By David Bjorgen (Own work)
A friend's friend's daughter, Andi Enns is a Park University student currently traveling in Jordan, "on grants from America’s Unofficial Ambassadors and United Planet, doing research and marketing work to prevent malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS with Friends of the Global Fund."
She's got some very interesting posts up on Andi's Travel Journal, recording her experiences and impressions. Her most recent post, "Lessons of the Bedouin" chronicles her journey to Wadi Rum and Wadi Musa, where she met Bedouins, "a tribe of desert dwelling people with two recognizable sects in this area: the Nomads and the Gypsies."
She particularly noted the Bedouins' opinions of women:
It’s hard to find a female Nomad in the area – in fact, I never met one. Abdullah said this is because they believe women are weaker than men, and so they must be protected. He said it would be very unattractive if a woman insisted on taking care of herself, because he doesn’t want to court another man. He said he believes in treating women like princesses or like they’re delicate, and he believes this puts women on a socially superior level to men. He is never protected when he goes out, after all.For more of Andi's first-hand accounts of her travels, click on over!
Another Nomad Bedouin I met in town, Ahmed, also talked at length about women and men. First, he asked me to marry him. (I declined.) Then he asked if it was because I assumed he couldn’t afford my dowry because he is a shopkeeper – he assured me he could pay my family at least 20 racing camels for my hand in marriage. (That’s about $150,000 worth of camel.) He told me that westerners don’t understand the dowry – we think it’s paying for a bride. He said the Bedouins consider a dowry to be a gift of gratitude to a woman’s parents for all of effort they’ve put into raising their daughter.
Mahmoud told me that Gypsy Bedouins believe in having fun, that life is a party. They are not strict Muslims, he said, and they like to drink, smoke, and get rowdy. They believe women are the same as men – in fact, that all people are the same... He said he doesn’t like the Nomad way of life, and thinks they take themselves too seriously. He said he thinks their way of treating women is archaic, and he invites any woman to challenge him on any front.
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