Friday, March 8, 2013

Taking back the feminist debate to antiquity?

How many times have we seen this image of the violated woman - the victim - the beaten up? And by the way, this photo is not by any lebanese "women rights" NGO (you know the ones we avoid meeting with because we cannot tolerate their discourse). This is by Take Back The Parliament, an initiative according to my information which is not lead by "Nasawiya" but most of its meetings take place in Nasawiya's space. I will try to make this short and flush out exactly what's the problem with this poster.

But first let me take a moment to clear one thing:  due to political struggles between our feminist circles, we have been silenced for some time now, since every objection we've made have been dismissed as a personal problem or personal issue between members. That's why i need to make this clear, this is why i am stating it over and over again - that my problem with everything i object to is purely political - my problem with this poster is political, my problems with what Nasawiya have become is as well political and not personal.  As for the personal stuff, well not everybody on planet earth have to get along with everybody, and if you are a feminist and so am i that doesn't mean we have to be best friends, but that doesn't mean we cannot debate, object, speak, and do politics together! 

The Poster:

As my friend Abdalla cynically and clearly puts it  "Skout mana 3alemet elreda, when you say such thing you are assuming that women have a choice in the first place to avoid such violence, if women had the choice they wouldn't end up dead or bruised. And about the picture, I have been hit with shoes, belts, wood, hands, legs and the list goes on, and never ended up with such face, such photo puts the woman in a victimization position, and it seems like it directed to certain women, ignoring the fact that we as women our rights are violated every day and we don't look like that. Thousands of women are suffering from physical/financial/sexual and verbal abuse EVERYDAY, how many you see this bruise on their face. I say don't remove it, this way people would know how the people that want to take back the parliament view women" 

Yes, the victim narrative discourse is a problem, but we have all been part of reproducing it, i personally in the past created such artworks, but WE HAVE STOPPED. We have stopped because we grew in the feminist debate, we took the initiative to challenge all those pre-assumed given concepts that have been imposed on us by the hegemonic discourse in dealing with our rights. We have elevated the debate, and now it's in the danger of going back to where it was few years back.

So Are we really throwing all these years of talks, debates, fights against the system, protests, and flushing them down the take back the parliament sewers of misogyny? Can we at this moment of debate afford such a misogynist poster done by whosoever? Ok, to be fair, i know that if we have had these debates and we have challenged our prejudices, that does not mean all people are bound to do so, or had the privilege to do so. This is what brings me to question, where did we go wrong in all of this? How have we failed in communicating our movement to people? most importantly, how come such a statement comes out from TBP an initiative that does most of it's work in the Nasawiya space (a space that we invested years of our lives to create, to fight in, to object in, to feel safe in, to do radical politics in, to be feminist in)? Are we really de-prioritizing  and compromising all these years of work for few chairs in a the parliament? The parliament that is by the way: patriarchal - sectarian - corrupt etc...

Shit happens, lets' all agree on that, we all do mistakes, but the challenge here is how to avoid repeating our mistakes and avoid fucking up over and over within such a small time frame. Moreover, the bigger challenge is how to deal with such problematic issues when they rise. Do we simply ask the person who posted this poster to remove it? Will that solve the problem? Or do we use this incident to open a debate with the TBP members about it? Also, will we take this incident as a hint for us to take a step back and look at how are we sabotaging all the progress we have made, and how does that sort out our priorities!

Silence Is Consent - by saying this you are directly and indirectly blaming women for all the violence they had to endure, you are blaming them by saying "you agreed to it" not taking into consideration power - privilege - situation etc... and simply reproducing the misogynist system that blame women for everything they face.

I don't want to take back the parliament, I want to bring down this freaking parliament and i want it to fall along with all power hierarchies - all the capitalist corrupted patriarchal misogynist nationalist etc..bullshit that comes with it.... but since i might not be able to do this now, i would like to take back our feminist debate to where it was, away from the antiquity of victimization and misogyny.


krys said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Natalie Gh said...

answer of Take Back Parliament (copied/pasted from their Facebook page):

ملاحظة مهمة! بعدما نشرنا هذه الصورة، فسّرت لنا بعض الناشطات في الحملة أن الصورة والشعار لا يعبّران عن موقفنا تجاه العنف ضد المرأة بل يكرّسان الفكر السائد والمنمّط بأن العنف يتمثّل بالوجه المضروب وأن مسؤوليته تقع على المرأة الناجية منه. نود أن نعتذر عن هذا التمثيل الخاطئ فإن السكوت عن العنف ليس بعلامة رضى أبداً وواجبنا أن نعمل لأنظمة وأسس سليمة في القانون والمجتمع تسهل على النساء عملية التبليغ عن العنف والحماية منه بالأساس. لم نتدارك الأمر إلا بعد انتشار الصورة فنعتذر مجدداً عنها ونعيد التعبير عن التزامنا بمحاربة الذكورية السائدة في لبنان عموماً وفي عقولنا أولاً. نتركها هنا بدل الحذف لنتعلم ونتذكر.

ورقة حملة استرجاع البرلمان عن حقوق المرأة