Sunday, October 31, 2004

Female emancipation symbolized in a Marlboro?

Is there a distinct correlation between teenage girls smoking habits and female liberation? Or is it the misconception that in order to prove your from a ‘liberal’ background, to show how cool and modern you are, then a fag hanging off your fingers is a must have fashion accessory? Girls in Bahrain are trying to prove a point. They are not smoking for tobacco’s sake, hell, deep inside they know that breathing in the shit is vile, the smell is vile, the health effects are vile, but its all about the image. Its more than just rebelling, its about showing that you are free from social and parental control.

Gradually it has become a social trend- you started as a teenager but then you just couldn’t stop. I know endless women who smoke in their homes and with their husbands, sometimes the husbands themselves are non-smokers. But I still have a strange sensation of disbelief when I see a Bahraini woman or girl spark up in public. I see it as a very vulgar habit and pity the person who has become a slave to an addiction which is polluting their blood stream. Its just not good karma.

Smoking isn’t really that much worse than the ‘gadoo’ (the hubble-bubble with extra strong tobacco leaves) that old women customarily smoke which is not just socially acceptable but in fact if you dont see a permanent crew of gadoo smoking old ladies greeting you at the entrance of the local matam then something is wrong. Most likely one of them is in Salmanya's oncology ward (ouch). I often have to battle through this troop of old ladies amidst the suffocating clouds of smoke and strong intoxicating smell in search of my grandmother. They must have lungs made out of tyres. But then again these women are waaaaaaaay past it. They’ve had their 10 kids, and they’ve struggled through life, this is a form of therapy for them now. The gadoo is bahrain's very own WMD.

Young girls are myopic. Its only when they get married and have trouble conceiving or when they do conceive hate the idea of smoking in front of their kids that they start to hate the habit and hate themselves but realise giving up is harder than they thought. Yet what bugs me is the insistance that this is somehow a 'progressive' habit and epitomises modernity.

Posted by Bahrania @ 10/31/2004 03:38:00 PM