Posted On: Nov. 18, 2017
As a female, there have been many instances where my 'smile' can get me in trouble. As many of you know, I am in Afghanistan and a part of their culture believes that a woman's skin must be covered in order to protect them from a man's lust. According to Pamela Bone (1999) "It is for their own protection that women must conceal every inch of their bodies,... if they are beaten for allowing an arm to protrude from under a veil, it is only for their own protection"(p.19). When I first arrived in Afghanistan I was very interested in meeting the local Afghans in the area and since there were a couple of bazaars, or shopping markets, nearby it was the best way to meet local Afghans. When a few of us visited the bazaar I began to speak with one local. As we were speaking I was enjoying what we were speaking about and a couple of times I was laughing and smiling. When we were done speaking the Afghan asked for me to come back again and have lunch with him, I found it a bit odd and asked him 'Why?' He replied back with 'Well since you like me..' I quickly cut him off and explained to him that I apologize if I somehow confused him to believe that in any way our conversation surpassed anything past a friendship. Thankfully he understood and recanted his request. Because of my facial expressions and eye behavior, it led this specific local Afghan to believe that I had an interest in him. This situation could have been prevented if I was to have worn a burqa. In the future, I plan on minimizing conversations to a point where they are not led beyond their expectations. Like this situation, if I would have gone in and spoke about the items he was selling, our conversation would have been simple and wouldn't consist of anything else. But because it escalated to personal matters, then the situation went a different direction which involved me to feel uncomfortable. Also, the local Afghan should have been giving me signs of interest during our conversation. According to Professor Paul Preston (2005) I need to "watch others' reactions towards me", whether it is from positive to negative, the local Afghan was perceiving some type of affection towards me by the way I was speaking to him, the way my body was presented, and my facial expressions. -Zila Winstead Reference Pamela, B. (1999, November 25). Give us equality and we'll look after ourselves. The Age (Melbourne). p. 19. Retrieved from http://ehis.ebscohost.com.proxy-library.ashford.edu/eds/detail?sid=da56b3c0-c1f6-4626-9af4-b3fc3a8189f7%40sessionmgr12&vid=4&hid=105&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU%3d#db=n5h&AN=SYD-4YI2X7CJUIWRH9Z22O4. Preston, P. (2005). Nonverbal communication: do you really say what you mean?. Journal Of Healthcare Management, 50(2), 83-86. Retrieved from http://ehis.ebscohost.com.proxy-library.ashford.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=da56b3c0-c1f6-4626-9af4-b3fc3a8189f7%40sessionmgr12&vid=7&hid=105. Cultural difference plays a very big role in communication. What may be right in one culture may not be true or correct in other cultures. The incident narrated clearly shows that the Afghan misunderstood her reactions and way of talking etc. This is bound to happen and one has to take care while talking to strangers or even friends. Verbal and non-verbal communications have a meaning. Perhaps the Afghan is to be blamed equally for not understanding the meaning of what was being communicated and kept a distance. However the onus of proper communication lies on both the persona. It is more on females as they are at a disadvantage (wrongly of course) in some cultures.