5. Isla Vista: Misogyny, Terrorism and Hypocrisy

Blog

Let’s get one thing straight, if you replace the word ‘infidel’ for every time Elliot Rodger said ‘women/girl’ in his video or 140-page manifesto, America and the world would have branded ‘terrorism’ onto every newspaper headline following the Isla Vista massacre in California last week. Hell, Obama would have given a national address on TV, there would’ve been a manhunt all over town and one more broke-ass Muslim country would probably have been invaded – my money’s on one of the -Stans. If Rodger was a psycho extremist and not a psycho misogynist then the police who questioned him beforehand would have shipped him off to Guantanamo faster than he could have said ‘Al-Qaeda’ and not walked out, unconcerned, describing him as a ‘wonderful human being’. If he were to have said: ‘you infidels…I will punish you all for it’ (as opposed to girls) or ‘I will slaughter every single Western infidel…I will take great pleasure in slaughtering you’ (rather than spoilt, stuck-up blonde slut), it’s not hard to imagine just how polemical the reaction would have been – I can see the YouTube comments section now.

It seems to me as if society is dismissing women as the victims in this massacre because they are not regarded as undeserving, blameless targets, yet we are confounded if a maniacal extremist were to victimise members of Western society. We victimise our women so frequently that it does not come as a shock when one member goes rogue and takes it too far. We are all used to quotidian misogyny: it’s what allows the Daily Mail to run a feature on a bikini-clad girl who ‘teased’ Rodger, clearly implying he was nothing short of provoked by one more wily woman. If this was a terrorist attack, would the Mail or any other paper for that matter have run a feature on how the gunman’s neighbours were Islamophoic/xenophobic towards him? Obviously the two cannot be compared as cleanly as this, but I’m trying to point out the media’s double standards.

Advertisements

4. Identity’s Fluidity

Blog

Identity’s a sticky word isn’t it? Simultaneously negative and positive; individual and universal. I’m from Iraqi-Palestinian heritage, London born and raised and currently living in Paris. So when people ask where I’m from I have no idea where to start – each is a different world and yet I have the audacity to call all three home. Do I have a healthy identity crisis? You betcha.

I think the first thing to state quite clearly is that barely anyone is any one thing anymore. That’s painfully obvious and if you’re reading this thinking ‘no shit sherlock’, know that I’ve put that statement in for the many people narrow-minded enough to victimize diversity and conflate homogeneity with superiority. We live in a globalized world where identity is not easily summed up in one word anymore. Our ‘global village’ seemed to spring up faster than a mall in Dubai: suddenly there’s an openness and accessibility surrounding everything from the way we do business to inter-personal relationships. And for me what makes globalization so pertinent is that it is – for want of a more original term – global. It is no longer just the West engaging with the rest of the world but rather there’s now a real level of connectivity across continents and cultures. And with it comes a global movement of mass-migration but ironically we applaud globalization and criticize immigration. So those products of mass-migration: those of mixed heritage are more numbered than ever but society still questions where they come from. While I recognize and appreciate that often people’s misunderstanding stems from infrequent exposure, poor media and societal ignorance, it doesn’t make being a so-called ‘third culture kid’ much easier.

3. Dancing in Jaffa – film review

Blog

Some of my favourite themes in life can be whittled down to dance, feel-good hope and repentance. Luckily for me, ‘Dancing in Jaffa’ was a documentary with lots of the first, a little of the second and a struggle with the third.

In short, it is a film which examines the Palestine-Israel conflict through the lens of ballroom dancing and, ultimately, seeks to prove that some cooperation is possible, even if a solution is still out of reach. Pierre Dulaine, an internationally renowned ballroom dancer, takes his celebrated ‘Dancing Classrooms’ program home to his native Palestine, his country till aged four – he was born in 1944 and left in 1948.

2. Halal Hysteria

Blog

I grew up eating Halal meat, at 19 I decided I no longer wanted to eat meat, since then I’ve been a pescatarian. I gave up eating meat for a number of reasons, the two main ones being, first I didn’t like to touch raw meat so how could I reason consuming cooked meat? It seemed like too much of a contradiction. The second reason was less personal and more a statement on the meat industry: put simply, I didn’t like the way meat was sourced.

Meat production is a nasty industry; to keep up with demand and keep prices competitive animals have been pumped with steroids, kept in cruel conditions and ground up bones and all. This is a universal reality for the twenty-first centuries’ carnivorous ways: I remember watching a BBC Panorama special on how meat was created (note ‘created’ not ‘farmed’) when I was nine and a half and I can still remember the images of the chicken factory. Let’s not pretend that Tesco’s £3.30 chicken thighs or McDonald’s £2.90 Big Macs are the better and more humane alternative to Halal meat. In fact, the moment I decided I wanted to eat Halal meat exclusively was when I was 7 in a McDonald’s queue about to order a chicken mayo burger – I turned to my mum and told her my decision, she approved but told me that because I’d made her wait in line I was getting the chicken mayo regardless.

1.

Blog

OK here it goes, I’m writing my first blog post – incidentally my headmistress at school told us never to start a sentence with ‘OK’, what would she say if she knew it started a website? That I’m doomed for failure probably. I watched the crackin’ documentary ‘Exit Through the Gift-Shop’ last week, where this bloke starts off filming street art then decided to make it and people took him seriously and now he’s done very well for himself. Using that as a metaphor and a warped type of inspiration, I’m going to try my hand at this. I feel like I’ve absorbed enough, time to let some of it seep out.

However I’m apprehensive: the main point in my ‘don’t get a blog’ cons list was the idea of putting myself out there: we live in the internet age, where we’ve all become our own celebrities. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc all glorify the individual and we’ve become commodities at the mercy of  nameless, faceless people who, whilst lurking behind screens and pseudonyms, can shamelessly elevate or depress us by their comments and opinions. I didn’t want to buy into that, I wanted to keep the sanctity – and perhaps I secretly also meant the authenticity, of my thoughts private. But I’ve had the realisation that if I can keep my head above water and stay in control then the original purpose of social media still has merit and legitimacy: I can be connected whilst utilising a fantastic platform for my mildly fantastic ideas.

My second reservation was in the quality of thoughts being shared about. I’m 21 years old and although I think my ideas and beliefs are worth spreading right now, experience has taught me that pragmatism is the only way to succeed and my beliefs could easily change with time: what I think is ‘right’ or ‘good’ now could easily have no meaning in the future, I would hate this platform to turn me into a hypocrite or, worse still, make me look foolish. You know, like when I thought flares were the shit, or didn’t realise that Wales was a country.

Third, I didn’t want to clog the internet up with more crap, it’s part of the reason I’m not very Twitter-savvy, when I first got twitter about two months ago I was surprised by how much of it was filled with babble, 140 characters of emptiness. I did come across some brilliant things too, but the crap to cool ratio was disappointingly large, and I was wary of creating more hollow words. But then I realised that Earth’s 7.5 billion inhabitants weren’t waiting on baited breath to hear what I had to say and if the Daily Mail can manage to produce an article about a D-list celebrity’s (make-up-less) trip to Tesco than there are things more unholy than my words.

With my reservations and their counter-arguments in place, I needed a catalyst to get this going, and that came in the form of the website I’m in the process of setting up with a fellow student in Paris. It’s called ‘Infita7’ – meaning openness in Arabic. Its goal is to unlock the Middle East by creating a forum discussing culture, politics and adding a human element too. The project has taught me how to use the technology (and by that I mean wordpress) and also the value in journalism’s integrity. Two things I’ve now channelled into this space (though admittedly the tech is my Achilles Heel). I’m just looking forward to seeing what will come of it. So, all in all, fuck it (sorry for swearing mum) and welcome, faceless readers.