The most infuriating phrases in the Arabic language have to be “Ana bint nas” (Translated as “I’m a daughter to respectable parents”) alongside its synonym “Ana bind 3aleh” (Translated as “I’m a girl from a good family”).
In typical Ammanite fashion, these phrases are repeated by many girls who find themselves in compromising positions, or any challenging position at all for that matter. A girl may hear a few harsh words from her boss at work, only to rant and rave to her friends about the terrible human being who shouted at her when she is in fact a daughter to respectable parents (Bint nas), and a member of a good family (Bint 3aleh). In such situations her friends may even agree with her, while expressing their utter shock on how the boss didn’t even take into account who she was and who her family members are, you know coz the girl did nothing wrong and the boss, who is probably jealous of her status, shouted at her. Of course this is the story she would tell right before sending her brother (Ibin il nas) to her place of work to set the boss straight.
Surely enough these phrases automatically segregate our female work force into the girls who should accept the harsh words from the boss and Banat il nas, i.e. daughters to respectable parents, who should not even stand for it. In this case I would say so much for equality in the workforce, when some women demand respect not on personal merit, but rather on who their parents are and what their family name happens to be, which are both attributes beyond their control and unrelated to their sense of personal achievement . Now if it was one girl speaking out of ignorance, then there is no case to discuss here, but sadly many women in our society do define themselves and consequently how they should be treated based on these terms i.e. who their parents are and who their family is.
Had a woman said I refuse to be disrespected under any circumstance, then I would be the first person agreeing with her, but the terms I shouldn’t be treated badly coz I am “bint nas” is such a demeaning idea in itself.
To me, this mind-set even defines how girls relate to others, as the so called “Banat il nas” daughters of respectable parents automatically associate themselves with friends who are of the same caliber , potential partners who are of this caliber, and even places associated only with people of good parents and good families (Wlad il nas).
So excuse me for asking , but what does this phrase really mean? Who are banat il nas exactly? Is any woman who has an ancestor who is rich, educated, or known for his achievements, automatically entitled to respect, regardless of her own actions? Is any woman with a good set of parents automatically a good person, or better yet a privileged person who can demand rights solely on the bases of being “bint nas” i.e. a daughter to good people? See, we I’m not asking if anyone is entitled to respect as I believe we all are. I’m asking what merits to the girls who call themselves “Banat il nas” have in order to demand unconditional respect regardless of their actions or how they treat others?
Furthermore, what does the term good family and good parents mean, is it a reflection of the parent’s and their ancestors collective educational achievements? If so then any girl from a family with more educated members is in demand of more respect than others, any girl coming from this family is automatically bint nas and if she went to university she deserves respect even if she did not do anything to earn it, and even if she was disrespectful. Good luck then to any instructor who fails her on an exam she simply didn’t attend, as hell will break loose on how he failed bint il nas. But then again that is if the term bint il nas is a term that is granted to the daughter of the most educated of parents.
You see not everyone in university is automatically good, and not all good parents are automatically capable of giving birth to good girls, so let’s rule out this first explanation of “bint nas” and “Bint 3eleh” (daughter of a good parent or good family”. Sorry people, bint 3aleh doesn’t mean she came from an educated family, not all educated girls in universities earn respect right?
So then is the good family the rich family ? if so then let us do a study where we calculate the accumulative wealth of each family in Jordan and name the top ten richest families the good families, and then we can move on to assume that the girls in these families are “banat nas” or “Banat 3ai2lat” . While we are at it, we, the normal people, will make any effort possible to not shout at them , mistreat them in class, or even dare hurt their feelings. In fact, we will respect only them, unconditionally and no matter what they do.
All other people beyond the ten richest families in Jordan will be openly disrespected coz they are not “Wlad nas” or “Wlad 3ai2lat”. But then again, if this theory is true then these people can rule the world, and so much for the rest of our citizens trying to make something out of their lives coz banat il nas now they are the product of their respectable parents and they can’t possibly be disrespectable right?
Wrong!, as so many people from respectable parents shame these very parents with their behavior.
So then is “Bint il nas” the girl coming from a family with so many achievements? If so then none of us are wlad nas, because no family in Jordan gave birth to a genius, a Nobel prize winner, or a person with a ground-breaking discovery, so this means none of us are entitled to respect. Right? Again wrong! And I will explain why now.
You see, we can go on forever trying to list traits for the girl who calls herself “bint il nas” but we will fail, because this term is so pointless it can apply to everyone and anyone, no one deserve blind respect no matter who their parents are or what their family name happens to be. At the end of the day, we all get the respect we give, the respect we earn. Any lady shouting out that she is bint il nas has no real merit on her own. She is the reason we create labels. In closing dear bint il nas and bint il 3aleh if you are demanding respect on these terms alone you don’t deserve it.
Now you know why this phrase is so infuriating, IT MEANS NOTHING
Bint il nas…….. Bint 3aleh seriously who cares !