Has a Tiktok Trend Reinforced Stereotypes in the Arab Culture?

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Tiktok Trend Reinforced Stereotypes in the Arab Culture?

Over the course of almost two weeks, a trend erupted on TikTok after a video was made claiming “Middle Eastern men belong to Latinas”. Whilst the video may have been all fun and games, and addressing Middle Eastern men, it was in fact Arab women who flooded TikTok with comments such as “take them”, “we don’t want them”, and worse. On the surface these comments may seem harsh and uncalled for, but it’s important to address where the frustrations behind them are coming from. So has this Tiktok trend reinforced stereotypes in the Arab culture? Let’s dive into it!

Despite many of us Arabs living in the west, traditional cultural expectations and double standards still exist here as much as they do in the east, especially for Arab women. Issues such as dating, divorce, sex education, choosing a career over family, having children out of wedlock etc. are all areas that Arab women are rarely encouraged to pursue, let alone discuss publicly, whilst men are afforded the right to live out these experiences with little to no social repercussions. Our Latina and other non-Arab sisters have the possibility of being with an Arab man regardless of their previous experiences and current lifestyles, without having to carry the burdens of Middle Eastern societal expectations, which Arab women do.

@arabicmclovin

Y’all heard them boys we going over to Latina women ##fyp ##latina ##hispanic ##siblings

♬ Yo Voy – Zion y Lennox

For example, it’s commonplace to see an Arab man with a non-Arab partner, but Arab women are not always afforded the same privilege of normalcy, due to cultural taboos and deep rooted racism within our communities. As a result, Arab women are often shamed and sometimes even disowned if they do not marry within their culture or religion; an issue which is rarely of concern if a man does so. This not only further limits the options for marriage or partnership for women, but also directly feeds into the underlying inequality between the genders.

The second double standard is most often upheld by Arab men. Many men deem it completely normal to marry a non-virgin from another culture, but shameful if their Arab sister, cousin, etc. was a non-virgin or had a “reputation”. Furthermore, Arab women who lead a less traditional lifestyle are shunned or humiliated, whereas their male counterparts are celebrated. This double standard further supports oppressive narratives and mentalities that have led to women developing mental health issues due to being socially isolated and ostracized. Less commonly, even honour killed. Such was the case with Israa Ghrayeb, a 21-year old Palestinian makeup artist who was killed in 2019 by her family after rumours regarding her and her fiance spread. These methods of punishment and exclusion have historically been reserved for women, and never men, in Arab societies.

The third issue is the immense amount of pressure placed on the Arab female in the west. Having to deal with European beauty standards (which are often most firmly upheld by Arab societies), whilst moulding their identity between both cultures, and making their voices heard within their communities, is hard enough. Add to that the pressure of having to prove their rights, worth and beauty in a society which, in comparison to other women, does not place as much value on these qualities when they are coming from Arab women.

So how has this “Middle Eastern men belong to Latinas” Tiktok trend reinforced stereotypes in the Arab culture? Middle Eastern men have the power of choice; the power to choose Arab women or not, to dabble in dating, to build a partnership outside of their ethnicity/race, and to partake in nontraditional experiences without society holding it against them. As Arab women, society does not afford us the same luxuries nor the freedoms, and this is the very root of our frustrations. And when our frustrations do flare, we are often silenced and our experiences consequently erased.

Middle Eastern men have the power of choice; the power to choose Arab women or not, to dabble in dating, to build a partnership outside of their ethnicity/race, and to partake in nontraditional experiences without society holding it against them.

Manal Mourad Nasser on gender previlige in interracial relationships

What role does Arab feminism play in all of this? Feminism addresses social constructs as well as political ones. The double standards discussed are the direct result of patriarchal views that have become the mainstream norm. The overarching issue here is that the Arab man is generally accepting of a non-Arab woman who is not held to the same standards and social requirements as Arab women, but will denounce or shun an Arab woman for sharing the same qualities. This is due to the notion that other cultures are “less conservative”, thus making it acceptable for one and not the other. This is a reality that Arab women see too often in the west, and has reinforced stereotypes in the Arab culture.

@ironno

##stitch with @alexabarrucci I confidently and proudly speak on behalf of all the Arab girls on this app ##arab

♬ My Love. – INEZ

These themes barely touch the surface of the underlying issues, but it’s important to highlight the longstanding flaws in some of our cultural practices, this Arab Latina TikTok trend has reinforced in the Arab culture. Arab women deserve so much more. We are not pawns in competition with other women. Claiming spaces to air out our grievances on social media platforms (such as a simple TikTok video), without fear of judgement and shame by Arabs and non-Arabs alike, is a step forward in demanding our social rights. Our stories and experiences need to be told, and only we can tell them.

by Manal Mourad Nasser
@theeatingexpat

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Comments to: Has a Tiktok Trend Reinforced Stereotypes in the Arab Culture?
  • October 8, 2020

    Finally someone spoke about this subject! I agree with everything in this article

    Reply
  • March 4, 2021

    I’m a Mexican woman who is dating a middle eastern man for over a year now. I have three beautiful children from my previous marriage. I respect Arab woman so much. I admire them and their history. I’ve grown so close to my boyfriends mother the past year. Reading this article makes me respect Arab woman so much more. And I stand with you.

    Reply
  • April 13, 2021

    Wow, this is so true, Im latina and an arab guy asked me out and I feel sort of guilty about it now… I really wasn’t wearing anything that showed any part of my body only my hair, so I think he could also ask an arab girl out because we live in the west. Arab girls are so beautiful and smart though, no matter how much they cover themselves and many are superior to me in intelligence and looks, Im just cute. I had a female arab friend and she had so many restrictions that she kept putting on herself because noone was checking on her. Tbh, there is a disadvantage to this mix, many of these men just use us, they don’t marry us. Then they go back home and marry the women of their own country because it’s easier than to bring a foreigner into their homes. I don’t want this guy to use me, but I’ll date him anyways because I have nothing to lose.

    Reply
    • July 9, 2021

      Get to know him too also. I wouldn’t say yes right away if a guy ask me out, I would see what he’s like first because he could be doing that because he’s bored or he could be trying to cheat. I have a thing for arab guys but I just try to be careful, that’s what I would suggest

      Reply
  • June 8, 2021

    as an arab woman i wholeheartedly agree with this article. there are so many things that my friends/family say i need to change about myself because “i’ll never get a nice arab husband acting like that.” they say that i don’t act feminine enough, i’m too outspoken, etc. what’s more is a lot of the men in my life constantly fetishize latina and black women while also belittling arab women in such a disrespectful way. it’s just so frustrating seeing me and my arab and non-arab sisters being objectified so blatantly like this.

    Reply
  • September 8, 2021

    Either this is exaggerated or I’m just a unicorn amongst our community…never understood why anyone would care what a middle eastern chick does. As a Middle Eastern man I’ve been in serious relationships with Middle Eastern women who have dated outside our ethnicity, and when one of them told me about her past relationships and saw that it didn’t bother me whatsoever, I could see she got upset for a couple days. This led me to understand that sometimes middle eastern women use other men in their own way just to try to “get back at us” and see if we’re supposed to react or something lol. It stems from insecurity of not feeling good enough for us which is ridiculous, but I give half the blame to their parents for how they raised them. Anyways as you can assume she wasn’t my cup of tea because she didn’t come across to me as someone who took humanity seriously, viewing non-middle eastern men as tools of revenge and then getting mad because I can’t be bothered by something so superficial and trivial like who you’ve dated. So to sum it up there’s a lot of jacked up men AND women in our community. I just hope that if I’m meant to end up with one then she’ll be like me: normal, pure and unbothered by irrelevant superficialities and stigmas. Otherwise I won’t marry her.

    Reply

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