Objections! [Archives:2008/1151/Community]

May 1 2008

By: Hanan Isehaq
In searching for my true identity, I find my reflection in the Yemeni mirror unsatisfactory. The girl I see there is an embodiment of all girls and with a head bent down, an unsure gaze and a heart filled with mere dreams, she gives me these words. Is that all there is to a Yemeni female? Locked up and defeated? Or is it simply all that she's allowed?

Among numerous cliches such as “protecting honor,” I find most of my fellow females automatically degraded below “male” standards and disrespected to an appalling extent, but most importantly, raised to consent to this so willingly that they've accommodated these beliefs into their mindset and accept them as true.

Yemeni women have played their part in this dilemma since they've become part of an engraved and preordained thought pattern that has evolved over time to create the steel framework of a stiff, unyielding tradition of convictions. It's an eternal chain of ignorance preventing change from being even remotely possible.

In my opinion, the civilization of a society parallels how much respect and rights women are given within that society, as well as the awareness that women are a vital half of humanity, the philanthropists of life – mothers, sisters, wives, companions and helpers.

Unfortunately, common views about women become part of the social mentality as a family's heritage of poison trickles down from one generation to another. This detoxification lies in the hands of the fresh, young generation, which also is being fed this poison.

How can males be expected to have the least bit of respect for women – which they don't – if their own families' view of them is distorted and belittled? Personally, I don't expect change, although I truly wish, hope and pray for it daily – every day that our individual sanctity as women is violated and every day that we're being talked down to, cursed and encroached upon for no good reason. Every day, my hometown offers me more and more reasons to be ill at ease and to lose my spark and zest for life.

Objection 2

We make our destined journey through life, not having much to lead us along the way. Because our disorientation regarding many issues in our lives leaves us frustrated, we instinctively search for that place of inner comfort through various means.

As our minds take the steering wheel, it seems difficult to figure out how it essentially operates. Those anonymous feelings that come to light on different occasions intimidate us because we don't know how to control them.

Meanwhile, our search for inner security remains constant. Some of us find it in acceptance, love, ethics, work, faith, etc., while others never seem to be able to find it at all.

Realizing that I'm being drawn to another thought, I witness the mutual condemnation between people every day and I wonder how it's possible that we can take the liberty of judging others when we can't manage ourselves to begin with? It doesn't add up.

Maybe it's the age-old orthodoxy established years ago that has created our biased mentality necessitating that everyone match or preferably surpass its specified rules and regulations and thereby chaining our potential.

Beyond what they've established, there's insufficient room to oppose, deliberate or believe otherwise – and this isn't even related to our religion. These traditions have created a book of their own trends that have become just as holy and sacred as religion, which is confusing and unethical because these traditions have proven to be contradictory to our Islamic faith at many levels and junctures.

This being said, and supposing that I would adjust to my nation's unfortunate reality, I'd expect some type of compensation; for instance, a first-rate education, a topnotch hospital that wouldn't kill me before figuring out what it had done wrong or at least a giant amusement park for a fun day out with my family and friends.

Of course, none of this is even remotely possible because such development is far-fetched. I see potential in Yemenis' intelligence, personality, motivation and spirit, but these are wasted to a point of no return.

Lack of opportunities for the youthful generation is a huge impediment to improving and nourishing our human competencies. My nation's youth starve for the chances they deserve in order to pride themselves on their accomplishments, build an improved future and provide a better life.

It troubles me deeply to see broken dreams scattered on the ground throughout my hometown of Sana'a and to see youths taking whatever is provided them, regardless of the fact that it's mere clutter.