Take a look at this cartoon by prominent cartoonist Emad Hajjaj
. It shows a man talking to Mohannad from the hit show Noor, saying “The Arab woman is a fan. She’s her own enemy in elections. She consents to beating and polygamy. She likes to have boys and not girls. She doesn’t continue her education because of society’s customs. She is of dark skin but with a blond complex. Modern in appearance but empty in substance.” To which Mohannad replies, “Just what I needed! An Arab woman who is no match for the Turkish women! Just give her my photo and tell her much obliged.”
The National Committee for Women in Jordan, represented by Asma Khader, whom I greatly admire, sent a letter to Alghad newspaper, where the cartoon was published, expressing resentment about the drawing, which according to them “portrays an unfair image about Arab women, and Jordanian women in particular, and that the negatives he mentioned are the exception and should not be generalized.”
Now I agree, the drawing is overly generalizing, because of course it does not describe all Arab women, but then again, isn’t exaggeration the point of most cartoons? That’s how they convey their message. And let’s face it, the negatives are not the exception. Most of what he said is sadly correct. Women are their own worst enemy, and I always say that. Last elections were the first time a woman won outside the designated women’s quota. A step forward, without a doubt, but ONE woman. Out of 104 parliamentary seats, just one woman won. Also, many women are just looking to get married, and whether their husbands are already married, beat them, forbid them from working or continuing their education is besides the point, because society dictates they get married or else they’re considered a source of shame for their families. And don’t get me started on how in this day and age, people, including WOMEN, still prefer baby boys over baby girls. And the blond complex? How else could Fair and Lovely
still be in business? Or the rest of Amman’s hairdressers for that matter?
I disagree with Hajjaj in that not all those who watch the show are empty and superficial. I mean come on, it’s just a TV show, even though I still do not understand the obsession
. And half the poeple I know who watch the show are actually guys. I think maybe Hajjaj was lamenting how people became obsessed with a show and seemed to forget all the problems we have? I don’t know. But I for one, refuse to attack Hajjaj. He is one of the very few openly speaking male feminists in our society and he deserves some credit for that.