My new job requires that I visit with people in their homes. I was recently going to meet with a Muslim man in his house. Our initial contact was via telephone, I set up the appointment to meet, and at first my sales manager agreed to go with me. Then he backed out at the last minute.
I was honest with him how I felt. That day I was wearing a sleeveless dress. Showing a little cleavage. Not slutty, it is business casual. But I told him that I think many Muslim men view women – American women – as sluts. I told him of an experience I had with a muslim cab driver who tried to hit on me. I said that I don’t feel comfortable going into a muslim man’s house alone and that I didn’t feel safe.
A lot of my fear stems from all of my trauma with men. It wasn’t ONLY the fact that he was a muslim man that made me scared, but it honestly added to my fear of going into his house alone.
I realized in that moment that I am ignorant and racist. I don’t like feeling that way. I asked for my sale’s manager’s opinion. He said I was WAY out in left field on this one and way over-reacting. So I sucked it up and went to the appointment. I was fine.
But I can’t help but feel like there’s something REALLY wrong with my mentality. I haven’t ever met that many muslim men to begin with, and the ones that I have met from back home and the cab drivers around the area are not to be trusted. So my exposure to the muslim world is very very limited.
How do I expand my world view? Was I wrong in being scared? If he was Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic,…no matter what he is, I would have felt scared going to his house. But maybe it’s because Think Atheist talks an awful lot about how women are treated in Muslim cultures that added a great deal of anxiety to my fears…
I don’t know….
Do you think I’m racist? I don’t want to be. How do Muslim men REALLY see American women?
Quibble (but this is a line of leftist horse shit I am sick and tired of):
Islam is a religion. How can your attitude towards it be a racist one? A racist attitude would be fear of entering (say) a black or hispanic person's house, ascribing negative attributes to them because of their skin color.
Ascribing negative attributes to someone because of what he believes is a lot less irrational, because people tend to act on their beliefs. The mistake can come in attributing extremist Muslim beliefs to someone because he says he is Muslim, but that error cannot be called "racism" and have the word "racism" continue to be a useful word. It is at worst bigotry or stereotyping, but race is simply not involved. Unless someone thinks that "Muslim" = "Arab" and "Arab" = "Muslim" but I would submit to anyone reading this that that equation actually would be racist.
Perhaps it's an overreaction (most likely it is). While it is true that the far majority of woman in several Middle Eastern countries, North African countries and Central Asia face extraordinary oppression and inequality...the mechanisms that allow that sort of oppression (male family members dominance over you, cultural limitations like headscarves and no eye contact with men and the law/police like morality cops) simply don't apply to you. You aren't his daughter, aren't bound by his customs or laws from his country and he certainly isn't a morality cop. This sort of oppression is not across the board in muslim countries and can be rather tame in some countries (Turkey, Albania, Philippines, Tajikistan, the Hui in China) which goes to show this is a matter of religion and absolutely not about culture. There's no data to support any claim that says you are more in danger of something inappropriate happening to you based on religion or ethnicity for a woman visiting a home with one man inside.
To be honest...I hope you take safety measures regardless of what man is in the home (possibly for woman too). Do you carry mace? Do you send a text message to a family member with the address before going inside? Do you ask someone to call you if you don't check in with them within 10 or 15 minutes?
Depends where they are from. Most Muslim men from Eastern European, South Asia, Eastern Asia are very integrated with women in society. However the ones from more religious authoritarian Middle Eastern and African countries tend to have a more negative view of Western women. They are all under the impression that Western women are more "easy" than their counterparts in their respective country. From my experience that type of thinking comes from two reasoning principles. 1) Most of these people's exposure of the West is through hollywood movies filled with sex and promiscuity. 2) Most of these Muslim men from these hardcore Islamic countries are brainwashed to believe any woman showing skin is the same thing as being "naked". They correlate covering up as "pious" and showing skin as "slutty and easy".
Your interaction with this Muslim man can be totally dependent on the individual mindset of that person. You will find Muslim men from all spectrum of the religious/political sides. Some are completely liberalized in Western mentality and others are still living in 13th century mindset.
Are you a bigot for having such thoughts? Well that really depends on the person you are asking.
I think your fears are well grounded. Men are not to be trusted. All things being equal it is probably greater risk of harm from muslim than atheist. But it is inaccurate to characterize muslims as one entity just like it is inaccurate to characterize women as being the same. And muslim is not a race.
But if the guy is pious he likely looks down on women who are not muslim and feels more entitled. And that likely accounts for the rapes that are more prevalent by muslim guys who go to Europe than nonmuslim guys. Same thing happened in North America by European christians who viewed Indian women as something less than human and with slave holders...etc..
I realized in that moment that I am ignorant and racist.
Ignorant, yes. Racist, no. Muslim isn't a race, it's a religious identity (based on a barbarous text from 1400 years ago).
I can’t help but feel like there’s something REALLY wrong with my mentality
I don't think so. You have a fairly normal fear of strange men, given your past, and you are aware of how some muslims interpret the quran. Neither of those is particularly unreasonable.
How do I expand my world view?
You could try going to a local mosque and asking if there are any events coming up which you could attend.
Do you think I’m racist?
Absolutely not, how could you be racist when you didn't even know what race he was?
Sounds to me like your boss brushed you off without really listening to you (or you failed to explain your situation to him). If I were your boss, I would probably arrange for a male salesperson to take your place, just on the risk that the muslim man is bigoted (many aren't, but why take the risk).
I think you are just a woman adjusting to the current conditions of the present world.
Take your phone have someone call you every 5 to 10 minutes, if you don't answer they should dial 911 give them the address and say you are in trouble....send in the troops.
Thanks everyone....yeah I guess it's not racist. Wrong word. I didn't even know what country he was from before the appointment, only that he was Muslim because another person who met with the family knew them prior.
@Adam: I think you made an excellent point in that it depends on where they are from. The cab driver who hit on me who was a Muslim was from an African nation. He made it EXTREMELY obvious that he wanted to have sex with me in multiple different ways.
I'm going to try to get more educated on the subject, especially since this won't be the first or last Muslim family I meet with...
I grew up in a city where Hispanics are the MAJORITY, and almost zero Muslims. I haven't had any real exposure to the Muslim world other than what I know from this site, which is always talking about the oppression of women.....
I need to expand my horizons, lol
Yeah I carry mace with me everywhere....Only had to use it once so far....
Despite the harm Islam causes, there are many responsible Muslim men who have adapted well to American culture and are actually fairly liberal. A little radar on your part should keep you out of most trouble.
BTW, cab drivers in general—and especially any with heavy foreign accents—are sketchy. Around here, when they're not North Africans they are Eastern Europeans or Russians and even as a male I'm sometimes a little nervous riding with them.
My first experience of a cab driver in the USA was in Atlanta about 12 years ago. We spent the time discussing the politics of Afghanistan which was then a big story in the news. Much of the discussion was on the lack of understanding in the media of Pakistani and Saudi support for the Taliban. We wondered if the “war on terror” in Iraq that was killing thousands of children was inappropriately named.
I told him the story of how two days earlier, as I was clearing customs, I was asked what the purpose of my visit was. As George Bush was landing in Ireland on the day I left, I replied that I was just over to make sure everything went smoothly in his absence. The dour faced officer informed me that she “did not like my attitude”. I replied that I did not like her attitude either”. I asked her to lighten up but she insisted I continued on my way.
The cab driver said that he didn’t think I would have said that if I was a refugee from Mosul like him. His wife had been killed but his daughter was with him. We sat talking for another 30 minutes. He refused to come in for tea. I think as a Muslim man he was just being polite. He was happy to have had the conversation though. I remember thinking his daughter was lucky to have him as her dad. I could tell his whole life was lived just for her.