response


The other day my mother had a gathering. She invited her friends and sisters for some fun and entertainment. So the house was flooded by about 10 to 15 women. There was dancing, food, jokes and of course gossip and idle chit chat. Inevitably, at least one woman would come up to me and make that fateful comment. Talking to me about that dirty three letter word without saying it.

 

Throughout the years I have come across ever possible approach from these women. This includes the veiled compliments, the suggestions, the questions to the outright self important proclamations. They would be direct or indirect, they would be public or discreet, supportive or hostile… you name the approach and they’ve used it. The most common approach right now is marriage and how I should be focus on that and sure enough the comments about my figure would follow shortly.

 

That’s right you read correctly, they talk to me about being a bit FAT girl! Fat is a dirty word in our society, and by society I mean global society. It doesn’t matter where you hail from you need to be a size 4 or less. And what is worse here you have to have a skewed relationship with food. You make massive quantities of the most decadent dishes and deprive yourself of them. You have to be petite, tiny, slim-waisted and dainty so that you are an eligible young lady and prostitute yourself before these older women to find an eligible man and have a suitable life.

 

What is funny is none of these women have these figures they encourage me to have. These women do not have the life I want to lead, know nothing about me except from that sliver of interaction and yet they presumptuously think that I am unhappy in my skin! I wish it ends there too, at least there is a context in which these comments are made. I really don’t like it when strangers come up to me and tell me I have such a pretty face if only I would lose the weight, or a shop vendor or tailor makes that comment. And don’t you just love the people that try to push those magic weight loss products?! These people may think that they are doing me a service by telling me about my body and what is best for it. It’s as if they have a right to judge me solely by a number on a scale without knowing anything else about me.

 

I have been fat since I was a baby. To me being thin is being a size 14, I am tall, big, round, curvy and yes that dirty word we all try to avoid… FAT. And you know what I am not apologetic about it anymore, I don’t feel sorry for myself, I don’t think I need to change and when one of these women comes up to me today or a stranger comes on the street says something my responses are along these lines: who gave you the right to talk about my body, excuse and what do you know about me to make that comment or very proudly I love my curves and they love me and they go everywhere I go!

 

When I was growing up I never thought of myself as fat despite being so, I was athletic and active and never really felt heavy. Yet the world around me made me feel such, but as I grew older I came to understand my body and respect it and demand what I could of it by taking care of it. Being healthy to me is more important that the number on the label. I was also adamant, from childhood, about people respecting me for my intellect, my personality and not my looks.

 

But it still took me a long time to come to terms with that dirty word and use it: fat. Fat is not acceptable to our world today, but fat I am and like I said to that woman and I will repeat it as often as necessary, I love my body, I love curves and I love my fat! If you have problem with fat then please take it elsewhere because this big fat girl loves herself enough to say enough.

When the assault on Gaza was taking place something clicked. It wasn’t expected, it wasn’t planned for, and it just happened. It happened here, it happened there, it happened just about everywhere. People were outraged, as they always are, but this outrage manifested itself differently. People did not just sit at home and lament the latest Israeli tantrum. People poured out into the streets and took that outrage into action.

There were demonstrations, there were donation drives, there were organized activities, the blogosphere went crazy. People mobilized themselves and others in a way and with such determination that I had never seen before. But now what?

The energy that was generated was used in very productive and proactive ways at the time but now three weeks after Israel “withdrew” that energy is nowhere to be seen. Activism is not a way of life here. We are not volunteers by nature. Yet this experience has proved we have what it takes to make a difference in each other’s lives and in the lives of those we don’t know. So why cant we keep up the momentum? Why do we only have to react and respond to emergencies? Can we not build this kind of community today and sustain it?

I have a friend who made a comment that sticks with me and is very relevant “why do we have to volunteer for death, cant we work for life?”

This is being circulated around the web and came into my inbox. We need to be vocal we need to be visible we need to use logical rhetoric. I am reposting their email that calls all of us to action. View their work so far and see how you can help!

 

Thanks.

S.

 

Dear friends,


We are a group of Arab women from Jordan who have come together in
response to the vicious attacks by Israel on Gaza. Our aim is to spread awareness across the globe on the atrocities and encourage all responsible citizens to act in the name of humanity. Help us give voice to those who have been silenced by doing the following: 

 1. Visit our YouTube links and rate us positively!

We need your views so we can become the first Arab youtube clip to get onto the most viewed page
The YouTube clips address the following:
On the Humanitarian Situation

On Israel’s Violations of Humanitarian Law
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxZoiYvNuqw&NR=1

On the Media Spin
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-8GqHL2J-I&feature=related

Our Call to Action
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAonLJHEuak

 

2. Forward this message to all your friends and encourage them to do the same! Make sure everyone you know watches these videos!

 3. Join our Facebook group and share our videos with your friends!

4.  Add our links on your website and/or blogs.

5.  View our Call to Action episode on You Tube on the 30th of January 2009 so that we may reach our goal of becoming the most viewed clip on YouTube so as to give the crisis in Gaza the exposure it desperately needs.

 

We need your support! Please help us! For more information, please
email at
voicesforpalestine@gmail.com

In solidarity,
Voices for Palestine
www.voicesforpalestine.com

 

This video was forwarded to me and though we think of Egypt right now as complacent in it stand against what is happening in Gaza, this video shows Egyptian actors coming together to rally the Egyptian street against complacency.

 

Watch till the end. http://vimeo.com/2885082

I got this in my inbox recently and I thought it will be helpful to those in Jordan. I do not have contact info so try the website in the poster or go to the event on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=54389778063

 

 

Souq Gaza on Sat 17th from 10am – 3pm.

Souq for Gaza: People have been calling and asking

How they can help and what they can donate?

So here’s an initial response

 

First, it’s easiest to start with what will NOT sell  

Please do NOT donate clothes / shoes  / blankets etc we cannot handle it at the souq

 

What will sell, what should you donate?

The best GUIDELINE is: Would YOU buy it?  Would someone you know buy it?

 

After discussions here’s a list of things we think might sell and that YOU might donate  We will group them to sell:

·         Unwanted gifts / Handcrafts  (JD5 upwards)

·         Books:  recent, interesting (JD2 upwards)

·         Movies / Music CDs DVDs ¡V but NOT pirated please  

·         Food:  Bottles / tins  /jars / packets  (eg local olive oil)  (JD3 upwards )

·         Cakes, cookies ¡V homemade for our coffee shop

·         Household goods / used but still desirable: pots, dishes, pans, vases, framed pictures, lamps

 

We will try to get the most money possible for your item. So give us a guideline price. At the end of the day, whatever is not sold, we will sort and decide: what to keep for the next sale (there will be a re-launch of souq soon we hope) and what to hand over to Entity Green Training for recycling.

 

Tasks you can take on

  • Walking round the souq collecting money in buckets
  • Running the raffle / tombola
  • Helping us pack up the souq at the end of the day (3:00- 4.30)
  • Organizing your friends and YOU run a stall

 

Institutions

If you work for an institution, then please mobilize ¡V you have huge networks of influence. Get you staff to run a stall: treat it as a team-building, management training exercise.


“How you spend your money is how you vote on what exists in the world.”

 

 

 

aid-gaza-performance

For those of you that want to protest but are not into demonstrations or want to do more than donate here are a few media and art initiatives that are alternatives you may want to explore. Please note that I am only aggregating these and do not have more information than is posted. Please contact the persons indicated for more information.

 


Initiative 1: Compass To Palestine

Person: Inas Bseiso

Contacts:

email- inasbseiso@gmail.com

facebook: Inas H Bseiso

 

As a response to the continuous suffering of the Palestinian people, I am initiating a project titled Compass to Palestine.

 

Monument, art installation, expression, contribution- these are just some of the words that I can use to describe it.

 

Please read the brief excerpt below and forward to your contacts.

 

Waiting for your feedback,

 

Best,

Inas Bseiso

 

 

Compass To Palestine

 

We honor our dead

Our dead are not numbers, they had stories.

Put a face to every number

Tell a story for every number

All photos and stories will be mounted on a compass

The arrow of the compass leads to Palestine

This compass will be designed and sculpted by volunteering artists and designers

The compass will be built on a piece of land in Jordan

The compass will be a living commemoration of the heroic sacrifices of the people of GAZA on the path to Palestine

The compass will be a living commemoration of the hope of freedom for people under occupation

Preserve the dignified memory of our dead

Your help is needed

 

*******

Send pictures and stories to inasbseiso@gmail.com or Inas H Bseiso on Facebook

 

Initiative 2: Media Initiative for GAZA

Person: Huda Shashaa

Contact: huda_shashaa@jrf.org.jo

 

A group of 4 Jordanian women have come together in response to the appalling attacks of Israel against Gaza, to give voice to the victims of this war and speak of the atrocities so hesitantly covered by western media channels. To date, the world remains silent as both Western and Arab leaders complacently watch another Israeli attack against the starving and imprisoned population of 1.5 million Gazans. 

 

The objective of this weekly discussion will be to reflect on the week’s atrocities against Gazans and work to debunk many of the lies and rhetoric used to justify Israel’s aggression and subsequently deflect attention from the real issues at hand. 

 

Each discussion will be 10-15 minutes, once a week, and will be structured to reach the largest number of people in the western world. 

 

We have had enough and we will no longer be silenced.

 

What it takes:

 

  • 5 dedicated women willing to discuss the topic in an educated manner. These women must be well-read and capable of expressing themselves in English in a captivating and passionate way.
  • Researchers to compile numbers of casualties, news and relevant articles. 
  • Producer to develop the program for each episode (the flow) 
  • Guest speakers
  • Dedicated camera crew

 

 

Initiative 3: Video Messages

Person:

Contacts:

Dear Friends,

 

Due to the ongoing Israeli aggression on Palestinian in Gaza, a group of activists in Jordan have come up with an idea to produce video testimonials or messages of people’s opinions on what’s happening in Gaza.

 

Instead of writing our opinions, we want to give faces and names to our voices, and break the stereotype of Arabs by showing people of all ages and classes speak their mind eloquently and directly to the camera.


Our target audience is the Western public. This can be achieved through sending these video messages to the western and international political and media figures such as President-elect Barak Obama‘s, the British PM , the French President, the head of the EU, the chairperson of the CNN and BBC and uploading these messages on their websites. We’re also aiming to upload these testimonials on websites such as U-Tube, TV channels.

 

Our goal is to saturate this medium with enough messages to create an audio-visual database of our voices. 


Each testimonial should not exceed 1 minute, with the content being every person’s name and nationality (city), their opinions in regards to what’s going on in Gaza, to demand a solution, or their interference to stop the Israeli aggression and/or the Israeli occupation. 

 

Of course every person is entitled to his/her opinion, but I urge you to take a look at the articles below and get an idea of the language used in order for us to speak the language that the West understands, and therefore create more powerful messages.

 

Since the duration of the testimonials is short please pick one thought and express it well.

 

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article4933.shtml


http://www.mepeace.org/forum/topics/the-true-story-behind-this-war


http://www.ifamericansknew.org/cur_sit/sheets.html


http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10055.shtml


http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10056.shtml


http://electronicintifada.net/bytopic/boycott-divestment-sanctions.shtml

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jan/02/israelandthepalestinians-barackobama


http://bit.ly/1zCC

 

If you are interested please get in touch with Salwa to facilitate your participation.

 

There are many more ways in which you can contribute. I will be more than happy to post these various initiatives if you send them my way. The killing must stop. People have to know we can not remain silent.

A few days ago I got a fortune cookie that said “silence is the best response”, and it got me thinking about silence and about responses. We’ve been taught that actions speak louder than words, so does this make silence an action or just a lack of words? Either way it got me thinking about my responses to different things and different situations. 

In anger I usually respond with silence the first few times, but then if you don’t get it, I let it rip. I don’t scream and shout but rather very quietly make sure to use words that are polite yet loaded for maximum hurtful impact. Its very rare that I reach such a stage. I can only think of one occasion last year, the year before that also one occasion only then my anger had been festering for a few months and the choice words were not said but written in a long long letter. I have mixed feelings about those occasions, the words made me feel better each time, but I had come to regret those actions later on. Would silence have been the best response though, I don’t know.


 

It seems that with time we learn how better to deal with our emotion, our actions and our reactions.  In the last couple of years I’ve learnt to open up and let things out. I write, talk, walk, dance, and allow the steam out in various ways. This way I may remain silent verbally, but it is not my actual response. So I guess silence is not the best response, but its how you let the words or emotions out that makes all the difference.