Monday, January 21, 2008

I'm supposed to be getting the Pimp Car (tm) fixed.

assalamu alaikum,

And I will get it fixed. Before y'all jump on me for calling it anything associated with a noun traditionally meaning someone/a trade that oppresses women, just stop. Go google 1987 Chevrolet Caprice. Then come back and tell me I'm wrong.

But one night of sleep later and I'm still thinking of something that's been bothering me; mainly that I'm languishing in a world of women. See the comment above. I'd never have made it two years ago. You gotta problem with me calling it a pimp car? Aiight, sounds like your problem.

This is a personal problem. I tried to go over it with someone else here and it fell flat. My mother understands how I feel though. I think I've tried to go over it before; I didn't know that this feeling would follow me.

I don't really like women all that much.

No, that's not true.

I like women a lot, can chill and work with other women just fine. I need to say, gratefully, that I have been welcomed with assistance and open arms and open doors just about everywhere in the Ummacommunity here in Conservopolis. I just don't function at my peak, or do well emotionally, being around all women, all the time. Yes. That's it. This 24-hour women station is getting on my nerves. When I was in DC working as an interpreter/admin, the same thing got to me. I was living with two women (who later developed their own drama), TheGreatestBossEver (man) had left, leaving me in a place where 5 women and 1 man worked regularly. The man was the finance guy, so I didn't have much to do with him, but sometimes his presence did mitigate things. And one of the women took an active dislike to me but I digress. Even without the drama that woman caused I felt like I was gonna strangle one of these CHICKS. Eccccchhhh.

Then I got the job at Grocery Store, where the manager was Lisette, and she has another female trainee working her way to the top, but many of the others were guys. That worked well. I felt like I could let off some steam and be my straight-shooting self without having to worry about emotions and cattiness and moodiness all the time. A lot of the guys were teenagers so I got to be big sister all over again, in work-mode of course. And truthfully, my last set of roomies was the best because... they weren't very socially girly. We weren't all mushy and dramatic- one had her engagement break off and didn't engage in the hysterics and I felt able to help her through it without drowning in it.

Because my job was so public, there was never anything inappropriate but I felt/feel at ease in the um relaxed? way that men interact. I don't know why girls hit puberty and do all sorts of tension-causing things. But I do think I know why I was miserable almost all of my seventh-grade year when it came to friends. I was trying to fit in with the girls. I quit that mess and was happy through senior year... when I had to work with a bunch of girls again. I was good in college (athlete in a sport pretty much dominated by men with a strong women's team, then mentored by male student leaders who were years older than I) until I started trying to be more "halal in my interactions" and join sororities and stuff. Hmm. I think I'm seeing a pattern.

So I moved to Conservopolis, and that was a blessing from Allah all wrapped up in a bow. Alhamdulillah! No qualifications. I came here, I have a place to stay with my family and I see my sibs all the time, I feel like the pimp car was, again, wrapped up and presented to me (and has had NO problems until the other day when the wipers shut off as I was heading down a major highway at 9PM in a rainstorm at about 70MPH... yeah that was an iman-building moment), I have a couple jobs where I'm surrounded by Muslims. And by the end of any given day my teeth are on edge. Too many women? Not enough men? I'm thinking it's one of the two. To be truthful, it's leavened by the fact that all of my tutoring gigs involve my teaching boys.

So I was face-up on my bed trying to make sense of this, and my moms came to speak to me (one of the truly marvelous things about living in Conservopolis. Random Mama Access when I need it. AlHamdulillah), and as she was leaving I think I asked her did I always tend to get sort of depressed around girls. Or something like that. She paused at the doorjamb and told me, "I've been thinking about that. You know, I realize that Islam has some aspects that are good for you. And you need them. So that's good that you're in it. But I worry about you. You're around nothing but women all day long, and you have never done well like that. Are you sure that this being separated from men is a religious requirement? Or is it cultural? Because you can take the religion and leave the culture, you know."

Yup. My mama said that. Or pretty close to it. I kid you not. So first, a takbir that she's actually said 'Hey, I know Islam is right for you'.

But. Um, yeah, the person who can lay claim to knowing me best in the world pretty much outlines the exact same concern I have. And yes, I did tell her why I know that this particular way of being is part of the deen and not just cultural. She and my sister find the idea of not dating at all completely foreign. I shall not start down that path, only say that it ain't for me ANYway, something I decided BEFORE I was Muslim, because God knows what He's doing.

Is this something fix-able? I have no idea. I mean, I can... try to join the MSA at University of Conservopolis. I went to one of their events the other day, and it was a lot of fun. Everyone was separated, like there was no pairing off or anything like that, but everyone was having a good time and there was the chance for a couple of comments and the hum of the jokes in the background. The leader of my Sunday halaqa was there (we all respect him and look up to him so things were definitely kept on the halal more than usual), and everyone was having a good time.

At the same time, when you put people in the mix like that, folk start seeing things. One brother pulled me aside and asked me for advice because he 'saw' one of the older brothers flirting with one of the sisters. He claimed that he wasn't alone and there were others, his question being, what should he do? Step to the guy and tell him to quit flirting? Talk to the sister involved or to her older sibling? Say nothing? *sigh* Even with the best of intentions someone has to mess something up. I mean that empirically, without pointing any fingers at anyone in that mess. (I might talk a bit about that particular situation later, since it involves people who were at camp, and I don't know that I want to go there without talking out my camp issues. And I might not talk about it at all.)

I don't see a whole lot I can do. As my sister pointed out, my social interaction is very limited between trying to be good and pattern my interaction on the teachings of the Prophet as I learn them, and on the other side being a product of my culture and particular upbringing. I think I will join the UC MSA, that might help. (I'm concentrating VERY HARD on not thinking about a certain man I know is in that group. I don't want to join if Ima get crush-a-licious, I don't need that either.) I should also note that my interactions with my father and brother are not where they could be- one brother is on the West Coast, one is ill and needs my support, not the other way around, and my father and I both work hours where we don't see each other much. When we do, we talk about the Pimp Car. So my outs aren't really outs.

I guess this is the non-romantic side of my whining back in the day. I'm more intellectual, more jocular, less outwardly-focused than the women around me, and when I do find women like that, they're busy and don't have the ability to be friends. Much. I'm working on a couple of sisters at work who are younger and less dramatic, getting to know them better- of course, they work at the other side of the school, the middle school, which is where I trained probably because that's where my personality lies.

Ladies, if you've read this far, thank you. Please shed some light as you will. Guys, I'm not trying to leave you out, just doubtful any male readers still lurk here. And if you're lurking thanks for listening. My father (and my gut)insists that I get the Pimp Car fixed- I was supposed to be there two hours ago, so I'm outta here...


1 comment:

  1. As-Salaamu 'alaikum,

    I can sympathise, being a guy who was brought up with a very heavy female presence (lots of aunts, sister, female cousins) and then ending up in a very rough "special" boys' school where basically you weren't "a man" unless you were able & willing to be like them (i.e. thugs).

    After that I went to a local college where one of my classes was taken by a young male teacher, who allowed the other boys (the three girls dropped out) to divert lesson after lesson on to discussion of the recent football news (I can't stand football). There was another class for this subject, which had somehow ended up mostly or all female and mostly Black or Asian, and I mentioned this to a female fellow student in another class, and she told me that they might be discussing feminine subjects like periods (then again, the teachers were both male).

    So, trust me, male company and conversation can be just as oppressive as female, especially when they are not toning things down because there's a woman present. With a few exceptions (family and a few Muslim friends), I'm much more comfortable around women.