Here's my beef...such as it is. I cannot have a single conversation with a Bahraini without hearing the phrase..."its our culture so we can/cant do that". Ok, Im down with that...take your shoes off when you get in the house is a good thing...so I dont mind doing that. Offer food, drink...the shirt off your back if someone admires it(happened to me) as a sincere form of generosity...no problems with that either...my food, my drink...my shirt is yours...anything else you want or need? However, where is the line drawn against what I, an American, living in this country can or cant do...because its culturally allowed/not allowed to do it?
Ok, I dont particularly want to walk around half naked so dressing modestly is not a problem. And while I do like socializing with men...I can sit for an hour or two with just women for company without too much discomfort. However, I dont like dates and hot red tea...so dont get so damn offended when I politely refuse them...dont take it personal...I know they are good for me but if I ate only things that are good for me...I wouldnt be trudging to the gym at 6 am every morning trying to work off the excess.
Anyhow, all this leads me to my point...this is Bahrain....its citizens are arabs/bahrainis...with a large nonarab/non bahraini population...and while as visitors we are subject to the laws etc of the land...why are we also subject to the traditions and cultural aspects if those particular events dont fall under any legal authority? Like I said before....Im attending the gym on a regular basis trying to regain my youthful military body...long shot I know but as long as I breath there is a chance...anyhow....I need to do something that works for me....something that keeps me interested and that I enjoy in order to keep up the enthusiasm for the exercise and weight loss...so among other things I decided it was time to hop back on a bike after these many long years because I have always enjoyed bike riding but really havent been able to participate as much as I'd like to since coming to Bahrain.....hold on a minute though...the decision to ride a bike isnt mine alone apparently....its the whole community where I live...and the community has decided against me on this one.....I have been told in no uncertain terms that if I have the nerve to actually ride a bike...who knows what will happen to me(do I detect a threat of physical violence in there). Now here is what I dont understand. I am told that in arab/bahrain culture girls do not ride bikes...something I did notice and always wondered why they arent allowed to. Back to my beef...I am not an arab/bahraini girl...so why am I subject to that cultural "law". When you guys come to America Im sure you engage in all sorts of things that I would consider a no no in the American culture playground...such as marry more than one wife...while as Islam allows such a thing(with conditions) American laws do not...and yet many of you Muslim men find your ways around the law and do it anyway...making mistresses out of your "second" wives....but nobody will point a finger at you or arrest you unless you try and claim second wife is actually your wife...in which case you are committing bigamy..then your ass is in trouble....anyhow, I digress. What I want to know is....why the hell cant I ride my damn bike...just cause all of you say I cant? It might shock some men to see a female backside up on a bike seat...well dont look if your so easily shocked...just like I dont look when you wear a thobe without anything underneath...and then the sun shines through exposing all...how come those oh so easily shocked Muslims dont point out this cultural no no? Or is exposing your nether regions to the public socially acceptable if your in a thobe because the thobe is Islamic? Just wondering.
So some people are telling me if I insist to ride my bike I must go to the trouble of hooking it up to my jeep and driving off to Juffair or some such thing where the minds of men have joined the 21st century and women are indeed allowed to ride bikes....but I live in Hidd...why should I go out of my way when the whole purpose of a bike is the fact that its right there ready to hop on a go....nobody hooks the bike up unless they are travelling or going to the mountains etc....show me a mountain in Bahrain and i might just do that actually.
I just dont get it....girls here are prohibited from doing any sort of physical activity because men might get a hard on while looking at them....kind of makes the verse in the Quran about 'lowering your gaze" lose all meaning. And while I do accept that certain cultural traditions should not be trampled on...why does this one have the potential to be so shocking if I choose to ignore it? You all survived my removal of the hijab...you view my flaming red hair everyday and do not either burn up in a burst of flame...or get overcome with sexual desire that I might wish I had my bike on hand to evade your uncontrollable lust...but for once the hijab takes second place next to the ultimate no no....girls cant ride bikes in Bahrain....I might point out that my girly days are far behind me...anyhow....Im seriously debating whether I want to push this issue because Im just so sick and tired of my whole community deciding for me what I can and cannot do based on their archaic thinking about what the females of the population are allowed to do...based on what men are willing to tolerate from them....in other words...not much.
I want to ride my damn bike people!!!