Friday, February 19, 2010

Women in Egypt : views and ideas

On Wednesday 17 of February 2010, I attended a talk of my best friend and co worker Mozn Hassan
The talk was organized by the Egyptian American friendship Association, sponsored by the US embassy in Cairo. This talk was on feminist movement and women rights issues in Egypt.

Four panelists talked, Mona Ali el Deen, women rights activist and trainer, Dalia Zaida a blogger women rights activist and director of the Islamic American Congress office in North Africa, Nehad Abo el Omsan women rights activist and lawyer and director of Egyptian center of women rights and my dear Mozn Hassan, women rights activist, promising young scholar and chairperson of our NGO Nazra for feminist studies.

The talk was informative and contained wide range of views, they talked about the achievements and challenges facing the feminist movement in Egypt.

Two points ringed my bells, one by Mozn about the relation between the feminist movement and the social change movements and the other by Dalia about the genderless cyberspace.

Mozn said that feminist and women rights movement should be associated and linked to the societal reform movements, I think that women rights are never a priority in any societal change movement. Women are not on the agenda , that's why feminist should have their own agenda, establish their support networks and formulate their strategies, I do not mean to be isolated but they should pave their own way.

The other point was raised by Dalia, about the free genderless cyberspace. I reject this argument, cyberspace inherited the patriarchal sentiments of real society. Women are censored and harassed in the virtual space as well. I remember the Egyptian lesbian anonymous blogger that had tons of negative comments on her posts denouncing what she is articulating only because she dared to discuss her sexuality and also Manal Bahey el Deen the high profiled blogger who had hard times when she talked about an incident of sexual harassment she faced.

The talk was very feminist and the floor feedback was very patrichal with some exceptions of good souls

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Look, Listen and Learn

My English book when I was in my primary school was called “Look, Listen and Learn” it was a very sweet and informative book. It taught us life skills not only foreign language. I think it affected my life because I am looking to the facts and realities and trying to question them, then change them, I am listening to people stories and I am trying to know the morale of each story to guide me in my way. And finally I am always learning.

I added a new L word, which is love, although I was not happy in my love life, however I have always believed that love is not only between a man and a women, it has many variations and one of its best variation is love between friends, and this is the motive of writing this post to celebrate valentine or the OSAP day, Organization of Saps, spinsters in Turkish. I formed this organization with my best friends Asli and Ece, to celebrate being independent, mature, well educated, professional and single women.

I still believe that I am complete, even if Mr. Right is not next to me; my photo is perfect and pretty although I am alone. I know that love is an added value to everyone life, but I will not pause my life to search for it, I will never cry for it as a lost blessing, I will enjoy the other blessing in my life till it come to make my life more beautiful, he is a valued contribution but not my pillar.

I am happy by myself, I am happy alone it’s true, I am happy by my self but I am happier with you


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Politics of Veiling and Revealing

Women’s body is obsession and battle field of any patriarchal society. Women either forced to be veiled and be covered, in this case they are portrayed as source of temptation, or they will be manipulated to reveal their beauty to be deemed desired and emancipated.
Enforcing obligatory veil or banning veil or Hijab is a policy applied by the state to penetrate the private sphere of its citizens. Iran, Saudi Arabia and Sudan are forcing women to abide by certain dress code, these states consider Hijab part of the Islamic teachings and women must follow it. These states consider itself the enforcer of Allah laws and the individual can not oppose its regulations.

Other states like Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, UK and France ban certain so called religious dress codes, like Niqab or Burqa.
What women want??!! This is the question that invaded my mind, there is no single rights answer, women in the North are not like women in the South and there are many variations of women needs and choices. Another question is why the morality and beauty of women is related to its dress and how much they are covering or revealing.
I have been always critical to the policies of obligatory veil which deem women source of sexual chaos that need to be tamed and covered , these policies also consider men as perverts that perceive women only as sexual objects and they can not control their desires.

I also disagree with the policies of banning certain dress codes like Niqab or Burqa the full body veil. I think it is a personal freedom to reveal or cover your body and I do not accept the argument that this is emancipation of women from the shackles s of outdated traditions.
I still remember my first course of political sciences in Cairo University when Dr Ibrahim Arafaat said that one of the features of totalitarian state is penetrating the private life of its citizens, like the former USSR, ironically I think Egypt, Turkey, Tunisia, France and UK are belonging to this category.

I hope one day women will choose their outfits without thinking of the legal dress code or the social moral judgments.I just can not understand the dogmatic absolutist attitude of the states when they claim that it knows the complete truth and can lead its citizens to the only best way. I hope a day will come when all forms of power like force, manipulation and coercion will not shape women’s life.