Monday, September 14, 2009

If I Were a Man...


Today I am posting a powerful and poignant poem written by Mimi, a thoughtful young woman from Qatar. She lived in the UK for four years while pursuing her undergraduate studies. Her future looks very bright, although it would probably be much brighter if only she were afforded the opportunities and encouragement that young men in her country are offered. Despite the challenges women face in many countries in the Middle East, she has a very positive outlook and says, "This is my life, and society is not going to live it for me." I believe that she is an important voice that needs to be heard, and I'm sure she speaks for many modern young women in the Middle East. Mimi strives to be the best she can be and it is her mission in life to help others achieve their goals as well. She releases her stress and frustrations in her writings and is very perceptive about her surroundings and her situation. So now, without further delay, is a poem by Mimi called "If I Were a Man."

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If I Were a Man

If I were a man, I can fall in love and society would think it's adorable.
If I were a man, I can marry any girl from any race or religion.
If I were a man, society won't question me if I controlled my wife’s life, thoughts and dreams.
If I were a man and divorced my wife, society would pity me and rush to find me a new one to make me happy.
If I were a man, I can wear whatever I want, whenever I want.
If I were a man, I don’t need to have permission to travel, to go out, to study to work or to breathe.
If I were a man, I can go out with as many women as I want, before and after marriage.
If I were a man and I sinned, society would find excuses for my sins, and so I can sin even more.
If I were a man with a bad reputation, my society would say “young and foolish, he will grow up and get married tomorrow, let him have fun.”
If I were a man, I will have a bigger salary, just for being a man.
If I were a man who studied abroad, in my society I will be a genius.
If I were a man and made a mistake at work, society will blame it on the circumstances.
If I were a man, I am perfect in the eye of my society.
Nothing would be wrong with me
Except the size of my wallet.

But I am a woman.

I am a woman, and I must hide behind covers or I will be …
I am a woman, and my society believes I am a heartless creature that is forbidden to love.
I am a woman, and my honor is not related to my morals but to my membrane.
I am a woman, and I am an object of property, to my father, to my brother then to my husband.
I am a woman, and I must sacrifice my history, my dreams, because they are not my rights, but they are the rights of who ever owns my body.
I am a woman, and if I or my rights are raped, it is because of my seductive beauty and stupidity.
I am a woman, and I must work twice as hard to prove myself.
I am a woman, and if I erred at work it is because I am simply a woman.
I am a woman, and if I studied abroad I will be too exposed and not suitable for marriage.
I am a woman, and on my society I am a burden.
I am a woman, and for my society I am a mistake that should be corrected.
I am a woman, and I should be watched in case I commit a bigger scandal, a bigger mistake than my own existence.
***********************************************************
Please visit Mimiz Blog - you won't be disappointed, and you will gain insight into a typical Middle Eastern young woman's thoughts, hopes, and fears. And thank you, Mimi, for allowing me to share your poem.

33 comments:

  1. Lovely poem! Thank you for posting it & I will definitely be checking out her writing!

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  2. Dear Susie

    Thank you again for posting my poem on your blog. I have been reading your blog and found it fascinating, you have great stuff here. Keep up what you're doing. Your voice is important and interesting at the same time.

    Best,

    Mimi

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  3. what an eye opening poem.
    i was about to say it was a beautiful poem...but only beautifully written. but its very sad at the same time...
    reading this poem gave a moment of reflection to realize so much i take for granted.

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  4. Thank you for publishing this poem. I will go to Mimi's blog.

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  5. Wow !!! So true, every word.
    I converted to Islam 15 years ago then met my husband 18 months later in a different country.
    I have not practised as well as I should have in the last 7 years(not wearing hijab, smoking)
    One of the reasons was the more religious I became the more abusive my husband was.
    Then when I met other Muslims (mainly men) I found they were complete hypocrites. I was to be a certain way while they drank, had sex with women etc.
    What angers me is the amount of Saudis who come here, they believe they are better than all other Muslims, however they are meeting young women, not telling them they will leave and marry at anytime.

    These young women are being conned and used for free sex until the guys marry. Under the belief that the guy loves them etc.
    None of them intend to Marry any of these young thangs and then they wonder why Muslims and Saudi guys get a bad name. The women are getting it from both sides. The men are going out to bars and strip clubs, drinking etc. Then they do marry and bring their wives over, the women cannot answer the door, live behind closed curtains day and night, are not allowed to go out, and become very depressed, newly weds and preganant mums to be.
    This leads to fighting, then the men goes out and finds his ex girlfriend or other women to comfort him. Or they spend all of their time with male friends. She is left very alone.

    I am so sick of seeing and hearing this situation. The woman has no family nor support around and has to make friendships with equally depressed and bored young women.
    These are not the actions of religious men and goes against Islams beliefs.
    I have heard "oh we are protecting them", "they are treated as princesses", rubbish, complete rubbish. MY advice to any young woman who is to follow her new husband to an overseas western country is think about it wisely, get to really know your husband first and make sure you have great supports around you.
    I stopped wearing Hijab because my husband was abusing me in public for anything and also the public saw me as a traitor for being muslim (U.K) and I was spat at, pushed and shoved, my husband didn't protect me from any of this, so I had to stand up for myself.
    Do I sound bitter and angry? I am not I am sad for these young women and what they go through.
    I am also tired of hearing so many lies and hypocracy from men who treat women as property and not as people.

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  6. A poem that covers it all, and well!

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  7. Very powerful poem and also very sad.

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  8. Susie - you are doing such a service to all our cultures, to post the wonderful stories you share. Kudos to you.

    This poem is a eye opener, but not a surprise. It hurts my heart.

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  9. wow i love the poem...you know what while im reading the poem im humming and singing it with the tune of the song of BEYONCE "IF I WERE A BOY" i really love it....the message of the poem is so meaningful...

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  10. On the other hand..

    http://www.dohatribecafilm.com/videos/video-detail/item_200046.htm

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  11. A lovely and sad poem.
    I thank God that I was born in freedom and this is a reminder that I should never take that freedom for granted.

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  12. It clearly and vividly portrays the sad plight of women in this corner of the universe.

    A sad truth is unveiled through this very powerful message!

    Oh, by the way Susie my judge-wife is coming to Jeddah in a few days and she has used your blog as a travel guide... Thanks but her request has become a tall order now for me to do...LoL

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  13. So few words..so much truth

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  14. A very true but extremely sad poem, thank you for sharing...

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  15. Beautiful poem that saddened me at the same time. I am lucky to have been living in the society that practice Islam but is very supportive towards women.

    Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) once approached by a person who then asked him : Who among the people is most deserving of a fine treatment from my hand? He said: Your mother. He again said: Then who (is the next one)? He said: Again it is your mother (who deserves the best treatment from you). He said: Then who (is the next one)? He (the Holy Prophet) said: Again, it is your mother. He (again) said: Then who? Thereupon he said: Then it is your father.

    We all women are mothers of this life. Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon) had been always gentle and caring and respect towards women, so I can't help thinking that what's been going on in Saudi and other Gulf countries is more cultural than religious matter.

    We women are not property of men, fathers, brothers or husbands - we indeed (just like men) are property of Allah.

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  16. How true. Thanks for sharing this sad and infuriating poem. I will be going to see her blog after this. I haven't been on to read your blog and have some catching up to do. Your blog is so interesting and informative. Have a good day.

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  17. Today I read in the paper about Fawziya Youssef from Yemen who was married off aged 11 and has just died aged 12 giving birth to a stillborn. I have 2 daughters around the same age. Reading Mimi's poem with this in mind makes it all the more poignant.

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  18. this phenomena is typical of middle eastern and south asian societies regardless of religion. muslim women in malaysia, indonesia, philipines, singapore and brunei are very independent and powerful in their respective communities... master of their own destinies..... many making more than their husbands. equal access to education is the key...

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  19. I think the only way to understand each other is FROM each other. Politicians and governments always have their own agendas, nothing really meaningful is communicated. Thank you for your insight and for including other voices.
    Linda

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  20. Susie, this is a very sad poem but very powerful. Thank you for sharing this with us.

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  21. Just thought I'd clarify a few things..

    Women in Qatar can:

    -Drive
    -Study in any major, either abroad or in Qatar
    -Wear whatever they want
    -Work alongside men, and therefore contribute equally to the workforce
    -Own businesses
    -Mix casually with men; even if not related..

    ..as well as many other rights and privileges that they enjoy here! my two sisters and countless female cousins on both sides of my family are perfect examples of that! ^_^

    I would say Qatar is a crossroads between Saudi and Dubai..in that it's a conservative country, but also very modern. We are a society still rooted in tradition, but also very liberal. Islam is part of our identity, but it isn't imposed on people, and therefore striking a perfect balance IMHO.I believe Mimi was referring more to the misogynistic mentality of many of the people here, specifically Qataris, and the poem was her way of expressing her frustration of the perceived double standards that exist between men and women. Of how much more harsh and judgmental we are towards the women in our country, but less so with men, even when they commit the same mistakes.

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  22. Susie,
    I have been a blurker for a while now...but this poem really made me so upset I had to write.

    I get so angry when I read stuff like this. Mimi's story in not unique only to the Middle East. This is the case everywhere, even here in the US. Women make less money than men and have to face countless double standards.

    But what really upsets me is the attitude of the culture in the Middle East as a whole. To me the culture is so contradictory to the message of Islam. Men are not commanded by Allah to behave shamelessly and get away with it.
    And women are not less than men according to Islam, yet that is how they are treated.

    Yes women in Islam have restrictions but so do men. And all of these restrictions are for the protection of society as a whole.

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  23. SAD poems .. !!

    but its not true .. !!

    & its not happening only here in Middle East .. its happening sometimes in U.S too .. !!

    I'm SAUDI girl .. & I'm so happy because I'm Saudi&Muslim .. :)

    this girl dosn't live in real islamic Environment .. !!

    I'm never & I will never wish that I become A man .. !

    maybe not all of arabic girl live like princes .. but real Islamic girl is do .. ask me ;)

    & to NEO-CONDUIT ..

    you must know something .. not all Muslims men are really Muslim !!

    You will never ever found the real & good Saudi Muslims in the bar & with the girl .. !!

    If you want to see them search around faraway from the bars .. maybe in schools , Masjed(Mosque).. I mean in somewhere good places .. then you will see the good & real Muslims ..:)

    ----------

    & why you always focus to The negative side !?

    why you don't see The bright side ?!

    chick this video .. :)

    http://www.dohatribecafilm.com/videos/video-detail/item_200046.htm


    I will check your blog & see what you written about my country ! lol ;)

    & I wish I found something good you see it in S.A .. :)

    finally excuseme my English language is not very good .. :)

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  24. Dear كلي امنيات مجنونه

    I am not saying that we are living so miserably and unhappy. Or that I want to be a man. On the contrary, I am proud of my gender, race and religion. Being a woman is divine in my opinion. We give life!

    But, I have to disagree with you. The poem is true. Every line I have written has a sad story behind it. This poem is written out of other's pain and the injustice they suffered. If you really think its not true then you must be living in a bubble and not admitting reality. I m not saying that everyone is living like this, but there are many women who are suffering. Not only in Gulf countries but all over the world! and the least we can do is acknowledge their pain.

    And you are right about not living in Islamic environment. If people abide by real Islamic morals non of this would have happened. Islam for people became a piece of cloth on a woman's head and a bearded man. People forgot about morals. And is Saudi a real Islamic environment? what makes it more islamic than other countries. What is Islamic for you? don't you have many women stopped and beaten my the religious police? many who were brutally killed by their families and no one said anything? Is this Islamic? Isnt a woman not allowed to work or travel unless she has a MALE permission, a dad or a brother or a husband. Non of that sounds Islamic, or at least human to me. I am not attacking your country. Same things happen in my country.

    And what living like a princes has to do with being muslim? or not finding good muslims in bars?

    the reason we focus on negative side is because we want to see change and improvement. How can we develop without facing problems and finding solutions. And this, for me at least, is a huge problem. For women to be treated like second class citizens.

    I hope i didnt offend anyone with my reply.

    Peace

    Mimi

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  25. Dear كلي امنيات مجنونه

    I am not saying that we are living so miserably and unhappy. Or that I want to be a man. On the contrary, I am proud of my gender, race and religion. Being a woman is divine in my opinion. We give life!

    But, I have to disagree with you. The poem is true. Every line I have written has a sad story behind it. This poem is written out of other's pain and the injustice they suffered. If you really think its not true then you must be living in a bubble and not admitting reality. I m not saying that everyone is living like this, but there are many women who are suffering. Not only in Gulf countries but all over the world! and the least we can do is acknowledge their pain.

    And you are right about not living in Islamic environment. If people abide by real Islamic morals non of this would have happened. Islam for people became a piece of cloth on a woman's head and a bearded man. People forgot about morals. And is Saudi a real Islamic environment? what makes it more islamic than other countries. What is Islamic for you? don't you have many women stopped and beaten my the religious police? many who were brutally killed by their families and no one said anything? Is this Islamic? Isnt a woman not allowed to work or travel unless she has a MALE permission, a dad or a brother or a husband. Non of that sounds Islamic, or at least human to me. I am not attacking your country. Same things happen in my country.

    And what living like a princes has to do with being muslim? or not finding good muslims in bars?

    the reason we focus on negative side is because we want to see change and improvement. How can we develop without facing problems and finding solutions. And this, for me at least, is a huge problem. For women to be treated like second class citizens.

    I hope i didnt offend anyone with my reply.

    Peace

    Mimi

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  26. "this girl dosn't live in real islamic Environment .. !!"



    Excuse me, but who are you to say who lives or doesn't live in a real Islamic environment? and what, pray tell, constitutes "a real Islamic environment" in your opinion? If you mean Saudi then god forbid, I hope Qatar never becomes like it! I know Mimi personally, and I can vouch that she is what every decent muslimah should aspire to be. Well educated, generous, kind, compassionate, driven, God fearing, helps others...etc and you think you, a complete stranger, are in a position to judge her?


    "I'm never & I will never wish that I become A man .. !"

    LOL paranoid are we? where exactly in her poem did she insinuate that she would like to be a man? she is simply voicing her frustration at the hypocrisy and double standards between the two sexes that is practiced in our society, something that I think Islam condemns, and yet here you are attacking Mimi whereas I would think any self respecting woman should be praising her. No one said she isn't proud of her religion and/or heritage. On the contrary, if she wasn't she wouldn't be wasting her time saying these things. She wants our societies improve and move forward, to give equal opportunities to all regardless of gender, race or religion, otherwise we'll just keep on stagnating and lagging behind everybody else. Think about that reality!

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  27. Thanks to everyone for all your comments. I'm really happy I got to share Mimi's poem with you. Sorry to not address all comments individually, but I really appreciate your taking the time to join in the discussion.

    To Neo-Conduit - I too have a problem with religious hypocrites, and unfortunately I have seen them in many religions, many countries. I think religion should be about compassion and acceptance and honesty and goodness and kindness. I have seen far too many people who claim to be religious and then they treat others like crap. I don't think religion should be about controlling other people's lives and then turning around and doing things you restrict others from doing. Wearing a piece of cloth on your head doesn't make you a better person - it's what's in your heart and in your treatment of others. I'm sorry you have had such a bad experience. There are lots of good religious people out there - it's those few who claim to be so religious but behave badly that give religions a black eye. Thanks for commenting - I hope it made you feel better to get all that out!

    To Desert AquaForce - I hope you and your wife enjoy her time here in Jeddah and that you are able to squeeze in lots of fun! Best wishes!!!

    To Online - Definitely here in KSA, culture has been so mixed and blurred in with the religion that it is difficult to determine which is which in many areas. Thanks for commenting.

    To Kate - I had read that same story too. Marrying off child brides is a problem that needs to be eliminated in this part of the world.

    To Ayda - Muslim women in many countries are valued contributing members of society without having all these restrictions imposed on them unnecessarily in the name of religion. Thanks for your input.

    Hi Baj - I would love to visit Qatar one day to see the balance that can be achieved in a Muslim country that doesn't oppress women. Thanks!

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  28. Hi LostNiqabi - I totally agree with you about the culture of the Middle East contradicting the spirit of Islam. It's definitely not the best place to learn by example about Islam...

    To ري ري " كلي أمنيآت مجنونة - In Mimi's defense, she wrote this poem from her own experiences and feelings as a Qatari woman. If you read her poem, she doesn't specifically refer to Qatar and it is directed to society in general. I'm glad you are happy that you are a Saudi and a Muslim, but there are plenty of women who are not happy with the way things are - just look around you. You sound like you live a very sheltered life - lucky you to live in a dream world. But the reality for others is very different from your perceptions and you seem to be in denial that other women might want more for themselves.
    I have written many positive posts about KSA on my blog. I do try to look on the bright side and consider myself a very optimistic person. But I DO feel oppressed here and it's very difficult to try to adjust to all the restrictions placed on me now in a world so different from the one I lived in for 55 years.

    To Mimi - Thank you again for letting me share your poem with my readers. There will always be people, including women, who are in denial about the treatment of women in the world. We still have a long way to go.

    To Baj - Some people always take offense or misinterpret or try to read something else into everything. Well said!

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  29. OOOOHHHH ..!!

    wait please why you attacked me like that girls .. !!??

    maybe you didnt understand what I real want to say because of my bad English language .. :(

    & Im so sorry if I offend anyone here .. I didnt mean that really .. :( !!

    TO Mimi ..

    yes dear I know its true but I was want to say its not for all women .. yes there is some women live in bad environment .. but I mean there is opposite environment too .. :)

    "If people abide by real Islamic morals non of this would have happened"

    you are right .. & Im so sad because some people talk about Islam in bad .. Islam is absolutely with women .. !!

    "And is Saudi a real Islamic environment?"

    mimi .. I didnt say that .. !!

    Saudi like any other of country there is good & bad .. :)

    & about religious police ..

    for the true .. I never saw them beat any women .. !!

    in fact yes there is some if them is bad .. BUT what I see .. they are always with women & they protect them .. however they can .. !!

    "woman not allowed to work or travel unless she has a MALE permission, a dad or a brother or a husband. Non of that sounds Islamic"

    DEAR who is tell you that is not ?Islamic sounds ..??

    النبي _صلى الله عليه وسلم_ قال : "لا تسافر امرأة إلا مع ذي محرم"

    :)

    "the reason we focus on negative side is because we want to see change and improvement"

    yes I know & Im with you in this ..

    BUT we must not forget the good side too .. to support it .. :)

    THANK YOU MIMI for your understanding reply .. :)



    -------------------


    Baj ..

    I didnt like your reply ..

    please be more understanding .. :)

    I didnt say she doesn't live in a real Islamic environment ..

    Im talking about the Women who suffer from this bad life ..


    ------------------------

    dear Susie ..

    I wish you understand what I want to say from my reply to mimi .. :)


    TANK YOU ALL .. :)

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  30. I loved both the poem and Mimi's comments here, I will defenitely visit her blog!

    I liked Baj's last comment too; cool dude!

    Neo conduit, hijab is not required by the quran, only dressing modestly: cover your chest down to the knees. Anything more is culture, and the wishes of men to put restrictions on women.

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