The other night I was chilling with a friend at an arabic cafe when we bumped into one of the arab med students on campus. He invited himself to join us when right behind him walks in this White girl sporting some booty shorts. She walks up to a shelf displaying shisha accessories for sale and within about 10 seconds of her arrival the owner of the place and another employee happily rushed to her service....and I mean rushed!
"Did you guys just see that?" he said..."um yea!" we both replied. "I didn't get service like that...I actually had to go find him. Man that is discrimination against guys!" and he went on complaining about how unfair it is that it's socially acceptable for men to get discriminated against in society.
I had to chime in and let him know that it's not exactly a guy/girl thing; as a girl who proudly wears hijab I don't get such preferential treatment either. I pointed out that when I go to such places my nonhijabi friends usually get special attention in a way that I don't. I understand that one of the purposes of hijab is to give off a certain image and ward off a certain type of attention....but sometimes the differential treatment crosses into the unfair zone.
As an example I pointed out that I used to frequent this place last year with a Persian, nonhijabi and somewhat of a risque-dresser, friend. Sometimes she would get there before me and thus would be by herself until I showed up. On those instances it wasn't uncommon that by the time I came she would have been served with some complimentary drink, desert, and once even a free hookah. I would either end up mooching on whatever free stuff she got or I would end up ordering something I wanted and paying for it! Not that I would want any greasy server checking me out out of the corner of his eye and winking at me, but it wasn't cool that we both came together, we're both girls, and I would pay but she wouldn't. If I got there first and was waiting for her all alone I didn't get anything more than a cordial greeting.
My nonhijabi friend completely agreed with me and says she notices stuff like that all the time when she goes out with a group of girls mixed with hijabis and nonhijabis alike. Although they all came together and are sitting together, and are socializing in the same manner they're still looked at differently and get different attention. Of course there's a certain type of attention we're thankful to not have, but when our waiter is attentive to every word the girl next to me is saying but completely ignores me like I'm not even there......that's just rude! The irony is this differential treatment is much more obvious in arab settings and it's something that Arab guys practice more than Americans....that's my personal experience!
My nonhijabi friend's theory is that she thinks it's because a lot of guys are just intimidated and maybe even scared by girls that wear hijab. For some guys they look at a girl in hijab and see little else. We might as well be a walking hijab and thus they put up an instant barrier. I'd hate to think that anyone was so judgemental of me, but it doesn't mean there's no truth in it.
Our med student friend was listening like this was the first time he was hearing such observations and then added that it's totally not like that across the board. For him he was always more attracted to girls that wear hijab as opposed to those that don't (awwww how cute)...maybe it's just the way he was raised he concluded.
So what are YOUR thoughts about this trend? I definitely don't want this to turn into a discussion regarding the purpose and/or validity of hijab, that's not the point here. I'm talking specifically about our observation that nonhijabi girls get excluded from preferential treatment that their friends get in social settings-and it's usually by our own kind.
Coincidentally, I didn't end up paying for my coffee or hookah that night :)