Anatomy of a Riddle! Will your answer be right-eous?

“A dad and his son had a car accident, the father died and the son was rushed to the hospital… The Doctor said: “I can NOT do the surgery, he is my son” Explain

This was a riddle I received by a broadcast BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) from my sister today.

Before you scroll down, take a minute to think about the right answer. Please consider leaving your first answer as a comment on this post.

With my sister in Lebanon end of 2009 (Blog post and photo are published with her permission)

“The Doctor is his Mother” I replied.

“You truly are a feminist” my sister wrote back.

I read her line as I was recovering from a reality shock. I actually fell in the trap. I have to confess that it took me more than a minute to figure it out which, in my opinion, is appalling.

“I did not know the answer” she continued.

“Who else on your list knew it?” I asked

“No one”

“I loved this riddle. It is such a feminist riddle. I did not guess it automatically, it took me some time, which is a shame. It reflects traces of brainwashing by an eastern Chauvinistic society in which we were raised.”

I am still not over the fact that I did not know the answer immediately. I realized how much work I still need to rid myself of prejudice I absorbed from a patriarchal society.

My sister felt even worst: “I hated myself when I knew the answer. كرهت حالي بس عرفت الجواب We all did, especially the girls. That is sad”

Yes, it is sad. It should be a wake up call for all of us. Lebanon is only “free”, “democratic” and “open-minded” when you compare it to neighboring countries, or other Arab-speaking countries. We should aspire to better quality freedom and social liberties than that of our neighbors.

No Lebanese man, woman or other should rest their case before womyn and those who identify as such have the full rights that men have. Womyn can not offer citizenship to their non-Lebanese husband or even to their kids from a non-Lebanese partner. Womyn can not report domestic violence to authorities as no protection is provided, on the contrary, they frequently end up back in the hands of their abuser same night. Womyn feel they need to hide their sexuality while men proudly flaunt it. Charges against a rapist will be dropped if he offers to marry his victim. Police get away with verbal sexual harassment of womyn on the street. I have witnessed few incidents in Beirut (#VisceralReaction). Many womyn are discouraged from pursuing further education because they are “ripe” for marriage. Those who do, will have strong competition from men, this is reflected in fewer womyn than men holding CEO or leader-position jobs. Womyn can be ostracized for delayed or no marriage. A unique term was even coined to further alienate these womyn: “عانس Aaniss”. It is amuzing that the term is rarely, if ever, used for unmarried men.

I have to say I have doubts people raised in a Western societies will get the answer more righteously! I witnessed patriarchy in USA and Canada in my past 5 years here, but on a different level. This will be left for a different post.

Back to our riddle, if you felt bad for missing the answer, I tell you what I told my sister: “Do not feel bad, you are so righteous in saying ‘I hated myself  when I knew the answer’, that by itself is strongly feminist.”

I posted this riddle as my status on Facebook. Here are few answers I received.

Categories: Human Rights, Personal

Tags: , , , , , , ,

7 replies

  1. I have to admit… I didn’t know the answer! And I was angry at myself for a second! And I AM a feminist and a great supporter of women’s rights!
    I love this riddle, and I’m gonna spread it around.
    Thanks Hasan. =)


    • We all need to work more on ourselves. So my sister sends me another riddle this time: “the brother of a blind beggar died, what relation is the blind beggar to the brother who died”. I answer: “brother, what else could it be”. So I realized that it is not only the social status that sways us to think “male”, it seems we think male by default until a female feature is revealed, still sad.


    • Okay so this one…I answered correctly. I was like “come on…get it right this time. u KNOW better!” hehe
      Again, I love this riddle and I’ll keep on sharing it with everyone I know. VERY interesting. Makes people THINK after they answer incorrectly!


  2. Given that most trauma surgeons are male, whether in the Middle East or North America I think it is somewhat misanthropic to “hate one’s self” if one did not immediately figure out that the surgeon was a female, as anecdotal experience will suggest the former in most cases. Riddles often result in people using the obvious to answer what may be a more fundamental or profound question than they might have first thought, and hence cannot be said in all circumstances to constitute a window into someone’s prejudices or inner thoughts. A child can have two fathers in multiple scenarios; gay adoption, a close uncle or other relative who truly regards the child as “his son”, a step-father who has raised a child regardless of the involvement of that child’s dad, a child raised as another man’s son whilst having a non-involved biological father etc and assuming that this might be the case before considering the less obvious option (bearing in mind certain realities) does not make anyone a less enlightened person, merely a human and flawed one which is nothing to be ashamed of.


    • I agree the odds of having a male trauma surgeon are more, but given that you know the surgeon is not the father, the odds of him/her being the mother are way more than being a second father (in a same-sex couple), step-father or a fatherly figure. Furthermore, this is one in many riddles that expose our inbuilt prejudice. After this post, I received a plethora of other similar riddles that expose our chauvinism.



  1. 2010 in review « Hasan Abdessamad

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