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I want to start collecting pictures of people telling me why they need Feminism in Arabic… if you want to participate then just write out this sentence and complete it and take a picuture and email it to me (shalabieh [@] gmail.com) or post it to the blog here 🙂

_______أحتاج النسوية

If you don’t know what I am talking about take a look at the previous post Who needs Feminism? 

 

 

 

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I came across this post today (http://feministsindia.com/who-needs-feminism/) and I would love to do an Arabic version.
Here is the video from the post, anyone in? 

Last night I was coming home from Hamra and passed through the Bshara Khoury intersection. What I saw was very disturbing. A police car was smashed up so badly, and not from a car accident. The proliferation of soldiers and police throughout the intersection was jarring to say the least and the smoke from burning tires was dissipating. What was more disturbing was past the intersection and before there was no such signs of violence or dissent.  Chatting with the service driver I found out it was a very strong objection by the people to the continued, arbitrary and chaotic electricity cuts in the city of Beirut.

I’ve been in Beirut on and off for 9 months now and one thing that has been constant was the electricity rationing. In central Beirut we are lucky we only get one cut a day and it last 3 hours. There is a schedule, a cycle you can chart and follow. But what has been happening in the summer and due to the excessive heat additional rationing has been introduced; only it has no rhyme or reason. But, even with this erratic additional cutting we are still privileged. If you are not living in central Beirut this means you have electricity for four hours at a time and then it is cut for four hours and back again for four and off again.  GO farther afield and you get less and less electricity with longer periods of cuts that can go up to 12 hours.

Tourists don’t really have to deal with any of this, they may not even notice it, but for the people living here it can be a nightmare. You can’t store anything in a fridge. You can’t turn on a fan let alone an A/C, you sometimes have to deal with total darkness, electrical appliances sometime just frizz out and die, if you live or work in a tall building you are screwed. I am sure you can think of further horrors related to being without electricity.

A lot of people have found solutions around the electricity cuts, but not everyone can afford them and so, even though I was disturbed I was not surprised by the public display of anger. What did happen though, was that in my mind I thought of the water rationing and the shortages in Jordan and how if you don’t consume carefully your water ration will run out and you won’t be able to go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, bathe or more importantly drink and eat. Yet, Jordanians don’t go out and demand more water, burn tires and make very visible their dissatisfaction with the state of affairs. And I wonder why is that?

We keep saying the next war in the region will be over water, yet we wait patiently for it. I wonder if it is because we are all aware that this resource is not “generated” but rather dependent on forces of nature (over simplification and totally ignoring water treaties here). Is it because even in the winter we are constantly told how much water we have in our dams, what our consumption is and we are all collectively responsible for the water (just think of all the complaints the water company gets if there is a burst pipe in a street)? Or is it because we take it lying down and are not used to vocalizing our displeasures in such visible and violent ways because a- we aren’t used to it, b- we are afraid of the consequences.

I don’t really have any answers here and it might be I am comparing apples to oranges. But the question in my mind is would I rather have water or electricity rationed and cut? I don’t know. I do many things that I normally wouldn’t when there is no electricity, but I don’t know how long I can handle it in this unbearable humid heat. I’ve also have learned to conserve water, take bucket showers and value water like the scarce commodity it is, but I like flushing toilets and running facets. So where do draw the line on tolerable and intolerable things we can live with and without?

So after the lull of work in Ramadan and the Eid holiday, October has come and with a vengeance. There is so much going on that I am afraid to loose track! Here are some of the things happening in October and I will try to be on top of things and write more often about these happenings and more.

October is…

• All month long: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

• Oct 2: Hamzet Wasel kite making activity and the Walk for Right to Play

• Oct 9: Municipality of Amman’s Centennial Parade

• Oct 8-21: Follow the Women bike ride for peace

• Oct 15: Blog Action Day 2009: Climate Change

• Oct 17: The Amman International Marathon

• Oct 24: 350.org Action day (Hamzet Wasel will be conducting an action too)

I am sure I’ve missed many important things in October so feel free to add to the list.

How many times have you stood and waited for someone to show up for a meeting, or event of some sort? Or better yet, how many times have you started to set up a meeting only to be asked is that English time or Arab time (actually replace Arab with the appropriate nationality depending on ethnicity or location or both)? How many times have you been to some government or semi government facility and left cursing Arabs and their disorganization? What about raised voices and heated discussions that are symptomatic of our cultures and are considered uncivilized by some? Or, or, or … the number of incidents, scenarios, or what have yous that we seem to be unhappy with, and attribute dismissively to our backward Arabness are numerous and uncountable if you ask me. Yet every time I hear that excuse I start to boil!


I hate it when people make these sweeping statements, Why? Because we perpetuate this stereotype simply by continuing to use it. I am punctual, I will stand in line and ask others to do so, I will try to apply some sort of organization to what it is I am doing. I hate raising my voice (despite being loud) and so I refuse to accept that this is how Arabs behave because I too am an Arab. And attributing this insult to me is not acceptable – even by other Arabs.

For too long we have been selling ourselves short by setting the bar for ourselves so low. When our expectations are all those negative attributes then that is where we stay and yet when we travel or are asked to maintain a different expectation (like “English Time”) we comply. I am a firm believer in setting high standards and expectations. Communicating those expectations and setting them early on means that most likely they will be met regardless of ethnicity and culture! Many people may disagreae. But you will be surprised how you can with persistence, consistency, clear communication and time how things may change.


If I make an appointment with someone then I make it clear that I will wait 15 minutes. Once those 15 minutes are up I am gone. My time is just as important as theirs. If I set a meeting to start and end at specific times then out of respect to everyone there then it should start and end on time and if it doesn’t then I will leave – just ask my mates at Toastmasters how many times I have left on time despite the meeting going on even if for another 5 minutes. If I expect everyone to line up then I tell them that and if they are out of line so to speak then they get asked to get back in line- this happened at the duty free at the airport a while back when this woman tried to jump the line at the cash register, she pretended not to notice the line and ignored it. She approached the desk from the other side despite the line that was forming with about 5 or 6 people in queue already, I was third in line. She very clearly ignored us all and very importantly tried to interrupt the already on going transaction. After observing her for a short while I decided to say something; and say something I did I was polite but assertive. She was very unhappy about being caught out and tried to say she had been there before and refused to move, she then turned away to ignore us further and placed her items on the counter as soon as the previous transaction was completed. The cashier then refused to take her purchases and asked her politely to join the queue that had formed. Everyone involved was Arab! So the excuse that we as Arabs are disorderly and unorganized is not true. There was a clear system and we all followed it.


When I talk to people about this and try to find out where this chaos, this lack of respect for time, these behaviors come from we theorize about many a different things. Mine view and I stand by it is colonization. We were considered inferior, heathen, uncivilized..what have you by the wonderful white man that came and tried to impose their views of what is better. What ensued was very complex and the residual effect of all of that can still be felt today; just think of how we view someone with a degree from white country vs a local degree, or better yet the views of someone living in the west with no degree vs a person with a degree here. And so with this inherit insecurity and inferiority complex we attribute bad time management to Arabness!


Well I dont know why this is a news flash to people but there are numerous Arabs were are timely, organized, soft spoken, unapologetic, set the bar really high for themselves and maintain it. And we should look to those Arabs and others and set our bars that way, find positive role models within our communities. We should communicate expectations and needs and respect them. We should not be afraid to do the work… we are not lazy brown people and we should not keep making the excuse or the complaints we are Arab! Instead we should look to find solutions.


I’d like to leave you with an example. The passport and civil status department in Jordan used to be the most chaotic and disorganized of bureaucratic offices. I had the pleasure of visiting that department more than once this year, and I do mean pleasure. There was a clear system, there was a help desk, there was a numbering electronic device and if people were lost they could ask. Instructions were constantly being given to people who needed them and people complied. This meant that you went to the window when your number was called, there was no crowding, shouting or shoving of papers from over your shoulder and there was plenty of room to sit and wait when needed. In each instance I was out in under an hour. That too is being Arab. I almost always end my posts with a question or two and here is my question for today: Where is your bar? Is it high enough? What’s your excuse?

A wall is being built that separates, divides, and excludes. It takes a play area, a view point, a rendezvous site from it community, from all of us in Amman. This wall is going up on around the lands near the citadel. The site is being expanded to include refreshment stands, bathrooms and a public plaza for events and concerts. But all this is being walled in by a massive concrete wall that will be beautified by laying stone on top of it.

The wall stands about 3.5 meters high allowing for the complete sanitization of the experience for who ever is inside while excluding everyone outside. The wall discriminates indiscriminately; you are either inside – after paying a fee of course, or outside.

This wall takes away the Jabal Al Qalaa play area where little girls and boys head to for some space away from the tiered and clustered homes they live in. It is where they fly their kites or kick around their balls. It is where they sit and look out a beautiful city they call home.

GAM has responded to a community concern on the website Creative Jordan with a response that does nothing to answer the issue but merely tries to justify the situation and actually reproaches us for our agitated state of distress because we care for our city not to be gentrified and sanitized for visitors of privilege whether they be tourists or locals.

I urge you each one of you to read the discussion thread and make your voice heard. We all have voices and this affects each and every one of us in Amman, not just the Jabal Al Qalaa residents.  The discussion can be found  here.

Jabal Al Qalaa- the citadel is a place where each one of us has a memory, a story, an experience… don’t let them take that away from you by modernizing a piece of history. History should remain untouched for us to interpret and understand through our senses not to be sanitized and modernized and made something it is not.

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OK so for the first in a series of events we will be walking below are the details:

Jabal Amman Walk

Date: Friday, April 3, 2009

Time: 5:30 pm

Meeting point: Jabal Amman- Rainbow street- public square across the street from Sadeq home

Cost: ZERO 😀

Duration: As long as you want to walk with me or chat J but I would say an hour or two at most.

Jabal Elweibdeh Walk

Date: Saturday, April 4, 2009

Time: 5:30 pm

Meeting point: Duwwar Paris/ Paris Square (near French Cultural Center and Stop n Shop)

Duration: As long as you want to walk with me or chat J but I would say an hour or two at most.

Comments:

Wear comfortable shoes, parking available if you take the right at Sadeq home – there is a new parking lot on the right in that street. Bring friends.

Stay tuned for:

1- Kite flying in Jabal Al Qalaa

2- Treasure Hunt in village in Al Gour

3- Renovations of a Women’s Center  in Gaza Camp


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