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Scream, Shout & Let it All Out

The bitchy Sally Sampson speaks out (as usual), tells us to cut the shit, and breaks down the sexual harassment issue. Bitch style!

I want you to picture this.

I’m walking down the street, with the musical score of some blockbuster playing in my head (something along the lines of Hans Zimmer’s compositions for the Pirates of the Caribbean movies). I am the heroine of my own story! I’m walking on sunshine…woah! I am invincible and I am free. I am Sarah Jessica fucking Parker in Sex and the City, with my hair flowing down to my shoulders, looking good, feeling good when, all of a sudden, I am jolted out of my dandy, too-good-to-be-true reverie by the most disgusting sound EVER!

It is a sound so revolting that it makes my gag reflex kick into gear. It is a noise that should be reserved for coaxing donkeys up hills and – in extreme cases – to torture warlords and criminals. I am surprised the Bush administration didn’t think of using this tactic in Guantanamo to extract information from their so-called political prisoners; we’ve been doing it openly and casually for years in the streets of Egypt!

Ladies, you know what I’m talking about! All it takes is that one unblinking creep standing there, touching his crotch in the street to purse his ugly chapped lips together and make that loud, squeaky, ‘I’ve been practicing how to kiss on a donkey’ noise, to make you shudder in disgust and cause you to curl the corners of your mouth into a primal sneer.

This is my life. Seriously. Every single day this happens.

I have always wondered what these men are thinking! I have always wondered if that nasty-ass sound has ever worked in getting these guys the attention of a woman that wasn’t castrating them in her head. And I have always wondered what they expect will happen after they’ve sent out their animal mating calls to the unsuspecting female that clearly wants nothing to do with them? (side note: animal mating calls generally only work on animals…just saying!)

Seriously! In their wildest dreams, do they really imagine that I’ll turn round and declare my undying love for them and say something like “You know what? I’ve been waiting my whole life for someone to demean me like that. I must have you now!”  Uh…let me think about the possibility of that happening for a moment….yeah, I don’t think so.  There are so many things I’d rather do, including carve out my own vagina and throw it at their heads.

Yes. I am angry, in case you haven’t gathered that yet, but more importantly, I am perturbed; I am not just perturbed with what these men consider to be seductive (because I have nightmares about that as it is), I am perturbed at how women are expected to respond to such advances. It disturbs me that no action is the default reaction for so many women. It also disturbs me that, once upon a time, I bought into this as well.

For so many years, I used to avert my eyes, grind my teeth, take in a deep breath, tell myself I’m stupid for letting someone so insignificant make me feel so cheap and keep on walking, hoping to God that in my anger, I would reach my destination faster.  I would never speak back to these men who took the liberty to speak at me and objectify me with their ignorance.

For so many years, I felt ashamed. I hid and covered myself up every which way that I could, in the hope that something, anything would make them stop seeing me as a walking orifice, only living and breathing for their masturbatory needs.

I found that society encouraged me in my shame and, unfortunately, so did our patriarchal societal interpretations of religion. I looked around me and all the women around me were disappearing. Girls who didn’t want to get veiled were getting veiled, because their fathers and brothers would blame them for the attention they attracted. Women started wearing clothing that was fashioned somewhere in a potato sack factory; the clothes were baggy and long and unattractive. The layers, in the heat of Cairo, caused serious body odour issues which no amount of Dove Deodorant sticks and sprays could help (…you know you’ve smelt it too!).

And still, we’d be walking down the street, my friends and I, wearing the customized potato sacks that we’d convinced ourselves looked acceptable, and I’d hear those nauseating kissy-kissy sounds and a series of insolent comments coming from some motherfucker standing in the street, or driving by in a car or standing somewhere in a balcony. And although the correlation between harassment and what women do and/or wear should’ve been clear to me even then (…the correlation being that there is no correlation), it took me a long time to realize that I had no reason to feel embarrassed or ashamed in the first place, because the problem wasn’t me.

So let’s cut the shit for a moment, because I’m going to break this down for anyone who thinks this issue has to do with women and their attire.

The criteria for getting harassed on the streets of Egypt (or anywhere in the world) are as follows:

  1. Thou shalt be of the female gender.
  2. Thou shalt have a pulse. (optional)

That’s pretty much it.

Needless to say, it’s been many years since I have moderated or mitigated myself in either appearance or character, to appease a system that lacks respect for the creating, life-giving power and force that is the female species. The things that I do and the things that I say nowadays, quite literally, give my parents the shits (God bless them). And I am happy to announce that my potato-sack wearing days are long behind me.

Oh and I answer back now! I refuse to be silent. I am never rude but I refuse to be embarrassed. In fact, I’ve found that by responding, many street harassers draw blanks. They have no idea how to respond; they don’t know what to say or do. They are embarrassed.  Meanwhile, I do a victory dance in my head and the internal musical score, previously interrupted, resumes itself at full volume.

Here is the thing: I love being a woman and being feminine (because being a feminist doesn’t mean shunning the feminine and not shaving your armpits etc., for anyone under that impression…and no, I’m not a lesbian either) and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let anyone make me feel less than I am and force me to tone down what makes me a passionate, fiery, emotional, intense human being. Is that dramatic? HA! Baby, that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

But ladies, we have to start fighting back. Maybe not physically; but we must at the very least start with and within ourselves.

You need to know that there is no shame in leaving your home and walking down a street. There is no shame in smiling happily at a world full of opportunity. There is no shame in looking beautiful and feeling beautiful. There is no shame in being a fully-fledged, ambitious, brave, audacious, W-O-M-A-N, so don’t be ashamed!  Don’t hide yourself. Don’t change yourself. Don’t compromise yourself. Please God, don’t wear those awful shapeless potato sacks!! They won’t stop them looking and they DON’T LOOK GOOD! Change your body language. Don’t look down! Don’t be afraid to turn around, to look these men in the eyes and embarrass them for not respecting you and giving you the measure of respect you deserve. (After all, they are the ones playing with their genitalia in public…they are the ones who really need to have some more shame if I’m honest…)

Men, where are you? I’m not grouping you all into this bullshit system that degrades women and objectifies them, by the way! I know there are some amazing men out there, who stand hand-in-hand with women and fight against the blatant disrespect and harassment that they are subjected to in the streets. I want you to know that you are the light at the end of the tunnel for so many women. In this, there is no punch-line; just sincere gratitude.  There really aren’t enough of you.

I think it’s time for my customary quote; this week it is from the French philosopher, Michel De Montaigne:

“Let us not be ashamed to speak what we shame not to think.”

Ladies (and gentlemen who love and respect ladies) take a leaf out of my book. SPEAK OUT! Don’t be afraid of societal labels! Where my BITCHES at?

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!