MeToo, I need to change

 

 

#MeToo, I’ve been catcalled in the streets in front of my own house,

#MeToo, I’ve had people say “3eib keda ya anesa” and “balash mashakel” when I called them out on it,

#MeToo, I fast pace every time I walk in the streets of Zamalek at 1 pm,

#MeToo, I had a taxi driver saying “manty zay el 3asal aho” when I smiled entering the cab out of nothing but mere politeness,

#MeToo, I’ve had to run to lose a group of eight guys following me and my friend on the 26th July Corridor at 7 pm at the young age of 15,

#MeToo, I had a car follow me and my friend asking us to get in for a good time when we were just 12, so we had to go inside the supermarket to hide until the car went away, oh and #MeToo, I asked the security guy of the National Bank of Egypt to help us deal with that car and he simply said no,

#MeToo, I had someone pinch my thighs in Tahrir square on the 30th of June 2013 -perhaps to fulfil a role he was paid to play or merely to satisfy a animalistic desire I can’t comprehend, and #MeToo, I was so in shock that the only reaction I was able to project was 15 minutes later literally screaming in the face of a guy who did so much as walk beside me, because from that day on, I no longer trusted men,

#MeToo, My Arabic teacher in grade nine used to give us girls the nastiest looks which we, at the time, did not fully understand and it wasn’t until the boys in our class had to tell us that I began to notice, #MeToo, and the worst part is that my classmates were not raised to do something when they witnessed such a thing and to just tell it to each other as if it’s another story to discuss and laugh off,

#MeToo, I discovered It didn’t take a middle-aged, middle-class deprived man to be a sexual harasser when a boy at school two years older than me walked behind me and, little did I know at the time, stared at my behind,

#MeToo, the one reason I started to understand female sexuality and the power -or should I say curse- it entails, was due to comments thrown by my guy schoolmates,

#MeToo, My friend got her behind slapped in tenth grade by some guy in the street while she was walking out of a restaurant to get into her car –a two-minute, one-mile walk, #MeToo, I felt the stares; the glimpses,

I heard the words, the one I already knew and the ones I, thanks to our beautiful Egyptian men, now know.

But #MeToo, I blamed it on walking long distances in the streets so I retreated to not even crossing the streets to get something from the shop across the block and now take the car to do it,

#MeToo, I stopped smiling; dropped being nice and polite and wore a serious poker face that still proved inefficient in keeping away the nasty comments anyhow,

#MeToo, I tried to come up with justifications for the reluctance of the security guy to help us and, at a failed attempt to understand this pathetic excuse of a human being, thought “He was on call,” or “He was doing his job,” as if protecting us and having any sense of value was not part of his duty as a man, as a person,

#MeToo, I have many political opinions but I am too scared to be politically active in this country where women activists such as Nawal Saadawi have been regarded as unrespectable; exposed to degrading comments and actions and have been subjected to criticism so harsh it attacked their honor as women,

#MeToo, I excused the silence of men who sat back and watched,

#MeToo, I understood the silence of women who got assaulted and were reluctant to act,

#MeToo, I have been very hesitant as to call whatever I experienced “sexual harassment” out of fear of belittling the experiences of those who have been victims of much more atrocious behaviour, namely rape, but also in escape of the responsibility that will fall on my shoulder once I label these acts as such; for I now have the burden to reclaim my rights, #MeToo, I’ve once excused degrading comments for a compliment, not knowing the line between both until two years ago,

#MeToo, I have felt ashamed of my body,

#MeToo, I had to add that “a two-minute, one-mile walk” detail to put emphasis on how bad it was, as if a longer walk can in any way justify what happened,

#MeToo, I have abided to double standards at one point or another,

#MeToo, I have found comfort in adapting a relaxed attitude when it came to this issue,

#MeToo, I am now playing by the harasser’s rules,

#MeToo, I am disappointed with myself for this,

#MeToo, I was hesitant sharing this and still am, because what will people think?

#MeToo, I am worried how my parents, two very educated doctors, will feel about me sharing these stories. I know I myself am worried, out of fear that It will make me -in some twisted way only existent in such paradoxical societies as ours- look bad,

#MeToo, I am angry

#MeToo, I need to change.

This is not to say that women are responsible: because they are not. Only the harasser is. But women have been programmed to excuse such behaviour and to question the legitimacy of their right to revolt against it, if they ever even consider that right. Harassment is not excusable, but if anything were to change, it would require women to be less apologetic and more ruthless in their quest. It will require also a forgoing of the privileges that come with the image of the weak woman in need of protection, privileges I must say I am happy to give up if it decreases harassment. Please protect and respect me, but not because I am a woman, but because I am human being worthy of respect and care and you are a decent human being capable of kindness and of doing good.

#HowWillIChange, which was done in response to #MeToo, is great. It does prove that humanity still exists. Yet, it’s not only abstract. More importantly; it’s Western-made, not Egyptian, not Middle-Eastern. It’s convenient how these men who can’t seem to shut up on the streets, at work, at schools, are now silent. But let them be silent, for this silence will only be tolerated for so long. A social change is coming in regards to the image of women in our Egyptian/Arab culture. Whether it will take place 10, 20 or 50 years from now, change is coming. And whether men are on board or not, it is coming.

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