Thursday, April 02, 2009


I didn't realise it, but it had been more than six months before I'd been in a venue where males and females mixed together in nothing but dance. If I think about it, it was a tame thing compared to others I've been to: the boys and girls were relatively restrained teenagers, there was no alcohol and a couple of parental figures were present.

I remember being shocked at the arrival of a couple of black boys to a party thrown by an Arabic girl; I wasn't similarly shocked by any black girls (no whites present, though, unless you count the white-looking extremely westernised Arabs). It was a primitive, incomprehensible reaction: from their carriage to their clothes, they were fulfilling my notions of the hypersexualised wannabe gangster built up from my UK school days and the media.

Overall, I was experiencing acute anxiety and discomfort. I'm not sure of the cause: probably a combination of my recently bad experience with males and the presence of my mother and aunt. I was wearing clothes that I felt were incredibly revealing: a strapless short ruffly dress with tights, black patent leather boots with chains plus steel heels and an inadequate scarf to cover my bare shoulders and arms. This was topped off with the trademark heavy make-up Arabs around the Gulf area tend to favour, which I don't even know how to apply myself; my aunt plastered it on me and I have to admit I look much better with it on. I had been yelled at earlier in the evening by my mother which tended to put me in a rather anti-social, sensitive mood.

As soon as we had walked in, my mother expressed contempt for the girls present, who apparently held no candle to the flame of my charms and beauty (you've just got to love the peerless objectivity of a mother), after which she instructed me to win the admiration of all males present. That's not wholly accurate: the literal translation was that she instructed me to, rather appropriately, 'hang them' (ah, the glorious connotations of the Arabic language are worthy of their own post). Talk about pressure, as well as an idea that didn't sit well with me. What was I supposed to do with all that attention, badly misdirected from their deserving, more age appropriate peers?

Since all notions of acting naturally had been quashed by the self-consciousness induced by the combined factors discussed above, I commenced to sit down and not move. With musical selections that swung between Akon and Arabic instrumental bellydancing beats, I pondered my situation. Dance? In front of mixed company? With boys who were apparently worthy of 'hanging'? No way. The shame, the sexuality of it and the vulnerability of it were paralysing. I thought of my father: oceans away, no help to me here. What would he think?

No matter how much I didn't want to, I was going to bury my feelings about it and I was going to dance. I knew it. If my mother was there and she wanted me to, I would. That's how it always happens. And that's how it did happen.

The final worsening was when my family members fixated on one particular boy. They urged me to go over, they told me to 'trap him', they told me to go show off my dancing skills. Looking for support from my brother, he only told me 'I would.' This was all based on the boy's looks and apparent Arabic country of origin. No personality analysis, not even speaking to him, nothing.

There was only one boy who'd caught my attention and it wasn't him. I remembered this boy when he was coming in and he was standing in the doorway, shading the lower half of his face in what appeared to be a shy gesture. It grew apparent that what he was actually doing was surveying the field; he walked in and introduced himself straight to the parentals with confident handshakes. Excellent move in an Arabic setting; establishing respect with the father figure is always a good move and charming the mother is also equally important. He was introducing himself to my family figures but I made myself scarce using my aunt (who ironically was only calling me over to urge me to get myself introduced to this fellow).

Overall, every tactic used by family to market me backfired majorly. No idea why they want me marketed, except that it's the norm for Arabic culture; a common equivalent of wishing a person well is expressing the desire to see 'The day of your wedding!'.

I can also conclude that I am worse than ever in my discomfort about sexuality and males. Even if they're just boys.

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