If I believed in magic, I would have described women as extraordinary magical creatures, capable of doing extraordinary things that I, as a member of the opposite gender, find impossible and beyond my physical, intellectual & emotional abilities .
It’s easy to point out that life, the greatest mystery of all, happens inside a woman’s body. I have been brought to this world by a woman who carried me for 9 months, pushed my gigantic head out of her birth canal , raised me and my siblings alone, and gave me the best childhood scenario I can think of . But all of that is just a tiny drop in the ocean of female magic.
The real magic for me is the enormous ability of women to take SH*# from their societies. No matter where you are in the world, women have a lower status and are forced to struggle and prove themselves in “a man’s world”.
And here in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA), it is not any better or easier for women… if not worse and harder. Women here not only have to struggle for equal chances of employment and equal rights, but also have to fight their way through the widespread belief of a “divine will” for male supremacy and dominance, reinforced by outdated religious texts from Quran, Hadiths and the different bibles.
Not only does this “holy patriarchy” excuse the treatment of women as second class citizens in our societies, but it also declares women guilty in male crimes against women, from sexual harassment in the streets and public places, to rape in more severe cases. Victims’ “immodesty” is always blamed for the harassers’ behavior.
Lately, I have been quietly observing the reactions to Arab women’s campaigns against sexual harassment. It didn’t shock me to see parallel campaigns emphasizing “immodesty of Arab women these days”, featuring random girls in tight or short clothes, and inquiring whether or not they “deserve to be harassed”. What was shocking is how the majority of men and a considerable minority of women answered with “yes, they deserve it” or “I can’t really blame the boys for harassing them”. Reactions that would make a rational observer feel nauseated. (Here’s a good example: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152240199044368&set=a.372230669367.156168.370127379367&type=1&ref=nf )
Worldwide, and through history, women have always suffered oppression in one form or another, and female intelligence and autonomy have been faced with severe force. The same patterns of oppression of women can be observed throughout written history – from “witch hunting” of intelligent independent women in the medieval times, to shooting of school girls in South East Asia in modern history. And women’s movements for gender equality and struggle for freedom can be seen growing and dying simultaneously with these reoccurring patterns.
Feminist movements throughout history, and all over the word, remained continuously peaceful, and their demands remained reasonable – gender equality. With all due respect to these movements, and to their considerable role in enhancing female status in their respective societies, they have never achieved total equality, with few exceptions. In my very humble opinion, the reason why the desired results were never achieved is because they didn’t make the right demands.
These movements were always “too honest” in their demands. Their stated positions were always to exact same as their needs. I believe female supremacy should have been their initially stated goal, later settling for gender equality; shoot for the stars, and hit the moon if you miss!
Personally, I would like to live in a female-dominated world. I do believe that a useful generalization about females being the better, more intelligent gender can be made and it would be a very damn accurate one. Making calls for female supremacy is not so radical and, actually, is very reasonable.
I know not how the future of women’s status in MENA will unfold, but I really hope that the current and future feminist movements in the region will “shoot for the stars” and amplify their demands!
YaLa Young Leaders