The random thoughts of an architect-turned- lawyer from the deep south living in Washington, DC...

Friday, July 28, 2006

A Woman's Place

Cultural differences exist in the way in which women are treated. Some women are forced to wear certain clothing or only walk certain streets. In some places, women must marry men they don't love or unwillingly submit to strangers sexually. Some cultures go as far as to mutilate the female genitalia as a way of showing the woman her role in society. America, on the other hand is a culture that attempts to put women on equal footing as men. In the last 100 years, Americans have come a long way to allow a woman to venture beyond her historical place "in the home." (Granted, some would argue we are not quite there yet.) Anyway, I realize some of these practices are imbedded in a particular culture and I would venture to say that even within a culture not everyone thinks that same way. It just depends on the person and what is in his or her heart. If I am not making any sense, allow me to evidence this with a case study:

A friend of mine on this same trip also met a guy in Ben's group of friends. They are having a bit less success in their "relationship." Most probably because it was a purely physical endeavor. Anyway, about a week ago, I mentioned that we should all get together and cook a good meal. She said she would pass because she had no desire to cook for him ever again. Huh? Apparently if you put a strong minded American girl with a guy who expects her to be submissive, you are going to have some problems. They were at his place and he suggested they go to the market and grab some food because he was hungry. She said she would go with him but was not really hungry herself. They get back to his place where he proceeds to tell her that he was going to shower and she could go ahead and start cooking. He shows her where the pots and pans are and tells her how he would like it prepared and then he goes upstairs. Why in the hell she stuck around to cook is BEYOND ME! Nevertheless, she did. When he came downstairs, he bitched about the way she was doing it. Are you freaking kidding me? As she finishes the story, she tells me "watch out, they have their expectations of where a woman belongs and apparently, it is in the kitchen."

Last night, I went over to Ben's place to watch a movie. I had not eaten yet and I figured we would just order take-out. He said he had an idea. We ventured out to multiple stores searching for the perfect meal. We went to his favorite Algerian meat shop and bought some steaks. We found a market with some fresh vegetables. Then, we went to a wine shop to get a nice bottle of red. As we walked back to his place, my friend's story popped into my head and I couldn't help but laugh because I know this guy would never treat me like that. When we got to his house we unloaded everything and I said "okay, what can I do to help?" He poured me a glass of red wine, pulled up a chair and told me to sit and relax. Then, he cooked for me. He would not even let me peel the potatoes. Nothing. I just sipped my wine and enjoyed watching him. I then consumed the best meal I have had since I arrived here*. After dinner, he would not even let me help him with the dishes.

These two gentleman came from the same culture, grew up in the same area and have all the same friends. I think my guy must have a better mom and a bigger heart:-)

*Yes, I realize that is not saying much considering the food here is crap.