Friday, November 03, 2006

Playing the mating game, Beirut style :: New York Times

Katherine Zoepf writes:
For a few weeks twice a year, after Ramadan and before Christmas, thousands of Lebanon's young men return from jobs abroad - and run smack into one of the world's most aggressive cultures of female display. Young women of means have spent weeks primping and planning how to sift through as many men as possible in the short time available. The austere month of Ramadan ended a week ago.

The country's high rate of unemployment pushes the young men to seek work elsewhere, sometimes in Western countries like France and Canada, but mainly in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and the other oil states on the Gulf. The women, inhibited by family pressures, are generally left behind.

"The demographic reality is truly alarming," Khalaf said. "There are no jobs for university graduates, and with the boys leaving, the sex ratios are simply out of control. It is now almost five to one: five young girls for every young man. When men my sons' age come back to Lebanon, they can't keep the girls from leaping at them."

For the men, who return with deep pockets and high spirits, the holiday welcome is gratifying.
. . .
Over the past two decades, the Gulf has become the economic pole, and its pull has only grown stronger since the monthlong war this summer between Israel and the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon. With the political situation here still so uncertain, investment and work opportunities are growing even scarcer, and the gender imbalance worsens.

For young women here, dressing fashionably is a competitive game; stare- down contests between young women in restaurants and malls are common.

Kareen Yazbek, a Beirut psychologist, says that the lack of available men is a constant theme in her discussions with young women recovering from depression and drug addiction.

"Throughout my practice, the main issue that comes up with many young women is that they can't find anyone to be with or to marry," Yazbek said. "Among college-age girls it's not such a problem, but after graduation there's a big change as the men start seeking work outside of Lebanon."

"The social pressures on young women are just huge," Yazbek continued. "The focus is more and more on being beautiful, on pleasing other people. The competition is intense, conformity is a big thing, and everyone, rich and poor, gets plastic surgery. You can go to parts of Beirut where almost every young woman has the same little nose."
. . .
"The guys that remain in Lebanon are the stupid ones!" exclaimed Nayiri Kalayjian, 19, who was hitting the bars on Monot Street, in central Beirut, with three girlfriends.

"We're too good for them," she said. "The ones who remain in Lebanon are the ones with closed mentalities, the ones who just want a virgin girl. You start to feel that the men who stay in Lebanon are the ones with no ambition in their work, and so you wonder, why are they still here?"
Once again, economics explains a lot about observed behavior.

UPDATE: Marginal Revolution elaborates on the economics. Read the comments there also.

Read also the point of view of one Lebanese woman.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The article is a simple reflection on Western Culture spreading worldwide.It maybe a good thing in the interests of equality caution is needed though as one only has to look at the West to know that all is not well.How many of the Global company bosses live in the Emirates perhaps they would have some answers!It is their companies that have helped cause the erosion in culture

2:27 AM  
Anonymous mercy said...

I want some more information
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mercy
New York Drug Addiction

6:23 AM  

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