Friday, September 26

Natural Born Feminist

Being an Egyptian feminist never fails to show you its ugly face.. or to be more frank, this is almost the only face you will meet ever since people decide to "honor" you with this "label". Once you get known as such, get ready to be bashed with all kinds of questions (a polite word for "accusations") like "Why do you hate men?.. Don't you think you are exaggerating?.. Do you want us to live like they do in the West?.. Are you married? " and (quoting the King of Siam) et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

The stereotype for a feminist assumes a certain scenario which goes as follows.. She was brought up in a miserable family, having to wash the dishes and cater drinks to her male brother.. Her father was probably a harsh man who used to beat her day and night, or deserted his family when she was young.. She probably was heartbroken in love, or met a man who cheated on her.. She's an envious spinister.. most probably her looks aren't good enough to attract men's attention... et certera, et cetera, et cetera.

Well, I'm always sorry to disappoint those who carry this sort of pathetic stereotype and trust so much. But, first of all, I'd like to say that I don't like to be called a feminist.. not because I became ashamed of the fabricated qualities associated with this term, or that it has grown notorious in our society.. but because it fails to express my aims and what I really seek to do. You cannot sum-up Fantasia in mere "feminist." That will not be an accurate description. I'd rather be called a "myth-slayer or a "folklore-deconstructor".. for that is what I actually do. If you would like to add the term"feminist" before either of them, though, it is absolutely fine by me.

Growing up with all those familiar accusations from people who try so hard to prove that I fit into their stereotype of that thing called "Feminist," has, nevertheless, caused me to reflect more on why I was different.. and to rephrase it according to pop culture, it would be "what was wrong with me?" Again, I apologize for disappointing them all, for I have discovered that nothing was wrong with me. And check this out.. I found out to be one of the rare cases of those who don't fight against nature. I am in complete harmony with who I naturally am and what my primary instincts dictate! People like me may be considered to be rare species in our world, but I believe I am just one among many, whom you might well call "Natural Born Feminists." Please allow me to elaborate, using my diary.

1. The Day I Broke My Doll:

I grew up in a loving, traditional Egyptian family. My parents, like all others, loved me so dearly, and thought that showing this love would be through grooming me into what society would expect a girl to be. As a kid, I didn't understand it, and I thought the role of parents was to prevent their children from doing what they wanted. For instance, when the Legos I had received as a gift for my birthday suddenly disappeared, I thought the purpose was to deprive me of my favorite toy. However, I later discovered that my mom was hiding them away because she didn't like to see me playing a "boys' game", besides the mess that the scattered pieces of Legos cause. Instead, she got me a Barbie doll, only to find it broken into pieces the next day. She thought I hated this particular doll, so she brought me a new one; and when its fate showed to be no better than the first, my mom didn't give up.. She kept showering me with loads of dolls, never having pity on them, even when she sees them, one by one, ending up as plastic spare parts. I told her that that was my way of playing with dolls, but she insisted that I should use them to play another game.. pretending that they were real people, combing their hair and dressing them and stuff. When nothing seemed to work, she complained to my father that I spoiled my dolls, and thus was unworthy of any more toys. What my mom couldn't understand was that not all girls love to play with dolls. Kids differ.. not according to their gender, but according to their characters, abilities and preferences. And what I didn't understand was her presistence that I play with a "dummy" (in the full sense of the word).

2- The Screwdriver:

As a kid, I hadn't known that exhibiting your talents was scary. I thought that parents would be proud of what their young ones could do, and should encourage them to be more curious and learn more about the world. I thought that being independent was a bless, not a curse.. and that showing everyone that you were able to do things on your own was worthy of applause. Oh how green I was! [sigh].. Anyway, I used to show off my skills in front of adults, especially my parents, with best of intentions.

One day I brought a screwdriver and started to unscrew our cassette-recorder to explore what lies inside. Yet, my dad made me feel as if this recorder was a bomb that would explode if I touched it! Needless to say, this didn't prevent me from seeking after what I wanted. A kid's mind is designed to be curious, constantly seeking after knowledge.. you can't stop this automatic mechanism just because you fear that a stupid machine will get out of order! So, I waited for the time when I was home alone, and I would get my dad's tools and open all of the electric machines at home, one by one, and I would take out the pieces inside, carefully remembering where each piece belonged, then see if I could assemble them all again in the same order. I applauded myself when I succeeded, since there was nobody present to witness this achievement. And when my parents came home, and turned on that same device, I would keep saying to myself "If only you saw it one hour ago!" and experience a sort of evil kind of joy :)

Years later, when our VCR went out of order, I couldn't keep myself from helping my dad who seemed so frustrated. I begged him to allow me to take my shot at repairing it. Of course, he was totally against it, but when I told him there was nothing to lose and that the technician was going to repair it anyway, he seemed to have been too tired already that he let me do it. He couldn't believe it when I actually fixed it! But I never confessed to him my long hidden secret. Up till today, my family depends on me when it comes to installing or fixing electric devices. They are satisfied to think it is a miracle, and I no longer seek to disturb their peace of mind.

3- A Lesson Well-Learned:

Being a female, you can not be proud that you're talented or that you're smart. People won't admire you for it.. but will treat you as an abnormality instead.. a lamb that has lost its way and should be guided back to her flock, or forced to do so against her will if necessary. In a society like ours, you learn that a woman and a smart brain do not meet.. that it is OK for women to be dependent, because that's what men are made for. Only a man is allowed and encouraged to be independent, while a woman is brought up to be weak and vulnerable. Shall any girl show any sign of being smart or having ambition, she must be knocked down, for fear that she might disturb the balance of the universe! Hence, a smart man impresses you, while a smart woman freaks you out. A strong man wins your admiration and respect, while a strong woman makes you reach for your gun. That's what an artificially-fabricated social order does to us. We invent molds, we shape our young to fit into those molds, pushing and squeezing them throughout their lives to enter their boxes of what we decided to be "masculine" or "feminine," feeding them all about the "division of roles" and other myths of our invention.

By now, you should have figured out what I meant by saying that I am more in harmony with who I naturally am than the majority who consider themselves to be the norm. We are all born equal, but outside forces stand against our natural evolution, preferring to turn us into puppets, playing roles according to a pre-written scenario.. even if it is against our humanity, and even if it defies mere logic. Yet, what's worse than all that is the brainwash process that we are subjected to throughout our lives.. the brainwash that leads generation after generation to accept such ideas and in turn implant them into their offspring. Thus, the vicious cycle continues to produce people who basically spend their lifetime fighting against their nature. And unfortunately, there is a huge machinery backing-up this false system.. it's everywhere (TV, magazines, commericals, schools, universities, laws, etc.) .. and patriarchs have always been careful to keep all its keys under their control.

Societies, in any time or place, would have never moved a single step forward if it were not for the few who refuse to give in to such mutilation. All of us were born feminists.. yes, all of us.. boys and girls.. we were all born equal and we wanted to remain as such. Feminists are believers in equality and justice. And if anyone considers that to be wrong, or strange, or bad, then s/he would better look and see where they stand. As for me, I shall forever remain happy and proud to be guilty of feminism.


jessyz said...

I really liked this post. I read a book called searching for Islamic feminism. What I liked most was that the author's conclusion was that in the Middle East and Islamic countries women do not like the label feminism, because they find that they do not want the same rights as women in the Western world. Women blessed to be born to understanding parents are the ones who never give feminism a second thought, they always believe in equality as human beings not based on gender.

برنامج انت تسال والكمبيوتر يجيب يعود بعد رمضان said...

الأحت صاحبة المدونه
تحيه طيبه وكل عام وانت بخير وصحه وسعاده انت والأسره
نحن اول برنامج أذاعى فى الشرق الأوسط عن النت والمدونات ويذاع من أذاعة مصر الرئيسيه يوميا صباحا عدا الجمعه ويعود بعد العيد ان شاء الله
مررنا بمدونتك بالصدفه ووجدناها الحقيقه جديره بالأهتمام...وتستحق ان نشير اليها فى برنامجنا الأذاعى ..لأن بها فقرات يمكن ان تكون موضوعا لحلقات فى البرنامج ...نرجو الا يكون لديك مانع...ثانيا يسعدنا ان تشاركى انت وزوار مدونتك بالراى فى الأسئله التى نطرخها فى مدونة البرنامج وتكون هذه الآراء موضوعا لحلقات فى برنامجنا
وموقعنا وبه كافة التفاصيل

egy anatomist said...

Well, I said once: Not to be a secular; u must be god himself, for anyone else is secular. I meant that being secular is part of u being a human being who, by definition, doesnt have the absolute truth.

Today I have to say that being a human being means, by definition also, that u r feminist. It is not a choice. Only non-humans can argue abt whether females are inferior to males or not!

Welcome back.. the blogshpere missed u.


Fantasia said...

dear jessyz,

what you read is absolutely true. in the middle east women receive all their knowledge through patriarchal institutions and male-dominated mediums which taught them to hate "feminism" and all that it stands for. feminism, in this part of the world, is considered to be a virus imported from the west in order to destroy our conservative societies. women are being told everywhere that feminism targets them because they are the mothers who raise future generations, and thus the West is attacking our value systems from within, deceiving women and claiming that they were deprived of their human rights! those men depend on the high percentage of literacy among women and the low level of education, which is also used as a means of brainwash. some women are then ready to parrot the same story in order to win the respect of their society, influencing more women to fall victims to those lies.

thanks for your comment, jessyz. please send me more information about the book (its author, publisher) as I am starting a reference database which will be added to the blog soon.

Fantasia said...

برنامج أنت تسأل والكمبيوتر يجيب

أشكركم جزيل الشكر على هذه اللفتة الكريمة وسعيدة أنكم وجدتم في هذه المدونة مادة ثرية فيها ما يستحق العرض على مستمعي برنامجكم الناجح
بالطبع أرحب باشارتكم للمدونة وما تحتويه من موضوعات. تمنياتي لكم وللبرنامج بالتوفيق وعودة قوية بعد العيد. كل عام وأنتم بخير

خالص تحياتي

Fantasia said...

dear anatomist,

thanks a lot for this brilliant comment. this is exactly what i meant when i said that we were all born feminists. and now you are adding a new point which i totally support about secularism. a human being can not and does not have the right to play god. his/her goodness lies in understanding his position and holding on to his/her humanity. those who defy nature and seek to establish hierarchies to claim authority over others (or in fact, creating Others) who are different in sex, race, color, religion..etc, are mere psychotic freaks.

your support and valuable input are highly appreciated, dear anatomist.

raaasa said...

Funny, just yesterday, I was walking in the sun. A handsome couple in their early thirties passed me, holding hands.

The man was wearing a long-sleeved white t-shirt and across his chest in black was printed "This is what a feminist looks like."

The generous smile on my face powered the rest of my walk.

david santos said...

Hello, Fantasia!
Great posting. Brilliant!!!
I agree to everything what you write in this posting.

David Santos

Fantasia said...

dear raaasa,

lucky you! this is something that i won't aspire to see even in my dreams! besides, couples here don't hold hands any more. [sigh]

still, i also had a smile on my face, reading your comment and imagining i was there. i bet this image would continue to haunt me, a perfect source of inspiration.

thank you.

Fantasia said...

dear david,

how r u? missed your comments.

so glad you liked this post.. you really made my day with your wonderful comment. thanks for your amazing support.

micheal said...

fanta...ur writings r always impressing me
but i would like 2 refer 2 one point only whicjh is the stereotypes
it is a main problem tht we make a steretype 4 anything in egypt whtever it was feminists or any other stuff
nice post as usual ,fanta
my best regards

Fantasia said...

dear micheal,

how are you? i'm glad you liked the post. and I agree that our culture depends a lot on stereotyping.. a shallow and an easy way of dealing with reality, fits our society perfectly.

your post on sexual harassment inspired me to write about the same topic. tell me what you think. keep the inspiration flowing :)

spellz said...

ya salam
u said it all girl

my frnds who love me always say " don't say that u r a feminist they will think u were tortured as a kid"

i had the same accusations of hating guys and all these weird things

marra a guy told me, a feminist after a while will be either a lesbo or will love domination slavery bdsm what ever they call this pervert practice

Fantasia said...

Dear Spellz,

That's the usual stereotypical image, unfortunately. And of course none of those who make those accusations or seem to be concerned that you might be given a bad name for being a feminist.. none of them knows what feminism really is! They don't care to look up its definition even! They prefer just going with the flow and parroting what patriarchy made up in its anti-feminist propaganda.

What makes me so sad is when I see feminists who refuse to refer to themselves using the actual term in order to flee the ready-made judgments and avoid being categorized! That's a big shame.

For me, I admit that feminism has given me a life.. and I owe this philosophy a lot in return. The least I could do is clean its name and expose all the lies made up around it.

Thanks a lot for your comment. Hold your head up high, sis.

Anonymous said...

I confirm. All above told the truth.

"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