He wanted to purchase me and take me home to his family. I was traveling with two guys so I wasn't too worried that something bad would happen. But it was still unsettling to have our driver in Jordan ask over and over again if he could "buy" me from my friends.
My face in the photo says it all. Super irritated. The two women in the truck were Australian nurses that were working in Saudi Arabia. They made bank and didn't have to pay taxes. But they said the boredom of being stuck in their expats compound meant they were spending all their savings traveling outside of SA in order to stay sane. I don't know why I can remember this with such detail but can't remember if I took my medicine five minutes ago.
I don't mean any disrespect to the Bedouin culture. They are absolutely lovely people and incredibly kind and hospitable. I recognize that what he was attempting to do is not in any way taboo in his culture.
But for me, an American woman traveling abroad, it was disconcerting. I was completely covered, by the way. I was respectful as possible to their customs, given my limited wardrobe stashed in my backpack.
Jordan was a lovely respite after going to Egypt. Cairo was certainly an experience. I remember seeing dusty footprints on my pillow at the crappy hotel and there was a Subway where I gratefully gobbled down a sandwich that resembled something from home - although some of the toppings were unrecognizable!
After leaving Cairo, we headed south where we would take a boat to Jordan. We heard about a dolphin that had adopted a mute, deaf boy and somehow managed to find our way to them. Keep in mind that there was no Internet cafes or smartphones at this time! Everything was word of mouth. You'd meet travelers coming from wherever we were headed and they'd advise us and we would advise them. My 15 year old nephew is baffled how we got anywhere without a phone. He's asked a number of times and I keep telling him: maps, ask people, call for directions.
He just stares at me.
We stopped at this little village and the boy was adorable. He was about 13 or 14 years old. He waved to us and showed us his dolphin swimming around close to shore. The water was so clear you could see the dolphin and a few tires at the bottom of the shallow inlet. I guess dolphins rarely leave their pack but somehow these two had connected when he was a small boy. They said she was very protective of him. The kind of thing that would go viral on the Internet these days. Back then, it just becomes a traveler's story. Folklore.
I paid six shekel and they handed me a snorkel and a mask. The guys I was with more aggressive when they tried to touch her. She'd swim out of reach every time they went towards her. Meanwhile, I hung back and tried to appear non-threatening. She sensed a kindred spirit and eventually let me touch her several times. The boys were jealous.
There are so many moments I could have shared from this point in my life. I can't figure out why I kept coming back to this photo.
I think it speaks to me right now because of what's happening in our government. The idea that a 13 person panel made up of all males attempted to control women's healthcare in 2017 is still mind-blowing to me.
The fact that the person leading our country openly admitted that he grabs women wherever he wants AND PEOPLE STILL VOTED FOR HIM.
I know it's hard to absorb all this craziness happening right now. But, really, nobody should be that shocked right now by anything he says or does.
He's never had integrity. Why would he start now?
On some level, it's a relief to have his horrible, awful "brand" out in the open. The ugliness that used to hide just beneath the surface is now up front and center.
I always felt like I was the whiny girl about how women were treated. Another way I felt "different." I couldn't understand how other women stayed quiet about it! Or why it was considered strange that it bothered me so much.
This blatant misogyny coming from people in power in DC makes it harder to ignore. People are showing their true colors. Leaders are going to have to take a stance.
There is no more pretending that we haven't been living in a very sick culture for a very long time.
My Gen X men are really, really good guys. I know there is no way they'd want their daughters to grow up in a culture where they can be grabbed by some entitled dude. I literally can't think of one man I know that would laugh and say it's okay, it wouldn't bother him.
We have so far to go in order to create that world where our daughters and granddaughters can safely walk down the street without wondering if someone is going to say or do something gross and sexist that day.
I wish I could explain to them what it's like to have people grab at your body, thinking that they own it.
That's what bugs me the most and has since I developed into a teenager.
The assumption that they can touch it, comment on it, or even BUY it is so oppressive, I don't know what else we have to do in order to make our point be heard.
I've probably had my ass grabbed at least a hundred times over the last 28 years. I'm short, look young and my ass isn't tiny so it's an easy target. That's a rough estimate but I'd say a safe one.
I have no clue how I made it all these years without being sexually assaulted. I wonder all the time how I managed to avoid it with all my living and traveling on my own.
What will it take for it to eradicate this underlying entitlement to our bodies? For leaders to not assume they can do whatever they want to legislate them? Or touch them? WHAT WILL IT TAKE?
A gross, disgusting man in the White House? Watching their daughter suffer? Observing our culture slip into some warped Handmaid's Tale?
I'm so curious what guys are thinking about it now. But I totally get that people are too wary to comment publicly. I get that. I'm so scared to say anything about racism, lest I say it wrong.
I do wonder, though, if inside they are really trying to step into our shoes and think about what it would be like to walk through an entire day wondering if someone was going to touch your body without permission or tell you to smile or imply that you're stupid just because you have tits. All of the time.
It gets old real fast.
I think I want to share this photo because this was an important part of how I became the person I am now. The realization that I can't just travel like "one of the guys" or walk through life without being aware of my place in it.
I hope that we can change this. Though, I understand we have a FEW other more important things to worry about other than ass-grabbing right now!! But it's part of the bigger story of what's happening right now. And it illustrates why 's so important to deconstruct the current patriarchal culture and rebuild a new one where racists, sexist leaders have no way of gaining control of our government.
It's going to be a long journey to a new culture.
I have faith in us.
I have faith in us that we can heal this disease that's infected our culture for far too long.
It's going to be long. It's going to difficult.
But we can do it.
PHOTO #8. This post is part of a series celebrating my life before I lost four organs to three cancers in 2014. It is an “online memorial” honoring the person I was, in the hopes that I can make peace with the disabled person I’ve become. Every day for 30 days until my birthday, I will challenge myself to write a post inspired by the photo I’m sharing. I will not plan the topic or write ahead of time. I will merely look at the photo and write whatever it inspires. Thanks for reading! #julesfor30 #happyrebirth