How Fast Are Yemeni Women Becoming Westernized? [Archives:1997/51/Culture]
Athina Al-Absi, Yemen Times
Sources of influence Before the inroduction of satellite TV to Yemen, Yemeni women were trying to follow the latest fashions by travelling abroad and, sometimes, imitating Western women. A Yemeni woman may know more about, and be influenced by, fashion from magazines, films, videos and cinema. Today, since the satellite TV brings to us all that is going on around the world, Yemeni women started to follow Western fashion in a much more immediate manner. Aspects of Influence
Clothings Yemeni women are greatly influenced by the way Western women dress. They started to wear Western trousers, shirts, and shoes. Girls as young as 9 also started to immitate their mothers and older sisters. The veil has satrted to disappear even among school girls as old as 17 or 18. Girls used to be amde to cover up their faces as soon as they reached puberty.
Hairdressing Just a few years ago in Sanaa, say, a Yemeni woman was not allowed to go to a hairdresser unless she was a bride, and after she got married. Those who were not married were not allowed to do so. As soon as a woman became a mother she would think that she is too old to dye her hair or even to have it cut or stylized. It was only allowed for the newly married. Now women have started to be more aware of using the suitable kind of make-up. They have become more skillful in using many kinds of creams and lotions for skin protection. A woman would practice what she learns from designers hairdressers she watches on saellite TV. Married women started doing waht was only the prerogative of the young and unmarried females. Moreover, they are allowing their own daughters to do the same. It has become a very familiar thing to see young girls and women with their hair cut or dyed.
Smoking Smoking is very common in Yemen. Men, old or married women simply smoke the hubble bubble and cigarettes. Chewing qat and smoking was not allowed for single women. Now, smoking has become normal regardless sex. It has become a kind of social activity that even young girls organize some special gatherings in order to chew qat and smoke the hubble bubble. However, some families still maintain the old customs, restricting their female folk.
Language influence Few years ago, girls, women and men were only influenced by the Egyptian dialect because it is the language of most of the films and serials broadcasted in the TV screen or sold in the video clubs. Today, with satellite TV, Lebanese, Syrian, Sudanese and Moroccan dialects have been brought in. English is also having a felt presence because most of the satellite TV channel screen English films and serials. In addition, we notice that there are now a lot of institutes to teach English. This has been largely reflected in the behaviors of most of girls and women here. They, fore example, greet each other with “Hi, Hello, Good morning”, and part with “bye, see you, or so long.”
European Dance It is so common nowadays that we see girls perform some European dances in parties, especially wedding parties. Sometimes, they prepare special gatherings for the purpose of dancing. They dance lambada, Macarina, etc. They listen to loud music and favor singers like Michael Jackson, Madonna and George Michael. They try their best to imitate women singers and actors by dressing just like them.
Eating Eating with forks, knives, and spoons has now become the norm among young women. They eat, for example, corn flakes and jam, butter for breakfast. Moreover, they mock those who eat with their hands and consider them to be backward women. If they do not say it to their faces, they keep on backbiting them when they leave.