Sunday 25 November 2007

Woman Enough.

Most women are told they are not good enough. It's seems to be the overriding injunction, message, that remains with them well into the end of their days...

Sometimes it is said out openly, and sometimes insiduously. It is repeated for years by mama, papa, school teacher, boyfriend, lover, husband and faithfully passed on to the children...

You are not good enough. You are too - tall, short, fat, thin, blonde, brunette, loud, quiet, lazy, overactive, intellectual, not intellectual, political, apolitical, religious, not religious enough...

You are too - sexual, frigid, social, asocial, extroverted, introverted, rigid, loose, tight, responsible, irresponsible, charitable, selfish, polite, rude, emotional, rational...

You are too much - you are not enough. Flip sides of the same coin.

The end result is always the same. You are not accepted, you are not wanted, you are not desired. After all you are a girl, now you are woman. We tolerate you but really deep down we prefer you to be a man or at least asexual. A non-gender. Anything, but don't bother us with your otherness...

Sure we need your uterus to reproduce, or your vagina because after all you are supposed to fulfill a certain function, but please do not push beyond this.

And the classical line- after all I did marry you did I not ? And, you are carrying my child, so be a Mother.
And we all know what Mothers represent in the collective psyche - An asexual being. Who wants to bed his own mother, apart from Oedipus ?
Or, I did desire you for an hour, a month, a year... and I can easily sow my precious seeds elsewhere if I wish and if you push too long and too hard...So don't push and be grateful.

Of course it's almost never said out loud the way I exposed it above, but it does come pretty close. Don't you agree ?

Almost every single woman, carries this burdensome message on her shoulders, carries it everywhere she goes, from her cradle to her grave.

Whatever her race, her nationality, her ethnicity, her religious adherence, her class, her age...The message is faithful to her and...she is faithful to it too.

The message is first "lovingly" given to her by her own mother, confirmed by her father and brothers if she has any, then society handles the rest.

Society is very good at handling the rest, since the "family" did a wonderful job to start with.

In a desperate attempt, the Self needing to emerge and shine, because that is its primary "God" given role, is constantly thwarted...The life energy turns inwards, against its owner...

It then comes as no surprise that "statistics" tell us that "mental illness" affects more women than men. That more women fall into debilitating depressions, suffer anxiety disorders, suffer from borderline personality disorders, are anorexic/bulimic, are addicted to shopping or relationships, develop psychosomatic illnesses, are more prone to accidents...compared to our "wonderful" men.

Freud, the neurotic jewish idiot, believed that Hysteria was rooted in the Uterus, hence the etymological connection. Hysterectomy a way to eradicate hysteria?
Most gynecologists still secretly believe that. And that poor female body will produce exactly what it was fed. Feed it hysterical notions and it will produce sick uteruses waiting to be removed...

And off you go for a hysterectomy -that should cure it, she is told. Or so they believe. But then the message moves to other typically female organs.

How many times when treating female patients with breast cancer, and you ask them what took place prior to the illness and 9 times out of 10 they will relate an incident that has directly affected that poor femininity of theirs.

OK, these may be extreme manifestations of a thwarted Self, of an energy that turns against its owner. There are other manifestations too, slightly less dangerous and appear more benign when in fact they are not.

There are all these "mental" manifestations I spoke of earlier on and on which a whole psychiatric and pharmaceutical industry were built.

Then there is also the whole fashion industry that caters for women with no sense of self.

Then add to that, the cosmetic industry. If I just buy the right lipstick or the right cream, maybe, just maybe...Or if my hair looks like this model promoting this shampoo, just maybe...

Then there is of course the last recourse, the plastic surgeon. Face lift, eyebrow lift, tummy tuck, nose job, liposuction - suck the flab, lift the boobs, augment them, plump those lips, laser, botox, siliconize....Anything.

Notice the words. Sucking, tucking, lifting, filling, plumping - what do these words remind you of`? And if you can't make the association or connection, think twice.

Doctor change me and make me more acceptable, more loveable, more desirable...
Lift me, suck my flab, fill me, plump me, tuck me...

Any better now?

Or at the psychiatrist's office or the charlatan magician or card, coffee cup, reader. What are these women saying?

Listen to me, recognize me, affirm me, help me...

And what does the plastic surgeon, charlatan psychic, psychiatrist and shopping mall have in common?
They will lift her up, and tell her you are fine and will be fine. But do buy this latest dress, or lift this boob or take that anti-depressant or ... remove your uterus...

Milleniums of that message - very much ingrained in our vortex, has become part of our neurons, printed in our cells.

Revolutions have come and gone. You burned bras and walked naked, you took the pill and fucked your head senseless, you had the nose job, the boob job and the liposuction, you bought the right clothes, you also married and reproduced and became a good mother and wife and yet...the message is still there. How come?

Some of you flirted with madness, drugs, alcohol, and bad men, seeking the ultimate lift me up in abuse and yet the message is still come?

You have tried every single psychic, self help book, anti-depressant, tranquilizer, tarot reader, sheikh, priest, rabbi or monk, you prayed and pleaded, you burned candles, chanted, and burned incense and yet the message is still come?

No magic, no therapy, no surgery, no religious figure will ever help you unless YOU first recognize that "primary" message and CHANGE it.

I am urging to wage a revolution against the message, a ruthless revolution...

I am urging to pluck it out from your cells and from your neurons...I am asking to behead it, burn it and banish it into a forever exile...



Do you get it ?

Now, you be nice enough to this Arab, Muslim, Iraqi, woman whose roots date back a thousand centuries and whose country - even you, women faithful to the "message", have helped in raping and destroying.

Be grateful to Her for teaching you a lesson in how to be.

So BE.

Painting: Iraqi Artist, Mahoud Ahmed.

Tuesday 20 November 2007

From Her...

This is a continuation on my previous post "Outcasts."
I am in a writing mood, so I guess you will have to catch up with me...if you wish that is.

There is something very "irritating" about men in general, and Arab men in particular, and am not known to mince my words either...

Maybe "irritating" is an understatement...

But again, I shall concentrate on Arab men, as Western men do not interest me much, from a sociological point of view, that is ...They have their own women to deal with. I am not sure what Western women are all about, though.

And no, am no longer an internationalist, for what I deem to be obvious reasons. So I don't really care about...Westerners.

So for the sake of "political conveniency", I shall stick to Arab men.

Some may argue that it is not the time for "it.". But then, they have always argued that it is not the time for "it."

For centuries they have been saying precisely that - " Not the time for it."

There was the Ottoman empire, then Western Colonialism, then the birth of the Zionist state, then the incessant Imperial Design on our part of the world, so for them it is never the right time...

And more and more women are being pushed to the margins being the "vulnerable" group they are deemed to be...I mean look at the American occupation of Iraq, 70% of those in a precarious situation are women. So for how long shall we keep it for "later" ?

Now is the time. Now or never...

I have this recurrent fantasy, I want to share with you. That of taking every Arab man I come across, hold him from his collar or beard, as the case may be, and violently shake him...

Sometimes, the fantasy goes a little overboard, and I see myself slapping him across the face, nothing nasty really, just wanting to wake him up from his self imposed ideological torpor...

A couple of slaps acrosss the face and my shouting : "Now you look at and listen to me...for a change."

And in the fantasy I would go on and say:

"For centuries, I listened to you...I heard everything you had to say. I felt your every mood, your ups and downs...your monologue stories, your problems, your burdens, your responsibilities...I have sympathized and on more than one occasion, I have even carried them for you...Now it's enough. Now you listen to me for a change for I have something important to tell you...

I've always had something important to tell you, but you never really cared. Your mother said you are the center of the universe and you believed her.

I was told to see you as a god, but you have failed me over and over...then I discovered God and saw that you are only a statue... Now I worship none other than on the other hand, can go on and pretend to be sure your mother will agree...but for me you are only a idol...And I have learned from the prophets to smash statues...Yours.

The ones you have erected in your name and in your own image...perpetuating the myth. I do not care for myths. Am after the Truth and you are part of the fable...

For many years I believed you. For many years, I listened to you. For many years I obediently observed your rules...Even when I was a so-called revolutionary, I submitted to your versions...Today it is different. You might as well get used to the difference...

A more powerful army has come forth, an equally nasty army and even nastier has come forth...And you are gone. And we are left behind and for those of you who have survived it, I am tired of holding your own banners...

I look around me and there is no one...No banner, no flag, no presence.
I was told to shut up and listen. I was told you are the center. But now, there is no one. And the center is gone. There is only a circumference...

I am suddenly told, do it alone. I am suddenly left alone. Suddenly the family is gone. Suddenly the "pillar of strength" has crumbled in front of my eyes...

Now what? Who is your spokesperson? Who will you quote?

I am suddenly asked to do it alone when for decades you told me I could not, should not...

What do you have to say now ? What do you have to say aside from your usual judgmental, crossed legged positions...what do you have to say now that I am forced to sell "it". Sell your slogans, sell your pride, sell your honor?

What do you have to say now that I have to do the unthinkable, the unspoken?

Where are your judges, your theologians, your tribal chiefs...?

Why have you gone so silent? Why have you become so sheepish?

Where are you today o' mighty ones? Where is your honor, your virtue, your own mothers?

Where are you ?

Why has your voice gone mute...when I was shouting from behind bars...

Why has yours gone silent, when I was there pleading ?

And the little you have left, the little you can voice, you still manage to crush me with it...instead of directing it where it ought to go...

You can only flex your muscles here...

I pity you, yet at the same time, I see you have brought it onto yourselves...somehow, somewhere...

Had you listened to me, maybe just would have not felt my hot fiery Wrath.

Let that become a lesson for all else to learn from".

Painting : Iraqi female artist, Betool Fekaiki.


Am sure all societies are sick, this is how they manage to survive this long. Manage to survive without real upheavals or major changes.
A common characteristic of mental illness and which acts like a safety valve too, is DENIAL and all societies are guilty of it.
Americans are known for having elevated the art of denial into a sublime form of worship...But Americans and the West do not concern me. I don't give a fuck about them - to be honest with you.
Just a reaction to centuries of Western -centrism, if you ask me.
Am concerned about the Middle East - the Arab world in particular. Israel can go to hell. Iran too. Turkey I have no quarrels with. So the "Levant" is my area of speciality.

I have studied these societies for as long as I can remember. And social scientists are not a very well accepted breed in the Arab World. Especially not critical ones.

Mind you anyone who rocks the boat a little is severly reprimanded. The castigation takes on many forms. There is the classical one- prison. Or exclusion from the group. Or disinheritance from the family. Or moral harassment from the society at large.

That is why writers, artists, poets and the rest who have leanings towards any form of individuality/ism are always marginalized. They think critically. Big sin. Never do that in the Arab World.

Yes of course, you can be critical of governments and keep repeating how corrupt they are and how dictatorial the regimes are ...but God forbid you should be critical of the societal norms, the given beliefs, the family structure, the religious discourse, the sexual taboos, the male-female relationship, the double standards... God forbid you should ever do that. Immediately it all becomes very "haram" and you are immediately an outcast. The clan must survive.

So yes, Middle Eastern societies have their share of denial and exhibit it differently from Western societies. They have not elevated it to the sublime form like the Americans, they just sweep under the carpet...

Anything that is slightly out of place or not in line with the general consensus and off it goes under the carpet... Nice and clean from the outside but rotting away in dust from the inside.

Arab Societies, the ones I know at least, are obsessed with maintaining the appearance of normality. Stand upright and keep on sweeping sort of attitude.

Their main obsession is "what will people think or say" if they find out...

It's as if each unit of this society, the family unit, the neighborhood, the area, is constructed in such a way to keep this "balance" of normality.

Since the group or collective concept primes over the individual, the duties and obligations are almost always outweighing the rights...

Since the collectivity is more important than the individual, this latter is virtually non existent unless he/she becomes part of the collectivity.

One way to do it, one entry "passport" is through marriage and having kids.
Marriage confers the status of "safety" i.e if you are married then you are part of the group. From there on, you can build your own little society that will merge with the greater one...

If you are not married for X reason, then you will alway be an outcast, for you have not contributed to that balance.

It does not matter how brilliant you may be or how much you have achieved...none of that matters. You are an outcast.

And if you are a woman, then there is something definitely wrong with you. You will never be given that "passport." A divorcee has a "laisser passer" though...but no passport. Like a refugee status, a travel document but no nationality.

The "norm" is ever so important. There is a norm for men and a norm for women.
There is a norm for singles and a norm for married ones. There is a norm for upper class and a norm for lower class. If you figure out what the norm is and stick to it, then you are ok. If by chance you trespass, transgress the norm, then you are screwed. It really is as simple as that.

Of course the more a traditional society, the stricter the norms. But it is safe to say that norms whatever the exact nature of the society you are dealing with, can be found across the board...with varying "intensity."

To be fair, the collectivity has also its advantages, things I have touched upon before, there is no sense of alienation like in the West, there is less of a problem of an existential solitude, there is a cohesive network that can act like a cushion should you fall...But then there is a price tag attached to it. Your individuality.
And especially if the latter entails breaking away from the norm- Your support diminishes or simply vanishes away.

You become an outcast. Not necessarily a physical outcast, but definitely a moral, social one...

Having been marginalized from the norm, you search for your place on the margins...

The reader needs to understand that all of the above is not done in a forcibly literal sense, but very much in a symbolic form. Which really amounts to the same - non acceptance.

Acceptance hinges on several factors...And if you happen to be a woman, then the list gets longer and more stringent...the do's and dont's of acceptance.

Will write about that in the next episode...So help me God.

Wednesday 14 November 2007

The insidious Fascism of the Western Left

This is not about the Anti-War movement nor mainstream American "Left." per se. These two are oxymorons and are effectively non-existent.

This is more prompted by an article I read on the Yugoslave experiment i.e the Balkanization of Yugoslavia and the role of Nato, the UN, U.S and International Tribunal for War crimes in the balkanization of that country.

The article in question was published in the Monthly Review. It's a long one and well worth reading. The authors obviously spent a great deal of time in researching facts and in providing a very good account of the wilfull partition of that country.
Providing good background information on the run up to the ultimate destruction of what was formerly known as Federal Yugoslavia.

The article is overtly pro-Serbian and sympathetic to Slobodan Milosevic, portraying him as the patriotic Yugoslav who was ultimately framed by the U.S, NATO, Carla Del Ponte, the Media, the U.N ...

I have no political objections to the content of the article except for a few facets which I will dwell on because I think they are important in shedding light on the undercurrent discourse of Western Marxists/Leftists.

The undercurrent ideological assumptions and pinnings of Western Marxists/Leftists when it comes to Islam and Muslims in particular.

And this is the point I will be focusing on - namely the use of descriptive language revealing the true ideological mind frames of these Marxist/Leftist authors.

This is not a trial of these particular authors per se, but rather using this article to point out a greater truth about the Western Left and their cultural/ideological position vis à vis Islam, Muslims and I may add Arabs.

Even though they try hard and go to great lengths in hiding it (their position)through the usual politically correct jargon so as to not come out as overtly racist or should I say colonialist?

However and thankfully so, the devil does hide in the detail. And it is on this particular little/big devil I shall be focusing now.

Back to the article. And as I said I shall be focusing on the use of language here not so much the actual content.

When discussing the complicity of the International community and its agencies, in pressing charges for genocide against the Serbian leader, the authors discuss the role of language and imagery and the inflation of numbers through deliberate fabricated exaggerations.

They further state that both ethnic groups (amongst others), the Croatians and Bosnian Muslims have contributed to the above.

- the Croatians and their officials, known for their ethnic cleansing of Serbs, armed with an ideology of ultra chauvinism bordering on fascism.

- the Bosnian Muslims and their officials for greatly exaggerating the death toll of Bosnian Muslims and the allegations of the systematic raping campaign of Bosnian Muslim women.

When discussing the Croats, the authors referred to a fascist ideology, an ultra chauvinistic idelogy of secessionism which was the ideological pillar for the Croatian separatist movement.

When discussing the Bosnian Muslims, the authors referred to a quote by Ali Izetbegovic in the 70's where he allegedly stated that Islam cannot coexist with any other forms of nationalism. And I quote.

"Similarly, in Alija Izetbegovic’s Islamic Declaration, first circulated in 1970 but republished in 1990 for his presidential campaign, his major theme is what he called the "incompatibility of Islam with non-Islamic systems." "There is neither peace nor coexistence between the 'Islamic religion’ and non-Islamic social and political institutions," Izetbegovic argued. "Having the right to govern its own world, Islam clearly excludes the right and possibility of putting a foreign ideology into practice on its territory. There is thus no principle of secular government and the State must express and support the moral principles of religion."

The authors also note the numbers of Bosnian Muslims massacred were grossly exaggerated but they do admit that the number of Bosnian Muslims was twice as higher as that of Serbs but definitely not the alleged 200'000 Muslims killed.

Then the authors, slip in a seemingly innocuous sentence when describing "Bosnian Muslim Officials" by adding, these latter are not known for their "scruples."

Of course, we know that Bosnian Muslims contrary to the Croats were not engaged in the ethnic cleansing of the Serbs. Now whether, the Serbs have purposefully or not, ethnically cleansed the Bosnian Muslims is a subject for another debate. This is not my point of contention here.

I want to discuss the use of language alone. And this is where the "discourse" becomes "interesting."

The Croatians and their leader Tujdman are portrayed as a nationalistic, separatist, chauvinistic, bordering on fascism bunch. The reader assumes - OK another bunch of ultra chauvinistic separatists bunch. There are no ethical implications as to their or their leader's moral status. There is no explicit value judgement on their morality so to speak nor on their being Christians.

But notice the following. When it comes to the Bosnian Muslims and their leader, the authors make it a point to:

- downplay the fact that Bosnian muslims were looked down upon by the other religious communities in Yugoslavia and viewed as lesser beings.

- downplay the fact that the systematic rape of Bosnian women by the Nato Forces,UN Peace keeping forces, the Serbs and the Croats, did take place precisely because of the above perception of Muslims.

- downplay the fact or at least do not elaborate further on what they themselves asserted - notably that the number of Bosnians killed were double that of the Serbs.

Not only do they fail to address the above, the authors then go and insert a quote by the Bosnian "muslim" leader as to the incompatibility of Islam with any other forms of rule and then go and insert another bit "Official Bosnian Muslim leaders are not known for their scruples."

Now the reader is left with two distinct and interrelated messages.

1) Islam is also another form of Fascism incapable of co-existing within a modern political State.

2) Bosnian separatism is not due to Bosnian chauvinism like in the case of the Croats but due to Islam.

3) Furthermore there is a moral qualification which the authors did not use when discussing Croats and Slovenians, i.e "Bosnian Muslim Leaders are known for their lack of scruples."

One is left with the clear impression that these Bosnian muslims and am stressing Muslims as opposed to Bosnians.

- lied about the systematic rape of their muslim women despite the thousands of cases recorded.
- that they were not victims at all.
- that their ideology, i.e their religion Islam is a fascist one.
- and of course the final "coup de grâce" - that they have no scruples i.e are basically dishonest.

When comparing the explicit analysis for both Croats and Bosnian Muslims, one can clearly see that the former are simply considered an ultra chauvinistic bunch and the latter more than just chauvinistic - they are also devious with no scruples.

The reason I have used this article as an example, is because it provides in my opinion a very good sample of the Western Marxist/Leftists perception of Muslims and Islam.

I have heard many Western Marxists describing Islam as fascistic, strangely echoing the most reactionary right wingers like Bush and Co.

I have observed time and time again, the old COLONIAL mind set that has infected the best intentioned of Western Marxists, carrying the same patronizing colonialistic, imperialistic condescending tones.

I have seen time and time again the all too obvious CULTURAL racism of Western Marxists seeping through again and again in their jargon, essays, speeches...

It as if Western Marxists/Leftists start from the basic premise that they alone hold the ultimate truth, applicable across the board to; all situations, all people, all countries, all cultures... A universal Truth to be handed down to those "lesser people" issued from the feudal "Oriental" mode of Production with their accompanying retrograde ideological, opium-like, superstructure - religion and specifically, Islam.

I am yet to see such scathing assumptions about other religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity or God forbid, Judaism which seems to be sacrosanct to Marxists and Leftists for personal, political and historical reasons.

Marxists and Leftists did align themselves with so called Christian Liberation Theology in Latin America. They did not find in Christianity the seeds of Fascism.
Marxists and Leftists did align themselves with so called "Leftist Zionists" and did not see in Judaism any forms of chauvinistic racism or fascism. Marxists have supported Indian parties with nationalistic/chauvinistic agendas but did not see in those any form of Hindu fascism.

But lo and behold, when it comes to Islam; Allah, his prophet and his Book- you hear the term Islamo-Fascism surging its head again. It as if "Mein Kampf" is being revived in Arabic.

I believe that Western Marxists/Leftists have an inherent belief/view that Islam as opposed to other religions is basically a retrograde, reactionary ideology that places it apart and differently from other religions or should I say ideological superstructures.

Is it any wonder that "local" Marxist movements, who for the most part have been greatly influenced by an identical Western/Colonialist/Racist mind set in the Islamic and Arab world, have totally failed to capture the hearts and minds at a grass root level?

Is it any wonder that Islam and Islamic theology and however you may wish to view it, has filled that political vacuum as an alternative liberation theology- and even though it may come in different political colorings?

Yet, and this is where the political opportunism of Western Anti-Imperialists, Marxists/Leftists comes in.

Take for instance the Resistance Liberation movement in Iraq. It clearly has an Islamic coloring to it yet it has and will continue to foil the Imperalistic design.
How will our Western Marxists/Leftists qualify this Resistance movement?

What will they have to say about Islam that has managed to gather more willpower and fighting spirit than dead old Karl Marx in putting an end to the Imperialistic design?

How would they qualify it? Fascist/Reactionary/Retrograde?

It is high time that Marxists/Leftists start reviewing their own cultural and ideological assumptions which for the most part are nothing but ugly relics from a Western Imperalistic Colonialistic Racism.

Reading "Culture and Imperialism" by E.Said would be a good start, in my humble opinion. And I will provide a further bibliography if necessary.

In conclusion, and this is one of the most ironic parts in my opinion, the authors finished off their article by saying:

"We find it interesting that in the West, the million or more Iraqi deaths from the "sanctions of mass destruction" and the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths that have followed the 2003 U.S. invasion are never presented as "genocide"

Of course the authors who were prompted by writing this article in defense of Slobodan Milosevic and the accusations leveled against him for Genocide (rightly or wrongly is besides the point) do mention the Iraqi Genocide but do not utter one word concerning Saddam Hussein who has suffered a worse fate than Slobodan Milosevic when it has come to charges of Genocide - charges based on grossly fabricated lies that no one or only a very few have bothered to unveil and dissect.

Is it maybe because Saddam Hussein is an Arab and a Muslim too?

Oddly enough, the title of this article on which I have based this critique is

"The Dismantling of Yugoslavia: A Study in Inhumanitarian Intervention ...and a Western Liberal-Left Intellectual and Moral Collapse."

By the way, one of these co-authors, E.Herman, has also co-authored the famous Noam Chomsky's "Manufacturing Consent."

Just a detail, right?

I shall make sure to retain and remember that last sentence and wear it like a key around my neck - "The Intellectual and Moral Collapse." of the Western "Left."

And it is not recent either, this moral and intellectual collapse. It dates as far back as the first Western imperial, colonial design.

Thursday 8 November 2007

The Enemy Within (2)

I have a thousand things to do, but simply can't be bothered...I am not very domestic. I guess I've been badly trained.

Is that not what they call pets you keep at home ? Domestic pets - well groomed and trained domestic pets.

I absolutely find no joy in scrubbing floors and dusting...Nor do I find any joy in washing dishes, or cleaning windows...

My joy comes in listening to music, writing and reading...amongst a few other things.

But domestic work is not one of them. And I keep forcing myself to do the unnameable-housework.

I know it sounds rather kooky but I do pray asking "God" to make me do it, tomorrow,

But, I do clean my bathroom and kitchen daily. These are two spots in the house that have to be spotless always. So am a maniac of some sorts...

The rest is the "strict minimum." And even that is too much for me. I need a housekeeper for sure and a secretary to file the tons of paper I've been carrying around, nearly all my life.
And this is what will remain of this adventure called life - papers. So fucking surreal don't you think ?

Anyways, getting back to domestic work. I have always admired and envied a little those female friends who tell me "I absolutely love doing it" - housework that is. Or "It doesn't bother me one bit - am a cleanliness freak" of course implying if I, Layla, don't do it as regularly as them, then am not clean. Which is bullshit of course.

My house is very clean. It is a miracle that is it so clean bearing in mind that I don't clean it like a freak - except for the bathroom and kitchen, that is.

Take for instance this story. Some weeks ago, I had to go and visit a relative of a relative who was in hospital. She died since. Nothing to do with my visit though.

Auntie Nadeera. She was a lovely woman. She was over 70 and had diabetes, high blood pressure, a heart condition, the whole works. She also had the most amazing sense of humor and she laughed till the last minute - before slipping into a coma from which she never woke up.

She had lost her husband when very young and had one child and she never remarried.
And she was also from the "old school", very veiled but very cool about "it."

"It" meaning sex. Not that she engaged in it but she talked about it and laughed her head off which was kind of refreshing compared to the stuck up, puritanical female relatives gathered around her hospital bed.

So I visited her and she was sleeping, so I went to the adjacent room where all these female crows were seated, drinking coffee and chatting away.

These things happen in hospitals here. Everything is an occasion to gather and chat even if the person next door is about to die... I guess it makes it less lonely - this business of dying.

So, as I said, I went and sat there amongst these female crows.

Knowing Auntie Nadeera's background and foreseeing the kind of people who would visit her, I made sure that my clothes were very conservative. I wore a pair of blue jeans and on top one of those long Indian tunics that covered the o'so lusted after contours...

Seems it's not only men who lust after contours, women do too, in their own perverted of ways.

So I sat there, like a "good girl". All the women except me were veiled. And not any kind of veil, I may add.

The veil that looks so fucking ugly...And it consisted of a scarf tightly knotted right under the chin, none of that nice colorful mousseline veils, that are soft to the touch...No, it was some ugly scarf knotted so tight, right under the chin...
And with this heat, a long thick coat, tightly buttoned right up to the neck, and with this heat, thick socks so no one can admire their fucking toes...

They were not Iraqis by the way - my only relief.

One of the females offered me a coffee which I graciously accepted when all I really wanted to do is run out of there. But I also really wanted to see Auntie Nadeera and give her some of my affection just in case I never see her again...

The "women" were chatting about domestic chores, cleaning and coooking...And how wonderful it is to be a domestic housewife who fulfilled her duties and kept the house tidy and clean for her husband and masha'Allah what husbands they must be!

And lo and behold, the subject suddenly turned to trousers. Women wearing trousers.

One of the crows, let's call her Salma, 50 something, perspiring under her layers of puritanism, and she was the meanest of all crows for someone calling herself a very pious muslim...

She looked at me whilst talking about trousers "Trousers in Islam are HARAM" and she stressed the word "Haram" with clenched jaws and clenched teeth..."Women who wear trousers will go to hell..."

I felt a charge of evil energy fall upon my lap and onto my trousers...I nearly spilled my coffee...I felt I was already in Hell.

I gathered whatever calm I had left in me and said "There is nowhere in the Koran that says trousers are Haram, this is just an invention - a bida'a, besides if the body is covered, where is the Haram in all of that?"

"Are you teaching me my religion?" She retorted in a strident voice.

"No, but you seem to be teaching me mine" I replied still trying to gather my calm.

"I am telling you it's haram even if a woman pretends to wear a tunic over it."

Obviously, this woman was picking on me and using religion, her brand of religion.
She reminded me of the many men I come across who do exactly the same thing.
Hide their neurosis behind their religion and their beards...She hid hers behind her ugly scarf, buttoned up coat and thick socks...

One of the other crows whose name was Nawal, sensing that this will go out of control, changed the subject.

"Tell me Salma, how is your son doing in Amerrrikaa?"

Salma's face lit up. I was no longer the focus of her meanness - now that the subject of her favorite phallus came up - Her darling of a son in Amerrrikaa.

"Ya Sobhan Allah, Allah yehersso. (Praise to God may he be preserved), Yi'bor Umo, dakheel oyono (may he bury his mother's heart, may God preserve his eye sight), Wallahee he is the best...But poor thing he can't get a residence in Amerrrikaa, you know the Green Card..So I told him, Ya Ibnee, (my son) marry one of those American women for the card, even if she's no muslim, it's OK...and when you come back here, I will find you the best virgin ever...Ya Allah, Nawal, why did you remind me of him, my heart will break now..."

Then Salma, wiped a few good motherly tears and sighed...

Need I say more? I think not.

The Enemy Within (1)

I still can't get over this "flu." Very weird indeed.

I was fine, perfectly fine then I met Luma for a drink. Two hours later, I was ill.
I am sure she gave me the bad, "Evil Eye."

She said "Oooh! You look so pretty today." She said that and did not touch wood or say Masha'Allah or anything. Am sure it's Luma's evil eye.

Mind you, when anyone compliments her, she is quick to say "touch wood" or "Mash'Allah" and adds "Ya Allah, please don't give me the evil eye, I have enough problems."

I really don't know what her problems are. She has a very good job, she is pretty, she is well off, she has tons of friends, she owns her own house, she is always travelling somewhere, she wears the best clothes, goes to the best spas, makes sure her jewelry is real and shows it... So frankly I don't see where her real existential problems lie.

And it's not like she is depressed or anything, or has lost a parent, relative, lover or friend. And it's not like she lost her country either.

She is the type of a female that asks "How are you?" and doesn't even wait for the reply. She goes on her familiar litany and creates problems when there are none. Makes her feel more important, I guess.

I told her that Iraq was a wound for me that will never heal. She brushed it off and changed the subject immediately. She didn't care what happens next door to her, she will never care. Yet she calls herself a feminist or pro women's rights.
I never really understood that.

I guess it is very fashionable to be a feminist these days. It's à la Mode in the Arab World. Most of it remains on a bullshit, blah blah, level, though.

You have these conferences, where women go to the hairdresser first and then join the feminist meeting talking about women's right. They make sure their nails are well polished, the attire correct, even if they want to look "alternative" like "cheveux dans le vent" and a thousand bangles kind of alternative...hahahaha. That's funny.

Sounds more like a coffee club to me than a feminist conference/meeting.

And then invariably they will talk about their kids - how they fared at school and what university to send them to, abroad of course or they will talk about their failed love affairs and how all men are a disgrace. I think I can relate to that last point but will not add "all" but "most".

Actually, I think they are a disgrace too. So fucking petty, one could die.

Frankly, I've never felt the "warmth" of that great Sisterhood myself.

I find being around women quite boring, most of the time. And truth be told, they are way too jealous and envious of one another. That too, I never really understood.
I find that to be a total waste of time.

And of course, since am not "plugged" into that kind of "female energy", I am on the receiving end of their Evil Eyes...

Saturday 3 November 2007

Loyalties, Jihad & Terrorists...

I like listening to Opera. I am listening to Pavarotti right now.
I know some think that he was too commercial. I don't care what they think.

Everything has become so commercialized anyways. What does it matter if one opera singer with an amazing voice joins the club as well?
In any event, the guy is dead. So bless him for what he has left us with...

Is that not the ultimately important thing at the end of the day - what we leave behind...what kind of a Legacy.

What kind of legacy will the misogynists, sectarian, fundamentalist, "Muslim" and Arab men leave behind ?

I actually feel uncomfortable using the word "muslim" because I feel they are an insult to Islam. They have used Islam in the most vicious, ugly of ways...against guess whom ? Women of course.

I need to make an important clarification here --

I am not talking about the legitimate right to Self Defense in the face of external aggression. I am not talking of people who take on a Islamic cloak or who dig into Islamic thought to find the right ideological weapons to fight external aggression.
That, in my opinion is a legitimate right.

Am sure if a crusade is equally being carried out against Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists...They too will search in their sacred texts to find the means to fight the external aggression and neutralize the opponent.

I am not actually referring here to Jihad and the concepts of Jihad as such. Since I find Jihad or Self Defense - because this is what Jihad is in its "warrior" sense - a legitimate right for any opppressed people.

Would anyone call a guerilla fighter a Jihadist/terrorist? Not likely. Yet this is what a guerilla fighter is - a Jihadist. A Resister

This deliberate amalgamation between the right to self defense i.e Jihad and Terrorism is serving a two fold purpose :

1) neutralize any form of Resistance and

2) alienate any support for a resistance movement by purposeful violent actions against innocent civilians. I think Al-Qaeda has done a beautiful job in that sense.

But leaving Al-Qaeda aside, and sticking to the concept of Jihad/Resistance, I have noticed that people carry way too many misconceptions around this word Jihad - especially that it is an Arabic word and an Islamic concept.

The misconception comes from the deep fear and racism that the West holds towards both Arabs and Muslims and in particular Arab Muslims.

And I am a proponent of the belief that both this fear and hatred are deeply embedded in the Western psyche since the days of the Crusades.

Having made this clarification, I would really like to move on to the subject I have been reflecting a lot upon, during these past months.

And this is purely from my perspective - that of an Arab Muslim Woman.

Where I find my loyalties really mixed up is when I consider two things.

a) The particular or should I say peculiar "Islamic nature" of these Resistance movements. I use the word peculiar because I find their overall stand vis à vis women not only off putting and very alienating but also very un- Islamic or anti- Islam. Hence a resistance within myself towards this brand of "Islamic" Resistance.

b) What will a post-liberated Arab country look like and more importantly what role will be assigned to women.

Seeing the nature and contents of the current Islamist discourse especially when it comes to Women, I am left very wary.

Will I personally, as a woman feel liberated after their rightful liberation from the external oppressor ? I am not so sure.

I have a feeling the liberation of any Arab country carried out through an Islamist agenda of that sort- will prove to be oppressive towards Arab-Muslim women.

I already consider the current societies quite oppressive towards Arab women, let alone a society liberated under this particular banner of Islamism

Why do I find them oppressive ?

It is NOT because of Islam as such, but because of Patriarchal interpretations of Islam - an exclusively male interpretation. And this one is a particularly nasty brand of Patriarchy...

Even though I am not AGAINST the concept of Patriarchy in the broad sense.
Just as I am not FOR the concept of Matriarchy in the broad sense either.

For me these concepts are basically useless - but necessary to understand certain dynamics.

Again, it is NOT because I find Arab men particularly more oppressive than let's say Western men. I believe Western men are and can be as oppressive if not more -- even if their brand of oppression may look different but ultimately brings about the same results.

I believe it is a conjunction of a patriarchal culture, combined with a male interpretation of the Sacred text, crowned with a personal psychological narrative that see the female element as 1) a potential danger and therefore 2) something to be controlled.

I do not believe that women, who happen to the mothers of these men, are absolved of any of responsibility either.

I actually believe that they have played an incremental nefarious role in sustaining, maintaining and perpetuating this pillar of Misogyny made of all the above elements.

And for me Misogyny is Terrorism.

And that is why, following my previous post -- I do not only consider myself a non feminist but I also do not believe that women are the eternal victims, the feminists portray them to be.

I will expand more later...

Thursday 1 November 2007

Detachment & Solidarity

It's quite hard finding that place for me alone.
I am thinking of moving this new blog to a far away place - an island of freedom, away from comments and expectations...
But we - this one and the other blog seemed to be stuck together like two siamese twins...One is probably the facet for the other. And vice versa.

I have been thinking quite a lot about this internet blogging business. I have doubts as to whether it can bring about any real change. It feels more like a public space for rantings, ramblings and silent cries...a space for people who have always wanted to say it and now has come the golden opportunity.

I am not only referring to politics here. I am also talking about all these other shadows that are let loose behind the safety of a monitor. The anonymous shadows that plague us in reality and have led many of us to where we are today.

Female and male shadows alike.

Interestingly, women do not fare any better when it comes to "solidarity."
A word too misused in my opinion.

I have come to the firm conviction that true solidarity both personal and collective can only come out of Love. Not principles, not ideas, not politics but Love.

Hence, women who are incapable of loving themselves, are also incapable of true female solidarity.

More on the subject of women...later.

A Tough Start...

This is proving more difficult than I imagined.
It's as if there are certain "red lines," I am not supposed to cross, transgress.

On the one hand, I am probably expected to continue fighting the fight - for the most part alone. My other blog is completely devoted to Iraq, even though that was not my only intention. I guess starting this one is an attempt on my part to affirm my own territory, my own space...Only for me. Hence no remarks will be allowed.

The other thing that feels like a stumbling block and which am hoping to turn into a stepping stone - is that old voice in my head that keep repeating in an automated fashion "what will people say"

Again, it feels as if I have stumbled on some big taboo that I need to break down, or chisle away at, sculpt it and change its forms hoping that the final product, will be a piece of personal art.

I am not particularly aiming at being understood. This does not really matter to me anymore. Nor am I particularly interested in having this personal "piece of art" admired or praised.

I have gone beyond that...or at least I hope I have.

Yes, this is definitely going to be my own turf.