Social Categorization – Visibility and Invisibility.


She just stood there at the front, pointing to the power points slides lit by a projector. The participants were just listening, many of them dozing just like me while the beautiful mid thirties lady just went on discussing the different aspects of social categorization. While discussing one of the aspects of whether social categories can be visible or invisible, she proceeded with a personal example. She just told it to out face. “I was a prostitute for one year in Dubai in the mid nineties.” These very words from the elegant lady mouth landed like a spell on fellow participants. All were just staring at the face of this lady who was just scrolling her eyes around the room with her mouth closes, her face color turned red with sparkling eyes as if tears would start flowing from them any moment. The next 10 to 15 seconds turned the seminar room of almost 40 participants into complete quietness that you could hear the sound of wall clock perking through your ear drums. She was the first one to break the ice by saying “No I was not!” which came as a relief to everyone that as figuring from how sweet this lady was, it would be such a cruel injustice of her being a social taboo. She went on clarifying that she was considered to be a prostitute when she was on her own working for a firm in Dubai in the mid nineties which saw a peak in prostitute business when the local Sheikhs were pretty much fond of getting the taste of blondes from the Europe. She went on explaining on how she learnt few words in Arabic to woo passersby away when cards used to stop for her on the road. And how she would lower her gaze when people used to stare her being as the scum of the society. She explained this one incident that brought her to tears when showing her love to a small kid at a shopping mall, the kid’s mother came around and pulled the child away from her and kept on babbling in Arabic that not to socialize with her as if her invisible social taboo is like a contagious disease that would spread even by affection. She called that year the worse she has ever felt in her life and this made her to resign from her job and leave the country.

She asked whether we have been victims of such invisible social categorization being entrusted upon us. She only had to ask this question for a sea of responses that were to unravel from the participants. We being the social victims? Of what part of our 2 plus years of stay in Europe has made us felt socially acceptable? The conditions might have changed in Dubai at the month for European blondes to be considered prostitutes. In present years a lady with blonde hair would be most likely to be taken for a touring and the only exploitation she would be getting would be from shopkeepers looking for a healthy bargain. But on the other hand brown skinned people like us would find the situation deteriorating day by day in this part of the words. Called by names such a garlic people or paki –whatever you can add with that is been a routine situation which browned skinned people like us have to live through. The very fact that you have to hide your green passport while standing in airport queues just to avoided unnecessary attention you might get from the security. So invisible social categories, where do we fit in now?

Sorry for sounding so naive but I needed to get this out of my system.

Pictures are from Pic 1 and Pic 2.

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