From The New York Times article “In Booming Gulf, Some Arab Women Find Freedom in the Skies:”
Far more than other jobs they might find in the gulf, flying makes it difficult for Muslim women to fulfill religious duties like praying five times a day and fasting during Ramadan, the Egyptian attendant noted. She said she hoped to wear the hijab one day, “just not yet.” A sense of disconnection from their religion can add to feelings of alienation from conservative Muslim communities back home. Young women whose work in the gulf supports an extended family often find, to their surprise and chagrin, that work has made them unsuitable for life within that family.
Reactions to the article after the break.
- “Arab Flight Attendants” (Leo Americanus)
- “Don’t try to be sensitive: be yourselves (insensitive)” (Angry Arab News Service)
- “Fly Girls: the NYT’s essentialist profile of Emirati flight attendants” (Muslimah Media Watch)
- “Freedom in the skies?” (Sticky Candy)
- “Glamorous Life of Flight Attendants?” (Duke University Press Log)
- “Hey, New York Times! ‘You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.'” (Get Religion)
- “NYT Condescending View of Arab Women ” (Qatar Visitor)
The Emirates are the cradle of sociological change for other Arab expats, but Emirati families remain staunchly conservative in most cases. They can be because they have the money to be.
Western media are at their worst not when they are naturally insensitive, but when they try to act sensitive.
It’s a consensus: boos all around!
I can’t claim that I understand any of this. I certainly don’t. My view is very much an Americanized view of Women’s Rights, but I can only imagine that these women who have decided to follow their ambitions and beliefs, have also alienated their families and their home countries. Is this a cost that Arab women are willing to take?
The women live in monitored dormitories, but still experience much more freedom than they might at home. Their experience recalls the earliest American flight attendants… who saw the job as one of the only opportunities to pursue a career outside the home.
Reporters need to be careful. On the religion beat, the words really matter. Ask Arabs who are members of minority groups in the Middle East.
I’m a little confused as to why an article on the progress Arab women are making has to focus on flight attendants! Not intending any offense [sic] to flight attendants, but the achievements of Arab women in recent years have been much broader than this.
Anything to add to the list? Send it along or leave a response to the article below.
Post updated December 23, 2003.