Fight for All

So today everyone is talking about Mona El Tahawy's piece in Foreign Policy, and the opinions have varied from complete hate to complete like. My opinion lies in the middle (Buddha style ;)), and although this post isn't really about El Tahawy's article let me just say a thing or two about it which will also lead to my opinion about problems with feminists in general. 

The first thing is that this article is more of a hate speech than shedding light on a serious cultural problem. And I see hate speech as a repulsive force that will stop one from actually seeing the real problem. And although I totally agree that anyone and everyone responsible for the disastrous oppression we're living in should be hated, I don't think these people are El Tahawy's audience. And the way she accuses a whole gender of these disasters will only result in many not wanting to go on with the reading. I know many feminists who would say to hell with anyone who doesn't want to read, we can fight our fight alone without and anyone's help. And my answer is that of course we can! But why make more people be against us (as women who want their rights and not only feminists)? Why not choose the right speech that will prove your point? And by right speech I don't mean sweet talking or anything of that kind, but moderate speech that proves and explains all the oppression we're under. Speech that proves that we are and we will keep fighting for our rights, that we respect every person who believes that we are fighting for our rights even if he is a man and even if the only support he gives us is a moral one. Also by proving that we're fighting for equality rather than superiority, unlike those we fight. Because having more people on your side of the fight by telling the truth in a way that will keep them listening and thinking is always healthy. That is on the fight part...

Second, she says they hate us and here I have three questions: who are they? Who are we? What is hate? Surely not all Muslim and Arab men hate "their" women, also surely not all of them think of women as "theirs", and I don't really care what the percentage is, generalization here is wrong and unacceptable! Also why is she talking in the name of all women? I know men who don't hate me. My father don't hate me, my uncles don't hate me, my male friends don't hate me, someday I'll find my soul mate and he is also going to love me and not hate me. She is free to speak for herself, but I don't accept her speaking in my name and saying something that is completely wrong too! Even if she says that men hate her she'd still probably be wrong, but at least the wrong has to do with her only. But the most important question here is what does she mean by hate? Because hate is a very general word, does she mean by hate that Arab and Muslim men don't like our presence? I don't think so. She might mean that men don't like having daughters? Maybe, I don't know, but that sentence would still be wrong for some very oppressive men. Because surely some oppress for reasons other than "hatred". Whatever she means by hate is not what I think is the cause of sexism or whatever you want to call it. What she calls hatred of women is actually love of power in my opinion. It is love of superiority, of being in control. And just like any animal, a human being will find whoever is weaker than s/he is and will try to control them. Men have been living in control of everything for so many years in many homes in our societies, and the important thing to say here is that many women have accepted this and were happy with it. So feminists who keep saying that this is all hatred need to think again. Also let me make one thing clear, I am NOT justifying any kind of oppression against any person. I just care about seeing things for what they are.

When you see a woman accepting to call her husband سي السيد (as in Mr if you like) and she does it happily. then accusing and pointing fingers at men only is wrong. When you see a ten year old son being told by his mother that he is the "man of the house" when his father is away, you don't point fingers at men. When you see a mother giving her son all chances to control his sister's life, you don't point fingers at men. When you see a mother telling her daughter to always "obey" her husband and put his wants before her needs, you don't point fingers at men. When you see women living with the the idea of "a man's shadow is better than that of a wall" as our Egyptian proverb says, you also don't point fingers at men. But no I am not saying it's the women's fault, or the men's, I see it more as a cultural flaw that has grown with so many generations and was only rarely tried to fix, or fought against if you like. Yes, the amount of oppression and sexism we're living under is disgusting, but so is acting as men or the society is our enemy. Not only this, it will also cause hatred against feminists and feminism. Instead of fighting a society, educate it. When more people understand, more people will help. And yes, many oppressive, power lovers will still exist and will try to fight you and steal your rights, and only those deserve to be fought against and not all men or the whole society.

Speaking of generalizations, haven't you ever met a male feminist? Or at least men who support women's right? Because I have met many male feminists, and there are many famous men who support women's rights; Sayed Darwish is one, Salah Jahin is one, Qasem Amin is definitely one. Today, if you're Egyptian then you know Amr Hamzawy (whether you agree or disagree with his ideologies), he supports women's rights more than many women, including Azza El Garf, whom I have actually stopped myself from dissing by a miracle. That brings us to the many women who are actually against women,  just like this woman and many others who we all meet everyday. If it is so, how can one say that And it actually is not them and us, it shouldn't be. We're one, we shouldn't be enemies, we should be equal, we should equally love and respect each other.

Getting Islam in the story is just disgusting, and saying that Islam is against women is also unfair! Yes many say that some things in Islam are actually against women. And it might be so, yet I might not have the wisdom to see the reason behind these things. Like the inheritance laws for example, why should a man take double the money I take? And of course polygamy! And some justify this by saying that the times when Islam started spreading was different and women were oppressed much more than now and so these things had to come in steps. But why weren't women's equality treated the same way as alcohol? By prohibiting it in steps? I don't know, and I know religions are timeless, but I also know that religions are about morals and should evolve with people's morals. Countries that prohibit polygamy are not against Islam, they see the fruit of its morals and apply it. People who divide their money equally among their sons and daughters also see the morals of religion rather than memorize its words. So it is not Islam's fault, it is that of the people who decide to apply it word for word and not see the deep meaning. And it is the same way with all religions; I remember Honduras's parliament proposing a law against the morning-after pill a few weeks ago, even for those who were raped, because it is considered an abortion and according to the Christian Catholic rules, abortion is prohibited no matter what happens. This law has so many disasters, but I'll focus on the fact that they want to punish someone who might have been raped. Do you think the morals of Catholic Christianity would accept punishing a person who has been raped and a baby who will be born to no father and a mother who will always remember the worst day of her life whenever she sees the baby's face? So again, it is not about religion, it is about how a person applies it. And here let me remind you that saying that all Islamists are against women is a generalization.   

I know how people see feminists in our societies, and I actually think the hatred of many people towards feminists has a strong reason, I have a story that proves my point. Nawal El Saadawi, a very well know feminist who is also looked up to and respected by many many feminists, was a good friend of my uncle and has once met my mother and father at his place. The first thing she has said to my father was was this: "you forced your wife to cover her hair", my father who has never forced me or my mother to do or not do anything answered saying that it was my mother's choice and was none of his business. She then started blaming my mother for accepting to be oppressed by her husband as if she lived with us. And since I come from a home that believes in women's rights and equality more than most homes in here, both my parents kept telling her how wrong she was. But she never stopped... If this is how some feminists act, accusing all men of being oppressive and all women of accepting oppression then how is it possible for anyone to listen to them? It's not feminism that is the problem, it's those kind of feminists.

Last, let me say it one more time that all the problems mentioned by El Tahawy in her piece and by most feminists do exist (also the amount of labeling we face) and are serious problems in our societies and we must face them, but again we must face them in the right way. We have to know to whom the hatred should be addressed, we have to remember that the society is not our enemy, neither are all men. El Tahawy mentioned Samira Ibrahim and her fight against virginity tests, but she have forgotten to mention that her greatest supporter was her father, a man from Upper Egypt. She has also forgotten to mention that her lawyer was a man, and she has forgotten to mention the number of men who went to her support demonstrations. Let the fights be against oppression in general, not just against women's oppression. Dear feminists, please do not forget that we are part of the society and we should fight all oppression in the whole society, not just the one we're suffering from.


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