Careful!! The Masses might not like the Particular!!

Hill Teaches Media Power to Arab and Muslim Girls | Womens eNews

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I’ve been thinking a lot in the last 24 hours or so about how individuals who live in invisible and silenced enclaves might claim a piece of social space in which their register has room to expand from silence/whisper to silence/singing intensely flowing with the full power of uninteruppted Self–expressive, present, and audible. Wesch’s digital ethnography and the disruptive potential of mini-narratives has created a steady rumbling of voices like water building to a boil…What gets cooked in its heat?

Here’s a story about girls learning to use media to tell their own stories, acquire a position in the political spectrum in order to contribute to the conversation, and make their needs, opinions, ideas heard. How does it feel to be a problem? (Have you read this book? About being young and Arab in America? Perhaps another important question to consider–for all of us to consider–is how does it feel to be defined, identified, and contained by the dominant discourse, ways of seeing, or crap spewed on Fox Tv. And when young Muslim women take steps to define themselves…well, what kind of uproar does that create in…where…in NEW YORK CITY?

A note about the t-shirts that got the girls in trouble: Intifada NYC. Yes, we all know about the Palestinian intifadas but consider the actual meaning of the word in Arabic: shaking off. SHAKING OFF. Yes, get your effing reductionistic, essentialist, suffocating definitions of MY identity off me. I can identify with that feeling. It happens all over the world and the best way to experience it is to become a foreigner. Interestingly, I experienced this mentality and pressure to live up to my externally imposed devilish identity/reputation when I lived in Cairo.

There, as a Western woman, I was commonly perceived as a hussy, immoral, a Zionist sympathizer, and a strangely seductive temptress that needs to be…I don’t know. I’m basing this description on MANY MANY TOO MANY conversations with cab drivers!! Okay, okay, statisticians…I’m sure we can identify all kinds of variations…but my point is…there was very little space for me to articulate my own identity. Interesting, isn’t it, that so often the Western liberal ‘concern’ for Muslim women (and you can sense this in Hill’s ideas about what the girls need to do and become–as if she wants to impose a newer more radical identity on girls firmly based in feminist ideals) is that they are silenced and isolated because of big, mean, Muslim men. I am not arguing that there isn’t gender discrimination, human rights violations, or inequity in Muslim and non-Muslim countries alike–my point is: WTF America? Who stole the pubic space that was once available for self-expression, political engagement, and the messy intermingling of multiple and textured identities that have come together in one place that promised to uphold that space for free expression for all?

All this because a group of girls want to shake off the stereotypes that strangle them. Interesting.

Tell me what you think.


About kalisaddhu

"The Method is to Know the Mind." View all posts by kalisaddhu

4 responses to “Careful!! The Masses might not like the Particular!!

  • Hairpin

    You wrote “my point is: WTF America? Who stole the pubic space that was once available for self-expression, political engagement, and the messy intermingling of multiple and textured identities that have come together in one place that promised to uphold that space for free expression for all?

    Unfortunately, this public space of which you speak has always been a farce. Self-expression is only accepted if the person expressing is a celebrity twit. Political engagement is more of the wedding variety than the debating variety as bipartisan politics make great bedfellows. Oh they’ll argue a he said/she said, but one still has to tow the Republican or Democrat party line to be listened to. Really? A democracy of almost 300 million people only has two choices? Wow.

    I agree with you. I wish I was still in NYC. I’d might buy my own Intifidah t-shirt. I’d be sure to wear my yarmulka with it.

    Here’s hoping and praying that these girls will further open the doors of oppression whether it be gender, religion, or geographic.

    Keep up the writing!

    • kmariej

      Thanks Eric! What are you ideas for carving out a spot to assert your own identity, ideas, etcetera? Don’t you use your humor to do that? Is that something that you used the stand-up comedy stage for?

      • Hairpin

        What a terrific question Kelly and I probably won’t answer it sufficiently in one sitting. My most difficult struggle is between myself and humanity. Do I need to be an individual or can I be a worker bee? The answer as I type is “no.” Living in a tempest is not initially easy, but as I continue to change my surroundings, my convictions and foundations become stronger. For me there aren’t a lot of black and whites, love the people that love you, exercise your mind, body, and soul, and grow. With Alejandro things will change even more. I think in the past, I would try to guess what the change might be and fight it, but now I’m particularly fond of “Be the rock that the water crashes on, not the water crashing on the rock.”

        As for comedy, I think it was a huge insecure scream, “look at me, I’m significant!” I’m more okay with who I am now. I don’t need comedy anymore and probably won’t pursue it when I return to the states.

        Please keep the particulars coming . . .

      • kmariej

        Eric, You’ve given me a lot to think about…so I’m going to reflect before writing more. Love to you, Patty, and Mr. Alejandro.

        By the way, thank you for your encouragement. 🙂

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