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#MeToo ArabsToo?!

Let’s do a #MeToo check-in.

I’m wondering what’s next for our MeToo moment, particularly in a region where we’ve been Me-Too’ing to each other for all eternity. These are the MeToo’s that have been whispered from woman to woman – to a friend, a neighbor, a sister – throughout the Arab world. There are a million MeToo voices that will never join the movement, that do not need to join the movement, because they murmur MeToo MeToo MeToo every day, everywhere in this region.

We don’t need them to scream – we just need them to be heard.

Meanwhile, the whole world is loudly and rightly MeToo’ing – a MeToo long overdue. And – in some spaces, some heads are rolling! So our MeToo brings justice. And maybe this justice is contagious. We cannot deny – MeToo has global consequences.

Enter: Arab region. We’ve got patriarchy mixed in with shame, stigma, fear of exposure, impunity, and a solid dose of rape culture and entitlement magnified by socio-political insecurity. A rotten recipe, surely. Are we actually going to see perpetrators face the consequences of their actions in a context like this?! I’d eat my own toes…

The very men who desperately need to hear the roar of MeToo are precisely the men who won’t hear it. They’re not there – not following this stuff – not noticing this stuff – not reading this stuff – not interested in this stuff.

And yet men must do better. The men we’ve got who are allies, advocates, supporters – maybe even champions – THEY are the ones who should work with other men. And then there’s the bystanders. I hate those guys. They gloat in belief of their own innocence – and bloat with their NotMyProblem-ism. We gotta galvanize those guys. But that’s another story.

[I want to ignite the bystander – ideally in the form of a magic spice to sprinkle on hummus. Open to ideas here.]

Magic-spice notwithstanding, how are we going to translate MeToo into action? Because we-you-I can MeToo (or Ana Kaman) until the camels come home, but damn, how much longer?! And how many more?!

Here be truth:

  1. We know it is a problem

  2. We know the problem is BIG – we do not need a million more MeToo’s to get it

  3. We know those who cause the problem do NOT see it as a problem

  4. We know those who experience the problem are NOT sufficiently supported (on the street, by the system, whatever)

OK – someone tell me, what are we supposed to do about this?! The whole point of MeToo is WhatNext – what we have learned and how we arm ourselves to end this. If for a micro-second anyone doubted the extent of this, we now doubt no more!

Here are some things we could work on in this region: We need to teach consent from day zero, support respect and enforce boundaries, allow ownership over our own bodies. We’ve got to respect bodily integrity. Let’s end the go kiss 3amo crap (because no kid needs to kiss anyone – unless they want to). We must refuse to accept the inevitability of sexual harassment. We should stop telling girls to watch out for themselves – and start telling guys to watch out. Let’s defy the boys-will-be bullshit. Cliches are exhausting.

Let’s also hold mothers accountable. Mamas, please stop grooming your sons to be entitled little princes but instead train them to UNDO violence – to deny, defy, resist it where they see it – whether towards another individual, an animal, the environment, even the roads.

[A simple analysis of Lebanese road-rules will tell you all you need to know about the dysfunctional marriage of entitlement and violence]

We are #MeToo – now let’s be #NoMore.

#GenderEquality #16Days #SexualHarassment #Arab #WomensRights #VAW #MeToo #GBV

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