Pre-post: I actually wrote this on July 25th (while I was in Oman), and it was triggered by the harassment we girls were facing each time we'd walk around - men whistling at us, trying to talk to us, stopping their cars to ask us to get in their cars with them (even when we had our long black abayas as is expected of women in Ibri, Oman - so there: harassment isn't about clothing!), blowing kisses towards us, staring at us (OH MY GOD!!), and so on. But as I started talking about harassment, I went on to talk about patriarchy and feminism and what an enemy patriarchy is of not just women but men as well. I realized that if CLS or Oman comes across this post, it could be interpreted as an attack on Oman or Omani society. That's not what I was or am doing, but since I got in trouble previously for talking about my experience with an Omani family's maid and what hell she goes through and then I criticized the servanthood system in Oman and almost got expelled from the program, I've to be careful. One of the many lessons I learned from that was to never, ever, ever, EVER say anything negative about Oman, Omani society, Omani people, Omani culture, Omani religion, Ibadhis, or something that could even be interpreted as negative (... and that led me to believe that if I can't say anything negative about this society, no matter how true it is, I refuse to say anything positive about it, either, then.) So while harassment is a problem everywhere, and I wasn't focusing on Oman in the post below, I had to postpone publishing this post until I was safely back in the U.S.
God bless freedom of speech. God bless America for letting me blog about whatever I want. Freedom of speech and expression should not be a privilege, but unfortunately it is. Long live all freedoms!
I've too much to say right now, but I have other things to do at the moment, so I'll just say this briefly: a woman's worst enemy is patriarchy. Actually, a man's worst enemy is patriarchy, too. Below is a meme that explains it much better than I can, but I'll write about this myself more in a few weeks and will explain what has triggered this statement that we need to get rid of patriarchy asap. I'll give you a hint: harassment, men thinking that public spaces belong to them only and hence when a woman shares them with them, they think they have a right to stare at her, whistle at her, blow kisses towards her, touch her, grope her, call out to her, talk to her, and so on. Women being taught that they're "like precious pearls" and so therefore must cover up their bodies because their bodies belong only to their husbands, "not to all other men"! Do men's bodies belong to everyone and that's hwy they don't have to cover up, that's why they're not taught the same thing? Besides, I don't wanna be a "precious pearl"; I prefer being a human being with a mind and body of my own. Men, too, are human beings. No human, no gender is delicate by nature - we're all decliCATED when we're consistently taught through our lives that "you can't do this because you're incapable of doing it" and so on. Words are powerful, as are the messages that such harmful thinking sends women and men, girls and boys - and everyone in between.
Harassment is extremely dis-empowering. It makes you feel so little. It angers you that there's absolutely nothing you can do about what you're facing because responding to it and defending yourself may "invite" more of it.
The best solution for it is for every single parent and guardian (and, no, not just mothers) to instill this message in their sons that women are NOT your property; you cannot harass a woman; you should not stare at a woman just because
So much for the whole "lower your gaze" business. Muslim men love telling us women what our responsibilities and obligations in Islam are, and most of those aren't even from God and certainly are not found in the Qur'an, but one of the few things they are responsible for is to lower their damn gaze - what do they do? NOTHING! They go, "Well, I would lower my gaze if you didn't exist." That is, if I weren't in front of them, if I weren't in the public space with them, if I didn't walk around like I want and need outside the privacy of my home.