In the Middle East, Egyptians are buzzing over the trial of Hisham Talaat Moustafa, an Egyptian real estate tycoon, for murdering Suzanne Tamim, a Lebanese pop star. Prettier than Napoleon summarizes the sordid details:
Egyptian millionaire politician woos Lebanese pop singer, spending over $7 million on her. His mother refuses to consent to their marriage, so the pop star leaves him. He pays $2 million for a contract hit and has her murdered.
What boggles Prettier than Napoleon is the reaction of Egyptian women:
“She made him kill her, and she deserves it,” said Sherine Moustafa, a 39-year-old Egyptian corporate lawyer, an opinion that was echoed by every woman of dozens interviewed. “If he killed her, this means she’s done something outrageous to drive him to it,” reasoned Ms. Moustafa, who has no relation to the convicted businessman. Both her sister and mother, who sat next to her, agreed.
This is the standard argument presented, more even by women than by men, in the Arab world, where strict patriarchal traditions continue to hold female victims responsible for crimes against them by men. If a woman is sexually harassed, then she must have been dressed provocatively. If raped, she somehow must have put herself in a compromising position. If pregnant out of wedlock, her conduct is to blame. And if she is murdered, then she must have committed an even more abhorrent crime.
We might be somewhat less boggled if we examine a similar reactions from women to a man murdering a woman. Specifically, OJ Simpson’s murder of Nicole:
“This is a story about race and gender and how they intersect,” said Susan Reverby, a professor of women’s studies at Wellesley College, who is white. “It’s about a black man married to a white woman being judged by black women.”
That alone required an emotional calculus that every black woman had to figure out. As the trial became bigger than the sum of its testimony and more personal to its viewer-chorus, the same facts summoned different interpretations. White women tended to identify with Mrs. Simpson as an abuse victim. Black women, pulled by competing loyalties, tended to see Mr. Simpson as a black man framed by the system — even if he had been indifferent to the black community, and even if they thought he might be guilty.
“We’re willing to put aside his personal preferences,” said Denise Cade, a securities lawyer in Washington, who is black and believes that Mr. Simpson may have had something to do with the murders but that the prosecution was flawed. “We have been oppressed for so long that we really do take people back. Maybe this will bring him home.”
. . . .
“The reason a black man may beat his wife is because he is facing racism on his job and racism in America,” Ms. Cade said. “What is the reason a white man beats his wife? It’s certainly not because of oppression in America. We can understand what our black men feel. That’s why we don’t rally around those feminist people.”
To Hisham Talaat Moustafa and every interviewed Egyptian women, the Lebanese Suzanne Tamim was a nonperson. To OJ Simpson and many black women, the white Nicole Brown Simpson was likewise a nonperson. Had Moustafa murdered an Egyptian woman or Simpson a black woman, reactions would be different because a real person was just murdered. What would have happened if the reporter from the New York Times had asked the Egyptian women how they’d feel if Ms. Tamim had been Egyptian? It’s likely they’d say that no Egyptian woman would behave in such a way.
Prettier than Napoleon asks,
What is the lesson here? Don’t become a Westernized pop star? That’s not what got her killed. Refusing to be this guy’s mistress after he wouldn’t buck his mother and marry her is what got her killed.
Some parts of Lebanon are quite Westernized (see this old Steve Sailer essay for details) and it appears that the relaxed, tolerant, mostly Christian and secular world is where Ms. Tamim came from, as opposed to the more clannish Shiite or Sunni worlds. The real lesson is that when dating outside your own culture, remember that you might be a nonperson to them. Given the witches’ brew of cultures and politics that is Lebanon, Ms. Tamim probably never tried to date a Muslim man from her own country: too much blood has been spilled on both sides for there to be trust. In all likelihood, she thought that Moustafa wasn’t like those crazy Muslims back home: he was a good guy who’d made a fortune and seen the world and who saw her as a human being. She didn’t realize until too late that to him, she was always a nonperson.
Posted by Hubbard in Ladies, Gentlemen, and the Rest of us