So I need to start venting my frustration. Usually i'll post a link to supplement my views but now I just need to vent. Well the general saudi society does not currently fathom the mixing of genders and even relatively open-minded families frown upon it. The bedouinette and I have been quite good friends for a while, her family knows me, and know we hang out when we're abroad but there's just something about the saudi culture that won't let her meet me in saudi. Her parents can't know we meet in saudi yet they see it completely fine for us to hang out ANYWHERE outside the saudi state. Her parents will even let her travel alone with guys and sleep over at their houses but in saudi this notion has become extinct. It kills me that men and women can't even go out to coffee together as friends. Families continue to disapprove of this occurring act. This is fueled mainly by the religious police harassing and arresting men and women who aren't related that are together. Although the risk isn't THAT high in the cities as much anymore, there is still a possibility. Regardless, my friend has to eventually sneak out just for us to study, get coffee, or just go cruising in our cars. Why do families have to be SUCH hyprocrites?! Despite religous people, how can society have such different standards and change their morals depending on the location? Why allow their sons and daughters to mingle and not cover abroad while in Saudi, it is deemed unacceptable. Ah...it just drives me crazy that we can't hang out and meet normally while we're in the country.
Yea it sucks. I think those 'hypocrites' must be as annoyed as Bedouin is, by a society that forces people to act differently, or against what they believe. I think the issue is much more complicated than just upholding standards and principles that vary geographically. As non-Saudis, paranoia is often an important element that adds to the oddness and inconsistency of behavior. For some reason, Arab foreigners living in Saudi Arabia always feel like they are under scrutiny; they are being observed by the Saudi society as different species that have come with different values and life styles. The latter is definitely true, but it does not necessarily mean that the principles are different. My parents' view, as I see it, is: if this is not our society, then we might as well not fight it. Now I disagree with that statement (assuming it is really what is going on in their heads). A society comprises of people living in proximity and contributing to its welfare - constructively or destructively. As exclusive as the Saudi society seems (though, to be fair, this is rapidly changing), 'foreign' workers are part of it. However, expatriates remain a physically temporary part of the community. This idea makes people like my mom, for example, think of her 20-year-long experience in Saudi Arabia as merely a working experience.
Going back to what Bedouin said, I do not think it is only the religious 'police', it is also the people. Remember that girl we saw today at the café? She gave us 'interested' looks even though we were in a public place and not doing anything suspicious. Change is coming though.