Sunday, November 25, 2007

Listen to your mother little girls!!

God made pairs in all of creation. As humans we are meant to be paired with another soul in order to find peace and solace...comfort and joy...guidance and acceptance by at least one other person on the planet. A lonely life awaits for those that cant find their other half...

Im 39 years old now and in all of this 39 years I have had men in my life....but no Man. My biological father was a drunk that....while not mean or abusive...just wasnt there. It seemed his whole purpose in life was to donate sperm on the odd occasion my mother allowed him into her bed. She did this more times then she would like to admit to...but I guess she had a soft spot for him. She decided after 4 kids with an absent father that she needed to change herself since waiting for him to change wasnt doing her much good. She divorced my dad...packed her kids and her belongings in a car and off she went....barely old enough to fend for herself much less take care of 4 kids alone.....but sometimes we reach our limit and to accept the situation as it is just cannot be tolerated one more minute. Little did she know she was stepping out of the frying pan into the fire.

Quite soon after she met a tall good looking strong bodied man who took charge and swept her off her feet. Didnt take more than a few weeks to realize that he was a controlling, possessive, jealous, angry man....but it was too late....controlling, possessive, jealous angry men dont let go of the one they subject these emotions to do they. So instead of having an alcoholic for a father...her children now had an emotionally and physically abusive one for a father.

They say that we marry our fathers if we are girls(does that hold true for boys as well) and I would have to agree with that adage as Im living proof. I realized I had married my step-father not long into my marriage...but as was the case with my then it was too late to unmake the mistake. 20 years later and the mistake has finally been corrected...but at what price?

I have 2 daughters that have only ever known an abusive father...has it all ready been decided for them that they will "marry" their father...or is the choice still up to them? Is there still a chance to correct the emotional damage that has been done and teach them that they deserve better than that...and shouldnt accept anything less?

Im living now without a man in my life...Ive lived my whole life without a Man in my life. I wonder what it would feel like to have a man....a real man....a man that showed compassion and mercy, a man that felt sympathy and remorse...a man that could talk out problems and not beat them into submission...a man that was a honest on the inside as the image he protrayed to the outside world. Does such a man exist out there and am I allowed to have one...or has it been predetermined that I can only ever have what my mother had...and what her mother had(an abusive alcoholic as well)...and are my daughters doomed to living without a real man too because its in our genes or something?

How do we get out of the cycle of violence and do we change what seems to be written in stone for do I unteach my daughters what their father taught them...that a man hits when he's angry...that a man shouts when he's angry...that a man belittles and demeans when he's angry...that a man accuses and punishes when he's angry....and that a woman should do all she can possibly do...even if it means to disrespect herself at all costs in order to keep him from being angry. Anger is the monster that must be that the kind of marriage that awaits them?

Im sad for my girls...I weep for them. I pray that my mistakes will not be their mistakes. I pray that my failures will not be their failures. I pray that when they are about to make a mistake that will have dire and long reaching affects in their life...that they will listen to me when I point out to them what they are doing...not listening to your mother is what gets most girls into these abusive marriages in the first place. Not listening is what keeps the cycle of violence going round.

I have 3 boys as well....I worry for them about what they have learned about being a man...being a husband...being a father. Are they doomed to lead a life in which being a real Man has little meaning to them...only action? Violence being the means of keeping control...I wonder if they will remember me...remember their sisters when the time comes for them to marry...and the choice is presented to get angry and react...or to calm down and listen. Not listening to your mothers is what turns most boys into angry monsters.

I pray for my children that the angry monster that has dominated their forefathers(or should I say foremothers) will not be a curse on them that they cannot escape....I pray that the monster is dead....death to the monster....may you never rest in peace.

Fear of the Writen Word?

I am a book fiend....a book devourer...I eat, breathe, and find great satisfaction and a general sense of internal well being when laying on my bed with my latest topic of interestest. Im eclectic when it comes to my reading material....I generally will browse and snap up anything that perks my interest...anything ranging from medical and history and biography...and even occasionally stray into which case, Stephen King and Dean Koontz are my favorite late night reads. I will basically read anything...there is always some sort of information to be gleaned, to pearl of wisdom, from every collection of words written.

My love of books and the written word has sadly not passed down to even one of my children. They have grown up watching me devour complete books in a day or two...spend my few last dinars of the month on a book when I really should be buying something deemed more important(like dinner). They have witnesed all of this and yet the written word holds little interest to them other than to get through some homework or read the latest cheat codes for the PS2 or what the hot pop star of the moment has doen recently to disgrace herself(or himself).

I consider this state of affairs a trajedy and a failure on my part to do my job as a mother and encourage education every step of their lives....but I must confess I was up against a rival thats had a few more years to get it right then please forgive me children for my failure and therefore your loss.

Who might this rival be, this killer of love for the written word....this suffocating monster of all thats beautiful when letters are placed next to each other to form words....and words are strung along to form sentences...and sentences are brought together to form stories, facts, images, fantasies, information in all its glory? I call it like I see it seems pretty much all govts of nearly all arab states arent that keen in getting the "oppressed masses" to open a book and read whats in it...books are bad...books are full of ideas and we all know what ideas can do...stir up the oppressed into realizing all is not fair and just in their society despite what the govt would have you believe....and that possible something must be done about it.

At any rate, there generally is no desire for reading among Arabs...not all of course, but a great many I have known are marginal readers at best. Most of them dont even own any books other than Quran and maybe a collection of hadith....which is usually high up on a shelf and if I bothered to check would most likely be rather dusty. Magazines are usually scattered around but they are of the fluff genre...not a National Geographic or Times anywhere to be found.

Years of experience and 5 kids in the public school system(sorry I cant afford the private schools that so many expatriates have access too) has taught me(and them....sigh) that information is meant to be memorized for a set period of time....then forgotten once its use has been served. Tests answers are memorized...test taken...then subject is forgotten....never to be brought up again. There is no encouragement to read in Bahrain govt schools...there are no book reports handed trips to the library once a week...checking out a book mandatory(like when I was growing up in the US) home work is all about copying answers from the book...nothing more than that. No inspired teacher galvanizing her students to seek answers for lifes teacher encouraging his students to learn about a world outside Bahrains borders....I know you will all say...thats not true of everyone...I agree...generalizations generally dont include the entire population....but 5 kids....times how many teachers over a period of 14 years tells me that its the norm rather than the exception to get a teacher that is barely more than a babysitter in their respective classes.

So Im up against a monumental adversary when it comes to encouraging my children to seek inspiration and excitement in the closed confines of hardback book when cool graphics and sound effects from the latest gaming system....or the latest Reality TV contestent is about to be knocked off(and usually not the one that deserves it). There is no contest...and Arabs are the losers. It pains me that my children are growing up in a society that considers libraries a place to store books....not a place that has books whose sole purpose is to be unread book is like a undriven sports unanswered love letter....a boat that has never left the dock....a great idea that never left the lips of the one who thought it...what a terrible waste. More on that later.

A Sexual Abuse Crime Wave?

It seems there is a hot topic for discussion or argument everywhere you turn now in bahrain...everywhere except the newspapers that is. Sexual abuse seems to be on the rise...or maybe its just getting reported more, i dont know, but you cant open the local paper anymore without seeing that some monster has creeped among our children, among our daughters, wives, sister..sometimes even our sons...this monster is having his way and the sharia courts in Bahrain dont seem all that interested in stopping them.

Punisment here is laughable...hardly a few years in jail if even that. What the hell is the matter with the judges in this contry...why arent they sending these animals down a dark hole where they belong for a very long time....for forever seems even better? Why such lenient punishments for such a heinous crime? I just dont get it.

Along with that of course there is the always present stigma of sexual abuse. i mentioned that before. For those brave souls willing to come forward...they are playthings in the hands of society that sees them as co conspirators or deserving in some way of what they got. it sickens me that they must suffer the worst of abuse the hands of a monster and then again by their own community that should offer support and sympathy and a shoulder to cry on rather than turn their backs but keep their tongues wagging.

I happened to notice there was an article in Bahrains GDN on Friday that encouraged some exposure of this issue. A conference on Womens Rights and how to make a distinction between culture and Islam. i wish i had been at that sounds like just what I have been saying all along....those are two different things and yet "laws" here are based on culture more than islam..and thats a damn shame. Women are abused here and treated much the same way as sexual abuse voice to complain...and a slap in the mouth if they dare too. The outrage should be huge...and yet it barely stirs up a ripple in the community. Protests for everything from boycotting Israel to demanding apologies for cartoons drawn of the prophet....and yet not one protest against the lenient punishments given to pedophiles and rapists on almost a daily basis here. WTF!

Silence means we accept monsters roaming the dark alleys and deserted areas of our we accept them living in our homes under our roofs....we call them father, husband, brother.....but in real life we should call them monsters...predators. Are we so much afraid of what our neighbor will say about us...about our daughter...our child, the victim of that abuse..that we prefer to remain silent when it means allowing the monster to go free?

I told myself I would change my ways this year...would change the way i think...act etc....that means I must put my fear aside and do what I need to do ....what i should have done from the very start.

Life isnt easy...most of the time it really sucks...but its the only life we have...we dont get a redo. If I dont make a difference in this life...this one life I get....then what the hell is my purpose...why was i chosen to be the mother of my children...if not to protect them against every danger....every evil in the world....and when, despite my vigilant eye, evil slithers in right under my it not my duty to seek seek at the very least, vengeance?

Sometimes I think my kids hate the things I do...or maybe just sigh and hope none of their friends realize Im their mother(I have a mother too so I know what that feels like) I try to keep my embarrasing moments to a minimum...I try not to call attention to them unless absolutely necessary....but I feel by doing the right thing now...I will turn their world upside down...more than the usual....more than all ready turned.....but I cant change what has all ready happened...I can only affect what will happen in the future.

For once, my future is in my hand...relitively speaking. More on that later.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Turning Point for Me

Yesterday was my 39 birthday(gasp) did I reach this point in my life? Where did all the years between 18 and 39 go? It seems while I was living it that it went excruiatingly slow...I was suffering an abusive in a foreign country...had nobody to share my misery with or send the loneliess you better believe time went slow as molasses. And yet, here I am, 39 and when I look back it all seems like a blur. I find myself asking me what have I done in my life to make sense of me being here? What did God created me for and have I fullfilled that purpose...if I havent(and I hope to God I havent)...then what can I do to achieve it. If I have....damn, I got to wonder if that was the best God expected from me cause I certainly expected a whole lot more.....from me.

At any rate, Ive decided to change it up a bit. People say you cant change can only change yourself and I cant say that Ive particularly liked who Ive been all this 39 years. I could definitely do with some improvement...inside and out. I realize that its not New Years so its a bit early for resolutions but I'll consider Nov 18th my New Year...and its a countdown to Nov 18th, 2008...Ive got one year to change who I am and be something more....whatever that more is Im not real sure of right now....maybe it will come to me as I go along. On the eve of my 4oth birthday I want to look back on this day...right now....and tell myself...damn girl, what happened to you? I hardly recognize you....lost all that weight, got some more exducation swirling around in your head....maybe got a better job(or just liking the one I got a little more)....and speaking with more authority on the one thing that interests me more than anything else at the moment....Islam. I hope I can look back and came a long way baby...I hope I can do that. I dont want to be 40 and in the same condition, situation, mental quagmire that Im in right now. We are supposed to change and evolve and learn new things and put them to use and in general make our lives better, different, more exciting, more ambitious, more determined...more....just more really. I want more is what Im saying I guess. I feel like Ive been cheated out of my life in some way...nothing I dreamed of doing when I was young happened...even came close to happening. I feel cheated from that....I know what your saying, life it what it is ....was what it was....we might expect certain things to happen but just cause they didnt doesnt mean we had a right to them...right? I know thats true for those that tried and failed or never even tried....but I might point out to those that care that I was never even given the chance to life was not my own....another story.

At any rate, that is what I will do for the next 363 days....try. Try to be more outgoing...try to be more assertive...try to say what I really want to say and not just what I know people expect to hear...try to take chances and not let fear lead me away from obvious chances at improvement. i want to try new things and get excited about discovery, learning, improving, changing, name it I want to experience it.

If I had one dream that I could fullfill given the chance though this is what it would in college about Islam, about Women in Islam, about Islam and Culture, about Islam and Govt, Islam and Sharia, Islam and name it I want to study it. I want to fill myself up with words words and more words about this religion of mine...I want those words to imprint on my mind....on my heart....I want to speak with authority and not with trepidation, I want to prove my points with confidence and not hesitation....I want more of what I have now...sigh.

At any rate, this was just a rambling post with no real purpose except to get some thoughts in cyber year from now I will come back and see if I succeded in getting more of whatever it was I went after. I'll keep you posted. More on that later.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Its Not What You Do...Its Who Your With

Opening the newspaper over here in the Arab world is a constant struggle for self control...the crime that occurs is much the same sort of crime that occurs in every corner of the world so thats nothing too shocking...all though being "Islamic" countries seems to suggest crime should be an exception and not the norm., reading about crime in the paper is not what puts my self control to the test...its the punishments the Sharia Courts mete out to those that have committed crime. There seems to be no ryhme or reason for base from which each crime has a set punishment...but depending on circumstance it can more or less....but there should be a punishment that fits the crime...the worse the crime....the more punishment given. Something along those lines.

I will mention sex crimes here because thats the one area that seems to be completely out of whack when it comes to punishing the criminal. Several days ago a brother-in-law raped his 13 year old sister-in-law...he got 5 years. A man raped a 5 year old boy...he got 5 years reduced to 1 year. I see sodomy reported which can range from 1 to 3 years....molesting kids in the street maybe a few months to a year or two...the shock goes on with each new item reported.

However, seeing the paper recently added a whole new level of disgust to the whole "Sharia Law Charade" seems a Saudi girl went out with who I assume was her boyfriend...or at least a boy she knew. During the evening she was subsequently raped by a gang of men. So the punishment meted out by the Saudi Sharia courts was...jail terms for the rapists and lashes for the victim!! The saudi authorities cite that she was in the company of a nonmahrem and thats what she got punished for...

So, lets see....according to the judge who sat on this case...being with a nonmahrem warrants a more severe punishment then raping someone...? Is this for real? Now Ive never been lashed before, all though my father could swing a mighty mean belt from time to time...but I know for sure languishing in jail is a vacation to suffering lashes....and, get this, she gets 200 of them!! Originally she was meant to get 89 I believe but when her lawyer protested the punishment citing that she had been punished all ready...and he issued a statement to the newspaper...the judge decided she deserved more punishment for trying to use the media to her advantage. What the hell was her advantage....rape by a gange of men, impending punishment by lashing for that rape...and of course the always present slander and destruction of her reputation she will not be known as the girl that got raped....she will be known as the girl that "had sex" with 5 or 6 men.

Now whether or not this girl could be deemed to have had reason for punishment is one thing....but what about the men that raped her...they had immoral sex....adultery, fornication...whatever you want to call it they had sex with a female they werent married why no lashes for them? I have no idea if any of them were married but if so then according to "Sharia Law" they should be least thats what happens to females living in Muslim countries today all over the Middle East have to face....I cant remember the last time I heard of a Muslim man being stoned for sex outside of marriage....all those women must have been having unmarried sex by themselves....hmmm?

So, if we just glance through any Arab newspaper from any country today we would come to the conclusion, quite rightly, that the so called Sharia Law that these so called Sharia Courts are basing judgments on is full of shit...excuse my french...or maybe the law is there but the judges themselves dont seem to care or understand the truly horrible crimes that sexual abuse and rape are...why else such light sentences...why else more punishment for the victim and not that much for the criminal...why else call it Sharia Law which indicates it has some sort of Quranic or Islamic backing...when in fact its Mans Law...which is made by man, for man and for no other gender or group such as women or children. This farce that is the Sharia Court system must be stopped and changed if the human rights abuse that is occurring in every single "Islamic" country today is going to even come close to following Gods Law...right now they arent even reading from the same book....much less practicing the same religion...and thats a damn shame.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Change of Pace

I spent today cruising the highway of Bahrain blogs and was quite amazed at what I found. Lots of my fellow island dwellers are like minded when it comes to being pissed at the current state of the Islamic/Muslim world today. Some use quite colorful language while expressing their angry views too. Thats refreshing actually as Bahrainis seem quite unwillingly to say things even the least bit controversial in anything above a whisper in my experience...but maybe thats just in english?

I was happy to see sooo many critics of the govt here.....I swear everyone I meet always seem to gush with praise when the ruling family are mentioned or something about the latest govt plan. Then again maybe thats just in english.

Based on all this Ive read Ive decided to somewhat change my postings...more of my day to day dealings with life and bahrain plus the occasional burst of self righteous anger thrown in now and again to keep in interesting. And that will be just in english. More on that later.