That Bitter Woman

Shurooq AlBanna (@Shuroooq)

Shurooq AlBanna (@Shuroooq)

Column: A Moment of Contemplation
Shurooq, an Emarati from Dubai, has been on a journey of self-discovery ever since she shifted career from Science to humanitarian where she found joy. Her interests include traveling and foreign films. Shurooq’s column is influenced by those distinctive moments that give a deeper perspective on life.
Shurooq AlBanna (@Shuroooq)

Latest posts by Shurooq AlBanna (@Shuroooq) (see all)

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Recounting an incident of someone’s bitterness and showing the other side of the story and why some people act so unpleasantly.

Artwork by Nouf Bandar Elmoisheer (Instagram: @naufba)

We all know that bitter woman. The spiteful one, who exudes evilness and is never happy for anyone else. The negative one who is not just catty, but puts extra effort to be nasty to others that she might as well be dressed as a witch.

I know her too. She has been my colleague, my classmate, my neighbor and sometimes my friend.

Recently, a photo circulated on social media of a car’s rear window, but instead of the typical ‘baby on board’ sign, this one read “I love my wife”. I was chatting with my friend about this sign only to be taken aback by her spiteful reaction towards the male driver. She cursed him and kept reiterating: ‘liar, fake, all men are untrustworthy.’ Those words did not startle me as much as the memory of who she was years ago.

Would you believe that this same woman, spitting venomous words was once kindhearted, joyful, and spread light everywhere she went?

I felt a pang of sadness seeing who she has become. When did this crust of darkness cover the light within her heart?

I guess we have to go back 17 years in the past. It was a love so beautiful and rare to stumble up. She loved and trusted him wholeheartedly. After their marriage, she gave up a full-time job to raise their five children in good health, spending years instilling good values in them. She educated herself on how to be the perfect wife. All was well, until the day she found out the man who was the air her lungs breathed was cheating on her with a much younger woman. And not just that. There was also another wife and child in another country that he regularly traveled to.

Her world came tumbling down, and the million shattered pieces of her heart were too numerous to mend. She had walked on solid ground for 17 years only to be pulled by the ankles by the person she trusted above all. Something so beautiful in her heart simply died.

She suddenly started weeping and repeating: “My only mistake is that I loved him too much”. And how could I patronize her for that? I did not wish to be like everyone else and chastise her. Neither did I expect her to turn a blind eye to all that has happened. That day I allowed her to vent bitterly. I even joined in and mocked the sign board myself.

I know this bitter woman too, and now I understand why she changed after being hurt. That cut in her heart bled so much and turned her into a hopeless bitter human. Her traumatic past has changed her so much that most people no longer recognized her old self.

But I remember her beautiful soul that once was and secretly pray that one day she gets over this and heals her bleeding heart. If only others understood her as well.

How New Media Is Influencing Our Social Norms

Jumanah Salama (@Juma_nah4)

Jumanah Salama (@Juma_nah4)

Jumanah is a Media and Communication graduate from King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Her fields of interest lay in the studies of humanities and through her articles she seeks to create a bridge between sociology and social media.
Jumanah Salama (@Juma_nah4)

Latest posts by Jumanah Salama (@Juma_nah4) (see all)

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The influence of social media has led to the encouragement of action and challenging of the status quo.

Artwork Miriam Koki (Instagram: @mir_madeart, Twitter: @miriamzk3)

Social norms are usually the unwritten social behaviors that are to be expected in a society or a social group. It’s a required standard; such as completing higher education in a certain social group, getting married during a certain age period, or gender assigned roles. Norms enforce conformity of behavior and order in every social group, even among marginalized groups and anarchists, but they do not necessarily represent functional principles or justice and equality.

The setting of norms starts early at home by the roles that define both parents and continue to form as we grow throughout the stages of our lives. They are reinforced by the experiences we endure and in-return for the acceptance we receive. Today, acceptance is no longer limited to a local society or a social group, but rather a global society we are connected to by social media. What makes social media more influential in comparison to traditional media (TV, Newspapers, and Radio) is its globally interactive aspect as well as the mass amount of information flow it provides.

Social media provides access to information that may have been limited in the past and, more importantly, an eye into other societies. This puts the validity of our own norms into question, which can be both a positive or negative consequence.

The ability to interact, debate, and express freely online has led to the encouragement of action and challenging the status quo. Take for instance the rise of gender equality and female rights movement online led by independent activists. The repetition of this subject online has led to worldwide awareness due to its mass and borderless audience and the effectiveness of repetition on persuasion for multiple media outlets. This, without a doubt, works on the normalization of female rights and equality, further pushing patriarchal systems in reform and the shaming of inequality on a bigger scale. This effect is leading to the formation of new social norms to conform to in pursuit of acceptance and avoidance of isolation.

In the end, reforming social norms takes great responsibility and balanced evaluation by both the individual and the institution seeking change, but since crowd psychology doesn’t solely depend on logic, it is safe to assume that we’ll face many social and cultural obstacles in the future.

Back to School in Pink and Blue

Bahar Al Awadhi (@bahargpedram)

Bahar Al Awadhi (@bahargpedram)

Column Name: The Words Within
Bahar is a recruiter by profession, an aspiring writer by night, and a mom of toddler twins. She has an unending thirst for learning, as she completed her BComm in Canada, an MA in Dubai, and continues to develop herself with reading and research.
With her column, she shares her journey as she grows and learns more about this crazy beautiful world we live in.
Bahar Al Awadhi (@bahargpedram)

Latest posts by Bahar Al Awadhi (@bahargpedram) (see all)

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The media continues to push the blue and pink agenda towards children who are easily influenced into following stereotypes.

Artwork by Dana AlAttar (twitter: @DanaAlAttar, instagram: @madewithlove.dxb)

It’s the annual back to school season, and this year my children are starting kindergarten, which means we are now joining other parents in shopping for school bags and accessories. I took my children along so they could make their own choice, and perhaps not surprisingly, my daughter chose a pink Disney princess themed schoolbag, and my son chose a blue Avengers themed bag. I tried to look for other alternatives to share with them so that they don’t just follow the stereotype. As I looked around, I noticed how limited the options are, especially when it came to color and style. For my daughter, pink stood out in every product, with perhaps, the only other option being purple. The boys section is not too far off with pushing the color blue and focusing on the stereotypical theme of cars and superheroes.

As my children are growing up, I’d like them to explore their preferences and create their own identities, and not just follow the herd. However, as they are exposed to mass media and the general public, it appears it is not very easy to find your own “style”. Having boy-girl twins meant that our household was not limited to gender-specific toys or colors; they had to share everything. We were also very strict in limiting their exposure to TV or tablets for at least the first three years of their lives. As I observed them in their play time and as they developed their likes and dislikes, I noticed that at some point, they started deviating into specific behavioral patterns. Despite the limited exposure to any form of media during those early years, my son developed a love for wheels, and my daughter took on the role of caretaker and a homemaker. I, therefore, believe that these are traits that are inherent and we are all wired up a certain way from birth.

I believe it is important to treat our children equally and allow them to explore their surroundings and develop into who they want to be. Should they genuinely carry the typical masculine and feminine traits, then that is all well and good. However, the “back to school” shopping spree was also an eye-opening experience as I got to see just how much is being fed to us without us realizing. It has become a norm for little girls to idolize princesses and boys to superheroes. Therefore, it is important to be able to distinguish between a child’s inherent traits and the external factors that are influencing them.

Another example is my nephew who enjoys playing “kitchen” when he comes over to our house. However, when we wanted to get him his own playset, we noticed how difficult it was to find one that is gender neutral that a boy could also play with. Most of the kitchen play sets in the market are either pink or are adorned with Barbie or Hello Kitty. With such limited options available, this will naturally drive children towards the gender segregated toys that are being marketed to them.

It is important to have toys and school accessories in a wide variety of colors and themes that children can identify with. Parents and schools can play a major part in ensuring that children are exposed to different options, but retail sectors, both private and government, also need to be wary of this and set an example. They need to collaborate to ensure that nongender specific items are also being pushed in the market, and not just endorse the traditional stereotype. Without this support and with this current bombardment of pink and blue colors that we are perhaps all guilty of feeding into, it is inevitable that this trend will continue, and our children will only grow in these narrow and defined roles created for them.