I also knew that N, who is from Ukraine, meant no malice with her remarks. N entertains some stereotypical views of Arabs that come straight out of Hollywood central casting. Thus, she has expressed her surprise — and approval — that I can actually take care of a baby and do household chores. Her views are all the more surprising considering she's married to a Muslim from Bulgaria, a country where the Muslim minority is less religious than the Christian majority.
And N is not alone. Although certain Arab stereotypes are positive, such as our reputed hospitality and generosity, I regularly encounter people who make automatic assumptions about me based solely on my background. One recent incident almost startled me into dropping my glass of wine when a young woman I know shrieked in loud surprise: Some stereotypes of Arab men with which we have to contend are less harmless. For example, one American Jew to whom I was introduced through mutual Israeli friends and with whom I corresponded for some time in a bid to build better mutual understanding, was ultimately unable to overcome his prejudices and accused me of viewing America as the "Great Satan", of lacking the faculty of self-criticism, of having a secret agenda and of being a terrorist sympathiser wearing a mask of moderation.
In the popular imagination, the Arab man is not so much fun as fundamentalist, never a fan but always a fanatic, and whose only claim to fame is infamy. After all, the world's most famous, and infamous, Arab is Osama bin Laden. Although his video and audio releases are keenly awaited and garner the kind of global attention most pop artists could only dream of, he is not the kind of role model the vast majority of Arab men aspire to.
Simply sharing his first name can prove problematic, as my brother has discovered a number of times. One surreal incident occurred when he went to a bank in London to open an account and the clerk phoned his superiors to say: The media, particularly the rightwing and conservative end of the spectrum, has a lot to answer for in this vilification of Arab men. Looks like a chicken.
It must be a chicken. If you want to act all Westernized and shit, sex is part of the package. Conformity is not fun. You all look the same. You all dress the same. Is it just me, or are women always looking for a guy they can fix? The more you keep pushing someone in a certain direction, the more they push back. Siamese twins, we are most certainly not. Breathing room is a concept whereby I get a chance to miss you and want you.
Don’t Date An Arab Man
The western myth of Arab men
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