Global patriarchy and sexism
Ramadan is official declared as the month of worship and meditation and of course fasting from food. Practically, it is the month of eating greedily and watching the racing Arab drama 30 days series.
Being part of the tradition of this practice, I try to come out with some wisdom of the naturally unhealthy tradition. I admit it feels sedative. Like being drugged on probably low effect drugs. Something that controls the mind, focus, and even emotions through the TV screen. An act of a continuous mesmerized up and down emotions that continues throughout the series. It is like taking real life issues for a vacation in this month. Well, practicality is not bad after all. I have come to realize in this month that Media in its TV and Film industry is like religion to people. IF Marx lived in this generation, he would have added TV screens as the opium of nations.
Discussing the lesson learnt throughout this obsessive new habit of purging into watching these series excessively. After all it is impossible to catch up with all those racing series. Over 80 different series are on the race in the different TV screens. Of course, smart people like me with obsessive tendencies found a shorter and quicker way to catch up with as much as possibly good works to watch throughout the month. Just to highlight on my obsessive behavior. I only watch Arabic drama in the thirty days of Ramadan. I have to confess that I have been recently enjoying Turkish drama. It is closer to aspirations and actors are amazingly beautiful. On all levels. And they are more convincing in their hallucinated dramatic ideas and in their drama. They have a bit of more respect to the smart viewers like me.
I also admit that, I have been enjoying this new waste of time recently. It keeps my mind from racing in my own disturbing thoughts.
Ok. Stopping to the lesson learnt from this unhealthiness.
I busied myself yesterday with an extra mission of browsing Amy Winehouse after a new documentary about her that is receiving high recommendations. An article stopped me boldly in its title: “ the new Amy Winehouse Documentary accidentally exposed our sexist double standards.” The whole Amy Winehouse tragedy and fall. The drug that keeps ending traumatically and dramatically the future in the destruction of once promising people like Amy is another problem that the world should unify in fighting. Fighting drugs should be like fighting terror. However, the problem of sexism and the way women are being presented is by all means the origin of the problem.
It was so easy to see from day one in the Arabic drama of this Ramadan. I reflected briefly on it in Arabic. I thought, the international audience doesn’t suffer from such a problem. I was keeping my womanist emotions in this perspective in a cage. But this article on Amy confirmed to me that it is not just Arabic drama that promotes sexist ideas that want to maintain patriarchal dominance.
The article sheds the light on how the mistake, fault of a woman, in this case Amy, in her drug abuse, is portrayed as someone who fell in the hole of wrong doing with no way back. While portraying men, who faced the same end though the same problem is different? Men according to this stigma fall and try to get out. In the very own of the article writer he\she says: “ A double standard that stretches beyond death. Winehouse is not the first female artist to have her artistic achievements overlooked in favor of a close read of her erratic behavior. …Unfortunately, the documentary’s angle fits an all too common trend in the highly gendered way that the media celebrates our artists and their legacies. Male’s artists can count on their artistic contributions receiving lengthy discussions following their deaths. Female artist, on the other hand, will struggle to have their art recognized through the scandal. .”
In the Arab media scandals of celebrities, drug publicly being addressed maybe takes courageous confrontations through males celebrities who have been so drugged in drugs it couldn’t be hidden. Women scandals are more of that related to sex, and sarcastically, it is in women proving parenthood of a father who refuses to admit his “sin” in getting her pregnant. Celebrities who fall in the trap of “ customary marriages”. A form of an informal marriage that is done through signing a paper declaring marriage between two without public announcement. This by itself tells a lot about a society that sex is still too bound into any form of marriage even among those who are called celebrities. Of course this is also addressed heavily in the TV drama. The real drama, however is, this unmerciful societal blame on the woman who fights for her children rights of recognition in this case.
To start wit ha positive review on the series, two among the many series, in my view are remarkably important and well done on all levels. And what I mean in the first place, is the message that is sent. What drama in this case should be doing? One is “under Control” which discusses the problem of drugs from so many angles in a very well put scenario and directing, not to mention the brilliant talented actors. It is becoming a rarity to see people looking natural and in this series, people just look as normal as they are. It does critically points on the patriarchal dominance and surrounds it in a very good linkage. It makes it of course, so dramatic, it gives a real heartbreaking moments and reflections on reality. The other series is “ nightmare”, that I will be mentioning later, but these two directly point out to the problem. The problem of a heavily constructed patriarchal structure that constrains women and allows all to men. Punishes woman for a mistake, and passes men sins as flawless mistakes. A society that always holds the woman accountable for her wrongdoings and the male’s as well. A patriarchal structure that is carefully designed by a woman who is a mother.
What is so obvious in this year’s drama is this systematic programming on what a woman is. No matter how good she is, there is a limit to her goodness. And her pureness is only in her sacrifice as a mother. This is the only time a woman is presented as good. When she is a total victim who keeps sacrificing limitlessly to her family. A man, no matter how evil he is, there is a woman always who tackles that evilness and of course she is always as well stupid and a sex object for seduction. The amount of women erotically dancing in what should be belly dancing, can scarcely skip any series. No matter what the topic is. There should be at least a woman who excessively shows this erotic seduction in her curved body. Beauty of course is taking a totally new dimension. All stars look as if they have been rehabilitated in a different planet. All botoxed filled in rubber and plastic. It is not really easy to differentiate between the new look alike faces, and every one suddenly became in her twenties and slims. The sad thing in the Egyptian drama in this case, is that it is losing this Nagib Mahfouz portray of the Egyptian woman. Her curves, her looks, her attitude. Today every looks coming back from the same plastic surgeon in Lebanon. Sarcastically with the competition and integration of dram that has been attracting Lebanese and Syrians. It kitschy when a Lebanese woman is still being shown as a seek opportunist seductive woman who only concentrates on her plastic appeal, and the Egyptian next to her is more plasticized.
Somehow, women succeeded in looking gorgeous within the standards of what seems to be agreed on. No one is fat anymore, and dressing up is all in an internationalized sense that is as well irrelevant in most cases. Of course those impossible to suck out their fat ridiculously fit in the same outfits to a level where it becomes so distracting to the eye.
The Lebanese drama may be the least male gendered. But at the same time, there is this maintenance to a woman’s role no matter who she is and what she does. A sophisticated wife in a liberal background voluntarily offers dinner to her angry husband and his friend and obediently sits in her room waiting for them to finish.
A woman looks is all what a woman is principally about. Then this falls from her being an idiot or a bit of smart. No matter how smart or idiot she is, her first mission is to seduce a man to become successful and rich.
The ill treatment, prejudice, lack of support, and strong patriarchal oppression and dominance is definitely addressed in every single series. At the end it is an issue that cannot be hidden or reflected, within a global change that is occurring especially with a generation that sees the world through social media and the world of the Internet. It is no longer what takes place in side ones own home or street. But the conversion into a global citizen inside a heavily restricted form of patriarchy makes it so controversial and sometimes I feel disgusted watching it. From one side a woman is portrayed like a slut in every behavior, and then this very same woman is a proud decent woman whose “honor” is above all and is everything. This woman can be scene dancing in a cabaret, seducing a man to his toe, and then this very same woman is a devoted mother who is doing what she is doing to feed her sick son. In one of a series there is a very direct addressing to this issue of the patriarchal dominance created by the mother herself that resulted in the murder of the son. It perfectly portrays how the way males are raised into a spoilt dominant surrounding in all levels; he is raised to become dominant regardless to who and what he is. In another important series that addresses the issue of inheritance and how the father for the love and protection of his daughters who are shown as stupid, relentless, dominated by evil men, and irresponsible to the only son, who is nice and fair and amazingly caring to his family. Even though the series discuss a real important issue. Reality in it is described in a raw bold manner. But yet, it confirms that a woman is limited, faulty, stupid, silly, cannot have her own decisions and if she has them she either uses her smartness into evil or she is into a control of her instincts and emotions.
All these words prove that I have an obsessive tract in excessively watching TV.
To come to a closure with a dramatic theory that could fall into conspiracy thinking from my side; I am getting more and more convinced that patriarchy is globally agreed upon to preserve the status quo of women. The image of women is carefully pushed within a certain framework that she cannot leave.
No matter how far a woman tries to reach, the limitations and obstacles are so inserted from within the structure that includes its existence inside her. A woman is carefully put in a portray that its perfection relies on a male painter who can brush out the beauty he himself discovers and invest in.
A man is naturally a pimp in the worse picturesque of a man, but driving whores, who even victimized originally, choose always to become villains who end up murdering that male. Who dies like a poor innocent child?
In love, it is the man who pours all those emotions that can bring happiness to even my emotions as a viewer. It is how a man loves a woman that counts. The woman is just a lucky recipient of his generosity in emotions.
Even in the proud loving figure of caring customary men, a man can slap a woman and drag her from her hair, and she always comes apologizing because she very much deserved that punishment.
But somewhere I stop and think … how can we ever break such heavy patriarchal chains, those chains us on our own couches at home?
On a last note, religiosity disappeared completely from this year’s different works of Drama. But the conversion to the opposite domain where sex, drugs and money is what dominate and take control is as radical as religious extremism.