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Middle Eastern Women and Asexuality

Categories Middle East, Sexuality, Women

Essay, Pages 7 (1745 words)

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Essay, Pages 7 (1745 words)

Foundations of Social Justice

Intersectionality Paper

For this assignment, I interviewed an asexual, Middle Eastern woman. Her identity is different than mine in terms of race and sexual orientation because I am a heterosexual mexican women.

Interview

Question: How do you identify yourself racially or ethnically?

I identify as a Jordanian Sunni Muslim. I am a second generation Jordanian American. While I was born and raised in America for the most part, I still identify as Jordanian. I identify myself this way because my entire family aside from my mother, father, and brother live in Jordan.

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Not only does my entire family live in Jordan but every single summer until leaving for college was spent in Jordan. Jordan feels like home. Jordan is my home and I will always identify as a Jordanian before an American.

Question: What do you think are commonly held misconceptions about your race/ethnicity?

Where should I begin? Sometimes I feel like I am a walking poster of misconceptions.

For starters, the whole “terrorist” spiel was very prominent growing up. Other kids thought calling me a terrorist was the funniest thing ever. Even today the misconception that all Muslims or Middle Eastern people are all terrorists is still very much alive. I think that living in Trump’s America has a lot to do with it but I don’t want to get into that right now. People also believe that all of the middle east is worn torn and dangerous. This is not the case at all.

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There are many beautiful and safe places throughout the middle east and I wish that people could see this.

Question: What do social workers need to know in order to be effective in assisting people of your race/ethnicity?

I think that they need to know that they just need to learn about the Middle East as a whole. While many believe the Middle East is just one big place that is not true. There are many countries in what people call the middle east and each country has unique religions and customs. It would be great to have social workers that actually understand these things.

Question: When did you first become aware that your romantic/sexual feelings were not heterosexual?

I realized I was asexual my junior year of highschool. I realized it when my friends kept pushing me to be in a relationship and I went along with it and had multiple boyfriends but I never had any interest in these relationships. Don’t get me wrong, they were all great guys and i’m still friends with most of them but I just didn’t have any interest in them or anyone really beyond friendship. While I knew this since highschool I didn’t fully identify as asexual until I went from our small Texas city to Los Angeles for college.

Question: How would you explain asexuality to someone who does not know what it is?

Asexuality is a sexual orientation, like homosexuality or heterosexuality. And like being straight or being gay, it’s about what someone feels, not what someone does. Being asexual means I don’t have any interest in expressing my attraction physically. For me being asexual means that I don’t express myself physically even if I am interested in someone.

Question: Have you self-disclosed your sexual orientation to people in your life? How did you decide to come out (or not come out)?

All my friends in Los Angeles and back home know. I’m sure others know as well, because as you know in small cities like ours things that don’t conform to gender norms spread like wildfire, but that doesn’t bother me. My parents and brother know as well but none of my family back in Jordan know. I decided not to tell them because I don’t think they’d understand. I have brought up asexuality in general around them and they had no idea what it was and dismissed it. I made the decision not to tell them because I only see them a few months a year and I don’t necessarily feel like I need to tell them.

Review of literature

I was hoping to write a literature review on Jordanian women in America. Unfortunately, there have not been many studies done on Jordanian woman in America and because of this I have chosen to focus on Arab women as a whole. I was also hoping to focus on asexuality in the Middle Eastern community but there is also a scarcity of research done on asexuality in general. Because of this I have chosen to focus on the LGBTQA community as a whole within the Middle Eastern community.

While many Arabs express wariness and anxiety about aspects of their lives in the United States, Arab women tend to be more pessimistic about their place in U.S. society than Arab men. (Green) In America more Arab women than men say it has become more difficult to be Muslim in the U.S. in recent years. (US Muslims, 2019) Among other races in America women are less likely to be targeted by hate crimes because they are not seen as dangerous. (Aktar) This is not the case with Arab women. There, women and girls appear to be extremely vulnerable to violence motivated by their status as Muslims, but especially as Muslim women. In part, this is due to the fact that those who are covered, in particular, are readily identifiable. Yet it also has to do with the controlling images of Muslims, women, and Muslim women that render the latter especially attractive and available targets. (Perry, 2014) This literature review will focus on gendered racism and the LGBTQ arab community.

Gendered Racism

Gendered racism is a form of racism oppression that takes place for no other reason than the race and gender of the victim. Gendered racism occurs because of the perceived thoughts and stereotypes around a certain gender and race. Gendered racism also encompasses what is known as “double jeopardy”. . Double Jeopardy is when you have two things that you cannot control, working against you in society. (Greenman)The subject of the interview above would be an example of someone whois part of this double jeopardy phenomeon because she is Muslim and Asexual in a society that looks down on those characteristics. Gendered racism is seen through society’s stereotypical portrayals of men and women of color. For example, movies have shown Arabs as heartless, brutal, uncivilized, religious fanatics through common depictions of Arabs kidnapping or raping a fair maiden; expressing hatred against the Jews and Christians; and demonstrating a love for wealth and power. (Shaheen) Gendered racism is term that encompasses alot of racisms, microagressions, and stereyotypes and Muslim women have to deal with a good chunck of this type of racism.

There needs to be significantly more research done when it comes to the middle eastern population as a whole. I believe that researchers should focus on the women from these countries because the amount of research done on them is almost non existent. More scholarly articles should be written about gendered racism because it is so prevalent in todays society as well.

Findings

The literature review above dives into the different social, racial, and gender factors that go into being an Arab. I wanted to focus more on the specifics of my interviewee which would have been Jordanian and Asexual but unfortuanatly there has not been alot of research done on these topics at all. While I found sources that succificed I did also find it a bit difficult to find articles on Middle Eastern Women in general. Most of the articles that I found focused more on Middle Eastern Men.

Despite these challenges, I was able to form a thorough body of work. This body of work touches on being a Middle Eastern women in america and how different factors one of which being sexuality play a part in your everyday life. I tied all of these ideas together because of the things my interviewee said. As an asexual muslim jordanian woman living in America she does not exactly fit into any cookie cutter mold american society has put forth and because of this she is seen differently than most by society.

Overall, I think that social workers would benefit significantly by trying to learn more about different countries and people in the Middle East. Although there is not much information in terms of Arabs in the United States there is plenty to learn about different customs and beliefs among this diverse group of people that many tend to lump together. Middle Eastern Americans are marginalized in their day to day lives and this marginalization carries over into academic research as well. There is so much research that is necessary that still needs to be done and I highly recommend that Academic sources start tackling this extensive field of research. I also think it is very important for social workers to learn about different religions. For example, in this interview the interviewee made it very clear that she was a Sunni Muslim and not a Shia Muslim. She made it clear that it is almost an insult to her to be called a Shia and many of her elders would find it extremely rude. Things like this would be amazing for a social worker to know so that they don’t accidently insult someone’s religion.

In regards to Asexuality I believe that social workers first of all need to learn what asexuality is. Asexuality is not very talked about or even known about and I believe that if a social worker knew exactly what asexuality was when talking to someone it would make that person feel more comfortable. I also think that social workers need to come at any sexuality outside of heterosexism with open arms. People in the LGBTQA community are marginalized enough in their everyday lives.

Akhtar, S. (2018, August 9). The state is using gendered racism as a weapon against Muslim women. Retrieved from

Greenman, E., & Xie, Y. (2008). Double Jeopardy? The Interaction of Gender and Race on Earnings in the U.S. Social forces; a scientific medium of social study and interpretation, 86(3), 1217-1244. doi:10.1353/sof.0.0008

Green, E. (2017, August 10). How Much Discrimination Do Muslims Face in America? Retrieved from

Shaheen, J. G. (n.d.). Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People – Jack G. Shaheen, 2003. Retrieved from

U.S. Muslims Concerned About Their Place in Society, but Continue to Believe in the American Dream. (2019, January 4). Retrieved from

Cite this essay

Middle Eastern Women and Asexuality. (2019, Dec 09). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/middle-eastern-women-and-asexuality-essay

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