Monthly Archives: November 2012

A call for critical thinking

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Yesterday, I posted a status on Facebook that started a whole saga between two people I know. It became a medium for arguments and counter arguments. And just like a grapevine, it branched out to sensitive issues that we usually veer away from out of fear of direct confrontation.

My status reads:

“If every veiled woman will take her veil off in protest to what is happening in Cairo, it might not make a difference, but it will be a great statement to women all around the world, veiled or not veiled, that we will not be silenced, that we will act based on our own free will, and that we will not allow a dictator to control even the tip of our finger. But then again, that’s only me shooting for the moon.”

After Morsy announced his presidential decree that gives him both executive and legislative powers, I was enraged. I could not believe that this is happening to the country that I now call home. But what surprises me even more is how I am affected more than some Egyptians I know who just don’t care anymore.

I find it disgustingly revolting how the president, who is supposedly elected by way of democracy, has the guts to impose dictatorship. This is a direct murder of the January 25 revolution. And it nullifies democracy in this country (the democracy that I thought everyone was aiming for.)

All these resulted to an idea so concrete, that it requires a specific action (in this case, the actual removal of one’s veil) yet so ambitious considering that I am only one voice amongst all women across the world.

When I wrote this status, my intention was to see how it will be received. I wanted to see if this idea can materialize into solid action that will exhibit change.

Women, for the longest time, have been struggling because of patriarchy, we have, again and again been subjugated.

I remember asking someone during the presidential campaigns if there was any woman running for presidency. It was a serious question that required a serious answer, yet what I got was a look as if I have grown two heads, followed by a laugh as though I just delivered the perfect knock knock joke.

Again, how revolting.

That status I posted last night was an accumulation of everything I went through as a woman in Egypt. It was the sum of being harassed on the streets, of being laughed at because I spoke about women running for presidency, of being objectified and considered inferior because of my gender.

I was calling for women action. More specifically, I was calling for veiled women to unveil themselves. Why? Because when you think about it, a piece of clothing does not and should not define who you are. It should not be a requisite to whether or not you will be harassed on the streets, neither should it be a standard to whether or not that woman is a “good woman.”

When I posted that status, I didn’t want people to agree or disagree to my idea. What I wanted was for that idea to be heard. Obviously, if I was a tv tycoon or media mogul (which I am clearly not,) I would have stepped forward light years ago if only to push social change. However, I am only one voice, one idea among many others. The least I can do is say that idea out loud in the hopes that it will reach every single person out of the 892 friends I have on Facebook.

If we can go back to the January 25 revolution, we will find a lot of photographs of people with placards thanking Facebook for the materialization of the revolution. Facebook was one of the mediums through which news and events about the revolution spread like a plague. One cannot simply say or conclude that Facebook is not the place to exhibit such thoughts. For someone like me, a foreign woman in an Arabic country, where else can I run to to voice my opinion? If my idea will fail to reach the friends I have on Facebook, the more important question is who else will listen?

When I posted that status, I did not want to create a disparity between men and women. My status was a call for every one of my friends (especially the ones who live/lived in Egypt) to be conscious, to awaken, to be aware of what is happening politically and socially in Egypt. It was a call for people to act based on his/her own choice, to come up with decisions after careful thinking, to not climb the bandwagon, to resist puppet strings, to seek what is right, and to confront the wrong.

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A response from my hypothetical boyfriend

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Please, don’t creep out. It was you who wrote me in the first place, and I felt the need to write you back. So, just hear me out.

Apologies that it took a while, but it took a while for me to find you. Maybe you are right. I was looking in the wrong places which is why I didn’t run into you much sooner than I’d like to.

My name is neither Kyle, nor Amadeus but you can still call me A.

Yes, I am taller than you. Much taller, shorty. Contrary to your expectation, my eyes aren’t brown. They are blue with a golden ring, thanks to my mum. I hope you’re not disappointed.

I like that you are curious because I am too. I like playing bets, and win-win is always a good start.

Let’s be clear here, no Apple products for me. I don’t mind silence as long as you’re not heading out the door.

Now you blame me for your little tooth brush, that’s a bit unfair. I didn’t even know I was supposed to remind you.

My deal is black humor and I like being a smart ass. I can tell that you’re a smarty pants too, so I’m sure there’ll be no dull moments between us.

I can be snotty and bossy like you, so you’ll have to remind me about it too. And yes, I usually act like a child, but I can be serious when necessary.

I don’t kite surf but I love diving, and I think it’s something we should do together. I do judo, I ski, and I like playing paintball. Let’s be spontaneous and random and do things together.

When it comes to honesty, no need to worry. I always am, even when it hurts sometimes.

I’m not sure yet if I am your hypothetical boyfriend. But the more I read into you, the more I speak to you, the more I want to believe that I can be.

I have a big appetite for sushi and sashimi so you can be sure that I’ve got our Friday nights covered.

I like watching movies and yes, we can alternate on choosing which movies to watch.

Lucky for you I don’t listen to metal or punk, but I’ll have to introduce you to a bit of jazz and a bit of rock. And a bit of house too!

You can teach me salsa, but I’ll have to teach you rock n roll in exchange. No buts, we agreed to compromise.

You can’t order me from eBay, that’s very much true, but I will do free delivery for you.

Your hypothetical boyfriend,

Alexandre.

An open letter to the guy who grabbed my ass

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Fuck you.

It’s funny how that two sophisticated words can sum up everything that I want to tell you.

Allow me to remind you of what happened. You saw two foreign women walking on the street, and just like that, boom! You grabbed one of the two foreign women.

That woman that you singlehandedly decided to touch is me.

Two years of living in Egypt had prepared me how to handle situation like this, yet when it actually happened, my mind just shut down and I couldn’t even move to sprang at you and slap you on the face.

You caught me in a moment of vulnerability. One moment I was in complete control of my own life. The next thing I know, you forcefully inserted yourself in the picture. You ambushed me to declare your opinion of my body. And that feeling of control is gone as fleeting as you are.

Even when this unwelcome encounter was no longer than a millisecond, it has left me feeling frustrated and silenced. I had to evaluate myself and figure out what I did that caught unwanted attention. If I wore a cover-up and a veil, will that change things? Had you seen two local women instead of two foreign women walking that night, would you have done the same thing?

Yes, let’s get personal because what you did is personal to me.

You treated me as if my only purpose was for the enjoyment of your male eyes. It didn’t matter how successful my career is, how intelligent I am, or how strong my sense of self is. None of that mattered because at that point, I was powerless. Powerless to avoid it, powerless to counteract it. Powerless to define my own body.

It has been eight days and I still couldn’t let go of what you did. No shower can wash away how I felt. And no matter how many times I put my jeans in the wash, that experience won’t seem to go away.

I am still upset that I let you walk away just like that. I wish I could have kneed you in the balls when you decided to be a dick. No, make that ten dicks. That way, I wouldn’t be spending all these time replaying what happened in my head, and thinking of what I could have done to reverse it. Then we will just be even.

I’m not really sure what’s going on with your pea-sized brain, but do you really think that grabbing someone will get you anywhere? If you want to make an impression, you might as well call for a marching band.

Seriously, think about it. Do you really think that grabbing someone will give you satisfaction? If anything, I guess what you did will be an anecdote you will tell all your pea-brained friends. And if you are expecting to get the high fives, then that is just an all new low. How embarrassingly tragic. I might as well move to Mars.

How difficult is it to be a civilized person and show respect to civilized people? Is it really that hard that you’d rather whistle at every vagina that you pass by? When was the last time any guy had a shot at a girl for doing this? I just couldn’t understand the logic.

If I tell you that grabbing a woman’s behind, or whistling at that “sexy babe” has zero percent chance of getting you anywhere, will you just stop doing it? Or is the equation too difficult to solve?

I had to put up with days of self doubt. I didn’t like that you made me second-guess myself. And I didn’t like that probably after all of these, people will still ask what I was wearing that night.

I’ve been whistled at wearing skinny jeans, wearing baggy sweaters, wearing dresses, wearing long sleeves. I’ve been cat-called with long hair, with short hair, with high heels, with sneakers. I’ve been gazed at when I was 20 kilos heavier, and 20 kilos lighter. I’ve been called a “babe” with or without make up on, in the street by myself, on the street with friends, in the morning, in the afternoon, and more so at night.

So, no matter what lengths I go to in order to avoid you, my guess is, you would still have done it.

This is the maddening reality that I have to live through day by day. And it makes me wonder why, when everything is said and done, the repercussion still falls heavily on the woman and not on the man who did the actual grabbing/cat-calling/wolfwhistling.

You made me question ethics, you made me question morality, you made me question values, and you made me question religion. I would not like to think that society will teach their people to objectify women no matter how patriarchal it is. I would not accept that any religion will teach their men to disrespect women. I will not believe that any family will raise their kids to act inappropriately.

I hope that you would just stop. I hope that I am the last woman who you will ever grab. You got lucky. For now. But know that should this ever happen again, with you or with anyone like you, I will make sure that you or anyone like you won’t get away with it. At least not without your balls being kicked hard or your eyes being poked out.

Being Single Versus Being Single

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Being single is one of those few things that you either love or hate. To help you decide, here is my list of why I think it rocks at best and sucks at worst:

67 Reasons Why Being Single is Awesomeness in 3D

1. You can lie down on your bed diagonally, with arms wide open, and you won’t be bothered.
2. You can fart unapologetically.
3. It feels great to walk around the flat naked without having to worry that someone might walk in.
4. The only mess you will have to clean is yours.
5. You can spend all your money to yourself.
6. No arguments every hour.
7. No drama every minute.
8. No silly misunderstanding everyday.
9. Not a single petty fight even.
10. You stop acting like a 16 year old.
11. All the time in the world is subject to your disposal.
12. No one will tell you “do this, do that.”
13. You don’t have to take or make any phone call except when it’s your girlfriends dragging you on an all-nighter.
14. Your happiness is in your hands and not on someone else’s, literally and metaphorically. Hallelujah!
15. You never have to worry about buying the perfect gift.
16. Guess who’s in control of the television!
17. And the a/c too!
18. You never have to worry about someone waking up from your snore.
19. You can play your favorite songs in full volume and no one will give a shit other than your neighbors.
20. You never have to pretend that your idea of a Friday night is watching a football match.
21. Lots of evenings to spend with the ladies.
22. No one’s going to disappoint you
23. And you’re not going to disappoint anyone.
24. You can focus more on yourself.
25. You get to know yourself better.
26. No reason to adjust your schedule.
27. All those sleepless nights? Gone. Say hello to sleep!
28. You don’t have to worry about bad breath in the morning.
29. Your mum and dad are delighted that you came to visit.
30. Your friends who thought you died for a little bit are now enjoying your resurrection.
31. Being single means you are getting close to knowing exactly what you want.
32. You can go out on fun dates and meet new, and hopefully interesting people.
33. Did I already say you can go out on fun dates?
34. If you’re thinking about going on a six month trip around the world, then this is the right time! You don’t have to worry about leaving anyone or trying to sustain a soon-to-be long distance relationship.
35. Your Friday night could mean sleep overs with your girlfriends, a romantic-comedy flick, and pop corn. Awesome!
36. You can now start reading the books you bought but never read because you were always spending time with your bf-now-turned-exbf.
37. You become a new person-a smarter, stronger, sexier one.
38. Revenge diet!
39. You can start singing in the shower again.
40. In fact, you can even leave the bathroom door open!
41. You can see things much better and clearer now.
42. You have sound judgment.
43. You’re not trying to change anyone.
44. No one is trying to change you.
45. You define what emotional maturity and security is.
46. You’re back to being you. Thank goodness you’re so over and done the girlfriendzilla phase, or that you have escaped boyfriendstein.
47. Your last relationship taught you what you will and will not accept.
48. Therefore, it raises the bar higher for next time.
49. You can dance to a Britney Spears song in front of your mirror.
50. You can eat sushi for breakfast, pad thai for lunch, and laksa for dinner because you no longer have a boyfriend who has no appreciation for Asian cuisine.
51. You don’t have to fake orgasm.
52. Christmas costs less.
53. It means more money to splurge on dresses, or traveling, and books.
54. You never have to share the last bite of your burrito to anyone.
55. Suddenly, there’s more space in your studio apartment.
56. The only annoying friends you have to deal with are your own.
57. Everything is done your way. Your choices, your decisions.
58. You can fling and flung your dirty clothes here and there without any thoughts whatsoever.
59. No one else is going to raid your fridge!
60. On weekends, you can sleep whenever.
61. And wake up whenever.
62. The only dishes you’ll have to wash are yours.
63. You never have to explain why you’re late, except to your boss.
64. Now you have a legitimate excuse to drunk text and call someone an asshole. Kidding!
65. The bag of chips you left in the kitchen will never again magically disappear.
66. You can watch every single Katherine Heigl movie without interruption.
67. You can always get a guaranteed spot in the cinema.

32 Reasons Why Being Single Sucks in HD

1. You have no one to say good night to.
2. No back rubs and massages.
3. Everyone’s asking “when are you getting married?” when they should be setting you up on dates.
4. When you’re with someone, you can say goodbye to awkward first dates.
5. You hang out with your friends and you’re always the third, fifth, or heck, seventh wheel.
6. No spooning.
7. No cuddling.
8. No one to kiss and make love with.
9. It’s always a Friday night that makes things more obvious than usual. While your friends are home with their special someone and take away dinner, you are home alone, with a grumbling tummy.
10. You have no travel buddy.
11. When you get sick, there’s no other person who will magically appear with a bowl of fresh noodle soup.
12. All the butterflies in your stomach are nowhere to be found.
13. Winter is coming and no one will keep you warm. Except your oversized jumpers.
14. You get this pity look from strangers when you sit in a restaurant and eat alone.
15. You never know what to do on a weekend.
16. There is no one to hold hands with especially when a scene in the movie becomes too morbid.
17. You’re the only one watching Skyfall alone.
18. There is no such thing as candlelit dinner for one.
19. There are days when you feel empty.
20. There are evenings when all you can do is look at your bedroom door long enough. As if that can make someone appear out of thin air.
21. A marathon of The Big Bang Theory is less fun without anyone to watch it with.
22. After watching a Katherine Heigl movie, you just feel like getting ice cream and screaming at the top of your lungs, “F U, Katherine Heigl!”
23. Your social calendar is usually empty.
24. You can disappear for days and no one will even notice, which leads us to a gruesome number 25.
25. You can die and no one will know until your body rots to stink.
26. The closest thing you can get to amazing sex is free porn.
27. No one is willing to listen to your boring stories, not even your rottweiler.
28. Apart from your reflection in the mirror, there is no one else to boost your ego.
29. Everything seems dull. There is no up, no down. You’re just cruising in the middle.
30. Your mum and dad tries to set you up with their business partner’s son. Nightmare.
31. You have to put an effort in meeting new people again. Expect that some of them might turn out creepy like your mum and dad’s business partner’s son.
31. Most of your dinners are left overs.
32. On New Year’s, when the clock strikes 12, everyone will be smooching around including you. Except you have no one to smooch around with.