4 Things I’ve Been Dying to Say About Being a Female Writer in the Middle East
Sexism exists in about anything and everything we do. No one who inhabits the current Middle Eastern society is exempt from it. Some of the toughest lessons I had to learn about sexism came through writing. I found that my capacity to articulate my opinion turned against me. So here they are, the sum total of the things I have learned so far.
I don’t always ground my writings and opinions exclusively in a subjective experience
As a female writer, if I were to write a piece about inequality due to my personal encounters with inequality, it would be problematic. If a male writer, however, were to write about that same topic he would likely be applauded for his firm grasp on the full reality of the situation in the Middle East.
It seems that when a woman writes there is always an assumption that she can only recount a narrative containing a relational and subjective truth, but when a man writes we are much more willing to view his writings as ones that contain a universal truth.
Sexism is, ironically enough, gender blind…
A woman who writes — or paints, or takes a picture, or directs — does not essentially mean she has a feminist agenda, or she ought to have a feminist agenda. Indeed, a female can have a perspective that is not circumscribed by a fight for women’s rights.
Additionally, sexism does not discriminate along gender lines. I think this particular kind of illusion — the one that holds that women are somehow immune from sexism — is especially dangerous because it is especially exploited by some men to say “3ala fekra ba2a fy setat shayfa eno el ta7orsh mos2lyet el bent aw eno el set lazem tedreb 3shan telem nfsha” (by the way some women themselves believe that sexual harassment is more often than not the woman’s fault, and some women bring domestic beatings onto themselves by being provocative).
When and if I choose to write about feminism, it is not because I hate men
I do not hate men, and actual feminists don’t. They really, really don’t. Feminism is simply the notion of man and woman are equal. That’s it.
I am not “too” anything, I just want to write!
Female writers are often placed in one of two boxes. The first box finds her glorified in some over the top way, and in the second box she finds herself facing waves and waves of criticism for being “too honest.” There is nothing more valuable to a writer than words, and words do not have a filter for gender.