We went to see this movie with my wife last week at its french premiere, and it was so amazing!!! Not only does it holds strong on its feminist and intersectional standpoint, but it also has a soundtrack which is simply astonishing: https://soundcloud.com/barbahar/bar-bahar-mixtape :)
I had a great conversation with new friends here on International Womens’ Day about conservatism in Hebron, their lives, hijab, and western pressures on women (worsening greatly since my own youth I think). I had also just read a great book* by Leila Ahmed on her journey from liberal 1950s Cairo to a US campus women’s studies faculty today. She has also written on hijab as a complex symbol, indicator and tool for women within and without Muslim communities and that will be one of my next reads.
This is what my Hebron friends here had to say (I think): they would like Hebron to be less conservative and they would like to have more freedom as women than they do; it is changing, but it is slow. Freedoms like being able to move around the city on their own, which some girls do not have, are more important than wearing or not wearing hijab. It seemed to me that they were willing for their freedoms to come more slowly so that they did not have to lose all that is immensely valuable here about being part of the family. Not only that, but it is almost impossible to draw away from family, even if you wanted to: incomes are too low for independent living and even in Ramallah, you are judged for living as a woman alone.
They see hijab as a statement of religious feeling, and of modesty and privacy in the face of sexual pressure, but they see many women around them responding only to the pressures of the community.
Finally, they agreed with Leila Ahmed’s idea (I think), that hijab could provide a useful signal that reassured family and community that they were ‘serious Muslim women’ and then enabled them to get on with the things that were valuable to them: studying, having professional lives and moving independently around their world.
I say ‘I think’ twice because this was a proper conversation between women, not an interview. I hope I got some of their views right and I am just beginning to explore and not to conclude on these things.
Palestinian women throw stones at the Zionist occupiers during clashes on International Women’s Day, at Qalandia checkpoint in the West Bank, Palestine, March 8, 2014. (Photos: Majdi Mohammed / AP Photo)
Palestinian woman in the 1930s, by the first Palestinian photographer Khalil Raad.
As Palestinians we’ve tended to respond to the attacks on our existence by saying no– look how civilized we were… before Israel invaded, we had paved roads and cars… we had built hospitals and schools… we had European-style railroads… we were so secular… we built great cities and we have deeds to prove the land was ours..
We prove our indigenous right to the land by invoking European/western (read: colonial) standards of what legitimises a people’s right to be somewhere. They tell us land is only yours if it’s your legal property, only nation-states are real countries…and we have forgotten that these are not universal standards and they are not our standards. They invoke civilized/savage, light/dark, progressive/backwards, rational/irrational, science/myth…and we play into their hands.
In doing so, we throw the experiences of half of our people under the bus. It’s true that we had built grand cities with beautiful architecture, but we also existed as Bedouins who did not have stagnant homes. We’ve left the Bedouin Palestinian out of our narratives so much and they continue to face the most amplified ethnic cleansing because they reject dominant ways of organizing their society.
It’s true that we had an amazing diversity of unimposing religions, but when we share historic photos of unveiled Palestinian women only to show how “progressive” we were/are, we only add to Islamophobic and Orientalist discourse.
Here is the rule: indigenous people have a connection to the land that their colonizers do not.
P.S. if connection to the land sound too emotional or unscientific to you, or if it’s just not enough, then you probably need to decolonize your mind, friend.
“I have been photographing in Gaza for several years, initially to cover the conflict with Israel, but over time returning because I am mesmerized by the women, and their strength,” says photojournalist Monique Jacques.
I can’t reblog the post because op blocked me but there’s a post going around to the tune of “this women’s march was organised by black, latina and palestinian women activists but white women just wanna be cissexist and talk about their pussies” and I’m actually furious.
1) Do you honestly think woc don’t have vulvas? That we are somehow unaffected by anti abortion laws and laws making it harder to access birth control? Do you think that our activist struggles are somehow unrelated to the exploitation of our bodies and reproductive labour? Do you honestly not think that a single woc has ever held a “get your rosaries off my ovaries” sign? lmao
2) Sentiments like these show a clear lack of knowledge (or maybe simply a lack of care) about our histories with regards to slavery and colonialism. There is a very long and painful history of black women’s bodies being used as a means of economic production during slavery, of native women being raped to further colonialist expansions in the americas, of poor immigrant latinas being sterilised in prisons. Our oppression differs from that of our men because of the exploitation of our reproductive capabilities so to act like any discussions of this is a “white thing” is so incredibly insulting especially considering the pain of our foremothers.
3) This is just neoracism. Racialized misogyny with an approved progressive stamp. It’s clear that our experiences, our histories and our realities mean nothing to these people as we are merely a prop in their antifeminist attempts to silence women and obscure the realities of our oppression.
Aside from being of the most beautiful women in the world, Palestinian women hold traits that no one will ever be able to debate.
Their strength and ability to overcome hardship is like no other.
Their loving hearts that will patch anyone’s aching wounds
Their loyalty and respect for their spouses- making them so easy to love and cherish
Their innate ability to be the most generous mothers
Their intelligence and passion for education.
Their ability to accomplish everything they could set in their mind
Their eyes, those eyes that see the world as a place for potential and hope - inspiring all of us to wish to be better.
Their minds, minds that adapt to whatever environment they will be put it
There are so many examples of how clearly these traits and many more are the only reason Palestinians are proud to be Palestinians. We depend on the heart of our mothers and the women in our life to keep our spirit alive.