Women and Media: Disgusting, Outrageous and Typical

You know how afternoons could be the dullest time of the day if you don’t find something good to do. I’m sure I had many things to do today instead of watching TV, but since I was having my lunch, I sat watching TV being switched from channel to channel, and it turned out to be more interesting then I thought that I ended up blogging this.

Before I go into further details, I should note the channels I’ll mention now are all rabic channels, or supposed to be, for the definition of that word has been lost in translation. On the first channel, there was a provocative perfume commercial. On the second, there was than female singer who looked somehow familiar, but nothing like decent. On the third there was an Arabic movie with man and woman lying naked under white sheets. And on the fourth channel, there was a semi-naked woman from some Arabic movie for Adel Imam (That man has no shame or respect for his age).

I was so bugged that I left the living room and went to sit somewhere away from TV. It is embarrassing enough to watch such things with one’s own father, but it wasn’t the only thing that annoyed me. You see, the way women are promoted by the media a sex icons, how much more if it’s the Arabic media. Whatever happened to all the accomplished Arab women? I can’t deny there are good shows that acknowledge these women, but I don’t think they re getting the due attention and publicity compared to flamboyant singers and hot actresses.

Let me try to put it this way, and I’m not going to hold a comparison between a humanitarian activist and a semi-porn-star, I’ll make it between 2 women who basically, or seemingly, do the same thing, each in her different way.

About a month or so ago Haifa Wahby had an accident. News of her accident spread all around like wild fire and millions of people must have seen the video on Youtube or some other website. She made the news, do you know what it means when a woman who is actually a sex icon more than anything else makes the news for a simple accident? Not that she was dead or killed, but merely something went wrong on the set and she hurt herself.

Now, what if a similar thing happened, let’s say to Julia Butrus. How much publicity you think it would receive? Of course many of the rising generation don’t even know who Julia Butrus is. To make sure not to be slanderous, I’ve just asked my 11 year-old brother whether he knows who Julia Butrus is. He said he didn’t know, and after a short pause he said he thinks her name was mentioned in one of his school books, which certainly is not. While I can confidently assure you he knows very well who Haifa is and what she sings and has known that for many years.

No matter how we scream for the right of women to be taken seriously, there’s always that tendency to think of women from a certain angle. Sadly, this perspective is even encouraged by some of the women themselves. I believe many factors lead to this, including the most common stereotypes and misconceptions, not only bout women, but also about men. It’s probably believed and even taken for granted by many people that the only interest men take in women is purely sexual. Men give love to have sex, they pretend to enjoy a conversation with a woman while their minds are consumed in their own fantasies. A man who likes the way you think would never be attracted to you if he doesn’t find you physically attractive, and so on….

These misconceptions are as unfair to men as they are to women. They depict the human relations as nothing more than an unbridled animal instinct, with no regard to any other aspects that would draw people to one another. I’m not trying to undermine the importance of the physical aspect of the relation, but I’m only saying it’s not the only one. In fact, I believe all the aspects intertwine and are dependent on one another. But I also believe that preferring the physical aspect in particular is what provokes the worst problems.

I wouldn’t mind this much had it been a pure personal matter that doesn’t go beyond the individual’s mindset. Everyone is free to think what they want. But when this mentality becomes promoted by the media, and women are depicted as if their sole purpose is to seduce men, then I do have a problem.

In all fairness, I have to say it’s not only the Arabic media. Worst yet, this mentality I’m referring to is universally publicized and even acknowledged. It goes without saying that the image of women in the west is being promoted in the same way, not only the western world actually, it’s everywhere actually. I’m currently reading Memoirs of a Geisha, and as much as I’m enjoying the book, I feel really disgusted and ticked off at what I’m finding out. You see, what I gathered from the book is that geisha were women whose main concern in life was to please men. It’s even literally mentioned in the book. For example, when she says: “Nothing in my life mattered more to me than pleasing him”. “him” refers to a man she likes, who is married (which is equally insulting to his wife) and who may have relations with a number of other geisha. I really feel a huge disgust when the narrator describes how she and another geisha bowed at the feet of a man begging for his attention. And how a doctor is sexually aroused as he treats the wound on a girl’s leg. As I said, I’m enjoying the book, but it also told me so many unpleasant things about women in that culture. Call it heritage, call it art, I can only think of it as humiliation.

It’s time women stood for themselves and defied those stereotypes. It’s time they started to show the world that their brains an be even more beautiful than their bodies. And most importantly, it’s time women felt humiliated by all that typical stereotyping, and did something to change it.

Originally Posted on Friday, August 10, 2007 on http://oeliwat.jeeran.com/archive/2007/8/287798.html

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