Bugspray anyone?

There’s been some blogosphere outrage over a recent Egyptian(?) advert about hijab.hijabi propoganda


The text says, “You can’t stop them, but you can protect yourself. Your Creator knows whats best for you.” The men are the flies and the women are the lollipops, and the wrapper is supposed to represent the hijab.

  I won’t waste time on what kind of propagandist, misogynistic, retarded bullshit this is; I think its obvious enough without me stating it. Of course I agree that our Creator does know whats best for us, but that doesn’t excuse men behaving like dogs. What Arab men lack is liability for their actions and this advert does nothing but propagate approval for them continuing to get away with whatever they want to get away with solely because they are men and can’t be held responsible for their actions; especially when a woman who doesn’t cover herself is in their line of sight. Its like blaming a rape victim because her skirt was an inch above her knees.

While we are on this topic I would like to tell you about what I saw in Alexandria on Khaled Ibn Waleed Street in the Miami neighborhood one night around midnight. This street, at night, is completely clogged with humanity and cars and getting through that street quickly is an impossibility. My husband and I were in a taxi at a dead standstill when two crotch-rockets (you know, the flashy mydickisbiggerthanyours motorbikes) snaked past us carrying two passengers each: one man and one woman. Neither of the women wore hijab but one woman was much more scantily clad than the other, wearing tight capri pants and a tight sleeveless tank top. Her outfit wouldn’t have elicited a second glance in the US but in Egypt it was in stark contrast to the majority hijab/jilbab/malhaffa and even a few niqabi women shopping. The CR (crotch-rocket) carrying the second, more scantily clad, woman got blocked at an impasse and had to stop at which point the wild packs of young men noticed the girl and turned, in unison quite like a school of fish or a flock of birds do, and began to surround the seriously outnumbered duo on the bike. Unable to fight off the crowd the man driving tried to force his way through the traffic while the boys reached out to grab at the woman, or spit on her, while yelling garbled things in Arabic. It was all very reminiscent of the Eid attacks captured on video by Wael Abbas. ‘Within a matter of a few seconds the driver got through the cars and drove off as fast as possible leaving the crowd of unsatisfied animals to disperse back into their regular hunting parties.

The incident left an indelible impression on me. I felt bad for the girl, because no matter what she chooses to wear, no one should ever be molested in such a fashion and have it be approved of on the basis that she didn’t wear hijab. I was angry for her.

I must admit, however, that one must take into consideration the society that one is attempting to function in. As I said, in the US she wouldn’t have been looked at twice because her outfit showed less skin than many I have personally seen. However she is not in the US, she is in a society in which modesty is the expectation whether with hijab or not. I don’t think the incident was based on whether she wore hijab because the woman on the bike in front of her was hijabless as well and went completely unmolested in her baggy 3/4 sleeve shirt and capri pants. After a lot of thinking I believe it was the tightness of her clothing and the manner in which she straddled her CR-driving boyfriend, as well as his stupidity because as he got stopped at the impasse he revved the bike and cracked the muffler bringing the attention of the surrounding crowds upon himself and his girlfriend.

Does this condone the actions of the rabid masses? No. And something should be done about the mentality of a society that aprroves of this kind of action and places the blame on the woman no matter what. Its misogynistic and allows the men to shirk the blame. An endless supply of victimhood.

It isn’t my fault I raped her, your honor, she deserved it because she wore red/perfume/a tight shirt/I could see her hair and I couldn’t control myself.

It isn’t my fault, she deserved it because she is female.

It makes me sick.

And it makes me wonder about an ideology that basks in a mentality that compares them to flies, an organism even lower and more disgusting than dogs.

I call for accountability, and a religious authority that remembers the teachings of God that command men to lower their gaze rather than molest.

In religion there is accountability, but most of the time men forget that part in their zeal to be sure women do.

For me, I carry bug spray. And a mean right-hook.


12 responses to “Bugspray anyone?

  1. looking at that advert it reminds me of the countless times I’ve been harassed/oogled with hijab on. If a man is a dawg he will be a dawg whether or not a woman is wearing hijab.

    The notion that hijab prevents all harassment is incorrect because some men simply don’t care. I do agree that it shifts all accountability from the men to the women and that is the real shame.

  2. Sorry, but I just don’t understand why you (and so many others) take offense and consider this misogynistic. It doesn’t say that all men are flies. It doesn’t say that women are the source of evil by tempting men. It doesn’t say that men have no responsibility for their own actions. There are a lot of good men in this world, and there are some who are “an organism even lower and more disgusting than dogs.” If there were a public service ad that advised people to lock their car doors when they park in a parking lot, would everyone be offended that it implied that everyone who walked through the parking lot was a thief? Would you think that it meant that it was your fault if your car got stolen if you forgot to lock it, or that the thief was somehow less guilty? Or would you think it was only common sense to lock your car, even knowing that some people can still steal a locked car?

    I guess we don’t have to agree on everything.

  3. How sad!

    You can dress any way you like in Egypt, but it depends on where you are. For example, if you are on the Northern Coast in Marina, it’s normal to see bikinis and one-piece swimsuits. Other places in rich neighborhoods also accept people like that, like in Montaza and private clubs.

    I grew up in Miamy and I know how routy the area near the Kornich and on Khalid Ibn Waleed can get. People from all over Egypt, especially from rural areas travel to Alexandria for vacation.

    It’s really sad, but little children are raised to harass women on the streets. I remember one day my friend and I were walking to school (I literally had to cross the street to get to my school), and these boys tried to grab are behinds. They were no older than 8 years old. They ganged up on us and we didn’t know what to do. This was on a main street. Since my mother was extremely overprotective, I always rode in a car with someone or took a taxi.

    Unfortunately, it’s no longer an issue of hijab. If you don’t wear hijab, the guilt isn’t there for these molesters to take action; hijab isn’t a ticket to safety.

    The misogynistic men who try to blame women for their actions are not men, but pigs.

  4. I remember the last time I was in egypt to visit family (I was 17). I hadn’t been there since I was about 9. The amount of sexual harrassment I experienced there was a major shock to my system and something I had never before encountered up until that point
    I have truly never been so obsessed about my appearance as I was there. I would literally ask every member in my family before I walked out the door if they thought I looked slutty in what I was wearing . I was honestly kind of disgusted with myself for even asking something like that but oh well. After about the 1st week I realized it really doesn’t matter what I wear. Its gonna happen regardless so I’ll wear what makes me happy.

    Anyways, I always find the complaints of sexual harrassment within the M.E. to be somewhat ironic. This is a region that generally seems to pride itself on its morality and what not (ie: our women aren’t whores like those trashy white women, etc)

  5. well, of COURSE it’s not just the hijab. but why do you think a woman dressed as u describe got to be such a rare sight in egypt? the place is becoming perceptively more conservative, i can see the difference even from when i moved back two years ago. it is BY CONTRAST to the other women, who have been forced to veil in response to increasing social pressure brought on not only by the rising tide of fundamentalism and conservatism, but also, in a vicious cycle, by the harassers, who behave this way because of the rarity of the phenomenon…
    but, 7amdella 3al salama!

  6. and alajnabiya, the differences between this ad and your example about unlocked cars are two:
    1) you are equating car theft with sexual assault;
    2) you are making the solid error of blaming women for their assaults. no, hijab does not prevent harassment and assault, and neither does any other clothing. by saying that it’s “natural” for assholes to be drawn to an uncovered woman, you are saying that she deserves it.

  7. Assalamo aleikom,

    You say you don’t think it’s her fault, but you managed to write:
    “After a lot of thinking I believe it was the tightness of her clothing and the manner in which she straddled her CR-driving boyfriend, as well as his stupidity “.

    Wonderful, you just joined the rabid dogs wagon.

  8. Natalia: As established by all the comments, hijab or any type of clothing won’t prevent sexual harassment. The problem in the Middle East is the gap between religion and application. However, it’s true that it’s more likely that a woman dressed in more revealing, less modest clothing might have a better chance at being harassed by a larger number of people. It’s much easier for the predator to justify molesting a “slut” (according to his mentality), than let’s say a seemingly religious, conservative person.

    Although this might be the case, I would never blame a woman for being harassed. A woman should be able to walk freely and safely anywhere with whatever she pleases to wear.

    The question remains: if the girl on the bike was dressed in a big scarf and a long dress, would she still be harassed in the manner she was? I personally think she would, but possibly not as much as what the girl aforementioned had to endure.

    The horny Egyptian men are ready to turn into beasts to satisfy their lusts at any cost. It’s a damed cycle.

  9. That ad was just ridiculous. However, I’m not sure if it was more insulting to men or women? Comparing women to candy (umm, a cherry pop, no-less!) and men to dirty flies? I have no words for that ad other than it is just such a desperate move. And lame…very lame…..

  10. I SO LOVE YOU for writing this post (…and for so many other reasons, as well, of course). While I won’t be naked walking through the streets of Alex any time soon…or ever for that matter, just hearing about this incident makes me cringe. It’s not as though American men respect women any more, really (I mean, listen to a hip-hop song or two), but unless you enter a packed club, for example, I doubt you will have many unsolicited hands feeling you up in public based on your chosen attire.
    My husband did tell me/warn me about when we go to Egypt what might take place. I don’t wear hijab (YET!!), but I might don it for such an occasion, though I find it a rather pathetic excuse and feel it won’t offer much protection.
    My hijab-sporting American friend lived in Egypt for most of this last year and came home to regale me with her stories of assaults, stares and comments.
    It’s not just Egyptians that are this way, but I know from what many other people have said, if you want to get whooped and hollered at (as we would say), put on a tight skirt and march around Egypt for a while.
    As for the ad, it’s beyond lame. It’s a horrible misrepresentation of what hijab is all about. Hijabi or non, a Muslim woman or not, Islam demands us to treat everyone properly and to keep our hands off each other – regardless. From my own experiences with wearing hijab, it doesn’t keep eyes away, but rather let them know that you’re Muslim so you should be watched closely like you’re an idiot on the loose bound to wreak havoc and chaos. Hijab IS a form of protection, but it should COMMAND respect rather than be considered a semi-permiable eye-repelling force field. If they post this ad, berhabs (yes, with Bs) they should pair it with an ad about lowering thy gaze or one about parental control and gender equality (as in, ladies and gentle men both rack up sins with equal punishments) in Islam.

  11. This sexual harassment kills me. It is so repulsive and shameful that I honestly can’t even think of a solution.
    I’m currently in Palestine for work (I am Egyptian, btw) and one of the first things i noticed is that guys keep their gaze down. They don’t stare, neither at Palestinian nor at expats…. Generally nothing beyond a glance!
    And I was glad that, well, Arabs/Muslims were behaving in such a respectful way towards others – and embarrassed that Egyptians are lightyears away from there…

  12. Salaam u Alaikom, Egypt sounds a bit like Mexico city in some areas. I guess we are all a bit guilty. I seen a girl in tight TINY shorts and a tank top and asked my co worker “wow it’s THAT warm?” Yes I was being a bit snooty. Truly it has to do with being told not to dress like that (not that I never did) being older, being at a COLLEGE and the weather being 52 degrees. Now should she get raped for it?! HELL NO, a snooty comment from me? Probably not but this is reality we are all pregidous in some form or another as for me, I wish a Motha lova would attempt to touch anything of mine

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