Saturday, December 31, 2005
With the popularisation of internet and worldwide easy communication, it has become easier for people to meet online, if not in chatroom and forums than in specialised dating sites such as match.com and bentalhalal.com . These sites have mushroomed in every society and I guess they do tender to a need as there are many professionals out there who may not have the time to hang around singles bars or are too old for the disco/clubbing scene. Also in more conservative societies it is a click away to talk to someone from the opposite sex and if you are wise there will be no repercussions and perhaps a happy ending. It's kind of safer as you do not need to actually date or you can date when it is agreeable to you both at your own pace.
However cybersex is something altoghether different, this is purely physical and its protagonists do not go in with the purpose of romance and marriage but definetely for some kind of erotic fullfilment.Reporter Regina Lynn has ventured into this world and come back with this article about her experiences ....check extracts below:
"The best cybersex happens on multiple levels. You have a layer of reality in which you update each other about what's happening with your bodies"
"Then you have the "action" level, where you describe what you're doing together in the fantasy"
She is asking"Would you have cybersex with someone you met through an online dating site? Would you go on a date with someone you met through a cybersex chat room? "
She likes it so much that she now has her own user name oops . Please go read the whole article, courtesy of www.wired.com.
Over the last few years I have celebrated several weddings Arab ( at least 3 are Libyans) and non Arab where the spouses met online, I thought that was cute, but no one told me about their cybersex adventures.
Regina maintains that cybersex is good for couples who are physically distant, such as milatiry and so on ...what do you guys and girls think ? Do you have experience of online dating or even cybersex you wanna share * add mischievious grin here * . I can post , or you can post it and discuss.
Have a happy new year folks !
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
She has been daydreaming about Tripoli for weeks now. Her new school, a chance to make more friends, the beach, the warm weather, tons of cousins her age; it was going to be so perfect.
K was thirteen, and along with her three other siblings had waited for their relocation back home for a long long time, fantasizing their house, rooms and all the treasures they would discover.
The first few weeks of euphoria passed by without a hitch and she knew by now her way around the neighborhood. So the next time she had to run some errands like buy fresh bread or milk, K found it natural to jump on her bicycle and pedal away to her destination. The weather was hot and humid so she went out with her usual cropped jeans shorts, sloppy T-shirt and sneakers, not realizing she had just created a scandal.
“Wow hold your horses!” you’re saying, what are you talking about? Where is the scandal ? A teenager, on a bicycle, you are a raving lunatic.
And I tell you no, not yet. This scenario effectively took place in one of the Tripoli posh residential areas in the early 80s. Around that time a wave of conservatism had started to blanket the country and the hippy years and wild 70s were fading away.
K was unaware how attractive she looked with those gorgeous slim, long and shiny white legs. The lighter your skin tone the more attractive you are here. She was oblivious to the wolf whistles and remarks because in her innocence she did not associate this with her presence. She did not think she was doing something ‘taboo’ all of a sudden especially that many people from her parents’ generation were attired in all sorts of ‘revealing’ clothing.
After a few trips like this, her grandmother took her aside and told her “K, sweetie you have to stop wearing those shorts outside the garden”, “but why grandma’?”. I assume the grandmother herself was embarrassed to tell this girl the reason, she did not herself think it was particularly wrong but her neighbours were complaining and she could not let her granddaughter ruin her ‘reputation’ unwittingly. Caving in was easier, plus not everybody was fashionably westernized/ trendy, and when in Rome you better do as the Romans do, ain’t that right? The men were oggling her baby as a walking vagina and she was ashamed to tell her this.
The constitution guaranteed her freedom to wear what she wants, Islamism was not on the rise just yet, it was simply the mentality of the majority. A ‘decent’ girl would not do this, especially if she was better endowed then her peers and stopped looking like a child.
So the grandma’ told her that it was 3ayb in Libya to do this, that Libya was not Europe. That was the last day K rode a bicycle.
When I heard this story, I could not help feeling sorry for K, yet sympathizing with her grandma’s dilemma. She was not going to reform the mentality of her society, nor the hypocrisy of women who had worn miniskirts in their heyday and now were lecturing a kid playing with shorts. It was illogical. Yet that is what happened.
You are welcome to discuss the relative merit of who is right or who is wrong and how it could have been handled differently, but let me tell you; twenty years ago a teenage girl may get away with such and act, but in this day and age she would not have even dared do this.
A colleague of mine was telling me today how his daughter asked for a bicycle on her birthday. R is 19, she wanted it to go to university instead of getting stuck in the traffic jams and at the same time it would be good cardiovascular exercise. He did not refuse but told her that he would have to get into a dozen fights everyday with perfect strangers because of how they would treat R on her way to college. So she agreed to use the bicycle on their property and in the compounds specially designed for foreign workers. Is that not pathetic ? I get angry when a society concentrates on trivialities and leaves the bigger issues unattended. Who cares what you drive, or how much flesh you show?
It seems the objection was more for the shorts than the bicycle or is it the other way around?
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Before we start this is a disclaimer: all stories posted are true but slightly novelized after translation from Arabic for your consumption, they do not necessarily reflect my opinions.
Last time we left A. languishing at home with her child after her divorce, she had lost her self -respect, was hurt by M.’s betrayal of their love and her sacrifice.
So what happened after he married someone else ?
Four years later he started asking to visit his son, isn’t that a bit weird you are wondering? Well it is, but what is the secret behind this change of heart ? The reason is that his new wife DID NOT get pregnant; in Libya after the honeymoon is over you start worrying if there is no baby on the way , so imagine the state of affairs after four years ? He had also probably matured along the way. To cut a story short he divorced his second barren wife and his visits to his son begun to grow longer and longer. He recalled the old flame and his heart warmed up? I mean here was a beautiful woman whom he ‘discovers’ he still loved, they had a son why not just reunite the family?
So he repented and proposed again. Yeah men can really have their cake and eat it right ? Because for any divorced woman marriage is a second chance such is the society that it is better not to be divorced (that has got nothing to do with Islam). A. wanted to return to him because she still loved him but she has learned a big lesson and the first one is that love is not all.
She let him simmer, and then this time around she had a proper contract with proper dowry after all he was able to get the stuff for his second wife right?
If I was in her place I would never take him back, after all he did dump her for a stupid argument and replaced her with a blink of an eye. But she was not a true rebel, only a girl in love and ‘yidrab il7ub shu bi zil ‘ says the Arab proverb.
And now what are they doing ? well they have four kids. And his second wife remarried and also had children she was not infertile after all. I like to believe that it was just God’s way of teaching M. a lesson in humility. He did have to go and seek her forgiveness no?
Would you have take him back ?
Monday, December 26, 2005
Libya is a predominantly Muslim Arab country, so in addition to its own traditions it has acquired many of the cultural aspects of Arab tribes and Islam.
Islam was a pioneer in women’s rights, and among them is the right to chose her own mate and have a marriage contract. Regardless of the variety of customs in Muslim countries, the woman will receive from her husband upon their marriage a ‘mahr’ or dowry.
‘And give unto the women, (whom ye marry) free gift of their marriage portions; but if they of their own accord remit unto you a part thereof, then ye are welcome to absorb it (in your wealth)’ (Quran 4:4, 90).
The marriage contract stipulates a dowry which the man pays to the woman , which could be of any value agreed upon even symbolic. It is a gift an expression of his love and appreciation. It is hers exclusively to use as she wants. Please note the difference from the European dowry which becomes the property of the father or the African ‘bride price’ given to parents to compensate the ‘loss’ of their daughter.
Fourty years ago, a Libyan woman’s dowry was not a specific amount, each man brought presents according to his ability. However, after the oil boom where Libya was catapulted from the poorest country in the world to one of the leading oil exporters, people changed and became greedy, the larger dowry signified higher status suddenly and consequently similarly to the Gulf countries and Saudi Arabia the dowries rocketed and marrying became a marathon track.
You see Arab men, but particularly Muslim men are required to provide for their home. So that means that the Libyan man has to get the house and whatever is in it and pay a dowry and upkeep his wife. I cannot pinpoint exactly the point in time when the dowry turned from negotiable to a fixed list of items which not everyone could afford as it costs a fortune. Sometimes the price of the items on the list would be sufficient to buy a car or even a humble house. In the 80s and 90s things really became overstated, but you could not back off as families were copying each other. If my neighbour has asked for something for example, her cousin would also want the same thing. In the long run this has compounded a marriage problem, men were marrying later as they needed to secure all the items on the list and women as a result were also marrying later.
In a society where you are supposed to be chaste (both men and women) and come to your wedding night a virgin (especially men), I’m sure you are aware that this is a recipe for problems.
Libyan weddings are very costly as they used to last for seven days and you had to feed the guests: slaughtering sheep, cooking for a minimum of 200 people on a daily basis, including your whole extended family and tribespeople. I mean it is a great tradition, but it somehow got shifted along the way, becoming a twentieth century add -on to an amalgam of Islamic, Arab and North African culture.
A problem many Leila’s face now is do they wish to forsake this dowry which has become larger and larger over the decades and establish a home but have no guarantees in life or wait till Qays is capable of providing all these material trappings? (note Qays and Leila are Arab Romeo and Juliette) but then there is also no guarantee, as apart for sexual frustration for years, the lady concerned may seem old and men could be such ‘bastards’ in this regard as to dump their fiancée for a younger woman.
Well one of my friends’ sister had been dating a guy for seven years, the guy was not one to play with her feelings and he officially asked for her hand. Her father who had other plans refused him five times on grounds that he was absolutely unsuitable for her. She was adamant and the guy must be praised for his persistence to be honest he never gave up on her. At the sixth attempt her father accepted seeing that it was better he does as his daughter was refusing other men anyway, and he has no right to force her to marry anyone of his choice – he can suggest but he cannot force if the girl sticks to her guns because the ma’zoun ( marriage civil servant and religious clerck) has to actually hear her say personally that she is marrying freely.
Anyway this girl is absolutely happy and there comes the day where the men from her fiancé’s family are sitting in the guest room with the men from her family discussing marriage arrangements, contract and dowry. A marriage contract in Islam is an excellent ‘weapon’ for the woman she can use it to have all the rights she wants including the one where she has the right to divorce him. This is her chance to make her stand in writing and it must be abided for. That is why I insist that Islam was a pioneer in women’s right 1400 years ago at a time when there was no civil law and nothing to protect the women whether in Europe or in Arabia.
So our heroine and let’s call her A., is madly in love, about to get her wish to be united under one roof with the object of her desires M.and she does not want anything to hamper this felicity. M. is a recent graduate .
A. thus barges into the middle of the conference where about twenty men are sitting, and shouts loudly “please don’t ask anything from M., I don’t want gold or jewelry or anything, no dowry and no conditions in the marriage contract”. Apart from stunning the elders and the men, she has made a grave breach of protocol as she should have made her wishes known to her father prior to this meeting.
In the name of love A. has relinquished her full rights.
Let us not dwell on the opinion of the men in M.’s family about her or on her family’s embarrassment. The wedding took place it was a beautiful affair, and A. gave birth to a son about 9 months later.
Is that the end of the story? You ‘re thinking why is Libyanviolet bothering us with these stupid details?
They say that the ‘intestines in our stomach fight’ ( when your tummy is rumbling), so as in every family there are bound to be misunderstandings and arguments between couples, it is a normal process which is usually treated by communication, talking , negotiating and compromise. So my guess is that one day the arguments got a little bit out of hand and voices were raised and to A.’s dismal and utter shock M. told her “ if you were not cheap your family would not have agreed to marry you without a dowry”.
That sentence was like a slap in the face, a dagger in the heart and went against all the sacrifices she made for this man whom she thought loved her, who did everything he could to marry her, and yet at the first sign of misunderstanding he reverted back to the chauvinistic ways. Insulting her because she had given up her rights for his love and to give him a head start in married life Because she has dared to break social established taboos for his sake, A. was hurt in her womanly pride she could not look at herself in the mirror and packed her belongings, took her kid and went back home. A. was hoping he will realize his mistake and how much he hurt her and come to apologize. But that never happened; he was able to divorce her easily and ‘cheaply’ because she had no conditions in her marriage contract. And he remarried another woman in the home they had built together with their mutual jobs, because she was stupid to believe in the sanctity of love and that his and her money was one and the same thing. It never is, that’s why God in the first place grants the Muslim woman the right not to use any penny from her privately owned money into the marriage pot. Look at how many divorces go ugly here and in the west for material reasons?
Do you want to know what happened next? I’ll leave you a little bit in suspense till the next post.
But I wished to discuss the morale of the story here.
Exaggerated dowries are neither Islamic nor traditional. It’s like the engagement ring that you buy when you wish to propose to your sweetheart, some buy a tiny mounted stone and some buy an egg sized rock while others make do with a plastic wedding band.
So A. did not want her husband to live in debt in order to bring presents as beautiful or as expensive as what was the norm in her environment, and that is her right, but in order to act like a non materialistic modern girl she has also chosen not to set any conditions and no rights. This marriage contracts is both a civil and a religious contract, in Islam they are both. So she has to take him to court if she wants any child alimony or whatever- it is not automatic. She has left herself literally powerless, and she only has herself to blame even in front of her family because she was the one who had defied her culture and got herself into a marriage with no parachute. In our culture she has ‘cheapened’ herself and offended the elders. Although no contract provisions can guarantee love and care, still it can make a person think twice before stabbing you in the back; at least you get out of the marriage with your respect intact because your partner will have to approach the matter with wisdom.
If she wanted to make things easier financially with him, she could have done so in a more intelligent way. There are two parts to a dowry, one is pre-wedding and the other is post- divorce. You can stipulate that your dowry with be ‘so and so’ before the wedding and write that it is not be taken in cash , so basically he does not have to pay it, and then the post- divorce one is the one which is payable upon divorce by the man. That is where the game is played. You can also not ask for all the gold etc… which was fashionable then but maybe only a part of it and write it down; everything can be put in contract or by word of honour in front of witnesses. You can stipulate that you wish to further your education, work, ask to be the only wife or even be an astronaut as long as the man signs it he is legally bound. But you never leave your contract empty because that is a recipe for disaster.
This story has taught me that even if a girl is head over heels in love, her Libyan suitor will have to bring her all that has become the norm in dowries if he can afford it, and also she should include very specific instructions in the marriage contract. In this way even if he loves her he will appreciate her more because he has invested a lot of himself in the relationship and not just emotionally and because we are ‘monkeys’ and copycats he can brag about the presents he brought her.
He does not loose as a man, because if she asks for divorce then she must return the valuables and relinquish her post-divorce settlement dowry while if he divorces her he must let her keep everything as that is her right.
Final word, do not fly in the face of some traditions because these have evolved for a purpose and knowing the mentality of the people; they work in regulating our society.
What would you do ?
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Off blog themes and controversy
The recurrent themes on this blog would not only be Pearl’s progress but also Libyan women. The Libyan woman is a mysterious entity. How does the Libyan woman cope under the forces of globalization, the encroachment of western values on Libyan culture , the conservative society she hails from, the secular mode of government she is under and the complete freedom it grants her, and how does she reconcile all that with her Islamic heritage?
The Libyan woman is sometimes a mass of contradictions. This is not going to be a policy essay. There are enough political blogs out there so I would not want to bore any prospective readers with the same theories.
What I would like to brainstorm and recount is how is the Libyan woman balancing between the East and the West, her dreams and aspirations as a female and her body and soul, because to alter (plagiarize ahem) Farooha’s words in response to this question
“G) Why do you like talking about matters known to be taboo to the female Saudi lot, like relationships with the other gender, and sex?
Because, I am human! I may be a virgin, but heck I got a libido.”
Bravo Farooha, I will say the Libyan women may have to be chaste but they do have a libido …
If you want to share your story of whatever nature – even gossip at work- dear Libyan ( others are welcome as well) I’m prepared to post it and be discreet about its owner , it would only be for the edification of our readers, plus a problem shared is a problem halved. The readers could comment and suggest advice perhaps. I can see it becoming a successful ‘aunt agony’or 'dear Abby' online. Plus it would titillate our senses as we all have a little voyeuristic side to our personality.
So let the letters come in, alternatively my email is email@example.com
When I used to complain about excessive smothering, mother would tell me that once you become a mum yourself my dear you will know what I’m talking about. In my eyes no matter how old, wise and mature you become, you will always be that mass of crying flesh I held in my arms. I have to admit it , she is right! After Pearl was born, my life has turned topsy -turvey. Where once I was careless, now I had to take care of myself because someone depended on me. Someone absolutely helpless.
Just the thought that I might prematurely die and leave her unattended is enough to break my heart and keep me awake all night. I think I might have become too protective and must restrain myself for Pear’s sake.
Pearl is my baby daughter and she is the apple of my eye because I have waited for her for so long. If birth is miracles, then Pearl is a double miracle. She still does not know what I had to endure to bring her into this world, and I’m not just talking about the caesarian. The whole household had to make sacrifices and especially her grandmother. But I think that even at this tender age of 3 she has turned out to be worth every drop of blood and every tear of frustration. Darling Pearl I hope you will read this one day and laugh at your foolish mother.
I have grand plans for Pearl and I hope and pray that God’s plans for her are always full of brightness . She already knows the alphabet and can count to 10.
It is magical to listen and see her assimilate and learn new words every day. Never for one moment did it cross my mind that kids could be such fun. They need your fulltime attention and energy. I admire the women who raise several kids; my God they deserve medals of honour. One child is enough work to last a lifetime.
Of all the toys she has Pear loves my old battered teddy bear. I’m glad it is still useful and loved.
Pearl , baby you are beautiful and my little sunshine.
Love , your mum.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
First post . What do you write? what shall I write ? why do I want to write. Maybe an introduction would be useful ? Technically I already have a first post here .Comment section works fine too in case anyone is interested please click on the 'post a comment' icon to read and post.
Ok I'm putting off the big moment huh ? So I'm a single mum in Libya , what does that mean ? only two options (1) either my husband is dead or (2) I'm divorced. Briefly he's not around so choose your own reply. I have beautiful daughter and she's the Pearl of my life. Let's call her P. since I will be refferrring to her often.
I have a mixed background, hence the multiracial, yes you guessed right I've lived for a quite a long time in foreign lands which makes me multicultural and ever so tolerant of human nature.
How did I end here ? It had to happen sooner or later don't ya think? I obviously am partially computer litterate ..the rest is history.
This blog is the diary of my adventures in Libya, you'll see everything from my eyes so expect it to be totally biased information, which does not mean I will spill my guts. But hey it will be first hand. No I won't post pictures of my kid or myself but probably some other stuff. If you stick around I promise the occasional laughs and tears and all the melodrama. Please be courteous and respect my sanctuary.
This diary will move like a stream, forward, backward and sideways. You will have to find where the dream ends and life starts.
I'll edit this post if need be.