Rhapsodies of the Barefooted Gypsy

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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