Today’s session of parliament in Jordan was an embarrassment—we saw typical examples of yelling over dialogue, insults over evidence, and anger over communication.
Whenever we witness the embarrassing behavior of our parliament, it is easy to think (or want to think) that such parliament could only be produced by corrupt elections, falsified votes, and manipulation from a group which wants a crippled parliament. We perhaps think that because it is too scary for us to even entertain the idea that we, the people, are capable of introducing—through popular will—an elected college of representatives that is as embarrassingly small-minded as these folks can be.
I do not believe this, and I think by ignoring the problem and waiting for a “proper election law” to come around, we would be overlooking the root problem of this small-minded violence.
To me, it seems very likely that the current parliament reflects the will of the people. After all, the embarrassing incidents in parliament mirror very closely other incidents of public violence that we witness—in particular, they mirror the unfortunate phenomenon of university violence which has been prevalent in many Jordanian institutions of higher learning in the last decades.
University violence and parliament’s small mindedness are both manifestations of the same problem of public societal violence. At the center of this problem is the “Angry Arab Male”.
The Angry Arab Male is an archetype prevalent in the Arab World of a man who thinks he has inherent superiority due to his genitalia. The Angry Arab Male believes power is more noble than intellect, a fist is more effective than a pen, and impulse is more important than thought. The Angry Arab Male likes to flex his muscles. He is always angry at others for insulting his imaginary ego and dignity, and retaliates by returning the favor. He is a believer that an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth is the way the world ought to run.
The Angry Arab Male is more of a mythical figure than a common type of individual within society. But it is an archetype that romanticized and prevalent in the minds of many, as we look back to impressive figures in stories from older times, and the television of today.
The Angry Arab Male is Democracy’s biggest enemy, for his voice is always magnified, and his actions always poison the well for others. The Angry Arab Male is a poison that hinders our democratic development.
What is the antidote for this Problem? Truth be told, the Intellectual Arab Male can do very little. The only one who could really silence the Angry Arab Male is the Wise Arab Woman.
Over the past few years, we have seen an increasing number of female role models and public figures who have introduced a fresh maturity to politics and the public sphere. Ultimately, I believe it will be these women who will change the tone discourse in this country, and lead the boys to wake up from their cringe-worthy hissy fits.
[This post received a round of spell-checks after publication]