Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Qatar’s ‘Manly Women’

Thank you, Little Diamond, who sent this article from The Economist as an update to blog entry on cross dressing based on a tiny article in the Gulf Times

CROSS-DRESSING is on the rise among young Qataris. The local press says that more tradition-minded locals are upset by the growing number of young women affecting a masculine style of dress, baggy trousers, short hair and deep voices. These women, who call themselves boyat, which translates as both tomboy and transsexual (and is derived from the English word boy), are being seen in schools and on university campuses where some are said to harass their straiter-laced sisters.

In an episode of a talk show on Qatari television, called Lakom al Karar (The Decision is Yours), a leading academic said that the “manly women” phenomenon was part of a “foreign trend” brought into Qatar and the Gulf by globalisation. Foreign teachers, the internet and satellite television have been blamed. So have foreign housemaids, for badly influencing children in their care.

The studio audience was divided over how to respond. Some called for the death penalty for cross-dressers, while others favoured medical treatment. A rehabilitation centre for Qatari boyat has been set up, but a local report says that as many as 70% of them refuse to give up their “abnormal behaviour”.

It is not just Qataris who are rattled. A year ago the ministry of social affairs in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) launched a campaign against “masculine women”. The project, entitled “Excuse me, I’m a girl”, involved workshops, lectures and television programmes, stressing the virtues of femininity and raising awareness of the presumed dangers of women looking like men. An emirates’ foundation is helping to fund a research project on “gender identity disorder among Emirati youth”.

One official describes the “deviant behaviour” of the boyat as a “menace” to society. But others sound less fazed. An American university lecturer in the region says the short hair and gym shoes worn by these young women would look perfectly normal on an American campus. That is just what unnerves the traditionalists.

Why do you think these girls dress and act like men? Why would a girl do that?

I think girls do that – in any country – for a reason. If privileges and freedoms are heavily weighted in favor of males, perhaps there is no great mystery as to why some females would prefer to be males. It makes sense to me. Girls aren’t stupid. They can see who is getting all the goodies. My guess it is less a gender issue than a values issue.

On the other hand, when – and if – things are more equal, there is less motivation to be other than what we were created to be.

I had some young local friends who told me that they were taking Tai Kwan Do, but quit when a neighbor told their mother that it might threaten their virginity. It broke my heart. The martial arts give grace and confidence to young women. There are a lot of ways a hymen can be broken; I have never heard of it happening while training in Tai Kwan Do. These young, vibrant girls have fewer and fewer activities that they are encouraged to do, and end up staying home or strolling endlessly at the local malls. Aaarrgh!

Dads – teach your daughters to hunt! Teach them to fish! Teach them to swim, to throw a softball, to kick a football. Take them camping in the desert, and let them run freely. Teach them chess, and how to win. Give them the gift of physical and intellectual activity, give them the understanding that sports, employment and power are equally accessible for all sexes, and you won’t be having problems with girls who yearn for the freedoms and privileges of being male.

January 30, 2010 Posted by | Character, Cross Cultural, Doha, Education, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Generational, Living Conditions, Qatar, Social Issues, Values, Women's Issues | 12 Comments

Perfectly Beautiful Doha Skyline

Every now and then, the perfect night comes along. We weren’t the only ones out taking photos – it was that kind of night.

January 30, 2010 Posted by | Beauty, Doha, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Lumix, Photos, Qatar, Weather | Leave a comment

Heart of Doha Progress – Karabaa

January 30, 2010 Posted by | Building, Doha, ExPat Life, Qatar | Leave a comment

Wolf Moon Over Doha

Like a PEARL in the newly opened exhibit, the Wolf Moon illuminates the Museum of Islamic Art

From AOL News, where you can read the rest of the article)

(Jan. 29) – Tonight’s full moon will be the biggest and brightest full moon of the year. It offers anyone with clear skies an opportunity to identify easy-to-see features on the moon.

This being the first full moon of 2010, it is also known as the wolf moon, a moniker dating back to Native American culture and the notion that hungry wolves howled at the full moon on cold winter nights. Each month brings another full moon name.

But why will this moon be bigger than others? Here’s how the moon works:

The moon is, on average, 238,855 miles from Earth. The moon’s orbit around Earth – which causes it to go through all its phases once every 29.5 days – is not a perfect circle, but rather an ellipse. One side of the orbit is 31,070 miles closer than the other.

So in each orbit, the moon reaches this closest point to us, called perigee. Once or twice a year, perigee coincides with a full moon, as it will tonight, making the moon bigger and brighter than any other full moons during the year.

Tonight it will be about 14 percent wider and 30 percent brighter than lesser full moons of the year, according to

As a bonus, Mars will be just to the left of the moon tonight. Look for the reddish, starlike object.

The weather is perfect. Go out tonight and enjoy this fabulous, bright moon.

January 30, 2010 Posted by | Doha, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Qatar, Weather | 4 Comments