On Angry Feminists, Women’s Bodies, and People’s Sense of Entitlement

When I put myself in front of my computer this morning, I had every intention to work and write the 28th chapter of the Tales of the Phoenix City.

However, it seemed life had other plans for me.

Fate, or maybe it was just random bad luck, put yet another person in front of me who asked me “if that baby was coming”.

I gave an icy cold reply, and that seemed to shut her up.

I never got how people can be so insensitive and feel so entitled to meddle in affairs that have nothing whatsoever to do with them. I always felt that these questions can hurt a person trying to have a baby but not succeeding, or sadden a person who has just miscarried, or anger a person who doesn’t want to have a child, or just plain bore a person into a stupor as they simply really don’t feel like discussing what’s in or what’s not in their uterus with every half wit that crosses her path.

However, this issue is bigger than the issue of having a child. People’s sense of entitlement to ask women personal questions most of the times seems to largely go unquestioned. As women, it seems that people expect us to nod and answer gracefully all the questions that get thrown at us, regardless of what we feel and think. Are you getting married? Yes? No? If Yes, when? If no, why the hell not? Once you’re married, it’s the child issue that raises its head, accompanied with well and not so well-meaning old wives’ tales about how time is running out and if your body gets used to your partner’s sperm you won’t be able to conceive (true story. Someone actually said that to a friend of mine). When you’re pregnant, your womb becomes public property with the same random people rubbing your belly like there’s no tomorrow, as if for good luck. Seriously, can you imagine people’s faces if I went around caressing men’s bellies and making stupid cooing noises? Once you’ve had your first child, when are you going to have the second? And once you’ve had your children, it seems that the world gets filled with self-appointed experts criticizing right left and center the way you’re raising your offspring.

My husband gets asked all the time questions about the progression of his PhD, about how his activities are going. Very few people, save for some members of his close family, ever ask him about when we are planning on having a child. On the other hand, random people seem to have no problem whatsoever asking me about the future occupants of my womb, each and everyone of them giving advice I did not remember asking for, or stressing me out because apparently a pregnancy would not suit my job.

Should you snap at the umpteenth person putting his or her head up your ass, people frown at you as if you were the living embodiment of their version of feminists, I.e, aggressive women always barking at patriarchy and their ‘so-called oppression’. Let me tell you one thing: us feminists are angry, that’s for sure, because the minute we put on our feminist glasses it becomes impossible not to see the gender bias and discrimination we have to live under, it becomes impossible not to notice that women are expected to answer obediently to all the shit that gets thrown at them and nod submissively otherwise they’d be frowned upon if not mocked and degraded, and something inside us just snaps and starts wanting to bite people’s heads off. Feminists are angry because they question what society takes for granted: gender stereotypes, gender injustice, discrimination and society’s sense of entitlement.

This sense of entitlement to ask questions about a woman’s private life stems, at least for me, from the general perception that women’s bodies and lives do not belong to them and them only. Women’s bodies are society’s , their family’s, their community’s, but never their own. This being said, it derives that questions can be asked and comments can be made. It is only when we make the conscious choice to respect every human being body’s integrity that we can truly say we respect healthy boundaries and can have equal relationships.

Don’t give me advice if I don’t ask. Don’t ask me personal questions, especially if I barely know you. Don’t tell me what my child should eat or do.

After all, you’re not seeing me asking your husband how his prostate is doing. Therefore, I’d be grateful if you could leave my uterus alone.

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On Anger, Sugar Coating and Fakes

I’m hearing a lot of fake feminism and fake anti-imperialism these days.

It angers me.

It angers me that movements who ultimately struggle for more equality and respect for humanity are used and co-opted by cynical conservative, power-hungry politicians and “researchers”.

Everyone is a philosopher these days, drafting theories right, left and center, holding their half cooked so called opinions forth on TV while they’re just repeating what they were told to by the highest bidders. I don’t seem to see any new Jean-Paul Sartre, I only seem to run into people whose pompous speeches come straight from Wikipedia. When I hear Bernard Henri Levy, the much celebrated French “intellectual” I wish for God to open the earth and swallow me (or alternatively, to hand me a rusty axe and a good lawyer).Yes, that’s the guy who often dubs Israel’s repeated gross violations of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law as “errors”. To which I really want to say that he’s the error, but let us not get carried away.

Thing is, no one seems to be immune to this plague: from the French feminists who berate veiled women to the Lebanese Religious Leader who thinks that a law that protects women from violence is an evil importation from the West that will shake the Great Lebanese Institutions (er, which ones?) to the Core, all sides seem to participate in the demise of the fight for a fairer world.

However, it’s not their beliefs that anger me the most, after all I do have to live with people who think differently as me, it’s definitely the sugar-coating that goes with their justifications. The French feminists will kindly try and explain that in name of Feminism, women should not wear the veil as it is an instrument of submission, neverminding the fact that a veiled woman who’s left in peace wearing whatever she decides will be ten times more empowered than one who’s forced to live in an environement that considers her a threat, an aberration, a pity case that needs saving, a savage that needs to be taught. Neverminding the fact that true feminism is about comforting, supporting, backing up and understanding where women are coming from. Neverminding the fact that feminism should never be used as an imperialist tool to impose certain interpretations to other women. Instead of including and nurturing, we cast out and stigmatise, in the name of feminism.

The Lebanese politician/religious leader is very attached to the Lebanese Family (over which he has full control so really, he’s very attached to his power) and would not like to see it go to waste (who would pay the Hummer, I ask you?). He’ll therefore fight tooth and nail to keep the Statu quo going: Baba, Mama, and children, Baba wou Mama being married, from the same confessions, the children not mixing with fellow Lebanese from other religions. If Baba hits Mama, it’s her fault, ya3ni who told her to be hal 2ad jehleneh? However, when faced with the growing discontent over these issues, Religious Leader will therefore need a nice ideological back up. Let’s see, RL (Religious Leader) won’t be able to use Human Rights as he’s so obviously violating them, so he’ll resort to the old Cold War days and play the anti-imperialist card. The alterations of the Lebanese Civil Status and the incursions into one’s home (aka try to protect women from domestic violence) are pure imperialist evil traps! We don’t want these imports from the West! Nevermind the fact that Human Rights are universal and that discriminating women based on their gender is, well, is universal as well. Religious Leader doesn’t even have this monopole. How fickle power is really. Lebanon has however signed on to various Human Rights Treaties with no imperialist power breathing on its neck to force it to sign, that it’s bound by law to implement and respect.

However, there’s just a teeny, tiny minor detail these people are forgetting: there are true feminists and true anti-imperialists out there, waiting for you to libel us, which we do not really agree with, leading to some embarrassing (for you) debates.

Believe in what you want: just be straight with me, don’t be a perv, don’t try and sell me your ideas using ideologies that precisely counter what you’re saying.