The thing you have to understand about the Middle East is that little American kids stick out. They are darlings, surrounded by groups of people, photographed via cell phone, given candy, sweets, ice cream, and small gifts by strangers. The attention can at times be overwhelming, stifling, and downright frightening. Kids are unable to play uninhibited at the playground because of people wanting to look at their hair, pick them up, take their pictures. Moms get upset by people trying to walk off with their children or with adults giving gifts without asking. In some ways it is like being a little celebrity. When Captain E was two we experienced it on our visits to Jordan and Egypt. His blue eyes and curly gold locks were an instant magnet. That in and of itself is not a "true" danger as they reach into the teen years. While I'm sure that the blue eyes my husband blessed our two oldest with could potentially increase their popularity in class, I think that strict social pressures to not date, to avoid sex until marriage, to not marry outside of ones religion will probably keep my sons much appreciated "American good looks" from turning him too much into a ladies man.
My question is more for my daughters, specifically my blond haired, blue eyed daughter. Middle East, will you see her as my sweet, darling girl? Will you understand that I am teaching her to keep herself pure and clean, that I am asking her to save herself for marriage, to give herself completely only to one man who has lived a life making him worthy of her? Will you know that I am teaching her that her body is a temple? That I am asking her to marry in the Temple? Will you see that I hope for her an eternal marriage, one based on complete love and fidelity? That I am teaching her to be the type of woman you are teaching your girls to be. Will you be able to look past your own stereotypes of what an American woman is and see that I'm raising mine to be chaste and virtuous just like your own? Will you protect her? Will you treat her as the treasure that she is to me? Will you keep her safe? Or will all the unwanted and unwarranted attention of childhood turn into unwanted and unwarranted attention in young womanhood? Will she be safe to walk to school, to have her hair uncovered? Or will she be targeted by unscrupulous men, both young and old who will see her as "easy" because she is American? Will the unwanted sexual attention poured out on my friends, now be poured out on my daughter? Lara Logan, while an extreme case, was a very visual example of the sexual harassment and abuse suffered by woman in the Middle East. There are many arguments as to why this is the case and many hypothesises on how this can change. I hope that as the region changes, as more freedom is realized, prosperity gained, diversity is accepted, and violence is ended that it is a problem that will dissipate. For now though let's take hope in the 20 or so soldiers and the group of woman that pushed their way into the crowd to save Lara Logan. They are the heros of the this horrible event and they give me hope for a brighter future, one that is safer for all woman in the region, including my someday teenage daughter.