“Women are treated so bad over there”

I was mentally “there” and ready to come back to blogging. With a clear, positive mind. Time to rock and roll!

The day after I wrote my “Back” post I had an interview that threw me down the swirling toilet of negativity.

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The Story:

I walked into an interview at a very prestigious company. Probably the most reputable company I’ve interviewed with. Ever.

Office was amazing. Walls with full glass windows on a high floor building. Not a speck of dust in sight. Business. Money. Boom.

I filled out a 3 page, formal application and shortly afterwords a cute blonde girl walked in to start the interview. She asked me your typical interview questions and then said her supervisor would be coming in to ask some questions as well.

Her supervisor entered with a strong presence. You know how some people walk in a room and you can feel their intense voice when they aren’t talking? They’re going to speak loud. And if you’re me, you prepare to do the same.

That was this woman. She screamed with her body.

I’m a woman power type of person. I appreciate a woman who comes in guns blazing. Ready to talk business. Get rough. So I was ready.

A long time ago I would have pooped my pants. But these days, I get excited.

Let’s do this.

She sat down and skimmed through my resume. Asking about me, to the other blonde girl. As if I’m not in the room. (Intimidation tactics, love it).

Then she said in a very unemotional, matter of fact way : “You went to Dubai.”

Trying to sound neutral: “Yes, I did. For a year and a half.”

“I’m surprised you picked Dubai considering how women are treated over there.”

This is where things went south. Toilet –> flush.

She went on and on and on telling me how women are treated in Dubai. They have to cover themselves <– was her main point of concern. I felt like what she said translated to:  “How stupid can you be, you dumb girl, to go to a country that treats women so terribly?! You must have not done your research”

PS. No, she’s never been to Dubai or to any country in the Middle East. (But she must have done her research?!)

My response after about 15 minutes of this was:

“(Pause). Some women do chose to wear an abaya, so in that way it’s not bad”

This threw her overboard. Wrong answer Katie. Wrong gosh darn answer.

She followed by saying that turning a blind eye to these poor women puts me in the same category as abusers (I guess). She proceeded to make some relation to slavery, uneducated people, and a whole bunch of other gibberish facts that in my opinion have nothing to do with the clothing choice of middle eastern women.

CRAY.    CRAY.

This is where I started questioning life.  While she was rambling I went through a full circle of emotions.

  • Dumb bitch dont know nothin
  • Was going to Dubai a mistake, did it ruin my life?!
  • Don’t say anything, don’t say anything, don’t say anything
  • There’s a million problems over there, but an abaya aint one.
  • Is this happening? Is she for real?

Well it was.

The problem is, my interview BEFORE this one went the same way. Women in the Middle East was the first topic covered. Why? I don’t know.

What happened in that interview? I blacked out. I was pissed off.

I blacked out while locking eyes with the man and then proceeded to correct his facts and educate him on the realty of my experience.

The rest of that interview was extremely awkward.

So my family and friends decided it was best if I don’t say anything when/if that happens again. Which is what I did.

Damned if I do, damned if I don’t. Because not saying anything doesn’t feel like a solution either.

In no way will I ever say I regret going to Dubai. Because I don’t. After hearing this woman speak I’m actually really grateful that I went. That I will never sound like her.

I left feeling bad that there’s still Americans out there that are so judgmental.

I left wanting to take her to coffee, in a non interview setting, and discuss really loud and passionately all the good and bad of the Middle East. Maybe even wrestle or punch each other – if necessary.

Because let’s be honest. The Middle East isn’t my favorite place. I have enough negative things to say that I don’t need to make assumptions about problems that I didn’t see.  But I sure as hell hate when people disrespect ANYTHING in an uneducated, inaccurate way.

You want to talk bad about the region, I’m ready. But let’s do it in the right setting, where we can get loud, and be honest.

You want to talk great about the region, I’m ready. I would love to hear the stories and remember those parts too.

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And my final note…

Why do American’s care SO much about women in the Middle East wearing an Abaya?

Think about it like this—>

Women in Dubai: They wear a black Abaya (maxi dress), with long sleeves, every day as their formal wear. To work or in public, or to a funeral or maybe a business meeting. It’s their formal dress.

Men in America: They wear a suit and tie to work every day. Long sleeves, sometimes with a jacket, in 100 degree weather, often including a tie around their neck that nearly chokes them at any given moment. It’s their formal dress.

Do all women in Dubai apply to the above statement? No. Do all men in America apply to the above statement? No.

But neither is weird.  Both are formal. Both are professional. If we make fun of men in suits and say they’re treated so terribly because of that God forsaken tie that nearly chokes them to their death, will we sound weird?

I know that’s a dramatic comparison.  I’m trying to somehow show that focusing on the clothing choice of women in Dubai is not that big of a deal. There’s so much more to talk about. Promise 🙂

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6 thoughts on ““Women are treated so bad over there”

  1. I was thinking about this. I know so many people will think “Yes Katie, but their husbands MAKE them wear this.” In some cases I’m sure. Very religious cases, probably, in which case he is probably wearing certain attire as well. Is it not so similar to our wedding ring wearing rituals here? We wear them out of respect for a significant other and to show a status. Lots of men don’t like to wear rings but want their wifes or fiancee to wear theirs. There are more modern women who don’t but lots that do. Why? Out of respect for the person they are married to. It’s a life, religious, or spiritual choice maybe all. Maybe it is an overbearing husband but we have those even when our daily attire isn’t dictated. People give it a rest. You can’t judge a book by its cover; you can’t judge a woman by her abaya.

  2. I currently live in Dubai… And yes, a lot of the ladies wear an abaya and hence cover themselves… but so do the men? They wear the dishdash and the keffiyeh with pride; items designed to be modest and traditional… I’ve never got the feeling that they are forced. They are such a proud and feisty, yet strangely laid-back people – I don’t think anyone ever forced an Emirati to do anything! 🙂

    1. AGREED. It’s insane to me how much I’ve had to deal with this conversation while being back. I think the Emirati’s would laugh because it really is that bonkers that people over here focus so much on their clothing choice, and in a negative way?! I lived with locals for part of my time in Dubai – I can assure everyone, no one was forcing a clothing choice on anyone. Men or women. Just silly 🙂

  3. I have to agree that I can’t imagine an Emirati woman being forced to do anything! It amazes me that people make these judgements having never been here!! I don’t blame you for being irate in the interview, that sort of ignorance is frustrating!! XX

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