Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Society of "3eeb"

In 1998, when we left America to move to Palestine, I was in for a big surprise; I was going to live in the Society of "3eeb". I am trying to think of an English counterpart for the word, but nothing is coming to mind. There probably isn't any counterpart for the word since only Arab society likes terrorizing its children from a young age with a word that stops them from living normal lives.

"3eeb" means it is not appropriate or polite, but Arab society has abused the word and there is no longer anything which isn't "3eeb".

We moved to Palestine in the summer, and lived in rather liberal Ramallah, which was not very liberal at that time. I was 8 years old and going to start 3rd grade. My aunt's house was only a street away from ours and we would always go to each others houses to play. One day, my aunt came to our house and told my mother that the skirt I was wearing the other day at their house was too short and it was "3eeb" for me to go out with it. My mom told her that they were shorts and only the front design looked like a skirt, and that nothing would show when I was running or playing. My aunt was not convinced and told my mother to never send me to their house again wearing it. My mom never told me not to wear it, but I never wore it again neither to my aunt's house or elsewhere.

It began with family, but living in the Society of "3eeb", members of the society are also compelled to tell you what is "3eeb". I was either 8 or 9 years old when this "3eeb" incident took place: I was with my cousin in the waiting room of the doctor's office; we had either accompanied my mom or his mom, I cannot recall. Whoever we were with was inside the doctor's office, and we were waiting for them. A lady who was also waiting started speaking to us, and asking us about our names. After that, she used my name to "3eeb" me : "Lama, isn't it "3eeb" for you to be wearing shorts?  Tell your mom it's "3eeb"." After she finished "3eeb-ing" me, she asked me what grade I was in. When I told her I was in 3rd grade, she said "Oh, I thought you were in 6th grade." as if to excuse herself for what she just said, as if it would have been justified if she said it to a 12 year old girl.

"3eeb" did not only have to do with the way one dressed; it became a way of life. If adults did not want you to do anything, they instantly marked it as "3eeb". I use it unconsciously, and it is hard to un-condition myself from doing so.

There are things which are "3eeb", but let us not terrorize our children and adolescents with it the same way we were when we were children, for it is "3eeb" to use "3eeb" when it really isn't "3eeb".