Hatred in the Name of Advice

A few weeks ago I was walking in the street and an old man, old enough to be my grandfather, stopped for a moment to tell me that “clothes that show the shape of a woman's body take her to hell”. I'm veiled (and I'm not saying that to justify my clothes, if I had been wearing a low cut shirt and a mini skirt it would have still been wrong, in my opinion, for that man to say so or anything at all). The reason I'm saying that I'm veiled is to explain what he means by clothes that show the shape of a woman's body for those of you who don't know. My hair was covered, I was wearing a long sleeve shirt and pants. What that man didn't like is that he could make out to legs and two breasts, although completely covered, he still didn't want to see that they even existed! This is not why I'm writing this post, but I wanted to take this tiny space out of the subject of the post to point out how some people think of a woman's body.

To this man, my body was something disgusting that brings dirt to his pure soul so not only should it be completely covered with clothes, its shape should not even be seen. To this man, and to many others, a woman should wear a “portable tent” in order to go to paradise. Although I am veiled, I have never thought of my body as something that has to be covered and if not would do disasters to the society. I am veiled for religious reasons that I'll keep to myself, but I have never thought of the body of another girl who is not veiled as something wrong. After all, it's her body, and she's free to wear whatever she pleases without someone giving themselves the rights to look, touch, or tell to cover. It is sad and unacceptable how a woman's body is thought of as a public property that everyone should either look or touch or force to cover. It is also sad that the amount of stupidity reaches a point where people think that a body shape has to be hidden, or even skin for that matter. I mean a lady covering herself in whichever way or the lack of it is only her choice and what is even more important than this is that it is only between her and her Creator. I shall now go back to the subject of this post, which is even more of a disaster.

At the time when the old man said his sentence I had too many feelings: I felt that I was sexually harassed, after all he had to look at my body and see that it has a shape before he could leave his comment. I rage for this old man giving himself a right that is not his, a right to invade my personal space and give me a piece of advice that was definitely not welcomed from my side. I also felt rage for his white hair that made me stand there unable to give him a piece of my mind. I was angry with myself for involuntarily respecting him because he was old. The man said his comment and went off, leaving me with too many angry thoughts that stayed with me for days and this is why I have decided to wait until I'm completely calm before writing this post.

This man might have thought he was doing me a favor by advising me, yet he still went off as fast as he could because he knew that if he had stayed he might have not liked my reply. The question here is: is anyone allowed to give anyone a piece of advice? Is advice to be forced, given, or asked for? I surely didn't like a piece of advice from a stranger and I don't understand what or who gave him the right to invade my privacy, personal space, and relationship with God.

There must be some kind of personal relationship between two people before someone allows themselves to advise another, otherwise it's an invasion. The only case that might make this not true is when your advice involves a third party, like asking someone not to throw their garbage in the street or to drive slowly in order not to make an accident and kill someone. But whenever it's personal there has to be a relationship and depending on the strength of a relationship is how personal the advice shall be. For example, your mother/father is allowed to advise about more personal issues than your mother's third cousin.

Advice also shall be forced in a few personal issues by very few people with the strongest relationships. And note that by forcing an advice you don't force someone to do something that they don't want to do, but rather force them to hear words that they don't want to hear. Like your best friend can advise you to stop taking drugs. It has to be something very serious that needs the person to act to allow you to force an advice, in these cases you are the person's savior you do things even if against their will to save them and open their eyes and for all this to happen, you have to have a very strong relationship with the person. In all other cases and with all other people an advice has to be welcomed BEFORE it is given and for this to happen a person shall either ask for it or you shall know your limits of your relationship and your limits of talking on that certain subject before you start advising, otherwise it is an invasion that might hurt the other person and might result in a reply that you wouldn't like.

A few years ago I was also walking in the street when a poor old woman told me this: “pull your shirt up my dear, boys will look”. Yes back then I was very angry too and yes this woman also invaded my personal space, but back then I said OK and did pull my shirt up even though I didn't feel that it needed to be. When I remembered the woman's words after that man's incident I felt a huge difference between both of them. The woman's words felt more genuine; she smiled at me, she said her words and stayed where she were, she called me “my dear” and she felt genuinely worried about me being sexually harassed, she was simply nicer. The man was frowning, talked to me as if I were an infidel, used the idea of hell to scare me and walked off because he knew what he did was wrong.

The man might have done this for my own good in his opinion of course, but it didn't feel this way, it felt that he wanted to show me how disgusting I am. The man said an opinion that he has no proof for, while the woman spoke of a fact that happens hundreds of times everyday. But the most important thing that had made me feel ten times angrier with the man than the woman although both were invasions is that the woman was nice and on my side and the man was mean and spoke as if I were his enemy who hurts his eyes with my body shape. So if you want your advice to be really welcomed add this to it: say it from the heart, choose your words wisely and choose them nicely.


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  2. allow me first to tell you that you have an amazing writing style ! you conveyed what you wanted to say truthfully and effortlessly.
    about the topic of the article, it is a problem that we all go through on a daily basis. an unbelievable invasion of privacy embodied in harassment, or people nosing in in things that are not their business. and that too applies to the TV do3ah like Mostafa Hosny, who talk about women only as walking fetna. that's why its no business of theirs to "advise" us what to wear or how to walk or talk ! even if they're extremely nice. i understand that ur trying to convey what God said to prophet Mohammed , "wa en konta fazzan ghaleez al qalb lanfaddo mn 7awlak" . But they're no prophet :) if fact we shouldn't let ANYONE impose their own twisted points of view just because it will make them feel better.
    Finally , we're colleagues by the way, I'm in the English department, so we should meet soon :)
    fatma XX

  3. Thank you Fatma =).

    I totally agree about the TV Doaahs too, and sadly a big part of the society thinks that way.... We have a long way to go to stop people from thinking of women as a piece of land or a pet which they can choose what to do with.

    I never meant that we should let anyone impose their points of (even if not twisted). It's just the bad and the worse.

    I left the GUC, but we should definitely meet. I still go sometimes =). Thanks for your comment xx


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