I’ve met many men, but there are two types I meet most often: The Anthropologist and The Savior.
The first sees me as a sensual beauty. My olive skin and big, brown eyes are exotic. My “beauty” is noted. I should model. And is it true that Lebanese women are wild in bed? The Anthropologist is often sexist. A cultural saveur. An asshole in clothing just waiting to take mine off. He wants to plummet my depths, discover me like I’m a new land, plant his flag pole in me and stake his claim, then write an ethnography about his native experience.
These men have been approaching me since I was 10. I was a specimen. These men still approach me.
The Savior inevitably lives next door. He recognizes my “exotic” qualities immediately. He inquires, kindly, what god I pray to. When I was a religiously open practicing Muslim, The Savior assumed I was oppressed. Now that I can better be described as a pantheist, I am still an oppressed Muslim woman who needs to be shown the way of Jesus. The Savior wants to be my father. He wants to be my guide. My soul would be his greatest conquest.
Unless he is a combination Anthropologist-Savior in which case he wants to save me by whisking me away on a miraculous sexual journey where I will be healed through his penis magic.
I wish I was kidding.
Whichever he is, he wants me to know that “mixed kids are the most beautiful.” He would like me to be aware that I seem “very liberated.” He shares that “Jesus loves you even if you worship Muhammad because he knows what’s in your heart.” He prefers Lebanese food over all other types. After all, “Lebanese women make the best desserts.”
These men assume I am ignorant and require their beneficent education. I am not. I do not. I am highly educated, highly intelligent and perfectly capable of making up my own mind.
I try not to let it bother me; the constant unwanted sexual and spiritual feedback. It’s hard enough living in a world that hates my birthright. Negotiating the demonization and sexualization daily is tiring.
But when I go to sleep, it’s with a man who has no desire to save me and for whom I am more than my ethnic anatomy and religious upbringing. I am not his fetish. I am the woman he chose as his partner. That truth makes it easier to shake off the Anthropologists and Saviors. After all, I am who I am and I save myself.
Shawna Ayoub Ainslie is a writer and coach who teaches expressive writing for release and recovery. Her work has appeared in Huffington Post, Mogul, Stigma Fighters, Role Reboot, [wherever] and The Manifest-Station among other places. When she’s not editing Open Thought Vortex Magazine, you can find on Twitter, Facebook, hosting #LinkYourLife or surviving her story at her internet home, The Honeyed Quill.