Sunday, April 8, 2012

Gender Enactment

The public space in Doha is saturated with young males and females trying to prove their masculinity or femininity, for either gender. The stereotypical Qatari male wears the traditional attire, with the acceptable amount of accessories, such as branded cufflinks and a watch, as well as branded shoes. The females dress in the latest trends of Abayas and also branded accessories, such as handbags, shoes, and hand accessories. However, they act out their gender by the way they interact with each other, using voice tones and words that mark their gender. For example, the Qatari male lowers his tone of voice, regardless of his natural pitch, especially when flirting with the females. The way they speak is also characterized by Qatari masculinity, which females are not expected to do. For example, they swear a lot, trying to be vulgar, especially to fit into masculine groups and avoid being the group's less masculine male. Because, if the male is marked as the least masculine, homosexuality is directly related. Hence, the type of language used is important in establishing masculinity. For example, while in the movies, two males were seated close by, and were trying to gain our attention (us being a group of females), and instead of watching the film, they commented on the 'gayness' of it, because it was The Vow, a romance film. More interestingly, one of them answered a call, and spoke loudly to who I assume to be a friend of his. While explaining the movie, the male responded, "It's about how your mom met your dad" and began to laugh. Jokes related to parents and sisters, or in other words 'your mom' jokes are considered rude in this culture, because of the importance of family's honor in the Arabic culture. Hence, this male attempted to prove his masculinity to the females sitting close to him by being vulgar and rude. What also should be noted is his tone of voice clearly sounded manipulated to come off as low and deep.
By those standards, the other extreme belongs to females, who also alter their voice and type of language they choose in public. Cursing is out of the question, and the higher the pitch the more feminine. Hence, if the male leans more towards the feminine extreme, meaning if he uses his natural voice and less cursing, the homosexual jokes begin to fly around the group. Because of these stereotypes, each gender defines the other gender's qualities using these two extremes, even though the extremes are fake and an act

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