By Mariam NihalSaudi Gazette
Many women believe that working and seeking help from the opposite gender is a safer and more promising route to finding amiable solutions. Both men and women who spoke to Saudi Gazette said women are more likely to exaggerate problems, exert pressure and dramatize situations when it comes to their own gender.
The complexity lies in the way women deal with matters among themselves. Most mixed families or where women work with each other on a one-to-one basis usually brings about a tense atmosphere with conflict of interests and chaotic occurrences.
Yasmin Mufti, a Saudi university professor living in the Kingdom, told Saudi Gazette about the internal politics of home and the workplace when it comes to women.
“Look at any society, any cast or creed. A mother or mother-in-law will oppress women in the household. I have seen daily cases where women mentally abuse their kind only. It is a fact that most young girls and older women I work with take anti-depressants and live a life of neglect and frustration because of women politics at home and at work.”
Mufti admitted that while dealing with men at home, they are more compliant and kind. “Grandmothers are very kind to their sons and grandsons, but there is always a woman in the house who she has a problem with. Women are the cause of creating suspicion, drama and stirring up politics in households.” She added that men are less likely to interfere in internal family conflicts and are devoid of dramatizing as much as women.
Selma Roud, a 42-year-old interior designer, thinks women are generally insecure about themselves. “They are always striving to prove a point. They can be the best housewives, workers and basically the best at whatever they do. No one can have a better dress because God forbid there comes a day any woman may look down upon them.” Roud said she is constantly criticized by her mother-in-law about her cooking, dressing and the way she raises her children.
“It is always the same — that I do not cook as well as she, or why am I so lenient with my children or why do I not look after my husband like she does? Her usual rantings turn violent as she abuses me verbally and starts smashing things against the wall. She often throws it at me but luckily her aim is as poor as her mentality.”
Roud said constant nagging and complaining frustrates her and she has been constantly begging her husband to move out for the past ten years.
“My husband tells me to be patient because God is with those who are patient. Well, God helps those who help themselves. He did not say feel free to be abused and do nothing to help your situation.” Roud has moved out with her children to her parents' house at least five times in the past but has returned because of her husband.
“I will not stand for this. Honestly, I do not trust women nor do I want to be around them. If there is anyone I will go to for help, it will be my father-in-law or brothers. My sisters-in-law are envious when I ask my brothers for help. It is insane; this world is full of jealousy.”
“In college, we even get judged for the brand of mascara we wear. If you hear stories, you will know how shallow the mindset is,” Maya Homsi (name changed), a 21-year-old business student at Effat College, told Saudi Gazette. She said the personality of young women is a mold of the Western society and people have lost the social cultural values of their home countries in the process. “Men are less likely to care or criticize you for what you wear or say, at least as friends. They are not hurtful and critical all the time.”
Maya said she became very conscious about her body weight, dressing sense and choice of friends. “We get judged by the group we hang out with. So in the process I lost a lot of my friends who obviously were only using me in the past. It just puts a lot of pressure on me. Women exert so much pressure on you mentally that you just succumb to it.”
“You constantly get judged for what you wear, what you eat and what you do by your closest female friends,” said Najla Bashar, a 23-year-old medical student living in Jeddah. She said women are harder to get along with because of the complex they develop through social and media influences.
“I feel sometimes my mother and grandmother look for excuses to fight. And the men in my family are always looking for a peaceful end to unnecessary arguments."
She feels that jealousy, inferiority complex and the quest to do better than each other play a hand in women bickering and battling one another. “I feel sorry for the men in my house; they have to go through this daily dose of drama. I find it entertaining like an Arab soap opera.”
Hawa Al Nahar, a 34-year-old working as a manager in an insurance firm in Jeddah, admitted a working atmosphere where women are served by women is more prone to creating unnecessary fuss and drama.
“I have seen women being more helpful to men. When a female customer sales agent is speaking to a man on the phone, she is very polite and extremely helpful. In walks a woman to ask the same question, their attitude changes. They will do the job, but are not that compliant.”