Haya: On Netflix’s Bonding and Laila and the Lamb


Hello people!
Have you missed me? I am sure you did.
And I am talking to those who were following this blog years back
Like in 2007! (omg feels like ages ago)
Those who know that The Observer is not the only author here
And that I am the infamous “Haya” have actually contributed more engaging and exciting content to this blog.
So Observer but this is true
Whether you agree with it or not!
Yes more “exciting”!
If you don’t believe me, go back and “Google me”
Wait, don’t go and google me as you won’t find anything about me
but search this blog for my older posts.
I promise, you will enjoy reading them.

Anyway, since The Observer started blogging again two weeks ago and I have been itching
I want to blog too!
For new readers, please let me introduce myself
I am The Observer’s female alter ego
The first female voice he used in this writings
Long before those 4 “wanna be” brides in his first book
and long before that boring Janna in his second
who keeps whining and whining about how unhappy she is at a time where she is back to her youth and have all what she wishes for at her fingertips!
What the hell?! Seriously Janna? Just wake up.
If you want Kamil, just go after him and be happy! (rolling my eyes)
And yes, long before his latest dominatrix protagonist – Laila
What the fuck?! How did you get there Observer?

Don’t get me wrong guys, I am all for women empowerment
And yes, there are aspects of Laila’s character that I admire
And I did enjoy reading the book
But that intro page! OMG!
What were you thinking??!
A Jordanian woman wearing a jockstrap and fucking her boyfriend!
SERIOUSLY?
Like SERIOUSLY?
Are you NUTS? Observer?
And then you go all the way and get surprised because the book got banned in Jordan!
Duh!
Did you really expect it to pass censorship? Like really?
It is a book habibi! A printed one! Not your blog!
And you needed to get a reality check!
But hey, I admire your courage
You actually went that far into writing it!
And getting it published!
And talking (shamelessly) about it!
Bravo!
I say bravo although it is not something I would have ever agreed to
If you have consulted me
But anyway, the book is out
And it is banned in Jordan
And people are finding a hard time to find it
Happy?
Enough with berating you
As I actually understand what you were trying to do with that book
I disagree with the means but under where you are coming from
And you people, stop categorizing the book as “pornographic”
Because IT IS NOT!
Yes it has a shocking opening
And few sexual scenes
But IT IS NOT PORN
It is not more of a porn than this new mini series on Netflix called Bonding
If you read Laila and enjoyed it, then you must watch it
It builds on a similar concept
(No Observer, Hollywood is NOT stealing your ideas)
Bonding is a more of comedy series of a dominatrix sex worker with a gay assistant
Intriguing, no?
Original? Despite Observer’s opinion, I’d say yes!
Entertaining? Definitely!
And I have to admit, it feels like it originated from the same line of thinking The Observer had
As in challenging mainstream stereotypes of women’s role in bed
And that’s good – a noble cause I’d say
And while the show taps onto some “disgusting practices”
It does it in a light fun way
Far from the serious tone of Laila
And there is NO SCENE that shows Mistress May (the protagonist of the show) fucking any of her men with a dildo!
(maybe in the second season?) – I bet!
But anyway, there are two things that I want to highlight here
FIRST: I understand that The Observer introduced that scene to provide a critical read for the entire act. He does it clearly towards the end of the story. And to be honest, it is a needed thought provoking read.
SECOND: (*spoiler alter*) Bonding ends with a crime, one that Mistress May commits, and articulates that she can’t report to the police because no one would believe her. That sounds exactly like Tarek’s dilemma in Laila’s story. The same concept of how someone would react when he is doing something wrong in the eyes of the society and ends up in much worse situation. Come clean or run away?

What would you do?
Have your read Laila and the Lamb or watched Bonding?
If not, then you should.
And when you do. Come back here and let me know what you think!

Sincerely yours,
Haya






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I am a blogger and will stay a blogger


I love blogging! I haven’t been doing that much in the past few years and I have always rationalized that it is due to the lack of time or ideas to talk about. But suddenly, this week, a fresh new energy popped up, and I found myself blogging, almost every day. And today is my second blog post too!

And I just realized that it is the act of blogging itself that I really enjoy. It is the act of talking to myself, and putting my thoughts into words. Yes, I can see now that contrary to what I partially used to think:

  1. I no longer blog to change the world. I have my novels for that.
  2. I don’t blog to get good traffic and exposure. I used to care about this 13 years back when I started blogging. Not anymore.
  3. I don’t blog to start heated discussions. I used to enjoy this a lot, but not sure I do anymore.
  4. I don’t want to be a fashionista or Instagram influencer. I am a blogger and will stay a blogger (slash novelist :P).

I blog because it feels good and I enjoy it. I blog because it is a learning tool, a creative act and a creation platform. It is like meditation to me. Listening to my internal voice, my honest self, brining it up and shaping it into written words.

I simply love it!

Dividing gender based on height? My next project!


I miss blogging. It has been a while since I wrote anything on my blog, and even when I did, it has been more of an announcement or photos without much of written words or ideas or opinions like I used to do back in the days.

Keeping a blogging habit has been challenging in the past few years, and I don’t think that I am ready to overcome this challenge anytime soon, but I feel the urge to write something today and happy to use this platform. And as I have been doing lately, using it as a platform to talk about my writing projects, I feel like pitching the idea of the next novel I am working on, with a working title ‘Khait Hareer’ (A silk thread).

I am not sure how well the title goes with the idea and how well it will be weaved in the storyline. I have actually finished writing 9 chapters already and working on the 10th. It is kind of exciting but challenging, more challenging than writing my previous books as I am trying to imagine a fictional world. I have done this before with ‘Heaven on Earth’, and it was challenging too, but I think it was a bit easier, because in that book I tried to imagine the future, but in the new one, I am trying to imagine a parallel society.

So here is the pitch in simple terms. I am trying to imagine a society where gender is divided based on height, not sex. I know, it might be a tough sell, as not so many people understand the concept of gender and how much it is related to sex. For me, I understand that gender is a social construct, it is a sectioning system that divides people into two categories based on their perceived sexual organs. On top of the sexual division, comes a huge burden of dividing every single human attribute in an attempt to exaggerate the sexual organs distinction and make clear divisions between two types of humans – in our world today we call them men and women.

In a nutshell, we build on a single human characteristic our main human classification. And we divide all of the other thousands of human attributes, that are irrelevant to our sexual organs between the two types of humans we created. It is the most dangerous classification of humans in our history, one that most believe is natural and has always been their in every single human society. A division that clearly over simplifies the sexual organs shape and size spectrum and ignores the power of nature in brining in a wide range of manifestation to every single human attribute.

Sex is not different than height. The sexual organs come in all shapes and sizes. And if we can hold a knife and cut human populations into two sexes based of the state of development of male/female sexual organs, hiding a big portion of human beings that fall under what we call ‘intersex’, then we can use the same knife into cutting human populations into two heights (tall and short people) and hide those of middle height.

And yes, like what we do top our sexual organs distinction or dividing other attributes between two sexes, we can do the same, and divide human attributes based on the height of a person. In my story for instance, tall people will have to be thin and weak, while short ones will be thick, stocky and strong. It is not physical attributes that I divide, but also psychic ones, same like we do men and women. I even outline a dress code, a behavior code and strict gender roles that these tall and short human beings have to adhere too.

It is a very exciting practice trying to imagine how such humans would behave under these constraints. How they build their life and how they define things! There is a lot to explore and I might fell short in bringing up all of the angles such a drastic change might mean to us. It is a challenge that I decided to take, one that I am pleased with its outcome so far.

The most challenging aspect of imagining such society, is the language to use in describing it. I am writing the story in Arabic, and for those familiar with the language, it is pretty much gendered. For Arab speakers, everything has a gender, even unanimated objects. It is either a thing is feminine when it has the ta’ at the end of the word, or is masculine when the ta’ is not there. Yes, we have queer objects, but thats not the rule of the language.

In their world, their language is gendered too, and it is gendered based on height. But inventing such a language is beyond my capacity. I can outline it, and maybe try writing few phrases, but even then, no one would understand it. So I had to come up with a twist for the book, one that I hope will give you an “aha” moment and a smile once you get to it.

Not sure if I succeeded in pitching the idea, but if you got what I was trying to say, please let me know what you think. Try to imagine that society and let me know what comes to your mind. That would help me adding to the story.

“It Was Not Just A Kiss” a short story developed for my MA


It was not just a kiss

It was not just a kiss

I wanted to explore the father/son relationship for my MA dissertation. My MA was in Creative Writing and Critical Thinking, and thus the dissertation required two parts: a critical essay and a creative piece. For the critical essay I did a psychoanalysis read for the effect of the father on the death drive of the son. I chose two prose to compare: “The Kite Runner” for Khaled Hosseini where there is a dominant father figure, and “When We Were Orphans” for Kazuo Ishiguro where the father is absent. And for the creative piece, I reflected the findings of my critical read of a father/son relationships across the gender access to develop this short story “It Was Not Just A Kiss”.

The critical work is pretty long (around 10,000 words). I had to read lots of theoretical work. For a father/son relationship, I found no better place to start than exploring the notion of the castration complex and understand the formation of the super ego and the ego ideal. I stumbled upon many interesting findings that would be hard to sum up here in this article. I’d say the main conclusion was reading the castration complex in terms gender imposition, and applying Anna Freud’s theories of the ego’s defence mechanisms against aggression. If we consider gender imposition at a very young age a form of aggression, then that explains the castration anxiety that arises. Aggression, when comes with an authoritative figure, it gets internalized in the super ego and becomes self-inflicted. It continuously fuels the rise of the anxiety levels in the psyche, especially when the super ego is so strong (influenced by a dominant father figure as in the case of Amir in The Kite Runner).

On the other hand, and reading Freud, I understood that the psyche adheres naturally to the Pleasure Principle in order to lower the incremental excitations. That usually happens when the sexual energy is discharged, or when we are hungry and eat. It is the natural feeling of pleasure when a need is met. But what happens when the excitations of the psyche reaches to a very high level that can’t be handled by the normal psyche mechanism of the Pleasure Principle? I could read that the psyche then resides to painful measurements in order to sustain its stability. That’s for me what explained Freud’s death drive. It is the turning point where the human behaviour turns destructive. It is the point that Freud calls “Beyond the Pleasure Principle”.

In his essay “Beyond the Pleasure Principle”, Freud only branches to assume a different set of drives when he fails to identify a compulsion to repeat among the sexual drives. I don’t think that he looked clear enough though. I could read a compulsion to repeat in the sexual act of gender assertion. According to Judith Butler’s theory of Performativity, gender is the continuous stylisation of the body. It is a repetitive process that aims to please the ego ideal. The fact that I could read a compulsion to repeat in the sexual drives that have the same characteristics of the one Freud explains in his essay means that we can go back and assume only one set of drives; the sexual drives that turn destructive!

Instead of an overly dominant father figure as in “The Kite Runner”, I portrayed an overly feminine mother in the short story. The daughter, like Amir, struggles to meet up with the gender identity of her ideal. Unlike Amir, where the values of a masculine society backs up the qualities of his dominant father, the daughter faces an ambivalence of emotions facing a society that loves and hates abundant femininity. In the story, I place the daughter in a situation that heightens her castration anxiety and leads her to fall into the madness of her death drive.

Writing the short story after doing the critical research felt great. It was like having the blueprint to build the characters on. That is the essence of the MA that I did and the wisdom behind combining the creative and the critical into one complimentary course at Sussex University.

When I arrived Dubai’s airport last monday, they asked for my original visa which wasn’t there in the airport. My brother had to drive all the way from Abo Dhabi to hand it in. In the meantime, waiting for more than 3 hours, I thought of checking out the kindle store. I decided publish “It Was Not a Kiss” on Amazon and see how it fairs. It is my first attempt to use the platform and thus I don’t think that I was very successful. A week later, 5 copies have been sold so far. I would say it has mainly to do with the lack of availability of the kindle story in the middle east where most of my audience live.

If you find the notion of the story interesting, and wants to check it out, you can find it here: “A Short Story: It Was Not Just A Kiss“.

and if you find the critical essay interesting and would like to read it, you can email me and I can send you the file.

A short Story: The Table


7005252-chips-and-ace-king-hand-on-a-gambling-tableOn new year’s eve, it was okay to gamble. As a child, I have never connected the dots, didn’t know what gambling really means, and didn’t reflect on its connection with the grown-ups table that shows some seriousness and tension and attracts lots of attention at the extended-family end of year, longest night, party. The music was usually up, family members chat chat chat all over the place, kids get to catch up and lern better about their second cousins. TV was usually on, out loud, specially at the moment where the year ends and another year comes into play. Cheers, screams, countdown, hugs, kisses, congratulations, love, but the silent table stays out of this world. Wives, run to hug their table husbands, and kids rush to wish their dads a happy new year.

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Quick Fiction: The Double


He was standing there lost in front all of those mirrors that surrounded him in this small space of two square meters. The mirrors were set up in a way where each reflection of him in one is reflected again in the other, forming an endless reflections of the same image, the same person, the same him.

He looked closer, trying to identify each image, each reflection. They all looked back at him, with the same body gesture, the same movement, but in different angles allowed by the tilt of each mirror. In the back of his head, he had a favorite, and that was him at the end, the smallest furthest reflection of them all.

Not sure why, maybe the size made him the cutest, or maybe the distance made him the least imposed, or most lost?

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Question the un-questionable


A thing is not right because we do it

A method is not good because we use it

Equipment is not the best because we own it

I copy those quotes from ‘The idea book’ they gave us to day as a part of the program. We had a very interesting lecture on creativity where the lecturer told us the story of this book.

He said that they had published a creative book before and wanted to publish another one, but it won’t be creative if they did it the same way, and so they tried to do it in another way. Instead of writing the book and send it to a publisher where they would get little chance of getting it accepted and printed out, and then being sold for at most as 7000 copy in Sweden with 20% royalities only for them which would generate only little money that won’t reach 10,000 euros. They decided to be creative, and so they thought that they would sell a creative book for companies instead of publishers/bookshops. So they called several companies telling them that they have this book who they didn’t write yet. They get several orders from companies and had the many to print the book themselves, and thus have 100% of the profit for themselves instead of the 20% when a publisher do it for you.

Then they thought, why why not writing half a book instead of a full one? and so you can find many blank pages in the book! It is a good idea because they left it for you to write your own ideas! Then they said why not to write a quarter of a book than writing half of it? They had an email list and sent emails to many people asking them for ideas of how to be creative, and they paid every good idea that found itself in the book 100 Euro, and so they were bombarded with many many ideas where they filtered and picked the best.

Then they thought that hotels may like to buy those books. Hotels in Sweden usually have the bible in the rooms next to the guests bed. They were able to convince them to add The Idea Book, and sometimes it became instead of the bible!

They ended up making 2 million Euro instead of 10,000 non guaranteed Euros if they followed the traditional way.

He then had this old stream train picture. He said that for a hundred of year or so, people had both horse carriages for transportation, and stream engines for industrial purposes. No one though of combining them except one man! and the result was.. the train!

You gotta draw lines and combine things up.

Question the un-Questionable!

The pluto story! I bet that most of you have studied the solar system in school, no? They have taught us that the solar system contains 9 planets. They taught us *THE* 9 planets of the solar system. They didn’t say that scientific studies or devices pointed that we have 9 planets. They taught us an absolute truth that we have all believed in.

Suddenly in one day, pluto stopped being a solar planet! In one day our absolute 100% believe that pluto is a solar planet turned into a 100% believe that it is not!

What got into that scientist to question that fact? and how did she manage to convince the world otherwise?