I've been hit on in Riyadh.
Hubster isn't very happy when I report such instances.
It's hardly surprising western women get approached in Saudi considering the local belief perpetuated regularly, I"ve been told, over loud speaker on weekends and in school classrooms, that all non-muslim foreign women are very approachable (from an immoral perspective not because we are comfortable exchanging normal conversation with the male of the species) plus, we have.....how can I put this....margarine legs. (Spreads easy!)
Me thinks Saudi's need to get out more, but not to Bahrain!
Bahrain, I've decided, may have been a nice place once. Now it's little more than weekend jolly for 'pleasure seekers' escaping Saudi and lots of margarine, much of it from surrounding Arab countries not necessarily 'the west', ends up sliding along the streets at night. I'd warn anyone going across the border to be careful what you get buttered up with in Bahrain!
But back to being hit on in Riyadh....
On a return flight to Riyadh one day, I sat next to a young Saudi gentleman on his way home for a break after studying abroad, in the States. Our conversation, which was extensive and very interesting, turned to the lovely weather in Saudi over winter and how it was perfect for walking the block for exercise and how I often did so.
He stated the obvious...Saudi women don't walk, which isn't entirely true because I have seen more than a few out and about over recent times, though his point is largely valid.
Then he said Saudi's (though I think Arab men in general from my experiences) believe a woman alone on a street, regardless of her being covered or obviously on a mission walking from point A to point B, is little more than a prostitute. A woman alone is in need of a man.
Apparently a large part of a Saudi man's role is to ensure that no woman in his care (mother, daughter, sister etc) is ever left in a position where she may be labeled 'A Loose Woman'.
What sort of situations may garner such labelling?
Basically being anywhere where interaction with 'Unrelated Males' may (not will, not did, but MAY) take place.
So, don't catch an elevator on your own with men, don't walk alone anywhere, don't sit next to unrelated men on a flight or park bench, do not be left alone in a room with any brother-in-law (he's not a direct blood relative), do not hang around down the back of a shop with the salesman, do not let a male tailor take your measurements - give him one of your dresses so he can take your measurements from that, be careful not to walk supermarket aisles next to unrelated maleness, definitely do not sit alone in a car with an unrelated male.
Given that women can't drive, how can a lady get around this last criteria with taxi's and drivers? Her options - catch said taxi or chaffeuar driven car with a friend or relative, do not talk to the driver more than is necessary, definitely do not sit in the front seat with said driver.
Obviously I'm an extremely Loose Woman cos I have trouble following through with two out of three of the above. I often travel alone and can't shut up to save myself. In fact, while I'm being driven like Miss Daisy, Mr Noor and I are often chatting and laughing as we regale each other with tales of our prospective homelands
The list of Loose Woman Situations created from being alone with The Unrelated can happen more often than you know. We westerners don't notice it because...well, we're immoral..
A Saudi man must be able to protect his woman (or women) from such danger. For many that means he must drive her (or them) to where she (or they) may need to go, when she/they need to go there. Saudi men can, at times, feel like little more than a taxi and errand service. 'Take me here', 'Go get this', 'Pick up that'. Not that I feel sorry for them. No way. Nonsense sowed will be reaped.
Any Saudi man who cannot care for his woman in the aforementioned way, and many other ways we from the Wicked West think kind of strange, would be considered a bit hopeless really.
Any woman who argues this....what's the word.....under the thumb control freak mollycoddling, is not independent...she's Trouble.
After some discussion, my fellow passenger did acknowledge his understanding that a female walking alone in Riyadh just might be a married Kiwi woman who is comfortable in the great outdoors, loves to exercise and is used to men minding their own darned business unless she's obviously in strife cos her car got a flat and Some Buggar hasn't got round to replacing the spare from the last puncture and, to top off a great day, she discovers that same bugger, in an unexplained fit of 'Insurance is Pointless' also didn't renew us for roadside rescue. Duh!.
Yep that is one of the few occasions when an on call male may come in useful. A Real Male that is, not that Some Buggar bloke. And not a Saudi male either. Everyone in KSA knows a Saudi man has no idea how to deal with vehicular breakdown.
Local thinking may explain why, the other night, while waiting outside an eatery on a main thoroughfare in Riyadh for Hubby to arrive, I got hit on. Twice
Obviously these were two extremely desparate men. I mean....look at me! Aging and, well, somewhat over-indulged. I am on yet another 'healthy eating' effort which hasn't really fully kicked in and the reason for which an all covering abaya doesn't really all cover. (You can read all about it at my newest blog Hefty Confessions)
The first guy (Saudi, late 20'ish) walked past first. He said 'Hello, how are you?' while giving me the look over. Me thinks he needs his eyes tested cos a few minutes later he walked back and offered to drive me where ever I may need to go. I said, 'I'm waiting for my husband'. He looked terribly ashamed, blushed, said, 'I'm sorry, I'm very sorry' and scurried off.
The next guy arrived not five minutes later. 40'ish and also rather over-indulged. A non-Saudi Arab.
He says, 'Hello'. I respond because where I'm from that's what you do.
He says, 'Where are you from?' I tell him.
He says, 'My name is (something I didn't quite catch cos, to be honest, I'm not really listening). I'm from Ser.....a'.
I said, 'Where?' cos I didn't catch that either and my response was just a reflex. He repeats.
I have my phone in my hand.
He says,' Would you like my number in your phone'.
I say, 'No'
He says, 'Why not?'
I say, because I'm not really focussing enough to say something witty like.....well, something witty, 'Because I'm waiting here for my husband'.
He says. 'Oh....Do you want my number anyway?'
My eyes did that thing, you know the thing where your vision has to refocus on something it was perfectly happy not looking at (apparently I do it a lot to Hubby). Anyway, I now concentrate full force on this bloke who, up till this point, really was just a large talking blurry blob, and give him my 'Say what?' look. (You know the kind of look I'm talking about).
The tone of my reply indicates without doubt my desire for him to bugger off.
He says OK and leaves
I rang the now late Husband, "How far away are you, I'm getting hit on' which in any other country may have pumped my ego. In this one it's slightly uncomfortable.
Saudi's extreme segregation has extreme effects.
Stories of sexually frustrated men, whose appendages are screaming to be relieved, taking advantage of women, particularly women who can't fight back like maids, really does make one hesitant to engage with male types who approach at random. Though I'm determned not to lose my Kiwi-sparkle and do poo-poo some of the cultural mores (like not smiling and laughing in public) it pays for women, at all times, to be on guard here.
The other extreme effect is one the locals keep very hush hush (and from here on in I will have to talk in code).
The practice of same gender interactions that would curl the toes of the religiously zealous with powers to apprehend are, apparently, very common in KSA.
Does that mean Saudi Arabia is full of people with a g-ay or les-bian bent? No. Though they do exist. Of course such a choice is kept very secret. Hardly surprising - the penalty if discovered, I understand, is death.
Carnally speaking, living here is akin to residing in a prison and people get to a point where urges need to be dealt with and, though close at hand, Mrs Palmer and her five daughters just lose their appeal.
So it is rather common for those who are not 'that way inclined' to be involved in 'relations' with persons of a similar gender. I gather such situations relate more to men than women. This stands to reason. Men tend to have more problems managing their manly urges (this from a purely female point of view of course). Women, according to one report I read, are looking for closeness, emotional intimacy. Men want to get their rocks off!
How is it possible for a straight guy in Saudi to 'engage' with another male and not find himself in deep kaka (a kiwi word for SH -u no the rest - T).
Apparently there's an unwritten rule that says if you're the bloke on top, as in delivering the serve, you are not a bad boy in the eyes of those who care. The other bloke, on the other hand, is a sinner of major proportions.
The rumour mill also says that a certain percentage of chaps from certain nationalities are sponsored into the country because of their 'willingness' to provide such service for the Saudi male populace desperately affected by the segregation rule. Last year The Powers That Be decided they would crack down on agents who didn't screen properly for ‘the third s$x’ though I don’t know how successful they've been.
I believe forced interactions between males, particularly when the victims are from countries considered beneath anyone in Saudi's Powers That Be circle giving a shit, is extremely under reported here. Rape of boys gets perpetrators heads chopped off which, as far as I'm concerned, is how it should be. Sexual assault of girls should get the same treatment but we'll talk about that another day.
And just because I’m on a rumor treadmill today, here's another one.
Apparently at the fertility clinics in Saudi one of the questions asked of husbands when a couple has no reason to be infertile is, "Which hole are you putting it in?" Believe it or not, numerous local blokes here are so used to performing anal penetration that once married they are a bit confused on where their appendage is actually meant to go in their wife for best effect.
Before presuming entrance through the backdoor is only between men, think again. I have heard that unmarried Saudi women, who desperately want a bit of male lovin but can't afford to loose their vir-White as Snow-ginity, opt for non-traditional positions in undercover desert trysts.
Though clandesdine hetero-get-togethers do happen, I gather they are less common than the same gender luv-shackin that goes on, purely because, in this country, being alone with your own kind is expected and raises less questions.
There has been a suggestion that the government should implement marriage courses for Saudi's. If they go ahead with this plan hopefully se-x education will be part of the curriculum for newly betrothed.
It may not stop women from being hit on in Riyadh but it will appropriately educate those Saudi males who require it and contribute to the health and safety of numerous newly married Saudi women.