Saturday, January 23, 2010

Women, Sexuality and name calling.

I have always being questioning why the people obsessed with sexuality; I know that is a very vital part of our human nature. Why all the degrading swears are related to the sexually oppressed persons, whether it is a female in heterosexual relation or gays in homosexual relation (this is the mainstream patriarchal vision of roles in sexual relation). Why is important to act sexually in a socially approved manner, although sexuality is so private and it is confined in the private sphere and why gender roles in sexual relations are prescribed by the society and it is very challenging to resist this pre-made roles or figures.

A recent accident influenced my thought. I was going to the office early in the morning in a rush hour of crowded Cairo. I was crossing the road slowly in a green light; a man in fancy car was horning to me to cross faster to let him pass although his light was red. I just thought that he is violating my right so I walked slowly on purpose. He called me "Labwa" the lioness. I was angry and almost said a nasty word. But the policeman intervened and told him it is her right to walk in the green light, and watch your mouth. I looked to the man in a very rough way and left peacefully physically, and emotionally hurt, for committing no guilt. I just claimed my right n the street.

"Labwa" is a nasty word, because it means that a woman is sexually very active and if one partner is not fulfilling for her, so she might engage polygamous relation, she is breadwinner, she hunts the animals, while the lazy male lion is enjoying sun and flexing his muscles. And she is the main care giver; she is taking care of the babies. So the moral of the story in a nutshell is do not be economically independent, do not be sexually proactive and do not express your desires to your partner and do not search for satisfaction if your partner is not fulfilling you (I do not believe in open inclusive relationships and I believe in monogamous relationships, however I see people still have the right to adopt the kind of relation which suits them).
So although the man told me "Labwa" to insult me, however I was quite proud to called "Labwa" because it denotes that I am an independent women, I do not gain my legitimacy and agency from being attached to a certain man and I am the one to judge how much I am satisfied or not in my relation and I have the right to exist from and relation and seek satisfaction with another partner, if not fulfilled.

This is a humble attempt to deconstruct the name calling, social stigma and its relation with women and sexuality. I am sure that there is literature on this topic; however I think we need to highlight such questions and create new answer sensitive to our current lived reality, to add our own contribution to the feminist thought. We need to construct feminist epistemology to confront with the mainstream common patriarchal cultural norms on sexuality and its accepted or rejected gender roles and figures I think we need to rethink the rationale of name calling and why do we attach social stigma to the oppressed: sexually, economically and ethnically.

To be followed with other posts, about the change of accepting homosexual relations and sex workers. And body issues and politics of veiling and revealing in the contemporary Egyptian society.

Personal note: I am astonished that I am discussing this in public. I am adopting a new strategy to get the private public. Bare in mind that comments are monitored on this blog. Offensive unconstructive comments are not welcomed. So save my time and yours.

I dedicate this post to two of my dearest friends Maria, who suffered once from my obsession by, swears and Mozn for bearing me as a very disturbed and nagging friend for more than 7 years. Thanks ladies!!!

Stay tuned!!


Friday, January 15, 2010

Green versus Black

Iran is passing through a very critical moment of its history, the credibility of the so called Islamic republic is questioned. Despotism, sexism and tyranny are no more accepted or tolerated. The green movement and presidential elections aftermaths revealed the ugly face of the Black Islam adopted by the black turbaned Ayotallah.

In a very informative and impressing talk, Prof. Ziba Mir Hosseini, a distinguished Iranian Anthropologist and one of my great mentors, elaborated on her paper "Broken Taboos in Post-Election Iran"

In a talk hosted by the distinguished Egyptian feminist think tank Women and Memory Forum , Ziba shared with us her analysis on the Green movement and the change happening currently in the Iran. She started with a very catchy idea, the Green versus the Black. by Green she meant the reformist, democratic, inclusive and feminist voices of the Iranian opposition versus the Black rigid, dogmatic and sexist voices of the official so called Islamic regime. The Green movement made remarkable changes, the first is the unification of the feminist movement under one platform, fighting for women rights. the sharp polarization between the faith based feminists and secular feminists which was a persistent feature of the Iranian feminist movement since 1979 ended under the severe misogynist attacks of the Iranian regime. Ziba said: " in April 2009, 42 women’s groups and 700 individuals, including both secular feminists and religious women from the reformist parties, came together to form a coalition called the Women’s Convergence. Without supporting any individual candidate, the coalition posed pointed questions to the field". the convergence demanded the ratification of the international women rights bill Convention of Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women CEDAW and revision of discriminatory articles 19, 20, 21 and 115 of the constitution.

The second landmark was infringing the concept of the so called Islamic republic which protect the honor of its citizens. The black atrocity of the protester Taraneh Mousavi, who was detained, reportedly raped and murdered in prison, and her body burned and discarded, discarded the credibility of the regime, who have been forcing rigid sexual and moral code of conduct on its citizens. The obligatory Hijab was taken off to intimidate the Green protesters. Taraneh was an alarm and example to the destiny of any outspoken women who dare to challenge the regime. The sexual assaults was not directed to women, men were victims as well " One of Karroubi’s witnesses, a male rape victim, refers to his decision to disclose what happened to him as “committing social suicide,” which speaks to the power of the taboo -- but then, once a taboo is broken, it loses its power". In addition to that the media apparatus of the regime spread a photo of the student leader Majid Tavakoli wearing traditional Hijab chador, to humiliate him, however a campaign was launched on the social network Facebook, calling men to post their photos wearing Hijab in solidarity with Majid. These incidents reminded me with the usage of sexual assaults as a tool against dissidents, it was used in Egypt in the referendum day in May 2005.

The third novelty was the role of women in the Green movement. It started with the appearance of Zahra Rahnavard at the side of -- and even holding hands with -- her husband, the candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi and the other Iranian women, that the analysts said that the Green movement is feminine, it is based on the ethics of care offered by women. It is note worthy to say that women have been in the public sphere, however they were always subordinate or second level officials entrenching the regime discourse.

Finally, the passion and love were released and taken publicly, different wives on political prisoners wrote love letters to their husbands expressing their pain and loss. Women sexuality and passion were finally acceptable and not stigmatized. And this is a huge change in a Middle Eastern Muslim society, where love is confined in bedrooms.

Women are showing that they are capable of bearing the pain and giving birth to beauty and justice. The struggle of Iranian women is, was and will shape the history of women endeavor in the Middle East. They are breaking taboos, confronting with fundamentalism and seeking equality.

In solidarity


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Expiring date

I had a long weekend this week, 3 days yeeeeey.

So I tried to finish some of my pending tasks especially in the housework. I decided to rearrange my closet, to see what I already have and what I need. This task revealed two things broke my heart .

That almost half of my skin care and hair care things( creams, scrubs ….) are expired and that I gained huge amount of flesh.
I am a skin care maniac, I have always cared for keep my skin scented and soft, I know that I have only one body and I want celebrate this blessing. I treasured my birthdays gifts: perfumes, masks and creams. I have being using them since I was 14years old or even younger, however I preferred to keep the some of them to utilize them when I have a stable relationship. I have this fantasy that I want to enjoy my beauty with my lover. Keeping them untouched made them expire.
These products did not have my patience. They did not wait for too long as I waited for Mr. Right. And he did not come yet. that does not mean that I was not in relations or that I did not fall in love, but the perfect match is still not there yet.
The expiring date reminded me that my clock is ticking and I am almost thirty years old, thanks to God I achieved nice things in my academic life and my career, however I am always whining because of lack of luck with men. I do not feel that my life is incomplete, I feel that I need a partner to share the memories with me, to be there when I am in pain or joy, he missed the graduation of BA and MA, he missed my first flight abroad and he missed thousands and thousands of events. when he will show up to see what I am doing and enjoy it with me.

Closet rearrangement also made me notice that I gained huge amount of weight, I am wearing 3 extra sizes than what I used to wear in 2007, my best shape ever after coming back to Egypt from Belgium. I always had this body image thing, how fat I am, how is my figure, Am I proportioned or not? I have been athletic when I was a teenager, and I stopped playing sports because High school diploma fever.
Stooping sports pressured me to watch my diet and to take care of how much fats I put to my hips through my lips. Currently I am trying to reduce my weight through a nice diet, not very harsh one to avoid depression and hair fall. And definitely I will NEVER visit a nutrition doctor, they made me feel horrible.
I am sad, I hate being in denial, I cherish my femininity , although I have issues with expressing in public. I am aware that I am getting old and I am accumulating wisdom, experience and knowledge however, I am waiting for time to put his fingerprints on me, like wrinkles for example. I will still wait for my perfect match, I will not trade my principles or lower my standards for anyone or any reason.

Note: I was hesitant to write about this in these sad days in Egypt, but I felt that I can share my feelings with you and that is not consider disrespect the grief of Nag' Hamdi clashes, people born and die and life continues .