How To Live With a Revolutionary Without Losing Your Head (Or Parenting His)

I, The Rev, have become a father.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to appear as if I were in any way supporting the horrid patriarchal system that would ultimately oppress my daughter, but for now there are no other word for it: I am a father.

I keep turning the word around my mouth like a piece of candy. I think I like it almost as much as the word ‘revolution’. If I have to be honest, Karl and Leo and Rosa forgive me, I think I like it even more.

The whole birthing thing was a bit of an ordeal. I mean, Significant Comrade did shout at me a fair bit, especially when I told her that I had to go to another city to pick up Comrade Professor, to bring him to the airport after a conference he gave. In hindsight, perhaps telling her this after her water broke might not have been my best move. Kind of like Che Guevara telling Castro he did not want to be part of the Cuban government and would rather go and ignite revolution focos around the world. This kind of news are best delivered behind a shield.  I believe she might have thrown something at me, yelling that if I went ‘I’d have to bear the consequences’, which I think meant that I probably would not have gotten to be a father after all. So I had to explain things to Comrade Professor, who took it like the Marxist Leninist he is and shared my angst at Significant Comrade’s wrath. And took a taxi to the airport.

To soothe and entertain Significant Comrade, I even made a little joke about being like George Clooney in ER when I donned the full surgeon’s outfit. Significant Comrade was not pleased, and kept shouting abuse at how unfair and sexist nature was, asking everyone why it was women who had to go through all that pain and misery. I was so proud of her: in the middle of giving birth, yet challenging patriarchy and delivering passionate feminist statements right there in the middle of the ward. Keen to help, I looked into the Russian Revolution by Comrade Trotsky, as well as into Das Kapital by our Heavenly Father Marx, and even in La Femme Rompue By Comrade de Beauvoir, and yet I could not find an answer to this question. Significant Comrade seemed rather short tempered with me as I tried to discuss her points with her.

I believe it was the first time that Comrade Trotsky ever failed me. But no matter, Significant Comrade finally gave birth to an out-of-this-world child without killing me so all in all I can’t complain.

As soon as she was born, I knew that Mini Comrade was a Comrade. Her cries in the middle of the night were clearly an articulate critique of the obsolete capitalist system we’re forced to live under. Crying until purple in the face was only her way of rebelling until she could lead demos and write insightful articles and statements.

Mini Comrade’s best friend is a teddy bear wearing a Trotsky t-shirt, a gift from other comrades who felt her innate desire to stare at something beautiful all day long, i.e. the face of our deceased leader. I wanted to explain to her why he died, in the name of the Permanent Revolution, and how that low life Stalin had him executed but Significant Other doesn’t feel like it’s an appropriate story for a three months old.

Lack of sleep and added responsibilities make Significant Comrade rather edgy, I find. Just the other day, when I was dancing with my child to the sound of l’Internationale, I showed my baby’s smiley face to her mother, who just said: ‘That child has already learnt to make fun of you and most importantly, of your voice. Good girl’

I think Significant Comrade is just sore that my child has such a deep connection with the permanent revolution. She is laughing because she feels ineffable joy at listening to revolutionary hymns.

Mini Comrade had her first demo on the 8th of March for International Women’s Day, and while everyone thought she was just sleeping through it, I know she was in fact closing her eyes to take in all the oppression women have to bear on a daily basis and muster all her strength to join forces and voices with the cortege of militants contesting it. You should have seen her raise her little fist, it lasted three seconds but you could see that fist could carry a revolution ila el Nasr! To the victory!

Sometimes I  look at her and I feel that the love might choke me.

Also, imagine if she turns out to be the reincarnation of Clara Zetkin.

‘Get over yourself. She will punish you for shoving all these things down her throat by becoming a neo-liberalism advocate and going to work for the World Economic Forum’, says Significant Comrade in passing.

I would still love her is my answer, feeling like a good parent.

‘Even of she turns into a Stalinist?`

I have not slept in three days at the mere thought. Significant Comrade is just plain mean.

 

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Pics of Today’s Demo and Article on the AWID Young Feminist Wire

Pics can be found on my Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.340356419327608.92936.194530360576882&type=1

And the article here: http://yfa.awid.org/2012/01/ahead-of-us-the-defense-of-our-rights-lebanese-women-in-their-struggle-to-live-free-from-violence/

On Why We Are Demonstrating

This article was written for Sawt Al Niswa, the AMAZING online feminist space

I read an infuriating article today, a blog post that was so patronizing it made me feel sick to the stomach. The writer referred to our action as “delusional” and while he deemed our struggle as “righteous”, he did not see it going anywhere for the moment. But Behold! For his was kind enough to provide us with an alternative solution, with other priorities and other actions.

The author’s intention was probably not to minimize our struggle, or be patronizing or anything: he probably did not notice that his sickly sweet rhetoric merely felt like a paternalistic pat on the head, like someone telling you you’re cute but naïve. Like someone not really believing you had serious reasons to be angry and to demonstrate.

Which got me to think: what are we fighting for? Why are we demonstrating?

First and foremost, there’s of course the issue of rights. We are demonstrating because the state has duties towards us, obligations it has signed on in an International Convention (CEDAW), voluntarily binding itself to respect, protect and fulfill them, rights that we can see are not being respected, protected and fulfilled. Hence, by making ourselves heard we are simply putting into action our democratic rights. We are neither demonstrating because we are spoilt brats, nor because we don’t have anything else to do or because we are delusional naïve nymphs living in Lala land. Rather, our carefully thought-out collective action is our weapon to put our government in front of its obligations. Its obligations is our rights, and it is our responsibility to demand them, to claim them, for the shameful rape laws are not going to be cancelled by themselves; and neither is the Violence Against Women Bill ever going to materialize and be adopted out of thin air. We demonstrate because the numbers 478, 488 and 489 (criminal code provisions imposing higher sanctions on women found guilty of adultery than on men) 503, 504 and 522 (laws pertaining to rape) cannot be read without a shudder. We demonstrate because of the large Violence Against Women Bill-shaped gaping hole within the Lebanese legislative apparel. We demonstrate because religious authorities are playing deaf and blind to that very simple fact: there are women in Lebanon, and we are not walking wombs. Rather, we are human beings who saw evil, heard evil and witnessed you speak your evil.

So we’re taking to the streets, armed with an international Convention, armed with laws and principles and a whole set of values that we think are worth sharing. Several people and bloggers seem to think that we’re ahead of the game, that before obtaining a change in the laws we need to establish a civil state in Lebanon then we’ll be able to see what we can do about women’s rights. It’s the same old song: women are selfish for demanding what is theirs, they should wait until the whole system changes until we can tackle women’s rights. To which I answer 1) Women Won’t Wait 2) why not think of changes in laws with regards to women as an opening door to a wider change in the system? Advocating for women’s rights is advocating for a more egalitarian society, it doesn’t mean favouring one injustice over another. The way I see it, turning Lebanon into a civil state will take longer than adopting the Violence Against Women law: what are we supposed to do until we reach that point? Sit around and pray?

The demonstration however even goes beyond obtaining our rights. It has become a question of reclaiming our very streets, each corner of our city until we find that we can walk around without fear or of uneasiness because of stares, glares, insults, offensive comments or unwanted physical contacts that is just plain sexual abuse. We’re demonstrating now because our cup is full: we’re tired of unlit zawarib where even the less sporty of us turns into a sprint champion until we reach our cars, we’re tired of feeling as if we’d like our breasts to be invisible, we’re tired to be harassed just because we are women. By pounding the streets of Beirut we’re making a strong statement to those who would like to see us off them, tucked away in our homes that sometimes are more dangerous that battlegrounds, as if under house arrests: look at us, we’re women and human, we want our dignity and safety.

We’re demonstrating because this way we get to say our stories, with our words, our chants, our actions, with no self-appointed authority (religious or otherwise) telling us we’re asking too much, too soon, too aggressively.

Our bodies are ours, and no one but us gets to dictate what we should do with it or whom and when we decide to give it to. Our voice are ours too, and no one but us dictates when and how we should use it.

So on Saturday the 14th, I will pick up my banner and I will shout for my rights until my voice gets hoarse. But I promise that if you see us on the streets, and still have questions, then I will use it to talk to you.

And maybe then, you’ll walk with me too

For the post mentionned at the beginning please see http://beirutspring.com/blog/2012/01/03/kafa-is-delusional-the-lebanese-state-neither-has-the-will-nor-the-way-to-get-into-lebanese-bedrooms by BeirutSpring


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