New trend of misogynic songs is a reaction to social change


A new genre of arab music appeared recently where male singers remind women how they are suppose to behave with their men; from Mohammed Iskander’s song that asks women not to work and stay homes, to “Si Al Sayyed” song of Tamer Hosni where he claims that as a man he is a superior being and that his wife shouldn’t argue or object him, and now a new release by Rami Sabri with a title “Al Ragel” (The Man) and words asking women to be obedient in order to please their men and be good!

This only popped up in the past few years, where men seem to feel they have the right to be vocal about women behaviour, stating what seems to be a social criticism and disapproval on how modern women are claiming their independence and equal status.

The notion of men being responsible of women is widely spread. And it is not just men who claim this responsibility but also women from all walks of life who rushes to remind their men that they are responsible of them! Even those who are modern and lead a somehow a liberal life. I remember few years back when I blogged about something with some daring sexual content, a man stepped up, he was angry because women might read it! This sense of responsibility, or this sense to guard women and make decisions on their behalf would only help in increasing the gender divide and keeping women in a state of immature adults that constantly need guidance and protection.

It shouldn’t surprise us to see men, beside popular singers, popping up in videos on social media to tell women what to wear and how to behave in public. This sense of superiority is disgusting.

We need a social shift in regards of the perception of women, men should learn to see them as equal partners who are very much capable of making their own decisions and protecting themselves, women also need to step up and stop depending on men and holding them responsible of their well being. Women are full fledged adults, thats how they should be seen, how they should be branded, and how they should be treated if we want a modern mature society.

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“The Bride of Amman” is out for pre-orders


I can’t believe that this is finally happening. The English translation of “Aroos Amman” is finally ready and up for pre-orders. It is already out there on Amazon.com (paperback)! and a publishing date is set on 21th July. I am so happy about the translation and so thankful for Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp who has done a great job in brining my written words into English. I am also very thankful for my publisher (signal8press) for the great work put into ensuring best quality of the English production. It was a long process but I enjoyed working with both of them and witnessed them shaping what I thought to be a good book even better.

When I first started blogging in 2006, I wanted to communicate issues of sexual and body rights that were not addressed by traditional media at the time. I could see how our cultural heritage and obsession in regulating sexuality is making an already tough life due to economical conditions even tougher. I wanted to open missed debates around these issues in hope of change. Few years down the road, I was able to collect my thoughts into a full story, a novel that came out in January 2012. At the time, I didn’t anticipate this success of Aroos Amman, and didn’t anticipate the huge amount I received. People seem to be fed up with the old doctrine that limits their body and sexual freedoms. They are happy to see someone bringing it up right front and are ready to fight for it themselves.

Today with the book coming out to English, I am hoping for a wider reach that could trigger even bigger change.

Thank you all for your love and support.

I dedicate this book to Arab young men and women: those who are struggling to conform, those who are fighting for autonomy over their own bodies, and those advocating for sexual rights.

The-Bride-of-Amman-Flyer

The silent majority are no longer silent: Dr. Dala’een case


I have been observing the growth of a strong online network of voices in Jordan that champions individual freedoms and human rights. This is a positive indicator that shows a u-turn in public opinion and a stronger passion from what we used to call as “silent majority”. This “silent majority”, with the help of Facebook and social media,  seems to seize being silent anymore, they now stand firm against oppressing traditional voices that has always used the agency of religion and local traditions to hold us back.

We had a good win yesterday when Dr. Dala’een, an ex parliament member and opposition leader was pushed to issue a statement denying the misogynist comments he posted on his Facebook page a week ago attacking the new appointed Minister of Telecommunication, Majd Shawikha. On his page last week he posted a photo for her (most probably taken from her Facebook account) in a night dressing gown. He added a comment saying that in the past such profane scenes had a place in pornographic magazines for perverts to look at, but today these women are appointed to rule against us! He got a few supporter to his post and many likes, but then hours later, the tide change, and angry people started flocking to his page, attacking him for his sleazy comment, and standing up for the minister. A day later, someone started an online petition on change.org, a call for the public attorney to take actions against Dr. Dala’een. The petition gathered 2276 supporter so far. It has triggered some newspaper columnist to address the issue and stand up for Dr. Dala’een. It may also be what prompt him to issue a statement yesterday and claim that it wasn’t him who posted that on Facebook, but a hacker that took over his account.

Whether he is lying or not about the hacker is not the point, we could be nice and give him the benefit of the doubt and believe his story. The point is that Jordanians are forming an organic coalition online that will no longer stand silent for misogyny or discriminative discourse.

Few months ago, the same Jordanians stood up for Kharabeesh, a video content website, for posting a homophobic video for an immature standup comedian calling for burning gay people. The reaction was strong, fast, and organised. People showered Kharabeesh with emails and FB comments and messages, forcing them to issue and apology and delete the video carrying the hate speech from their youtube channel.

In the same line, Jordanians stood up before to both Amjad Qorsha, a religious leader, for his offensive posts against christians. And also Abdul Hadi Raji Al Majali, a popular columnist, for his hate speech against Iraqis in Jordan. Both of them seemed to be tamed these days after witnessing the hard reactions.

One could consider Dr. Dala’een retreat as a win for women and women rights. I see it more of a public statement and endorsement for individual freedoms and human rights at large. With all of the negative aspects that social media brings, this one is a positive welcomed social change that brings hope for a better future.

Happy women’s day!

My Kali Interview, Celebrity of the week and Alef book club


Photo shoot My Kali Magazine

Photo shoot My Kali Magazine

It feels good to see the buzz of Arous Amman is still going through the country after more than two years of its debut. On thursday, I was hosted by Lama Zakharia for her radio show “Celebrity of the Week” on Beat FM. The interview was great, went super smooth with Lama being smart, spontaneous and professional as her audience know her. I am a big fan of her myself since I saw her performing last year in the Christmas’s musical of Dozan Awtar. I have also posted a while ago a video for her fighting sexual harassment by singing. She has an amazing voice and great talent. Watch out for her next projects. My interview will be aired next Thursday.

My interview with my kali magazine is published today after  much anticipation. These guys are really talented. We are blessed to have such artistic styled magazine in Jordan. The write-up is really good from the mutli-talented Mike Derderian. Mike is another one to admire, he is an artist who produces amazing illustrations, he is a brilliant writer and a great radio show host as well.  Along with the interview, my kali ran a stylised photo shoot for me. The photographs was taken by the wonderful Hiba Juda, make up by Amer Atta, hair by Ahmad Al Sa’ady, the making of video by Ala’a Abu Qasheh, and the cover/promo design by Atef Daglees. I feel so blessed to get to know all of these talented people. I also would like to dedicate a special thank you to Kali himself for putting the efforts into sustaining this magazine.

I like the smart headline of the interview “Here Comes the Groom!” in reference to me, the one behind the brides in Arous Amman.  And from the interview, I specially like these few lines:

Of course, don’t just take my word for it! It is a brilliant social commentary on an Arabian society filled with mothers, daughters and sisters; working women; married women; divorced women; women pursuing academia; sexually active women; and forlorn spinsters dreaming of the perfect Arab catch. Of course it also sheds light on the misogynistic Arab man; the oppressive father; the married man; the cheating husband; and the self-righteous cousin, who is looking for an excuse to burst the bubble of any of the over-achieving females in his tribe. The main controversy surrounding Aroos Amman most probably erupted from within the pages of the chapter in which a man thinks aloud after making love; making love to another man. I have to admit it was a shocking instance to read in a book written by an Arab Jordanian writer; almost as shocking as the rape scene in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, back in 1994.

I also had a very nice discussion around Arous Amman with Alef book club at the Good Bookshop. The discussion was complimented with a homosexuality debate. Before the debate started I had the chance to give a short presentation about gender and sexuality.  The issue was discussed openly from social, scientific and religious perspective. The event was organised very well and the crowd were respectful and polite. I was pretty much impressed by those youth (around 40 from both genders) discussing such matter openly and logically with full respect to each other opinion. At one point there was a veiled girl arguing against homosexuality talking closely to an openly gay man. Both were addressing their points of view genuinely with no sense of hatred towards each other. When the crowd were asked if they are with giving homosexuals their rights, most of them raised their hands in agreement! That’s something one doesn’t expect to happen in Jordan where a recent stat shows that 97% that society shouldn’t accept homosexuality! My Kali videoed the whole event, they should be posting it soon. I would also like to seize the chance and thank Tarek Abdo and Sanad Nowar for running this book club and organisation this event. That is courageous of them to tackle such issue.

Through Arous Amman I got to know about many book clubs in Jordan. I am happy to see these book clubs growing everywhere. I have to admit, Alef has just became one of my favourites. I wish them all the best.

One last good news, we are almost run out of copies of the 2nd edition of Arous Amman and will be working on a new print.

سي السيد لتامر حسني صحوة أخيرة لرجل يحتضر


من الممكن قراءة كلمات أغنية سي السيد الجديدة لتامر حسني على أنها خطاب ذكوري متخلف يدعو إلى الإعلاء من شأن الرجل وإعادة القوامة له على المرأة في شكل الشخصية النمطية لسي السيد بطل الثلاثية الروائية لنجيب محفوظ: بين القصرين، قصر الشوق، والسكرية. فعلا، فالواضح من الكلام هو خطاب تامر الأستعلائي في الأغنية كزوج فاض به الأمر ولم يعد يتحمل معارضة زوجته الدائمة له فقرر لعب ورقة الميراث الإجتماعي المبجل للذكر وتذكيرها بأنه سي السيد، وبأن كلامه هو “اللي هيمشي”. كلام مهين لكل من الرجل والمرأة العربية المعاصرة لأنه يصور المساواة والندية بين الجنسين على أنها منحة أو هبة من الرجل للمرأة يستطيع سحبها متى شاء، لا أنها حق انتزعته المرأة بعد سنوات عديدة من النضال مازالت تصارع للحفاظ على مكتسباته. كما أن الكلام مبتذل، وكذلك خطير، لأنه يصور المساواة بين الجنسين على أنها أساس المشاكل الزوجية ويحمل المرأة مسؤوليتها ويصورها على أنها ضحية لقيم غربية شوهت الحقيقة البديهية المزعومة في الثقافة الاجتماعية العربية لتفوق الرجل وسموه على المرأة.

سي السيد تامر حسني، كاتب الكلمات ومغنيها، فاته بأن المشاكل الزوجية المعاصرة يعود سببها الأكبر هو تمسك بعض الذكور بعقلية سي السيد الرجعية ومحاولتهم البائسة للحفاظ على ثقاقة شعبية أكل عليها الدهر وشرب. الحياة العصرية الحديثة لم تعد تعطي أفضلية للرجل، وذلك النموذج الذكوري لم يعد يمجد سوى بالفانتازيا الجنسية لأشكال تامر حسني وغيره من الذكور ممن يخلطون بين خيالهم الجنسي الخصب في غرفة النوم وبين الحياة اليومية. الوعي الإنساني تطور اليوم ليقر بالمساواة بين الرجل والمرأة في كافة مناحي الحياة. المشاكل الزوجية الحديثة لا تحل بالهروب إلى الخلف ومحاولة إحياء سي السيد بل بالتقدم إلى الأمام وترسيخ مبادىء المساواة الجنسية وقتل ما تبقى من عناد ذكوري مازال لا يستوعب مبدأ المشاركة في الحياة الزوجية.

بالرغم من الرجعية التي تحملها كلمات الأغنية إلا أني أقرأها بشكل إيجابي على أنها صحوة أخيرة لرجل يحتضر. سي السيد على وشك الإنقراض، وذلك لربما ما يفسر الهجمة الذكورية التي نجدها في بعض الأغاني الشعبية المعاصرة. قد يكون نجاح أغنية “جمهورية قلبي” لمحمد اسكندر هو ما شجع تامر حسني على كتابة هذه الأغنية. لكن ذلك النجاح هو نجاح مرحلي، قد يعود جزأ كبيرا منه لفكاهية الطرح لا لمحاكاته للرغبة الشعبية، ولكنه كنجاح لن يطول، بل سيدفع ثمنه شعبية كل من اسكندر وحسني على الأمد الطويل مع تزايد الوعي الشعبي لخطورة هذا الخطاب.

للأسف حاولت أن أجد شخصية ذكورية معاصرة تصلح لتكون بديلا لسي السيد لكني لم أجد. أعتقد بأنه هنالك ضعف في الأدب العربي بشكل عام من حيثية رسم شخصية رمزية للرجل العربي بعيدا عن سطوته وهيمنته على المرأة.

A tale of two singers: Elissa and Fadel Shaker – the ambivalence of the Arabic culture


Fadel Shaker holding a gun

Fadel Shaker holding a gun

Elissa winning two Murex D'or Award 2013

Elissa winning two Murex D’or Awards 2013

A few years ago, Elissa and Fadel Shaker came together into a duet song called “Gowwa Al Ro7” (inside the soul); a romantic song of two lovers conversing how much they love each other. At that time, it was a perfect match for two of the most popular Arab singers who excelled in these types of songs. Fadel was no less romantic than Elissa, and his songs carried no less love.

Fast forward to the 23th of Jun, 2013 (yesterday), Elissa is on stage in one of the biggest celebrations of the TV industry in the Arab World, The Murex D’or, celebrating her success with two awards: Best Lebanese Singer, and Best Arabic Song “As3ad Wahdah” (the happiest). On the other hand, Fadel Shaker is sieged in a Mosque in the Lebanese town Seida, and fighting with a terrorist Salafi group against the official Lebanese army. On stage, Elissa appears in an extravagant white dress, she talks about how she doesn’t feel being the happiest tonight for one can’t help it not to be affected by the killings happening on the ground, but yet what makes her happy is the fact that this event is actually taking place and that people are still celebrating music and life. In a video that came out early in the same day, Fadel Shaker appears with a long beard, cursing Hezb Allah and his leader Hassan Nasrullah and threatening – actually promising that he will – to kill the mayor of Seida.

Seeing Fadel Shaker in video talking like that is mind boggling. I can never understand how a man who has an angelic voice and who has been singing for love for many years drops everything and becomes an agent of hatred and murder. I don’t want to play the devil advocate here, but watching other videos for him, he comes across to be sincere in terms of believing in the cause he is fighting for. One can’t deny the horrors happening in Syria, and the urges of wanting to stop the killings is totally natural, still the means of defending those innocent people are questionable. I would rather see him fighting with his voice, singing for that nation, singing for peace and harmony, that would be much more effective than joining the devilish game. That’s what Elissa is doing. She has never shied of speaking up her political stand. She probably hates Hassan Nasrullah and Bashar Al Asad even more than Fadel, but she expresses that in words, not bullets.

But looking at the photos of both singers above, I can’t help myself thinking about the gender divide in the Arab world. We regularly talk about the injustice women face in the Arab world, and that is totally true and I am an avid advocate for the fight against that injustice, but taking a closer look, one would wonder if men are in no less horrible situation. In fact, Arab men are on the track of a death discourse. The value of life has taken a backseat next to distorted values of honor and pride.

If one looks at the most Arab followed tweeps online, one would see the list is divided between the female lebanese singers and the religious Saudi leaders! In fact Elissa herself enjoyed more than 1,375,000 follower and is ranked at number 4 in terms of online influence in the MENA region according to Klout. In comparison, Fadel Shaker’s twitter account shows 147,830 follower. That is a huge indication of the polarisation taking place in the Arab world between religious and non-religious people and how men and women fit into that.

While no body can deny Elissa’s popularity, one can not also deny that there is a big side of the Arabic culture that looks down at her and what she represents. In her fist video clip she appears with no clothes, only a blanket that covers her body and moves along with the wind. The song, “Baddi Doub” was a big hit, but Elissa had to fight for years to prove herself and break out of the accusations of her using her body to overcome her weak voice. The “blanket singer” is still how many sees her today after more than 15 years of her career.  It is also true that her appearance in that clip opened the door for a new wave of singers that flaunted their sexuality and femininity to gain popularity, something that is rejected by many men and women in the Arab world.

If you look at Fadel Shaker’s singing career, he had to face nothing of that. After all, he is a man. He has been pretty much respected for his voice and his songs. Sadly, he asked people not to listen to his music for he believes it is forbidden (haram!). What is interesting is the reaction of people to that change. While many people have been cursing and insulting him for appearing like a terrorist and fighting the Lebanese Army, others on twitter have been applauding him for “repenting” and choosing Allah’s path. They see him as a hero who is fighting to protect his fellow Sunneh.

For me, I would vote for Elissa heroism all the way. We had a history of looking down upon female artists especially those who escapes the boundaries of the culture and celebrates their femininity. For some, it may be an over exposer of women sexuality and objectifying of the subject of women, yet it may very well be what were are missing these days; more women celebrating their gender expressions in whatever way they see fit.

I really wish Fadel Shaker was there yesterday next to Elissa on stage, receiving an award for celebrating life.

Damn me! demanding my child right for my citizenship!


Oh damn me!

How selfish am I asking for the right to pass my citizenship to my husband and children.

Is it selfishness? or is it insanity?

Insane enough to ask for an equal status with Man
Insane enough to think that the half genetic code that I pass to my kids are not that inferior to the second half provided by my husband

After all, he is the MAN!

His genes comes through his sperm, that comes out of his phallus!

That damn phallus!

Mine are hidden in my vagina, nearly as invisible as myself

Invisible genetic code vs a phallic genetic code, that explains it all, no?
It has all been set from long time ago; children carry the name of their fathers.
That is what religion tells us, what God wants, what our traditions entails, and what our habits are accustomed to.

Simple and easy.

and in a modern, civil country, where a citizen is suppose to be a ‘citizen’, old habits get translated into laws
So yes, the invisibility of my genetic code is naturally transferred into the penal code.. of my country
Children who used to carry the name of their fathers, can only carry the citizenship of their fathers as well

Simple and easy.

Why change that? for women are not really full citizens. You know?

They don’t really pay the same amount of taxes, do they?
They don’t really work as hard as men, do they?
They are less smart, less educated, and less worthy, aren’t they?
and guess what? They get pregnant! and become burdon to their employers and society.
but hey, once they pop their child out, it is no longer theirs

Well, how could it be when the woman herself becomes a property for her husband? when she, herself, abandons her family and claims his family name?
Sorry, forgot that this usually happens ‘out of love’
He loves her too, don’t get me wrong, but a Man’s love is different too.. it comes with privileges..
such as ‘a citizen can be different than another citizen’ (based on sex, country of origin, religion, race, color, sexual orientation, etc)
of course there will always be pigs who are more equal than other pigs.. this is life.. deal with it

and damn me

I opened the pandora box.. and whispered ‘Equality’

woooooww! hold on! Equality? me and Man? is it even possible?

Equality that risks to destroy the ‘Jordanian Identity’?
Equality that risks to destroy the ‘Palestinians Identity’?
Equality that would pull all of the Palestinians and destroy any hope for a Palestinian future (as if that is happening tomorrow).
Equality that would kill Jordan and turn it into a substitute land!

This is what Israel wants, isn’t it? what the devil wants? what the immoral civil world wants? Equality!

I know, I am just being selfish. I am just looking at my own selfish gain without looking at the broader picture and the best for my country.
My country? Can I even say that? while being a woman?
The best for the country is what is best for its men. Remember, I am invisible?

So Jordanian men can marry Palestinian women all they want. They can marry up to 4! They can pull them all out of Palestine, grant them their citizenship and get as many children out of them who would only be Jordanians.

That wouldn’t affect the Palestinian cause… neither the Jordanian identity!
You know, Israel is like us, they don’t count women. Even the UN, they don’t really count women, do they?
They don’t even acknowledge the linkage between a child and a mother..

Remember? Mother genetic code is invisible..

Maybe I am just choosing the wrong time? you know ‘the global conspiracy’ that is after us? I am just a tool, I know it!

It has always been.. my rights are equal to human disasters! alien invasions! armageddons!

That what happens when I step up.. when I stop being that invisible!

Isn’t it?

Sincerely,

Haya