American Bedu note: I had a different image when this post was first published on the blog. However due to the extremely strong emotions which the combination of the image and the written words created, I have chosen to replace the original image. My intent is never to deliberately offend and I will be the first to acknowledge that sometimes I will choose contrasts between the images and words to emphasis a point.
I recently had a discussion with some single expat women who are in the Kingdom. Each of these women are professionals, well-traveled, educated and cognizant as well as respectful of the customs and traditions of Saudi Arabia. Yet each of those women had her own experience to share in how she was asked inappropriate questions by a Saudi male. And she was asked these questions most of the time in the workplace. For some reason there are a number of Saudi men who seem to have a double-standard in what they are comfortable in asking a Western woman yet would likely not dare to ask a Saudi or Arab woman.
Examples of questions these women have been asked include:
- If I were single would you date me?
- Did you sleep with him?
- Do you want to sleep with him?
- Are you a virgin?
- How many relationships have you had?
- Will you have an affair with me?
- Can I kiss you?
- Can I just touch your hair?
And then expat women may also be in conversations with Saudi women. Again, the expat woman may be asked questions that are not typical but at least not as insulting or lewdly insinuating as the ones asked by the men. The women typically want to know:
- Are you married?
- Do you have a boyfriend?
- Where do you work?
- How much money do you make?
- Where do you live?
- What is your rent?
In regards to the questions asked by the men, if an expat woman has such an experience, my advice to her is to very clearly tell him that is an inappropriate question, especially from someone who is viewed as a respectable and honorable man. I’d probably even go so far as to remind him I’m sure he would not ask a Saudi woman such a question and also expect to be shown respect. In no case should a woman feel intimidated to respond firmly to the Saudi.
With the women, my tendency would be more gentle in either answering some of the questions and politely saying I was not comfortable to answer others.
What experiences have others had and how did they handle them?
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