Roaring A Warning

And what did you see, my black-eyed girl?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’[1] 
A friend of mine and fellow feminist, Nay Al Rahi, wished us more rage and anger in a fantastic article shewrote on Shabab Assaafir . This followed a very pertinent question asked by Nadine Moawad, another friend and fellow feminist (the two seem to go together very often these days). Nadine quite plainly asked where was the rage, where was the angry drive that gets citizens on their feet to demand their rights.
The question came back to my mind as I was giving a presentation on women’s rights in Lebanon at a well-known Beiruti university today for International Women’s Day. I was speaking to young people in their twenties. The (female) students were decked out in pink to celebrate women (see how gender stereotypes are engrained? Pink=Femininity=Women), while very few male students wore pink, a colour no doubt dubbed too girly for them to wear. The few who dared to wear pink wore a very discreet pale pink shirt under a sweater. Note: it is not the pink that I resent, but rather, the fact that only women wore it, and not men, because of societal gendered stereotypes.
Male and female students sat on each side of the conference room, and the men who sat on the “women’s section” caught themselves and moved to the “male section”, among laughs and sniggers.
Only one young woman got up, and sat amongst men.
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Half of Humanity

I am half of humanity.

I am half of humanity, yet I’m very often treated like a second class citizen, if that. It seems as soon as I am born my fate is sealed by powers I don’t even know.

I’m half of humanity, I have a special day created for me, they say it’s enough, they say I should stop demanding more from my life that the crumbs I’m being given, they say I have enough rights, and what more do I want?They scold me for being too assertive, they scold me for being too weak, too vain, too fragile, I’m never just right, I’m never just enough, I’m a woman, and apparently my condition comes with irredeemable sins and faults.

And so I wondered, you see, I wondered if that were true.

My African sister did not have the time to answer my questions, so busy was she caring for orphans, working in the fields, walking unbelievably long distances to get water, running the risk of being raped somewhere along her path. She was too busy supporting her family, village and community, she was too busy having children and burying the dead, she was too busy campaigning for the war lords to stop their atrocities, marching up and down the streets of her towns, refusing to be a victim, standing strong in the face of adversity, she was too busy forgetting herself in the process, oblivious of the mutilations she’s gone through, oblivious to the constant ache of being alive.

My sister up in the North did not have the time to answer my questions, she was too busy juggling with her career and private life, feeling guilty and inadequate all the time, thinking she should spend more time with her children, feeling guilty for wanting to work, feeling angry at her bosses’s attitude towards her work, at her inferior salary, at the macho attitude her colleagues are giving her,tired of being taken for granted, tired of being the woman token in all her meetings, worrying she was too fat, too thin, neglecting her relationship, and what did Cosmo said on the matter again in last’s month issue?

My Arab sister did not have the time to answer my questions, she was too busy resisting against  occupation and political oppression, while minding her home, children and husband, her fists were too busy kicking the air she breathes, asking to be taken into account by her governments, she was too busy lobbying for the laws to change at last, too busy asking why, by the way, she could not give her own nationality to her own children, remember, the ones she’s lost half her weight in blood trying to bring into this world, she was too busy getting married because she just had to, she was too busy trying to go to university to study whatever she wanted, she was too busy facing constant patriarchy, patriarchy who loved to remind her where it thought was her place. At home, by the way, wearing the jewels it had brought her, keeping the house neat and the children clean.

I’ve asked my sisters in the whole wide world and they just did not have the time to get back to me, they were deeply sorry, guilt once more, but second class citizens have to work harder, try harder, twice as much, all the time, to justify their lives and the space they’re occupying, that space  you so wished were occupied by a man.

I am half of humanity, I’ve been around the world, and could not see the equal rights or the equal treatment.

So I’ve decided, I’ll be half of humanity, without me it’ll be the end of humanity, and I refuse to settle for crumbs.