Thursday, February 28

Egyptian Men.. Wutz Up with You?

Egypt men say 'I don't' to woman marriage registrar

CAIRO (AFP) The appointment this week of Egypt's first woman able to conduct Muslim marriages has sparked controversy in the religious country, particularly from men who see their status being challenged.

Amal Soliman, 32, is the first woman in the Middle East and possibly the Muslim world to be authorised to perform wedding ceremonies and sign marriage and divorce contracts.
Straddling the worlds of bureaucracy and religion -- two pillars of Egyptian society -- the graduate in civil and criminal law said she is "more qualified" than her colleagues to perform the function of "maazun".

Justice Minister Mamduh Mari stressed that Soliman's nomination depended on her abilities rather than on her gender, but it has raised eyebrows and anger on the streets in the male-dominated Arab country.

"I completely reject the idea," Mahmud Ali, a bearded 40-year-old, told AFP in Cairo. "There must be religious texts forbidding this... there are also obstacles on a social level, she would always take the woman's side."

"This idea won't spread, it's a one-off and it won't last."
Ahmed Abdel Rehim declared simply: "A woman cannot do this job. I would never have a female maazun at my wedding."

But officials, eager to portray an image of equality, welcomed the decision.
"I'm not shocked at all, it's a purely legal job, reading Koranic verses and conducting a marriage," said Ali Saman, former head of Al-Azhar University's religious dialogue committee.
"A maazun is a judicial assistant, a notary... so it's a job that women can do."

In 2005, US-based Amina Wadud sparked controversy in the Muslim world, including in Egypt, when she led prayers in New York, with some clerics saying it went against Islamic doctrine.
"A female imam (who leads prayers in a mosque) is different, that's to be debated by specialists but a female maazun who signs and officialises a marriage certificate there's no problem," he said.

"There are no religious texts banning a Muslim woman from being a maazun," said Al-Azhar's deputy director Sheikh Fawzi Zafzaf. "But when a woman is menstruating she must not enter a mosque or read Koranic verses and that will affect her job, so for this reason we say it is not advisable to have a woman maazun."

Women's rights in Egypt have a long and occasionally rocky history. Egyptian women were allowed to vote and stand for office in 1956. But they are notable in their absence from Egyptian courtrooms, even those dealing with family law. A first group of 30 women judges was authorised to practice in March 2007.

"Islam guarantees women's rights,
whatever is said about the inferiority of women is a lie," said Zafzaf.

"Why not support women?" said Shawkiya Rawash, in her 50s. "If she can be an example to follow, if she manages to do her job well, why not? I'm in favour."

And I'm in favor too, Shawkiya. Thank you so much. But, you know what? Egyptian men seem to have got issues with this..

Now, let's speak seriously, please guys. What's up with you, men? Huh?

Al-Azhar seems to me to be so messed up on this subject. And unfortunately, I've been one miserable victim who watched this issue being debated live on Egyptian TV. Gotta tell you.. I just felt SICK of all the biased trash I heard.

I've talked about this before in my comment on EFC's first post here. And I told her about Al-Azhar's unjustified objection to the court sentence in this case back then. This woman, Amal Soliman, has earned her basic rights through a long needless battle with the justice system. And even after that, the judge was reluctant, and he insisted that an official approval by the Fatwa Committee of Al-Azhar is a must for Amal to get her legal rights in holding her job.

I saw Amal Soliman on TV.. She is such a decent woman, and she has got all what it takes to have this job. She holds a masters degree in law, and her work experience has enabled her to beat 10 male candidates in order to become maazun. Moreover, she faced lots of unjustifiable complications, and was deprived of her right to start practicing her new job. But she didn't give up. She fought for her right. She filed a lawsuit against her employers, and got a court sentence in her favor. So.. Why the hell had Al-Azhar's committee denied her permission to get that job, and why the hell did they suddenly change their minds?

And please allow me to ask, WHAT THE HELL is Al-Azhar's deputy director saying?!!

I'm sorry. With all my respect to Al-Azhar and its men.. But this man doesn't seem to make any sense in his speech. And I am sorry to repeat his meaningless and contradictory statements down here.

He said, "There are no religious texts banning a Muslim woman from being a maazun."
Right.. Then why did Al-Azhar reject Mrs. Soliman's request the first time? And how can they forbid what God Himself has not forbidden? How can anyone dare to ban something, on religious basis, although God has never banned it?

OK.. Let's assume that they realized they were mistaken. Now, check out what Sheikh Zafzaf says right after: "But when a woman is menstruating she must not enter a mosque or read Koranic verses and that will affect her job, so for this reason we say it is not advisable to have a woman maazun."

Wait a minute! Did I just read this again? I really wish this is just a bad dream.. But did this man actually say "it is not advisable to have a woman maazun"? Come on! Are we kidding here or what?

Or.. Are we playing some kind of a very old game that men are never tired of playing? They give you something by one hand, and take it by the other.

Zafzaf, haven't you learned in Al-Azhar that lying is haram? I mean, this is a lesson we learn in 1st primary.. Yet, in your case, I assume that lying is not a good thing to do at all, since you are Al-Azhar's deputy director! Who are you speaking to please now? God or society?.. Or the beduin patriarchal society, to be more specific?

Zafzaf, you know that the maazun's job has got nothing to do with the mosque. And you know that the prayers said at the wedding are part of the cermony, not the legal process of writing and officiating the marriage certificate. Thus, you are misleading people - on purpose - to make them believe that this woman will actually hold the hands of the groom and the bride's father under a white handkerchief to recite the usual lines said at the wedding ceremony. Isn't this a lie Zafzaf? Aren't you twisting facts A LOT here? Isn't this a very bad and cheap con job?

And then you dare say, "whatever is said about the inferiority of women is a lie"!!.. Man, you've just said that this woman's period will affect her job!

Now, this is a double lie. You've discriminated against this woman, and all other women who would want to have the same job.. You've told people not to hire this woman for their weddings, for God's sake! And then you go ahead saying "the inferiority of women is a lie"?! That's way too much.. Seriously.

Zafzaf.. I'm sorry, but you don't belong to a respectable religious institution like Al-Azhar. You rather belong with some male chauvinistic movement . You are a disgrace to the position you hold, really. You deform Islam to satisfy your male buddies.

Thumbs down Azhar!.. Both thumbs down!.. And I will tell all my family and friends to hire this woman for their weddings. Shame on you men.

* I'd like to thank Raaasa for inspiring this post and providing the AFP link

Sunday, February 17

V-Day... Stop the Violence 1

With the curent trends and attitudes in modern day Egypt, a very important problem has surfaced that I feel is unacceptable, and attention needs to be brought to that matter.
I am talking of course about violence against women in general, or spouse abuse in particular.
Abuse can be one of 2 types: either emotional or physical. Many factors have promoted this abuse, including te media, misinterpretation of religion, and our mysogynist culture. In older movies, it was not uncommon to see a woman being beaten by a man, and it always shown in a positive light, and the man was always the good guy, because the woman of course deserved it. This led to the acceptance of the concept of domestic violence and abuse, making it appear as a normal every day event, and encouraging people to follow the footsteps of the star in the movie... slowly it became widely acceptable, and mainstream.

Abuse can be one of 2 types, either emotional or physical. Emotional abuse is the least evident form of abuse, yet has the most damaging concequences on the victim. The problem with our society is that it advocates the emotional abuse of women... Girls are taught that they are inferior to boys in childhood. Boys run around as they please, while girls are told, "you are a girl, so you should be quiet".. it is not "natural" for girls to be active or to run around freely or misbehave like boys. As they get older, things only get more difficult and more complicated. Brothers are given control over their sisters, simply because they are males, and therefore should be dominant. They are encouraged to order them around and to monitor their every move... some families go as far as allowing their son to beat their daughter if he feels that she is doing something he does not approve of, or something that may threaten the "family honor". This scenario sets the stage for what is to come later as boys and girls grow to be men and women. In a household, men begin their marriage by trying to establish the fact that they are dominant, every decision that is taken is the man's.. everything the woman does, has to be pre- approved by the man. Family and society encourage him to do that, and tell him he is not a man if he doesnt do that. Some men will force their wives to stay at home. So they are 100% financially dependant on the husband. In return, the wife is expected to attend to her husband's every need. If she doesnt, she is not good enough and needs to be "disciplined" according to the man's standards. And of course according to the way he was raised, "beating" his wife is justified... after all, isn't she the one who didn't have dinner ready on time, or didn't clean the house efficiently enough, or didn't perform a task he asked for in a timely manner? Women are taught that they are nothing without a man.
She does not even have the option of leaving him, which is a right God gave her, but which society has taken away from her. Fanta discussed how women are prevented from seeking a divorce by society here. Some men will even forbid their wives from communicating with their families, and make sure they are totally cut off from all of their friends.... and when these poor women complain, they are told, "you have to obey your is his right to 'protect' you, and women can spoil (yefsedo) each other, so your husband is only protecting you by cutting you off from your life as you have known it before he married you". Now this may look like a fact of life for some people, or a husband being over protective compared to others, but the truth is: this is a very systematic approach to deprive women of everything they have and to gurantee their total submission and dependance on their partners, so they are unable to function in society... which gives people a reason to forbid them from holding positions or being figures of authority...etc.

This scenario is in fact a direct application of the steps of Psycological abuse!!! Here is how:

Based on an adaptation of work from Alice Miller's For Your Own Good and John Bradshaw's Healing the Shame That Binds You

Authority figures (AF)
1. AF's are the masters of dependants.
2. AF's alone decide what is right and wrong
3. They alone make up the definitions, the rules, and the "consequences" (i.e. punishment)
4. Dependants are held responsible for the AF's feelings (anger, disappointment, embarrassment, humiliation, happiness and unhappiness)
5. The AF is only responsible and accountable for good things that happen, never the bad ones. Thus the AF appears to always be right, and when things go wrong the dependant is always blamed and feels responsible and guilty.
6. The AF tries to exercise total control of the dependant by controlling his thoughts, feelings and behavior. Whenever this control is not absolute, the AF feels threatened.
7. The dependant's individuality is minimized as much as possible by the AF.
8. The AF creates an intricate system of punishments and rewards which rob the dependant of any sense of inner direction or esteem.
9. The following freedoms listed by Virginia Satire are denied to the dependant as much as possible:
a) The freedom to perceive b) To think and interpret c) To feel To want, need, and chose
10. The AF never (or rarely) admits mistakes or apologizes.
11. All of the above take place in a way which does not expose the AF's true motives, and none of this is openly talked about. No "back talk" is allowed
Some of the Consequences:
-Mistakes are concealed
-People are under constant stress
-Needs are frustrated, denied
-Fear dominates
-Power is based on fear, not respect
-Information is withheld and distorted
-Information flow is primarily from top down
-Behavior is forced; does not come naturally
-Behavior is not consistent with true feelings, which adds to the stress
-Conflicts and problems are blamed on the dependent's "poor attitudes" and "character flaws."
-All of this tears the dependant person apart, causing self-alienation and even self-loathing. The dependant person loses faith in his/her own mind and feelings with devastating self-esteem consequences.
-Depression, rage, mood swings, co-dependency, self-injury and self-destruction are typical outcomes.
-If the authority figure is a parent, this person will likely develop symptoms of various "disorders" such as the so-called Borderline Personality disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Anoexia, Bulemia etc.

The previous box explains emotional abuse and how it is accomplished, and how it affects the abused person. I copied it from this link

If you read through the points, you will see that we can all agree that points #1,2, and 3 are all systematically carried out in most Egyptian households, and are considered to be traditional values that people should not question. Emotional abuse is mainly having someone depend on you emotionally , financially, socially.. You threaten to leave them or marry someone else if they disobey you.. You cut off ties between them and their friends and family.. You control them financially, then you make them feel that they cannot function in life without you!!!

Point #4 may not be as evident, but it is the one argument used by most Egyptians when they talk to women to see why a husband has cheated on his wife.... For example, if a man cheats, the woman is always told "you are responsible for his bad behaviour... you must have done something wrong, so you were unable to contain him... maybe you are not enough for him... see where you are deficient, and try to fix your flaws, then beg him to come back to you.. maybe if he sees your sincere efforts to correct your faults he will have pitty on you and be yours exclusively"!!! A woman is never encouraged to leave a cheating husband, and of course the welfare of the children is always mentioned as a reason she should tolerate abuse.

On the other hand, if a woman cheats on her husband, then she is a slut and a whore, who does not deserve her husband .. she does not deserve to live .. he is encouraged to throw her out, and never look back.. what she has done is inconceivable and unforgivable. The husband is discouraged from ever forgiving his wife, and to society, she deserves every bad thing that comes her way. The children's welfare in this case is not an issue, since they claim children dont need a mother who cheats on her spouse!! Notice how the man is never at fault.... if he cheats, she is wrong.. If she cheats, she is wrong!!! Men are never wrong in society's twisted logic.
To Be Continued..

Friday, February 8

The Scum Manifesto

An interesting book with a very interesting message. If you are a man who is generally angry at feminists, this would at least give you a good reason to be mad. But still, the message of the book remains intriguing.

The book is entitled The S.C.U.M Manifesto (Society for Cutting Up Men). It is written by Valerie Solanas, one of the most controversial and notorious women in American feminist history. She actually became famous after attempting to murder three men in 1968. She actually turned herself in to the police on the same day to make a statement about why she shot those men. She received a sentence of three years, and became a martyr by the time of her release. But she came out only to go on stalking those who escaped death on the day she shot them. She then spent the rest of her life in mental hospitals.

Solanas wrote The SCUM Manifesto on the same year she was charged with attempted murder. By then, she had been a playwright. Her first play, was to be produced by one of the men she wanted to kill. But apparently he never returned her script and only gave her a small role in one of his films as compensation. Later on, when she demanded that he returns the script or pay her for it, he claimed that he lost it and refused to give her any money for it. Solanas apparently did not need the money, because she used to self-published her works at the time. She was protecting her copyrights it seems, but her own way.. How dare he steal her script! One thing you must keep in mind buddy: DON'T MESS WITH AN ANGRY WOMAN.

Anyway.. Solanas' Manifesto was meant to be an attack on the patriarchal culture, promoting the idea of a violent revolution to establish an all-female society. What is most outstanding about the book is that in spite of its extremism and furious style, and aside from the violent message it conveys, it actually makes lots of sense when dealing with social analysis and scientific facts. (It gets most interesting when she describes her theory that a male is actually an incomplete female, which is the total opposite of the Freudian theory.) You wouldn't expect this to be the work of a mad woman! But everybody wanted to believe that this woman was mad.. This was the sixties, don't forget.

Below I shall list some of my favorite quotes from The SCUM Manifesto, and I will also provide a link where you can read the book in full text. Yeah.. That's a free bonus! Fanta's gift for Valentine. Enjoy :)

"Life in this society being, at best, an utter bore and no aspect of society being at all relevant to women, there remains to civic-minded, responsible, thrill-seeking females only to overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and destroy the male sex.

It is now technically feasible to reproduce without the aid of males (or, for that matter, females) and to produce only females. We must begin immediately to do so. The male is a biological accident: the Y (male) gene is an incomplete X (female) gene, that is, it has an incomplete set of chromosomes. In other words, the male is an incomplete female, a walking abortion, aborted at the gene stage. To be male is to be deficient, emotionally limited; maleness is a deficiency disease and males are emotional cripples.

The male is completely egocentric, trapped inside himself, incapable of empathizing or identifying with others, or love, friendship, affection of tenderness. He is a completely isolated unit, incapable of rapport with anyone. His responses are entirely visceral, not cerebral; his intelligence is a mere tool in the services of his drives and needs; he is incapable of mental passion, mental interaction; he can't relate to anything other than his own physical sensations. He is a half-dead, unresponsive lump, incapable of giving or receiving pleasure or happiness; consequently, he is at best an utter bore, an inoffensive blob, since only those capable of absorption in others can be charming. He is trapped in a twilight zone halfway between humans and apes, and is far worse off than the apes because, unlike the apes, he is capable of a large array of negative feelings -- hate, jealousy, contempt, disgust, guilt, shame, doubt -- and moreover, he is aware of what he is and what he isn't."

"Being an incomplete female, the male spends his life attempting to complete himself, to become female. He attempts to do this by constantly seeking out, fraternizing with and trying to live through an fuse with the female, and by claiming as his own all female characteristics -- emotional strength and independence, forcefulness, dynamism, decisiveness, coolness, objectivity, assertiveness, courage, integrity, vitality, intensity, depth of character, grooviness, etc -- and projecting onto women all male traits -- vanity, frivolity, triviality, weakness, etc. It should be said, though, that the male has one glaring area of superiority over the female -- public relations. (He has done a brilliant job of convincing millions of women that men are women and women are men). The male claim that females find fulfillment through motherhood and sexuality reflects what males think they'd find fulfilling if they were female.

Women, in other words, don't have penis envy; men have pussy envy. When the male accepts his passivity, defines himself as a woman... He then achieves a continuous diffuse sexual feeling from `being a woman'."

"There is no human reason for money or for anyone to work more than two or three hours a week at the very most. All non-creative jobs (practically all jobs now being done) could have been automated long ago, and in a moneyless society everyone can have as much of the best of everything as she wants. But there are non-human, male reasons for wanting to maintain the money system."

"Unable to give love or affection, the male gives money. It makes him feel motherly. The mother gives milk; he gives bread. He is the Breadwinner."

"[Money] Provide the basis for the male's major opportunity to control and manipulate -- fatherhood."

"Mother wants what's best for her kids; Daddy only wants what's best for Daddy, that is peace and quiet, pandering to his delusion of dignity (`respect'), a good reflection on himself (status) and the opportunity to control and manipulate, or, if he's an `enlightened' father, to `give guidance'... Daddy, unlike Mother, can never give in to his kids, as he must, at all costs, preserve his delusion of decisiveness, forcefulness, always-rightness and strength. Never getting one's way leads to lack of self-confidence in one's ability to cope with the world and to a passive acceptance of the status quo. Mother loves her kids, although she sometimes gets angry, but anger blows over quickly and even while it exists, doesn't preclude love and basic acceptance. Emotionally diseased Daddy doesn't love his kids; he approves of them -- if they're `good', that is, if they're nice, `respectful', obedient, subservient to his will, quiet and not given to unseemly displays of temper that would be most upsetting to Daddy's easily disturbed male nervous system -- in other words, if they're passive vegetables. If they're not `good', he doesn't get angry -- not if he's a modern, `civilized' father -- but rather express disapproval, a state that, unlike anger, endures and precludes a basic acceptance, leaving the kid with the feeling of worthlessness and a lifelong obsession wit being approved of; the result is fear of independent thought, as this leads to unconventional, disapproved of opinions and way of life.

For the kid to want Daddy's approval it must respect Daddy, and being garbage, Daddy can make sure that he is respected only by remaining aloof, by distantness, by acting on the precept of `familiarity breeds contempt', which is, of course, true, if one is contemptible. By being distant and aloof, he is able to remain unknown, mysterious, and thereby, to inspire fear (`respect')."

"The affect of fatherhood on males, specifically, is to make them `Men', that is, highly defensive of all impulses to passivity, faggotry, and of desires to be female. Every boy wants to imitate his mother, be her, fuse with her, but Daddy forbids this; he is the mother; he gets to fuse with her. So he tells the boy, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly, to not be a sissy, to act like a `Man'. The boy, scared shitless of and `respecting' his father, complies, and becomes just like Daddy, that model of `Man'-hood.

The effect of fatherhood on females is to make them male -- dependent, passive, domestic, animalistic, insecure, approval and security seekers, cowardly, humble, `respectful' of authorities and men, closed, not fully responsive, half-dead, trivial, dull, conventional, flattened-out and thoroughly contemptible. Daddy's Girl, always tense and fearful, uncool, unanalytical, lacking objectivity, appraises Daddy, and thereafter, other men, against a background of fear (`respect') and is not only unable to see the empty shell behind the facade, but accepts the male definition of himself as superior, as a female, and of herself, as inferior, as a male, which, thanks to Daddy, she really is."

Reducing the female to an animal, to Mama, to a male, is necessary for psychological as well as practical reasons: the male is a mere member of the species, interchangeable with every other male. He has no deep-seated individuality, which stems from what intrigues you, what outside yourself absorbs you, what you're in relation to. Completely self-absorbed, capable of being in relation only to their bodies and physical sensations, males differ from each other only to the degree and in the ways they attempt to defend against their passivity and against their desire to be female.

The female's individuality, which he is acutely aware of, but which he doesn't comprehend and isn't capable of relating to or grasping emotionally, frightens and upsets him and fills him with envy. So he denies it in her and proceeds to define everyone in terms of his or her function or use, assigning to himself, of course, the most important functions -- doctor, president, scientist -- therefore providing himself with an identity, if not individuality, and tries to convince himself and women that the female function is to bear and raise children and to relax, comfort and boost the ego if the male; that her function is such as to make her interchangeable with every other female. In actual fact, the female function is to relate, groove, love and be herself, irreplaceable by anyone else; the male function is to produce sperm."

"In actual fact, the female function is to explore, discover, invent, solve problems crack jokes, make music -- all with love. In other words, create a magic world."

Read full text of The S.C.U.M Manifesto
"When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid" - Audre Lorde