article about how I am such a woman who can’t decide what to wear because “I don’t have enough clothes blah moan blah.” No, this is an article where I spend about 20 minutes a day picking out an outfit that will say “Hey, I am a respectable, independent woman who doesn’t want you to shout ludicrous, derogatory remarks at.” I am looking for the outfit that will allow me to take a ride on the subway and not have you eye me up like a slab of meat at the butcher store. I am searching for the outfit which will allow me to walk home at night and not have me fear for my life. But why is it that I have to waste my time searching for an outfit to make me feel safe when you can’t even spend half a millisecond to take a step back and think to yourself: What if this was my own sister/mother/daughter? How would you feel if that was happening to her?

I tried taking the high road. I walked away with a straight serious face when men shout crude words at me and I maintained no eye contact with any man in case he mistook my look for a longing gaze. But day after day, even after putting all my shields up, alas, the barrier broke down. It broke down today when a man calmly put his hand on my backside. When I rightfully slapped him across his face, did he apologise? No, instead he had the nerve to argue with me on how I seemed to just be “begging for it,” especially in those pants. With a mindset like that, it baffles me how he seemed to have lived this long. I see that survival of the fittest is a thing of the past now, shame.

Why do men think that shouting at me whilst I walk down the street, humiliating me with their disgusting pick up lines, will make me turn around and shout from the top of my lungs: “Oh my Prince Charming! He has finally arrived! I have found the one who will whisk me away to his dingy apartment and we will be together forever!” Of course this is all accompanied with adorable woodland creatures who will sing along in perfect harmony. I mean, what girl could say no to that? Oh and let’s not forget those cat calls and wolf whistles that go along with it, which just makes a girl’s heart explode with happiness. And never forget the explosive anger that follows when we, women, respectfully decline them. Because, how could we possibly say no to such a gentleman? One mother would be ever so proud of.

This isn’t just in New York City. This isn’t just in Boston. Nor is it just in Dubai but everywhere in the world. That’s correct. Women feel unsafe everywhere and I am sick and tired of it. I know this isn’t going to change just from writing this article (though that doesn’t stop me from secretly wishing it does.) I am tired of women being blamed for the way they dress, act, walk, talk. Basically for being a normal human being and living their own life as God intended them to.

Whatever happened to walking up to a woman and striking up a polite and riveting conversation? You then shyly ask for her number and she gladly gives it to you. You then meet up sometime that week for coffee, then later on a dinner date. You could click and end up married or it doesn’t work out. But that’s what a respectable human being does. I realised it’s not the creepy man who doesn’t shower for days who hits on you the most. But it’s the college student, the businessman, the guy who serves your coffee. It’s the dad, brother and son. It could be anyone and that’s what scares me the most.

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Sara Al Mheiri is a young Emirati woman who is currently living
in Boston, USA, where she is specialising in media studies with a
focus on women's studies. Sara is the ultimate nomad who flits
between countries observing new societies and their culture.

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