On Patronizing Women

I’ve been confronted lately with a lot of stories of friends telling me their latest trouble about men patronising them, and it got me thinking: What makes it ok for some men to give women advice they didn’t ask for, therapy they did not need? What makes it ok for them to judge a woman’s choice when they’re not even concerned by that choice, what makes them think it’s ok to think for them, feel for them, decide for them?

From the boyfriend who belittles the woman who wants to break up with him, making soothing noises and talking to her in a slow voice as if she was some nutter escaped from the lunatic asylum, like he was saying to her that no woman in her right mind would EVER DREAM of leaving him (“it’s ok dear, you’re tired, you’re not thinking straight , I’ll give you space, a spa treatment maybe?” while the woman’s insides are screaming “I.Don’t.Want.To.See.You.Again.You.Are.So.Boring.I’d.Rather.Chop.My.Own.Hand), to the “concerned colleague” who lets himself lightly judge the private life of a woman’s colleague (“I know it’s none of my business (so shut the fuck up), but really doing this and that is really unprofessional”), via the pretend political analyst who considers a young woman unworthy of political representation “because she should first go and makes something useful with her life, like getting married and having kids” (true story), it seems that women have to bear the guilt of wanting more than an unsastifying relationship, a safe and professional environment or a proper political career, or any career for that matters.

What really irates me is that, should the roles be reversed, it would be a COMPLETELY different story. Let’s focus on the guy being dumped. Should a man leave a woman, woe betides she who calls again, or sends another message, or shows that she has not gotten the message. While women might feel guilty over an ex-boyfriend clinging on to them, men will have their ego boosted and will probably identify the girlfriend as a clingy insecure poor sould who just did not get the message and who should get a life or he’ll get a restraining order. Any private shift in a man’s life is not frowned upon in the workplace, on the contrary, the more the one night stands, the better. As of political representation, funny how a young man screams “bright young man with the world spreading before his eyes” and how a young woman seems to scream “Biological clock ticking, run, run for your lives! she’ll make a mess of the Party!”.

Now, enough with the complaining/rambling, as we’re not going to change millenia of gender inequality by complaining endlessly. What we CAN do though is to take a stand. Take a stand against discrimination against women, and not be afraid of initiating change rather than sit in our corner and agonise over things. Women have to be and feel empowered enough to stand up to a rude colleague or an abusive boss, to embrace their private life choices, and challenge prejudice and misconceptions. In order to get there, education is the key, but also awareness raising about these issues, which most of the times go unnoticed as they’re accepted as the norm.

Sisters, the Knight in Shining Armour won’t come. WE will have to save and care for own selves, and not be afraid to say: today, I am a Woman, I represent half of humanity, I work, I tend to kids, I bear men, my body is a battlefield, I’m considered a second class citizen. BUT I AM HERE, and I won’t let myself be put down.

Women of the World Unite!

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Writer’s block

Writer’s block is the dreaded thing that happens to writers when confronted with a white paper block or screen, staring accusingly at them as if to say “Fill me! Pah! Call yourself a writer! You should write, what are you doing stupidly looking at me?”

Thing is, I think writer’s block doesn’t do justice to the concept. It should be artist’s block, the thing you get when you’re supposed to be creating something, anything, you’re dying for inspiration and the only thing you seem to be able to do is updating your facebook status, for practice, like. I don’t get writer’s block often as 1) I ALWAYS have something to say or to think (take it from me, it IS tiring) and 2)I don’t write for a living, hence do not really put too much pressure on myself, but it happens anyway, and in these instances I’m left wondering what is it that’s itching me so much that I can’t express it. 

Sometimes it’s plain boredom, I feel like I WANT to write but nothing comes out of my brain and heart and hands, characters are left wandering at point zero in my novel, blogs look like deserted post-war places. Sometimes it’s actually WHERE I am, as I have to say, when I’m in the Middle East, I constently carry a pen and notepad about my person, because I always seem to be getting inspiration. Beirut’s exceptional this way, it’s never sleeping, something is always brewing up, good or bad mind you, but things happen and people feel, and scream, and get up to all kinds of shenanigans, so basically, if you’re a stuck writer, spend one afternoon on the Corniche, another in Hamra Street and another in Gemmayzé, and you’ve gotten yourself a book. Writer’s block is your brain refusing point blank to cooperate with your hands, clearly indicating that now’s not the time to bother it with mindless little chitchat with yourself. ALthough I’ve always absolutely loved the idea of me being a tortured artist, sighing to the moon on sleepless creative nights, chain smoking and cursing Fate, I often get writer’s block when I’m too stressed, or too sad, or too preoccupied. I almost never get it when I’m happy. As for being anxious, well, I’m constantly anxious, so it really doesn’t make any difference (See I still had to develop some kind of neurosis, otherwise I’d be like a character from a Danielle Steel novel, all normal and weird). Also, I never smoke while writing, as really, one needs their two hands (Carrie Bradshaw, you lied to us all!)

But let us dwell a bit more on the opposite of writer’s block. What should we call it? writer’s unblock? Sudden Flows of inspiration? When you have so many things to lay down on paper that you’re looking frantically in your bag in desperate search for a pen and a paper, and that you end up scribbling bullet points in unreadable hieroglyphs that you’ll agonise ove to decipher? And, frankly, I could never be one of those high tech writers that take their notes on their iPad, epitomising how backwards I am for still using pen and paper and regular computers. 

No my friends, being a writer is no easy task, there’s a lot of stress involved, but the good, ah, the good part, is that you have the words to bitch and complain about it. You just need a good pen, and a credit card slip. 

Words

I write. 

I write like some cry, sing or run. I write to make myself laugh or cry, I write to cleanse myself from within. I write to forgive and forget, to make sense of things that don’t, to reflect, to not let words that I’ll regret slip out of my mouth. 

I write to witness the beautiful blend of words spring to life and become an entity of its own. No one remembers the writer, but you’ll actually remember the words. I write to travel to distant lands, to explore the realms of the visible and the invisible, to awaken consciences and put fears to sleep. I write to create kingdoms of which I’m Queen, having absolute powers over the characters, make people live or die if I wish to. Writing’s really nothing else than a game for control obsessed dictators who don’t have the courage to overthrow governments. Writing enables the spoilt child in me to have it my way, no questions asked. The keyboard is my wand, letters form the words I order, if I don’t like something I’ll just press delete. 

Words are dangerous, writers are tiresome, always looking for the perfect adjective to express a feeling, always in their dreams. Writers, like all artists, are feared by the Establishment: beware, for if they don’t like something, and they’re bound to, they’ll just write about it, denounce it, advocate for a change, and people might listen to them more than to you politics, for you’re stained with corruption and they’re not (or should not). 

Words can be soft, or loving, they can carry love and care, or they can be like weapons, all sharp and edgy, accusing and menacing. They can convey ambivalence, you can agonise over them, trying to decipher them, you’ll cry for a context, for an explanation, more words. Choose your words carefully, because once they’re out on paper, or lost in cyberspace, or engraved in somebody’s brain there’s little you can do about it, you’ll just have to live with them. 

I write to create, for the moment I’ll stop creating, I know I’ll be dead. 

I Can’t Get No Sleep

No, not only a Faithless song.

Insomnia seems to become part of my reality, as if my body REALLY enjoyedwaking up at 3:54 and thinking: Sleep? That old thing? NAAAAAAH I’m well off without it.

Thing is, Body, Spirit or Mind, my inner soul would LOVE some sleep, would actually cherish every moment of it. Sometimes, I just feel like saying, Ok, Good Night everyone, that’s enough life for me for today, bring the oblivion please. Which would last for about 2 hours. And then, I’m SUPER awake, more awake than I’ve ever felt, I’m so awake that I start organising my life, go over conversations, thoughts and feelings and fears going round and round in my head, until sleep is no longer an option. It seems that nowadays I have to sort out my life between 3:54 and 6:40. Then I drift off. Then my alarm rings, at 6:45. Then I REALLY want a cigarette. Yes, at 6:45. I’ll probably become one of those older Arab women who drink their coffee and smoke their cigarettes from their bed before even stepping out of it, screaming orders at the top my lungs (or what’s left of them) with a raspy voice.

Anyway, so what do I do when I can’t sleep? First I toss, then I turn, then keep looking for a fresh part in my bed or on my pillow. Emotional elevators tend to come at around 5:00, when I’m done with practicalities. I agonise over mundane things that seem too small to even notice in broad daylight. When I get to accepting the fact than there will be no sleeping for me anymore, I simply decide to live with it, and check what I could do. This is usually when novels are finished (both mine and other people’s), blogs are read (especially this one, product of another Sleepless Soul), lists are made, life is organised. When I was younger, my Sleepless company was Fiona Apple. I’ve listened to When the Pawn over a hundred times when I was 16, waiting for her (raspy) voice to nurse me to sleep. Now I just plug Shadi Zaqtan in my ears and go on about my business, my insomnia nicely taken care of with a lovely soundtrack to go with it.

Insomniac people probably think too much, all the time, taking a washing machine approach to life, tossing, turning, agonising, going round and round. And one day, just like that, some parts of your brain just resolve whatever issue you might have, and you have nothing else to write about, because seriously, what’s interesting about a good night sleep? 🙂