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Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

Saudi’s Human Pink Ribbon

On Thursday, I woke up with a sense of pride. I was going to be part of an awareness event in Saudi Arabia. The biggest by far, not just in Saudi but the world.  It was a Breast Cancer awareness day and Saudi Arabia was organizing the biggest yet human pink ribbon. It didn’t really matter to me that we might break a record; I just wanted to believe that I am participating in a greater cause. Ok, it also felt good to be part of a new record while am at it.

A few months ago my uncle died of cancer, his brother years before him, and a distant relative died of breast cancer before that, and two years ago a very close friend was diagnosed with cancer.  Every day now, we hear of celebrities we admire battle cancer. When I was younger, I was told that breast cancer is a punishment from God brought on women who displayed their beauty on-screen or did bad things. I admit that for a while I believed it. (Don’t judge, I was about 6 at that time =) ). Cancer has now become a personal fight for every female and male.  I would like to believe that if I am ever diagnosed with cancer, that medicine would have reached a point where it could fight it. This is why I went to the event.  I found nothing of that and felt extremely left out.

So what went wrong at the event? Or rather why was I disappointed?

In my college years, I once participated in the AIDS walk and helped organize a number of very successful awareness and fundraiser events. To this, I have gotten the common response: we are in not the US, so you can’t compare. Yes, that’s right. I shouldn’t compare because we are supposed to be better than any other country. For God’s sake we host Hajj on a yearly basis (an assembly of millions of people from different nationalities) so why do we always underestimate ourselves?

On our way out of the stadium, one of the 1,000 ladies who also decided to leave early suggested that we needed men to organize us. This, to me, was a blow and an insult as a woman.  Why do we think so low of ourselves that we need men to tell us what to do?  Are we really incapable of organizing anything ourselves? What happened to the infamous quote: if you want the job done, give it to a woman.

My mom and I got there at about a quarter to 5 PM. The doors to the stadium didn’t open until 5.  We pushed our way through to get to the desk where we were told we had to register, even though we had done that online.  Then, we picked up our pink ponchos and made our way to take a seat in the stadium. Tip for future events:  Build Queues. People will respect the line when they see that order is enforced.

On our way into the stadium a man, standing by the gate, was smoking!!  Hummmm… My mom seemed to be the only person to ask him to put the cigarette out. Did he? I don’t know.

It was exciting. This would be the first time ever that women were allowed into a stadium. As time passed by, more and more women dressed in pink showed up. And then the boredom started.  From where we were setting we were able to see the crowds gather in order to make it to the stadium ground. It was not a pretty sight. There was a lot of pushing, whether it was women pushing each other or pushing the metal closed gate that was supposedly intact to organize the participants’ entry onto the ground. By eight thirty we were ready to go home. We really believed that we will not be able to make it into the ribbon and frankly the crowd was losing patience and becoming very distressed.  The feeling of excitement was exchanged with feelings of panic, especially when girls were climbing the rusted metal gates to get to our section. We pleaded that it might fall on us. But they answered: no it won’t. Tip for future events:  crowd control, especially at such a large gathering is a must and should be done in a very courteous way ( of course I could draw some examples from my experience but that would make a long and boring post).

The crowd control was left to young college girls, which I don’t mind at all, but seriously, how much training did they receive?  One of them complained that no one was taking her seriously because of her age, while another thought that rudeness is a key to assertiveness.

I would have really liked to be in the picture. I would have also liked to cheer for the ladies behind the whole event and learn more about breast cancer and what I can do to help promote a better understanding. There was none of that. Tip for future events: guests like to feel important and that they count.

I would have liked to feel a connection. The abundance of energy at the stadium was supposed to be magnificent but I didn’t feel any of that. I could have believed that the problem lay in me. Thankfully, I have at least 1,000 women to support my claim, although newspapers reported that these women had to leave to attend to their husbands and children. It took over 4 hours to assemble the ribbon (I left after 3 and a half hours so I don’t know how long it took, but it definitely did not take 2 hours as reported by the media.

I understand that organizing such a HUGE event requires A LOT of effort. This, I salute the organizers for. But I also very much appreciate curtsey and respect. This is what the event lacked. For example, weeks before the event, I tried to contact the organizers to get information on the event. Out of 4 people, only one person gave me a prompt and sufficient answer. Interesting enough, I received a prompt reply on Friday when I shared my negative experience with the FB campaign group. I had the feeling though that negative feedback was not  desired .

Bottom line: I felt that this event was a publicity stunt for Saudi Arabia. There is nothing wrong with that. We need it. We need to show the world that we are not nomads who live in the desert and breed terrorists. The problem is that it was done under the disguise of a noble cause.  Most likely this is not what the organizers had in mind, but this is the impression I got. Why couldn’t we have had both?

The Real Moment of Pride:

My dear friend suggested that we do the “wave” but a wave is no fun with only 5 people. So we started to ask our neighbors to join in. There was no response. Finally we got up and made our way to the bottom of our section. We were determined to get this going, even though we were surrounded by blank faces. We convinced a group of students, unfortunately I can’t remember the name of their college, to demonstrate the wave. Little by little, the crown started participating. Less than half an hour later, we had half the women sitting in the stadium do the wave.

And that’s how the first organized wave in Saudi took place. (See, organizing an event  might be difficult, but with the right tools  not becomes impossible.

Tip for future events Entertainment is a very important part of any event. Keep your crowd busy and they will feel less bored and will complain less.

P.s: complaining is very easy… and to demonstrate that we are not just talk,  we are more than welcome to organize any upcoming events.. (LOL yes we already have good jobs)

The Talk

Something in air signaled that “the talk” was about to come up.

And it did.

–         When are we getting married?

–          I don’t know.

–          But I thought you agreed we should get married?

–          Well yeah. One day.

–          When?

–          I don’t know.

–          But I want you to have my babies!!

She grew quiet.

–          Say something.

–          Well… I want to focus on my career. Kids are not on my agenda.

–          What do you mean?

–          I mean I don’t want to have kids!!

–          But I though you loved me?

Again, she was quiet.

–       You do love me. Don’t you?

–       Say something!

–       I don’t know.

–       Is there someone else?

–       I’m sorry. It’s not you. It’s me. One day you will find a girl who will truly love you. Here is your ring back.

He sat down and wept as she walked away.

I’m Only There for the Money!

Vacation Time!

On the plane headed to the US, I had a conversation with a man seated next to me. He told me he lives in Kuwait and was now on vacation and headed home to the US. Perhaps to be friendly or to waste time, I asked him how he liked it over there, in which he replied: The entire Middle East is a Hellhole. I am only there for the money.

Then he asked about my situation . The look on his face when I told him I was Saudi was classic. He started giving excused on why he thought Kuwait and it neighboring countries deserved to be labeled as Hellhole. I found myself incredibly annoyed but who wants to get into a heated discussion with a person you will be stuck with for the next 12 hours?

Had I purged my thoughts to him, it would have gone something like this:

What are you complaining about? You probably get a  salary you wouldn’t have dreamed of, live in one of the best compounds, paid by the company of course, have a company car , also courtesy from the company,  your kid’s school tuition is paid for, get free annual  airline tickets, and you probably don’t even pay your taxes. How is that deal a “ hellhole”? What makes it worse is that  pretty much the only qualification you should have, to be entitled to that package,  is to be a western citizen. But you shouldn’t be blamed for this. Why should you say NO to a perfectly good offer?  Instead, it’s the stereotype mentality and flawed system that should be criticized. If things are so intolerable, why are you still here?… Speaking of Hell, does this mean you sold your soul to the Devil to get the job?

I love living in diverse society, where members of the community consists of different religions and races.  In theory, there  is nothing wrong with having expats, provided of course that they  posses skills not found among locals, but unfortunately, this is not always the case. Many companies around the Kingdom and the Gulf Countries, somehow believe that being a westerner makes a person qualified to do any job, even if they only posses a high school degree . End result is that equal opportunity does not exist. This becomes a huge problem when inflation is on the raise and  qualified locals don’t find decent paying jobs, where the salary might not even cover the essentials of life , such as food and rent. Another scenario is the usual case of a local who has spent a fortune on a post-graduate degree from a western University,   now occupies an entry-level position because an expat is deemed to be more qualified. Talk about being over qualified and underpaid.

I find it puzzling when expats announce loudly: I don’t care.. I will be gone in a few years so why should I do the job right. But with all fairness, there are expats who believe in ethics and that the salary they receive  is in exchange for the good work they do. So, over generalization never works.

I have been constantly reminded of this incident ever since I stepped foot in  Los Angeles, a second home to me. Naturally, there is a lot lacking in my life in Saudi Arabia : not being able to drive, going to the movies,  the dress code …etc, yet on the other hand, life in the Kingdom is comfortable, especially on the financial aspects of life. There are fewer worries in my life here. (I only speak for myself since  opinions and life’s preferences change from one person to the other). I also found myself questioning the motive behind my choice of living in Saudi. My initial response was: I am  only there for the money!

Surprisingly, I wasn’t the only one with this attitude. A number of Saudis, especially those who live in Saudi by choice and have a western education,   I discussed the matter with had the same response. So, are we any different from the expats mentioned above?  Perhaps if we have the opportunities granted to them, we would have more hopes in our future. After all this is our country  and it would seem nonsense that we should leave our families behind and become expats because other expats  were brought in to take our places. So, the answer is YES, there is a difference. We do not live in Saudi solely because of the money. We will always have ties to our country and culture, which makes leaving  much more difficult and sometimes even unquestionable. Besides, where would we go? To the countries of the expats? There is a reason they left in the first place.  Or

Things to learn from Lisa Simpson’s Love life.

 

She is a vegetarian, a Buddhist, and an activist, i.e. Human Rights, Tibet, animal cruelty, environment… etc.      

That’s right folks: she is not your regular 8 year old girl and the Simpsons is not really a cartoon for kids.      

 She probably knows what it feels like to be trapped in a body that is not her’s…      

 At times, many I should add, she becomes whiny and self-righteous but her rebellion against social norms is admirable…      

She is a misfit …      

 She knows what it means to have a farfetched dream… She dreams of becoming President of the United States (She does not physically age, so she’s got all the time in the world)      

She is Lisa Simpson….      

Throughout the last 22 years, Lisa has had 7 love interests… A  lot can be learned from her experience….      

1- A girl’s gotta know what’s right for her       

Lisa knows what it’s like to go gaga over a bad boy. (You know it’s wrong but you can’t help yourself.   You believe you see and touch his gentler side but at the end of the day he remains the bad boy.)      

Lisa’s had a thing with Nelson. He is a troubled rebel and a bully, who lives with his alcoholic mother, and his trademark laugh is “Ha ha”. He likes and respects Lisa, but they both know that by doing so he is being untrue to himself… so they separate.      

Lesson learned: 1. sure bad boys add some spice to life but is it really worth it?.… 2. Just because we are attracted to someone, doesn’t mean they are good for us…. 3. Do not try to change anyone.. ITS NOT YOUR JOB…. (note: it could happen even if you don’t intend to.. both falling for the bad boy and trying to change people)      

2- Just because a guy is into you …doesn’t mean you should go for him:      

Millhouse, Bart’s best friend is in love with Lisa, but she doesn’t care much for him… Once he tried to impress her and claimed to care about the environment. As a result, Nelson threatens him and demands he “Say global warming is a myth!” Millhouse does so, and Nelson punches him telling him “That’s for selling out your beliefs.” Lisa almost falls for Millhouse, who is fluent in Italian and is related to Mussolini; only to find out he had a girl on the side.      

Lesson learned: You love who you love… desperation does not work… and a one way love is not enough…       

3- Intense feelings can make you do bad thing.      

Lisa met Luke at the Lazy Ranch where he works. Lisa thought he was in love with another girl and basically good Lisa tried to get rid of her competitor only to find out she was Luke’s sister. Luckily, good Lisa came back and saved the sister.  Luke dumped Lisa when he found out she wanted to drive them apart.      

Lesson learned: 1. Love makes us do stupid, bad and unwanted things…2. being in control is a myth…  3. Never come between a man and his family or friends…/ 3. We ALL do stupid things… GET OVER IT       

4- Sometimes Strangers have the biggest influence on us. Doesn’t mean its destiny      

Colin is an 8 year old Irish boy and the son of a musician and activist. He has denied ties with Bono but it was never confirmed.  They finish each other’s sentences… he fights pollution and Lisa thinks he is her Mcdreamy… He wrote her a “Lisa song”… she had to leave him behind when citizens of Springfield was going after her family. Later they reunite and eat Ice cream… and then he disappeared.      

Lesson learned: there is nothing like a man who dedicates art to you…/ see lesson # 5/ some people enter our lives just to remind us to keep the hope(He was actually pretty charming)       

5- Strangers in the night exchanging glances wandering in the night…  doesn’t quite end like Sinatra predicted.       

Lisa fined herself in the wrong school. There she meets Thelonius. They share a dance and she leaves… she never hears from him again. Personally, I haven’t seen the episode…      

Lessons learned: 1. sometimes the best encounter is between strangers…. Short and sweet… and all we are left with are the memories….2. Life is not as  in the movies or song…                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Little did we know… Love was just a glance away… A warm embracing dance away.. it turned out so right for strangers in the night…      

6- Sympathy does not substitute love      

Lisa feels sympathy for Ralph, who did not receive a V day card, so she gives him one. Ralph shows interest in her, but she just finds him annoying… Ralph suffers from severe learning and social disabilities…Being the son of Springfield police Chief, he uses his father’s connection to get what he wants to impress Lisa. He is able to get tickets to the hard to get krusty Show. On live air, Ralph announce his love for Lisa, only she admits that the only reason she is with him is out of pity…the story ends with Lisa giving him a new card suggesting they should be friends. He agrees.      

Lessons learned: 1. Being sympathetic is a good thing…but pity is not/ 2. Don’t toy with people’s emotions for personal gain / 3. Go to the source of power and not his son…      

7- Examine your feelings if you think you like someone you look up to;  such as your teacher.       

Lisa developed a thing for her teacher Mr. Bergstrom. He supports her and encourages But soon enough, she learned the difference between seeing a person as father figure and liking that person…      

Lessons learned: sometimes you need to examine your strong emotions for someone….       

       

Quotes by L. Simpson      

“Romance is dead – it was acquired in a hostile takeover by Hallmark and Disney, homogenized, and sold off piece by piece.”      

“On Nelson: He’s not like anybody I’ve ever met. He’s like a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a vest.”.      

“It’s naive to think you can change a person–except maybe that boy who works in the library.”       

“Solitude never hurt anyone. Emily Dickinson lived alone, and she wrote some of the most beautiful poetry the world has ever known… then went crazy as a loon.”.       

and finallly…      

“I am the Lizard Queen!”

Thou shalt not Fear God

When I was a youngster, around 4 years old, I asked my father how God looked like. I don’t remember the exact answer he gave but I recall that he calmly said that no one knows how God looks like and therefore i  shouldnt bother with such a question. I felt puzzled. I wanted an adult to reaffirm that the image in my head was indeed of God’s. I wanted to know if all shared the same picture of God. Today, I would suggest that perhaps I wanted to know if my God was  everyone else’s, especially that we lived in a multi-religous society

Without giving much detail, my God was genderless with the softest and kindest face one could imagine. I took my father’s advice and carried this unspoken-of image with me throughout the years.

During that time, I found about the man in the moon. My mom explained the myth of a man who gathered sticks on a day he wasn’t supposed to and therefore was banished to the moon.  I found it hard to believe because the face was almost always smiling at me. Wasn’t he angry at what was done to him?  The man in the moon became an image or a symbol of a gendered God.  Today, the face in the moon has become genderless.

In the introduction of the book The Fall of the Imam, Nawal El Saadawi’s had an interesting observation. People imagine God according to how religion is  represented to them. She recalls of a  girl who believed God resembled her uncle’s angry and mean face.  Her uncle used to threaten her with God’s curses and eternal damnation if she wasn’t a “good girl”. Young Nawal couldn’t understand this  because her God was loving and peaceful, just like her father.

Putting images to the side, it may  be observed that people’s feeling towards God is linked to how religion is passed on to them. It is also shaped through their relationship with the authority figure they grew up with and whom they learned the basic principles of God/ religion  from. Many people are terrified of God because punishment is what is emphasized on. They tend to avoid acts which may anger God out of fear of retribution. Their good deeds are of selfish reasons, to satisfy God and gain a spot in Heaven.  They may also fear the authority figure they grow up with, i.e. one or both parents. While this may work for some, others escape religion because they cannot deal with an angry God and the feeling of helplessness of not being able to please an angry and demanding God. “Damned if I do… damned if I don’t” is their motto. Fear, anger and punishment carry negative emotions which in turn would affect a person’s views on life.

Other people grow up with a religion or belief that emphasizes on God’s nurture and loving side. Their good deeds might be motivated by wanting to please God and in the spirit of love and kindness, both as godly and positive  attributes, towards others. Even if fear is attached, it almost never over weights love. This might also indicate that their relationship with their parent(s) is built on respect and adoration rather than fear and punishment. Their motto is “I do this because I want to … not because I must”.

Of course this is not built on scientific proof but a mere observation which might be wrong….

Your thoughts???

To Boobquake or not to Boobqauke. That’s the Question

Mid April, Iranian Cleric Ayatollah Kazem Sedighi blamed earthquakes on women.

“Calamities are the result of people’s deeds . . . Many women who dress inappropriately … cause youths to go astray, taint their chastity and incite extramarital sex in society, which increases earthquakes.”

There is nothing new in his statement. Not so fast in blaming Islam. It seems that almost every religion in this world has/ is blaming women  for the world’s disasters. But  one US college student decided to challenge Sedighi’s claim. Jen McCreight identifies herself as “a liberal, geeky, nerdy, scientific, perverted atheist feminist trapped in Indiana.”

Through her blog http://www.blaghag.com she announced the birth of “Boobquake”.

On Monday, April 26, I will wear the most cleavage-showing shirt I own. … I encourage other female skeptics to join me and embrace the supposed supernatural power of their breasts. Or short shorts, if that’s your preferred form of immodesty.

 “I’m asking women to wear their most “immodest” outfit that they already would wear, but to coordinate it all on the same day for the sake of the experiment. Heck, just showing an ankle would be considered immodest by some people. I don’t want to force people out of their comfort zones, because I believe women have the right to choose how they want to dress. Please don’t pressure women to participate if they don’t want to. If men ogle, that’s the fault of the men, not me for dressing how I like. If I want to a show a little cleavage or joke about my boobs, that’s my prerogative.”

Would you join her?

——————

Boobquake and the Cutefication of Feminism

Beth Mann does not share the enthusiasm of the 14,000 who confirmed their participation through Facebook event.

On her blog she writes that this is not like the bra burning movement because it

“…there was a statement there, full of boldness and righteous anger…..Women have been objectified to such an extreme point that even our so-called feminist undertakings include more objectification…”

http://open.salon.com/blog/beth_mann/2010/04/22/boobquake_and_the_cutefication_of_feminism

She point out that not only does this objectify women, but also adds insecurities  to the already poor body image effected women.   Maybe she is right?

———–

What will happen on Monday 26 April?

Will the world fall apart? Will a divine message be sent from above to confirm that women are indeed the cause of all evil in this world? Or will the message come from the ground? Maybe nothing will happen  except for a few laughs? Are the likes of Ayatollah Kazem Sedighi praying to God to punish those involved?

Boobquake could be deemed an interesting experiment, although I wonder how many girls will take this event for granted and turn it into  girl’s gone wild. Perhaps Beth Mann is right about the  difference between burning the bra and Boobquake…

Some boys must be very excited and nervous over Boobquake.   I wonder many new videos will be uploaded on YouTube on that day?

 PS: Living in a conservative country, I challenge these clergies and their man-made statements everyday. Not by walking naked or showing my boobies but  by choosing not to submit  to their man-made “God fearing, good Muslim female attire ” while still dressing according to society’s norms.

Before the Man-Made World

Long ago, before history was made, before there was a man-made world, there was a woman made world. Back then, they weren’t called females, women, the softer sex, or the weaker sex. They were their own identity, far away from man or male. They watched over children, plants and cattle as their men went hunting… They used their brains as they invented agriculture, while their men showed off their muscles…

Goddesses were believed to rule the earth and control the destiny of people on earth.

Then man learned the alphabets and…

It became a man-made world.