One time I was at my grandmother’s place and one of my uncles and aunties were there. Out of no where, my aunty asked me if I am planning to continue my studies abroad. I told her “yes of course, why not“. My uncle’s face suddenly looked like he just swallowed a disgusting medicine. Then he said “girls who study abroad think that they are doing something good, little they know that they are harming themselves“. I raised an eyebrow and did not want to even know what he meant because I have heard this kind of talk a million time before. My aunty asked him “What do you mean?“. He said “Those poor girls do not know what is good for them. They are misguided and cannot think straight. They think it’s cool and good to go abroad. What good does that bring them? Nothing. They come back very old and liberal. No body wants to marry them and they will end up as spinsters. Who would want to marry them then? They wasted so many years of their lives for a certificate that will be hanged on the wall. What are they going to do with all of this education? They will just stay at home at the end and raise their children. That is of course if they found someone who wants to marry them after all this exposure. Men over here do not like women who went abroad alone, they think that they are too open minded and liberal and not fit for marriage. It is better for girls to stay here in their home country among their family. If they want to study they can go to Qatar University. Why go abroad? As a matter of fact, men would prefer if she only had a high school degree, which is even better”.
I was boiling inside but I decided to keep quiet, there is no point in arguing with such mentality. On top of that, I didn’t want to upset my grandmother. I was surprised to hear such opinion from an educated man who has a very important role at work. Is this the real mentality behind educated highly ranked men in our country! My aunty asked me “what would you say to that?”. I simply said “He has his opinion and I have mine, that doesn’t mean that either of us is wrong or right, each is entitled to live and think as they wish”. Then my uncle said “yes of course, this is just my opinion, it is up to you what you do with your life“. You think! Then my grandmother told me “my child, why would you want to leave your family again. Haven’t you finished your studies already?”. I told her “Grandmother, you only want me to stay here because I am a girl. You didn’t say this to any of your boy grandchildren when they went abroad. On the contrary, everyone encouraged them“. My aunty then told me “take my advice, don’t depend on anyone and don’t expect anything form anyone either. Depend on yourself only and as long you have the opportunity then grab it and do your best. People might stand in your way today but they will envy your tomorrow. Education is your weapon in this world. Don’t let anyone take that from you”.
I was thinking, does my uncle really expect that women would die to marry men who prefer to marry uneducated teenagers! I really cannot understand such mentality. I think that this type of men is afraid of strong, independent and educated women. Wouldn’t they want a partner to depend on; who is mature and responsible and can take care of a household? Or they just want a young body and mind that could be easily controlled and says “Inshallah” to everything! I am not saying that girls who finish their education in Qatar or abroad are better than those who didn’t. What I am saying is that I am so sick and tired of the bad image that is portrayed for girls who study abroad. People look at us differently. They always say this comment with a raised eye brow when they know that we didn’t receive our education at home “oh, banat landan” oh London girls! Damaged good! Then what ever behavior we do, what ever words we say will be linked to the freedom we experienced abroad. A very small and silly example would be the time I went to a wedding and wore a cocktail dress, one of the ladies told me referring to my dress “Is this what you have learnt from London?” I told her “No, I learnt this from Doha“. What was frustrating is that most of the lady’s cousins were wearing similar dresses to mine. But no one criticized them only because they studies in Qatar and are pure and innocent unlike the girl who was too exposed. Please, give me a break! I don’t even want to get started about the horrible things that girls do in Qatar University! People think that because it’s a girls only University it is safe and good for their daughter’s reputation! The stories I hear from my friends who study there about “damaged girls” are nothing compared to what happens abroad.
I think that people look at others in their own eye.