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Label Me, Label Me Not

This week, the bitchy Sally Sampson lets us in on her ass-whooping problem with being labelled, branded and not giving up on the feminist movement...

I have a problem! I have a big problem! I have a huge, gargantuan, immense, colossal, ass-whooping problem!!

No…Don’t worry! I’m not going to get all in your face like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman with her ‘big mistake’ speech, (after all, I’m a bitch…not a hooker and no, they’re not the same thing!) but there is something that nags at me constantly. It is decaying my insides and it is eating away at my soul. It is something that keeps me up in the middle of the night; something that I can’t help but talk about to with every single person I encounter.

And I bet it’s kept you up too.

Aren’t you tired of being branded, as well? Being labeled like a can of soup amongst millions of other labeled and classified products being sold at a hypermarket? And all of this is done so that the consumer knows exactly what he’s getting: the quality, the quantity and the ingredients. And if the packaging is pretty, that is also preferable because it’s more likely to increase sales.

I actually came across something not long ago that gave me some very insightful information and a new perspective on our classification system regarding people. Were you aware that some scientists are now discovering that human beings and canned soup aren’t actually the same?  I know…life-changing, isn’t it?

I don’t know about you, but I am tired of being washed, dried, bubble-wrapped, packaged and approved for sale by someone and/or  a system that I never even had a say in.

And trust me; I’ve experienced my fair share of labeling. You want to know some of my ingredients?  Here’s a few:

I am an Egyptian. (You’re Egyptian? Say something in Egyptian! Can you see the pyramids from your house? Do you ride camels around the country? Oh my gosh, I love eating hummus and falafel.)

I am pretty short; 152cm to be exact -that’s 5 foot tall, or small, if you’re American. (You’re the perfect height for me to rest my arm on your head! Oh my gosh, you’re an actress and you’re this short…how did you not get cast in the new Hobbit movies?!)

I am a performer. (Oh my gosh, your nose is way too big for you to be successful in this industry…you might want to consider a nose-job. Oh and potential liposuction in your lower body. Trust me, you’ll feel much better about yourself.)

I am a girl. (You’re not girly enough! You’re way too girly! Why are you so emotional? Are you getting your period?)

And of course, I am a BITCH. (You need someone to fuck regularly so you can calm the fuck down. Maybe then you’ll shut up!)

I just want to take this moment to truly thank everyone who has contributed their invaluable opinions about me in the past.  Without your useless advice and comments, I don’t really know what I would’ve done (although your silence may have spared me many years spent trying to fight your judgmental bullshit using hamburgers and spaghetti as my weapons of choice…but don’t worry because I’m not bitter…just acerbically vociferous and outspoken.)

I have to say though that of all the labels that are attached, stapled, nailed and super-glued to my ass, there is one label that stands out more prominently than the rest.

These days there is nothing potentially worse or provocative than saying to someone that you are a feminist.  You literally never know if the person, in front of you, is going to go ‘Good for you! That’s fantastic!’ or is going to raise a middle finger to your face and tell you where they’d like you to stick it.

I often get people saying to me (both men and women) “You’re a feminist? Why? You already have everything! What more do you women want?” or “There are so many more important issues than this women’s rights bullshit!”  I get eyes that roll forever into the back of people’s heads…and my favorite reaction, of course, which always makes me smile: “Are you a lesbian?” It’s like being gay is a prerequisite for being a feminist…which it’s not by the way, in case you were still on the fence with that one.

I’m not going to lie. It can be overwhelming sometimes. Sometimes I want to scream and be like, ‘What’s your problem? Don’t you know anything about the women’s movement?! We deserve our rights and we deserve our freedom! We deserve to be equal with men in terms of our value in society and speak without being stigmatized or shunned or killed! I should be able to speak my opinion without you walking away or dismissing me or condemning me! I should be able to wear what I want without you feeling like you can reach out and grab at my bits. THESE ARE MY GOD-GIVEN, INALIENABLE RIGHTS!’

My frustration explodes like a fucking volcano and I spew all of my lava-hot anger at everyone in my path. Then I go home, cry and sit and wonder why more people aren’t feminists. Why is it taking so long for us to make progress? Why are there so many amazing men who turn a blind eye to the struggle of every beaten, battered, raped, and killed woman and choose not to be part of the movement?  Why are there so many women who don’t want to fight for their own rights and the rights of oppressed women worldwide?

You want to know why? It’s because they don’t’ want any to take on any more labels, particularly if the label they’re adopting is going to bring them nothing but endless grief and criticism.

‘What’s in a name?’ Shakespeare wrote.  Well, quite a lot evidently.

Here’s the thing. I don’t like being stigmatized and labeled and I know people will always be judgmental, but sometimes, we really don’t help ourselves.

The feminist movement is associated with so many positive accomplishments worldwide, but its name has also been sullied by many women who have adopted the cause and transformed it from ‘fighting for women’ to ‘fighting against all men’.

I am a feminist, from now until forever, but when I see the disgusted look on people’s faces every time I tell them I’m a feminist, I have to admit that somewhere along the way we’ve fucked up. This time, it’s not just about the label.  If loving women enough to respect them and treat them as whole, beautiful, fully-fledged human beings has become associated with man-hate and an overall penis boycott, then I know for a fact that there is something seriously wide of the mark.

Somewhere along the way, we’ve manage to confuse patriarchy with the entirety of the male species, and honestly, sometimes we can be as extreme as the system that we’re fighting against in the first place. You know what I mean…you’ve seen what happens when lava is spewing in all directions. It rarely hits an individual mark; rather it demolishes everything in its path without pausing to discriminate.

So we dance to songs like ‘Who runs the world…GIRLS, GIRLS! We run this motherfucker…’ without realizing that while we dance away to these songs, we are all sticking a large wooden stick up the ass of everything we are fighting for and moving further away from our key to real change: drawing in the men in our societies, rather than alienating them.

We’re so focused on the cause; we’ve forgotten the context. The reality is we need men to be with us and believe with us that change is possible. Men need to know that we don’t want to ‘cleanse’ the world of penises and make it a vagina-only territory.

We need a collaboration, not a monopoly; a dialogue, not a monologue; and a democracy not a dictatorship, because that’s been done and it didn’t work the first time round.  If we don’t figure that out now, the pendulum will continue to swing from one extreme to the other.

We’ve been swinging for too long though…we have to stop fighting men and start fighting injustice. In fact, we have to stop fighting…the issues that sparked feminism were because there was a lack of love and respect for the female species. Women were treated as commodities (and still are all around the world in many areas) and not as people. So, for once, can we please not to repeat history; let’s actively commit to loving the men around us so they know that we’re not against them. Let’s not let go of our beliefs, but rather learn to communicate them.

It’s the ONLY way forward.

So men…from one over-labeled, short, Egyptian, performer-bitch who is still proud to be a feminist, I’d like to apologize on behalf of every woman who has ever snarled at you and called you a sexist, ignorant pig instead of taking the time to hold a healthy debate with you on the issue at that you were discussing. I want to be clear that I am not sorry for my beliefs; I am sorry that as women we’ve not taken the time to learn how to talk to you.

I am a BITCH. I am not afraid to swear and speak and rant…but I’m also not afraid to apologize.  Men, we need you and we love you…so please join us, because you matter.

This week’s quote is from someone very special. It’s not a celebrity; it’s my friend Maruan who has joined the movement and who has something to say about women’s rights in Egypt.

“Growing up in a male-dominated society made me realize that, since my childhood, we boys had more freedom than girls. As I never had a sister, I could see that with my female cousins that everything was “not appropriate” as their parents would call it; meanwhile their brothers were allowed to come home late, sleep over at their friends’ homes and do other things that their sisters weren’t allowed to do.

All these things made me start thinking: why are boys allowed to do more? Why are there so many restrictions on girls? I always heard that women had their rights all preserved in Arab countries, but I figured out that was just a big fat lie!

That is one of many reasons that made me fight for women’s rights (of course now the reasons are bigger and more important), and I deeply wish that one day women will have all their rights; just like men.

Although the path is long, I believe that women will get there one day and I will keep supporting this cause until the message is clear.”

If you have stories, pictures, comments, or anything at all you wish to share, I’m starting a community of BITCHES! Like the Facebook page, tell your friends, and let’s get this movement started.

Are you afraid of being known as a BITCH? No? Then let the world know as well!

www.facebook.com/BitCent

An actress, singer, writer and overall entertainer, Sally always has something to say. She holds dear the words of her beloved Oscar Wilde – “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you!”  - and aspires to make a change wherever she goes by being bold, brash and giving it the ‘ol’ razzle dazzle’ whenever she can. Blogging exclusively for CairoScene.com, Sally Sampson lets out her inner BITCH…


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