Friday, September 30, 2011

Tosbe7oon 3ala watan

So anyway, all up in arms about sexuality around these places.  sek-sho-ality?  What on earth!  Yes, the divine concept that has brought us forth into existence to begin with. Thank you.

Ahmar bil khat el 3areed (Thick Red Line)- funny once translated- a controversial Lebanese talk show that makes our mothers (and fathers) squirm in horror, for its courageous topics, and even more courageous, but very sober faced, talk show host, malek maktabi.   This week's theme was targeting teenagers and those younger souls that have no more innocence left in them, according to the latest polls in Lebanon.  Sex apparently has begun at the tender age of 8.  No details provided. Several warnings and threats later, the show was broadcast and I was very amused. 

And horrified.  Not because it's a subject no one should ever discuss, ha! but because there were parents who insisted that their teenage kids should not know, would not care (that's the funniest), and WILL be FORBIDDEN from knowing the story of the birds and the bees up until they are knocking on marriage's door.  Mama, take this gun from me, I really (want to but) can not use it anymore. Dot dot dot.

Maktabi dealt with a lot of hell before the episode was broadcast, and right now he's probably dealing with a little more, the poor bespectacled soul.

I was full of mixed feelings while watching.  There were the awesome inquisitive kids, boys and girls, some awesome parents, some deeply moronic parents, a not very humorous Gynecologist, and a twelve year old girl (or was she eleven?  Or nine? I can't remember now) who was supposed to get married soon. Religion be damned.  She was very "well informed" says her spooky but proud father of five girls.   Not sure what to make of his rather discomforting persistence upon knowledge but I'd rather not think about it one bit. His daughter is a child for hell's sake!

What I want to inquire about, very politely indeed is, WHAT'S THE BIG FAT DEAL?  About sexuality I mean. I'm not trying to flaunt my (geographically unacceptable) liberal thoughts in anyone's face, but come on, for how long are we going to keep our heads stuck in the desert sands?   The world is moving at such a speed and to such elevated levels (not always but sometimes), that we cannot keep thinking we're all high and mighty with our "values" and our "morals" and our "proprieties" and our "gender roles" and our sanctimonious battles in the name of what's "holy" and "scared" and "untouchable."

She's eleven for crap's sake.  Well, as long as she can wash dishes and set the table straight, right?  I am green with nausea.

The problem that was very clear throughout the episode was that those who were against the "enlightenment" feared that this sort of knowledge will promote, instead of put the breaks on, the said activity.  What they cannot see  (which baffles me because weren't these large children, teenagers at one point in their sorry lives?), what they cannot fathom is that sticking a candle in the face of their confused but very hormone-driven adolescent might actually have the desired effect of abstinence and/or responsibility! Just mention private parts falling off due to contracted disease and voila!  a job well done.

ok, I joke.  But seriously, for how long will this sort of stupidity last in our "holier-than-thou" mentality? Things like ignorance is bliss, or what you don't know cannot hurt you ladee da cannot apply here, can it?   When you don't know about TV and you're a woman or a house cat in the 1950's, yes ignorance might be bliss.  You just don't know what you're missing.  No genitals will fall off from this gap in information.  When you don't know your girlfriend is cheating on you, some might say ignorance is bliss, but I beg to differ. Not for loyalty or honesty or any of that nonsense.  It's for what's hygienic that the poor boyfriend might want to know.  On a completely non-sentimental level. So no, ignorance is not bliss, not in this day and age, where the internet is a raging flow of images and false learning.

Sexuality aside, what about perspectives?   Finally, the frowning Gyno decided to utter a word or two about that towards the end of the episode, highlighting the idea that not only is sex education a MUST, regardless of religion and morality, there's the notion of how the man views the woman and vice versa, on a different level, when the mind and the heart might want to play a role or two.

How does the man view the woman?   We all know. And guess what? The woman views him the same way.  OMG.  She has desires?  No way!!  ok, enough melodrama.  If we don't know how to view each other beyond the physical, how do we expect to move beyond the physical in everything we do?  Something about the spirit and the mind.  hmmmm... the spirit and the mind.  Minus metaphysical dogma PLEASE.  Maybe that's not relevant in some communities.  A child!  What would a child know about respecting her body and mind and spirit if all she's been born to do in her wretched little life is grow up, get her period and then get hitched to some idiot who's either too young, like her, to know any better, and will with time and further misogyny, bring home a myriad of STD's  or too old and silly to know any better too, and will, with more time and even further silliness, bring home a myriad of STD's, or some domestic violence while he's at it. 

Perhaps I'm being offensive. Perhaps I don't care that I'm being offensive.

So you want to be like the West?!  is the sharp response of course.  No.  I don't want to be like anybody.  I just want to be the best version of myself.  Imagine I am a society.  As a society, I would like to gather around the camp fire, think about what I've collected from all the exposure I've gotten over the years, wars, travels, and the Mediterranean, and put it all under a heavy magnifying glass and try to improve upon it. Not throw it over the cliff if it feels mildly unfamiliar, and be all "Eastern cliche" and categorical about it.

Thank goodness for souls like Marcel Khalife and Nadine Labaki who try to find the diamond in the rubbish.  Once they find it, they try to brush it clean.  Our problem is that we want to either throw the rubbish, diamond and all, or expose only the rubbish, loud and clear, without looking for the jewels. 

Malek Maktabi was trying to shed some light, not only on our physical being-ness, but also on the roles we play in each others' lives and the lives of our children, who are raised in a completely different time and space, whether we like it or not.  Okay, I'm 33, I'm not that old.  If the mother won't teach her son to respect his body, mind and spirit, and that of his partner, I see little hope for anything in this sad little place of broken electricity and minefields.  

This eleven-year old will probably raise men and women of the same caliber of progressiveness. Clap clap clap.  Much, muchhh, to look forward to. 


  1. I Love the rant, agree with most of it. But I would be a bit more hopeful than you, in the sense that at least the show aired!!!! First step taken (to address and recognize an issue is HUGE) At least it got to some parents, Teens and children. Funny thing the difference in people’s perception and outlook, and how it effects are day to day lives. Maybe that little girl will turn up to be a great parent that changes the system when she grows up, because the show showed her another point of view? Or maybe because she lived a hard life and all the problems you mentioned did manifest, she doesn’t wish it upon any one and starts fighting against this. Who knows.

  2. You just might be right S.KH. I think I sounded too negative but for sure it is a good start. At least a first step was taken. This can only lead to more awareness whether people approve or not.

  3. I agree with Courtney Martin a feminist writer and blogger she says: “The main stream media often paints my generation as apathetic, but it’s much more accurate to say that we are deeply overwhelmed.” To put this in context, she was talking about changing the world and how we graduate from college thinking we are going to save the world and then you realize how hard it is and how it just doesn’t happen overnight. My addition to that is, sometimes we seem like we aren’t doing anything but it’s just not knowing where to start; also we belittle the first steps at times because of that overwhelming desire to spring change right away. Who was it that said “the smallest spark causes the mightiest fire” or something along these lines.
    It’s like your blog small articles with large impacts on us. I think I’m rambling now so I’ll stop. I think what I want to say to end this is don’t stop blogging and don’t stop your rants; they are changing people around the world. And thank you :)