Recently, Ms. Bradshaw traveled to the Emirates for a glamorous vacation with a few pals. Here, she recounts her thoughts about her time in Abu Dhabi.
As I sit here in my sparkling new genie shoes, I am in a post-vacation glow. It was easy to become overwhelmed with the glittering luxury of our suite in Abu Dhabi, the cocktails, and the shopping. Upon returning from my trip, I could not help but be overwhelmed with a bit of patriotism. I have always been the greatest fan of this tiny island of Manhattan, but our trip to Abu Dhabi got me to thinking about sexism in the Middle East.
Underneath the burqa of fabulous glamour, we saw a whole lot of oppression of women in Abu Dhabi. Between the drab black and the lowered gazes, gender norms in the Middle East could do with a bit of a makeover. After all, even though we don’t exactly have equality here, at least our oppression can strut down Fifth in couture. I wonder what can change for women in the Middle East. Is oppression a timeless classic, like my Chanel dress, or do we toss it completely, like Charlotte’s paint-stained Valentino? I have a few ideas myself, and these are things that I think can help spin an old classic into a funky modern hit.
The first thing that needs to change in the Middle East is the lack of alcohol. These people could do with a bit of loosening up. A bit more liquor and people would just be less angry! Why else would angry old men surround Samantha when she dropped half a pound of golden-wrapped latex in a crowded market? They surrounded her like a flash mob of judgement.
Also, with alcohol, officials would have something real to police instead of fun. It is true that it was pretty nice of that chic sheikh to bring us over on a business trip, but he shouldn’t have expected us to be boring and respect the culture or anything if it gets in the way of fun. Sex on the beach is more than a great cocktail, you know? You can get arrested for that in the Middle East! How can sex on a beach be a punishable offense anywhere?
I thought this was going to be a trip into Aladdin with cocktails, but I got so much more than that. The new Middle East is hardly new at all, and they need to get off the camel and realize that life is far too short to be a backward prude.
Dowdy black gowns are Victorian and out! We felt just awful for those poor Arab women. We saw the way they looked longingly out our glamorous and vibrant couture. A change of clothes gives you a fresh view of oppression! We had this epiphany on this trip—the chokehold of patriarchy is pretty strong in the Middle East and in the city. The difference between those women and us is that we look fabulous under oppression! We can get through the world of men getting us down because at least we can pick our clothes and drink cocktails by the pool. We didn’t really get to talk to many Arab women on the trip, but the ones that rescued us were completely jealous of the fact that we could leave the house in our couture and they couldn’t.
I can understand why they have so many issues with not being able to get dressed properly. I would wear a drab bag too if I couldn’t interact with men. How does an Arab girl live without being able to interact with her very own Abdul?* What is a girl without her gay best friend? Gay best friends are the most classic accessories; they never go out of style. They’re just like your Barbie dolls! You can match them to your outfit, they will accompany you anywhere (especially if your boring husband wants to have takeout and watch TV), and you might even be able to get them to marry each other! The separation between men and women was a real drag, and I would have totally extended that lesbian experimental college thing into a permanent lifestyle choice if I lived in the Middle East.
The biggest secret in the Middle East? Sex. The one thing those people could not deal with was sex. They obviously don’t have much of it, since they wouldn’t talk about it. Showing a bit more skin might do them some good. The dry air was hot and heavy with sexual frustration, and our temples weren’t the only things that were throbbing. These people obviously only see sex as something you do for reproduction. What is life without romance, or talking about men? Even though I’d like to think of myself as a strong and independent woman, most of my thoughts and choices have involved Big, and I believe every woman has the right to a Big in her life. If they talked about sex more, maybe women could have more of it.
Our time on an incredibly wealthy resort in one part of the Middle East gave us an incredible amount of insight on how the region just needs to borrow a few style tips from us. Just like that girl at the club willing to let you use some of her mascara, women in the United States would gladly share their equality with women in the Middle East. After all, New York City is the temple of all that is fabulous and fashionable—there is always room for them to worship.
*In the movie, Abdul was Samantha’s gay manservant.