Sunday, February 04, 2007

Masculine revisited

So stylish man
Originally uploaded by Muhina.
I am writing this on the flight from Amman to Paris. Would be nice to have the skill of sleeping on the plane. My colleague is totally passed out with her mouth open. But as that was not provided into my toolbox. writing my blog is a relatively good alternative. Once again my iTunes somehow knew my mood. It is playing The Cardigans’ 03:45 No Sleep.

There is a lot to say about Jordan. One could write individual posts over food, landscapes, moonlight and so forth. But as my great interest has always been in the behaviour of people, I will focus on that.

I find the Middle Eastern concept of masculinity immensely interesting. For someone coming from the ultimate north, the Middle Eastern way of touching and showing emotions is completely exotic. In the theoneminutesjr workshop with the teenagers many of the male participants expressed warmth, tendency for romance and friendship in ways that would completely confuse peers in Scandinavia. They talked about their emotions or older relatives in ways that would rarely happen among teenager guys in Finland. One could at the same time have a young man saying that his favourite film is Titanic and some minutes later the same boy would be listening to hard core death metal. Masculinity seems to be defined on a different scale than in up north.

Same could be seen among the bedouins we met during our desert visit. Group of men around a campfire just started dancing – not to impress the women but just to have fun. They also talked about each other with a kindness which would be ridiculed as wimpy in the West.

As I was sharing my confusion with a local woman, she commented with the following:”You have to take into account that most of the men here grow up in a 100 % male environment and they only start interacting with girls or women seriously when they get married. This leads also to sexist remarks to women on the streets and channelling some of the emotions to male friendships.”

Her point is extremely important. At the same time as men are free to express soft emotions on a maybe wider scale than in the north, Jordan is still a country where respectable single women need to keep living with their family or where homes are divided into shared and gender-restricted areas.


Anonymous said...

Hello, Tommi!

I find this interesting, not only theoretically. It actually reminded me of my parent’s good friend who was from Amman, Jordan. He studied mechanical engineering in Serbia (many Arabians did during socialist period). Since he went home, we're not in touch, but I have many pictures of him holding me as a baby, looking very kind.

BTW, interesting blog.

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