feminism

Modern Comedy: Funny or downright tasteless?

In such a harsh world, what better way to ignore it all than by laughing all your troubles away? When I’m feeling blue and need a pick-me-up, I know the first thing I do is watch The Cosby Show- one of my favorite childhood sitcoms that I stayed up until 9pm to watch on Nick At Nite. Back then, staying up until 9pm was a huge thing…it also meant that anything after 9pm was considered inappropriate for children. I know you’re probably thinking, “but really…The Cosby Show? Inappropriate?”. Watching that show today, there are a very scarce innuendos that a child shouldn’t hear but the great thing about it is that if a child didn’t know, he/she wouldn’t understand the joke. Also, there was always an underlying life lesson in every episode despite how “mature” the content was considered to be. For me, Bill Cosby became a huge role model in my life specifically my dancing skills.

However, let’s not go without saying that raunchy comedy did not exist in those days. Oh, because it did! Sex, booze, racism, swearing, misogyny…I’m pretty sure Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor’s careers depended on all these topics. The great thing about this though, that after 9pm…you can turn the TV and not have the hear this stuff. Some people found it funny, others found it tasteless. But what feels like way back then, we had the option to choose what tickles our funny bones. These comedians knew they were rude and offensive and if you didn’t like it, simply don’t watch. These days, it’s not really the case anymore.

Perhaps a result of Murphy and Pyror, almost all of modern day comedy is incredibly tasteless and offensive. Not only that, it is everywhere and you can’t really escape it to find innocent comedy anymore. This is one of the reasons why I still watch re-runs of I Love Lucy or Boy Meets World…to run away from the disgusting, uncomfortable language that people consider hilarious. It’s not funny to me, I don’t want my children to watch this kind of stuff and I definitely don’t want it to be labeled normal.

I have only two examples of how misogyny in particular is so desensitized in modern comedy and the ways comedians attempt to justify it.  This word, in particular, offends me beyond belief and what offends me even more is how comedians defend themselves for using it. Two instances that took place on Twitter bothered me most when I got sucked into the turmoil because I lashed out at comedians who used it.

First: the word. How many ladies have ever been called a c*nt? To some, it may not hurt because it’s popular in the culture. To others, according to Wikipedia, it is considered “the most heavily tabooed word of all English words”. According to The Free Dictionary, the word “c*nt” is “offensive” and “used as a disparaging term for a woman“.

I know this word has been used to describe me many times, whether it’s because I condemned people for using the word or that one time I said The Killers were my favorite rock band (I wish I was joking about the latter, but someone called me a c*nt for having “terrible taste in music”).

Back in May 2013, Arab-American comedian Aron Kader fell into hot water for calling speaker/author/activist Max Blumenthal a c*nt after a Twitter argument. Many people tweeted in condemning Kader while he still continued to defend himself and call it “comedy”.

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He also resorted to even more misogyny:

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I condemned him publicly and well…you can just read all that here and make your own judgement.

Another fall out happened recently, when a more popular UK comedian by the name of Frankie Boyle used the word to describe Cory Monteith , Glee heartthrob who died recently of an accidental drug overdose. (If the name sounds familiar, I blogged about him before his shocking death). Not only is this offensive to the deceased, but again, another comedian stupidly uses a misogynistic term.

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When I brought it up, Boyle immediately blocked me and many others who told him it was cruel. I also got a few hate tweets myself from Boyle fans. I was accused of not having a “sense of humor” and that “it’s just a word that can be used for endearment”. I don’t know what parts of the world these people come from, but calling me a word to describe a part of the vagina doesn’t really sound like a term of endearment to me. I should also mention that no one has ever called me that word and meant it in a good way. Also, what struck me with both comedians is that they tried to lessen the impact of the word by saying they used it to describe a male. I’ll let that one sink in a bit.

I’m not quite sure what I am trying to make of this blog. Perhaps I am “confused” or not “hip enough”. Or maybe I’ve taken a word that has been used as a tool of degrading women for centuries way too literal. But you and I know that modern comedy is getting way too out of hand when they using these words to describe nine-year-old girls.

 

 

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Categories: feminism, Media, Twitter | Leave a comment

Mona ElTahawy, stop victimizing us

Recently the self proclaimed leader of all feminism and anything that is female, Mona ElTahawy, wrote an article bluntly titled “Why Do They Hate Us?” insisting that the lack of freedoms of women in the Middle East is based solely on one thing: that Arab men hate women.

She begins her article citing a story from the book “Distant View of a Minaret”- a controversial tale of an Egyptian woman living in the Arab world. Like any Western influenced commentator on us ‘brown people’, she appeals to the Western audience by choosing a dubious topic: sex. It is not untypical of Mona to bring up sex. Her past articles and commentary that I’ve read leave me with the impression that Mona thinks the only way a woman can express herself and be free is sexually, just as she has done before on her website.

The beginning of her article was enough to throw me off. Using sex as a tool to reel in the reader is so mediocre and unoriginal. But as I peeled through the rest of it, I found myself offended. Not only on behalf of all feminists, who’s voices are overshadowed by this attention seeker, but on behalf of all men in my community.

She blames every hardship of the Arab women on one thing: basically because she bears a vagina. She victimizes an entire population of women by spewing statistics backed up with her fraudulent claims that we are the way we are because men despise us and won’t let us have orgasms. Lest we forget her deep rooted hatred of Islam and the inability to allow anyone to believe in whatever they want. She wants rights for everyone. But they have to be based on what she says. Stop questioning her, or else you hate women. And if you are a woman, you hate yourself. For shame.

Completely neglecting the fact that the Middle East has been a war torn region for centuries, which ultimately and obviously resulted in poverty and weak education, Mona insists that women are incapable of achieving anything because we are so hated. Yet she ignores the fact that women were key players in the Arab uprisings, even staging all female protests at times. She disrespects the female martyrs of not only the recent revolutions, but even those who resisted decades of occupation…picking up guns to fight for their homes and land in Lebanon and Palestine.

Mona, who tries to empower women, marginalized us with this article, making a minority seem like the majority when in fact it is not and I say this while being a non-hijabi living in Southern Lebanon. Yes, I will be honest- I have been disallowed to do certain things because of my gender. But not because I am simply a girl, but because people fear for my well being. In the whole world, not just the Middle East, everywhere is a scary place to be. Now imagine how it would be for a woman to just walk out thinking she is equal to everyone else when she’s not because of teachings that existed before the Middle East did. She will only end up hurt. There is no reality in Mona’s extreme feminism and instead of empowering women to do something they’re good at and inform us of the rights we should be asking for, she marginalizes us and seeks pity. This works right into misogynistic hands, to make the woman seem like she is a victim when Arab women are damn strong.

However that’s not the only case- she not only marginalized Arab women, but Arab men too. She made my grandfather, my male friends, my dad, my cousins…she made them all seem like they all hated me when in fact I have been nothing but loved my whole life. My father has provided me with eternal love, has treated all of his five daughters like princesses. My father, who has no sons, would prefer that I never get married because he doesn’t think any man would be worthy enough to have me.

I know good Arab Muslim men who live on their knees, at the feet of the women of their lives because they appreciate them so much. Men who would go against their fathers to side with their beloved mothers. Mona, who is so keen on insulting Islam often, seems to have forgotten one of the Prophet Mohammed’s sayings, that heaven is at the mother’s feet.

I have so many key figures in my life, who are Arab men, who inspire me to do one thing…and that is love. Love life, love family, love nature, love politics. With her claim that Arab men hate women, I’ve only seen a few…maybe a handful of men, who don’t understand the beauty of a woman. But to generalize all Arab men? That is a far-fetched excuse for a desperate feminist to be controversial, to gain attention in all the wrong ways.

For me, this article plays into the hands of two kinds of people: Western media who tries its hardest to portray the Middle East in the most terrible way possible and actual misogynistic men who most likely enjoy women being belittled. My last words for Mona: STOP victimizing me. Stop speaking for women. You don’t represent me.

Categories: feminism, Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Nasawiya: A ladies revolution!

The Arab world has been shaking up, demanding change after decades of being oppressed and falling victim to corrupt governments. But not all protests are about politics here and we’re all not trying to dissolve dictatorships. With the 100th anniversary of Women’s Day approaching, the Lebanese organization “Nasawiya” took the streets of Lebanon asking simple, but important questions to the ladies of Lebanon.

Visiting Southern Lebanon, you’ll find that it is very conservative. It may be 2011 but people here still keep a tight grip on their traditional lifestyles- the history, the food, the culture and sadly, the ignorance. As a southern Lebanese girl, I can relate to a lot of what the women here go through. A lot will tell you that it’s not only a political problem, but a problem of society as well. Men hold this superiority over women and since women are afraid of speaking up and changing the way our land is run, they keep silent. But today, thanks to the lovely Nasawiya girls, these women had a chance to voice their opinions and to feel like they are finally being heard.

I had the privilege of joining these lovely ladies scattered through the streets of Tyre, dressed in feminist t-shirts, with their pen and papers, and ready to listen to what these Lebanese women had to say. I myself interviewed some of women of the city and did what I could with my broken Arabic! The most important question, “As a woman, what kind of change do you want to see?”. And I was frankly quite surprised at the array of opinions displayed before me. Many women were scared and embarrassed to share their views, others were very eager! Some were in denial and there were a few who just didn’t want to bother.

Though, with a little bit of prying, I got many comments- majority of which all lead back to one point: Give women their rights and let us be free! Which rights in particular? It can be political right such as giving a child the right to his nationality, even if his father is not Lebanese. Or even a society right of acknowledging a woman for her hard work as a mother, a secretary, a housewife…whatever she may be. They made it very clear they wanted unity between both genders, they wanted to be recognized and they were just fed up! There was an ultimate connection between these women and I, because we both knew how it felt to be raised in such a way where women are not allowed to live, but just exist. It made me happy to let the women know that we are here for them and we want change.

Though, not everyone agreed with what Nasawiya is trying to provide and the ignorance mentioned earlier did make an appearance. There were a few mishaps were I was mocked by men or laughed at by women. There was one moment in particular where I was cut off midway through a conversation with a woman by a man who just started conversing with her, zoning me out.

Some will tell you that Lebanon does not need change and that this organization is silly. Some will say that women don’t need anymore rights and that Lebanon was one of the more freer countries of the Arab world. Though, unfortunately, this is not a competition of which Middle Eastern country is freer than the last. This is about creating a democracy between men and women and being a FREE country, not in comparison with others.

The ladies and I ended our little endeavor feeling successful and said our goodbyes. I think we’d all agree that a major problem here is the wall of fear Lebanese women live behind. They are scared of breaking it and scared of the changes. They fear being loud and fear the consequences for speaking their mind. But this is only the beginning!

Follow Nasawiya on Twitter: @Nasawiya http://www.twitter.com/Nasawiya
Follow the hashtag #hellowomen on Twitter, for updates from fellow Nasawiya activists.
Also, become a fan on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/nasawiya

Categories: feminism, Lebanon | 5 Comments

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