For the past couple of days I’ve been reading The Big Questions on my way to school in the morning. I love the feel of it, it’s very open and really makes you contemplate everything it addresses. I think I may have jinxed it because yesterday in Philosophy my teacher asked us to take out our books and a black marker.
We had an assignment due that day so it was kind of weird for him to ask us to take out the books, since we always do the reading at home. So before reaching into my bag, I asked him, “Why?” and he told me “We’re going to censor them.”
“We’re going to do it with our own markers?!” my classmate asked him way-too-excitedly
“Yes we are”
And he put up the page numbers on the board. Entire chapters. Pictures. Questions. Quotes. Single-lined phrases. And he went around to make sure we were all ‘censoring’. The classmate that was very excited about it was doing it with more energy than I had ever seen him putting into his actual work. Every single one of my classmates did it with a black board marker, eliminating the words completely. I cannot describe how much it shocked me. No one hesitated when he said “Censor these pages”. Some looked at them, said “Oh it talks about religion/oh it has a nude picture/oh it talks about sexuality/oh it talks about revolutions” and went on with their task. My excited classmate said it was like being in a KG coloring class. He also said this was like “government appreciation day”…to which I will not comment on. But me, being the odd one out that I am, instead watched everyone marking everything out. The markers were the type that are used with English magazines when celebrities are shown in their bikinis or other ‘inappropriate’ clothing, the type that you couldn’t see past no matter what. Every word, blacked out. No one cared to know what those words were! “The Authority” says they are not meant to be read – therefore they obeyed.
Personally I lied and said I didn’t have my book with me, because I wanted to keep reading the book. You know how there’s always that one student in Biology class that refuses to dissect the frog because he/she thinks it is an act of animal cruelty? I am that one student that refuses to ruin books because I think it is an act of book-torture (which I do think should be a crime)! The result was my teacher giving me another copy, telling me to censor it along with everyone else and give him back the uncensored version later. And after five minutes of watching everyone scribbling at their books, my teacher told me my time was limited and I had to get this done before class ended. So with tentative hands, a heavy heart, and a very light pink pen, I drew thin lines across pages, thin enough for a person to still be able to read the words. Someone seemed to get tired of all the ‘coloring’, and jokingly asked, “Can’t we just rip them out?” to which he was told, “Yes, as long as you throw the pages in the recycling bin and they don’t leave the room when the bell rings.” So he ripped the pages. Crunched them up into little balls. Aimed for the recycling trash like it was a basketball hoop. And went on chatting with his group.
I once read a quote that said, “Where they burn books, they will eventually burn people.” Isn’t ripping out pages and blacking out words essentially a form of burning books? I’m really not lying when I say it hurt my heart to see my 17 and 18 year old classmates mindlessly blacking out extremely thought-provoking words that they would never understand the magnitude of, simply because they didn’t take a few moments to allow their curiosity to get the best of them.
It is Saturday evening and I am supposed to be reviewing for my Math quiz tomorrow and working on my article which I also have to finish by tomorrow. But I was looking through my Philosophy book, “The Big Questions” and it kept asking me thought-provoking questions that I thought I should share.
Each question is provided with a more in-depth explanation to help the reader come up with his own answer. This particular question’s elaboration was:
“Most people have children for terrible reasons — or for no reason at all. They have them to keep a floundering relationship together. Them have them because they are temporarily lonely. They have them because they forgot to use a contraceptive or miscalculated the time of the month. But having children is one of the most important decisions anyone can ever make, and it is a decision with the longest-lasting personal consequences. It is a decision that reveals a great deal about the way we deal with the world — or fail to deal with it. Do we want to provide some future for the family name? Why? Do we need more hands around the house to help with the chores? (Don’t bet on it.) Do we look forward to having absolute authority over someone? (It doesn’t last very long.) Do we need someone to inherit the throne after we’re dead? (Not applicable to most of us.) Do we think that having children will give us a sense of immortality? Could it just be a matter of curiosity? Vanity? Are we willing to sacrifice that much of our time and energy? Or do we not consider it a sacrifice at all?”
I posted this on Twitter as well, and Shurooq Amin said that her purpose was “to create new people that would be an asset to the world by teaching them how to change the world for the better.” My friend Anan said it would give you “a child to love and cherish”. I personally love kids. Just not sure if I would love for them to be mine. Maybe I would if it was for the sake of seeing my spouse and myself wrapped into one person. I actually like the idea of adoption, but as we all know that’s “culturally unacceptable” (i.e. one of the reasons we are looked upon as primitive). Grey’s Anatomy’s last season, when Derek and Meredith adopted an African baby, made me fall in love with the idea.
Of course, McDreamy is unrealistically dreamy – and strangely enough, has more motherly instincts than his wife, Meredith, does, which explains why he fell in love with Zola and decided to adopt her. Now even if I wanted to adopt, where can you find a Kuwaiti man that would be willing to do that? 😦 There is this insane cultural belief that all children not born out of wedlock are “damned” – which I think is r e a l l y primitive, to believe in such an illogical superstition. Not only that, but it is unfair to sentence a newly born child to an entire life of damnation when you can give him or her a chance at a good, happy life like all children are entitled.
Well, those were my thoughts on two of the pages my Philosophy book covered about having children. Will be sure to mention all the other great questions later on 🙂
On October 4th, The Girl Effect will be posting
bloggers’ entries from all over the world on their
views about different issues more and more young
girls are experiencing all over the world, including lack
of education, child prostitution, domestic abuse, child
marriage, and other horrible conditions they are suffering through.
I just heard about this today, so I will definitely start working on mine.
Click on the picture if you would like to participate in this
significant event of voicing our support for girls everywhere 🙂
guys are more than welcome, break the stereotype 😉
Kuwait’s double standards when it comes to gender is by far the most pathetic issue we have here. Men and women are simply not equal, and anyone that claims otherwise is in denial or is living too luxuriously to acknowledge other people’s problems. Guys can stay out late, girls can’t. Guys can leave the house in the middle of the night, girls can’t. Guys can travel with their buddies, girls need a “male escort” — because she’s a little girl who needs her hand to be held, even if she is 24 and leaving for her MA degree. Guys can study abroad and have fun and meet amazing professors and people and build a proper college experience, girls are looked down on if they do. Guys can smoke, girls are considered dirty if they do. Guys can swim shirtless – girls are given dirty looks even if they’re wearing boarding shorts over their swimsuit. If a guy is good at sports, he’s a popular jock. If a girl is good at sports, she’s a “boya”. Guys can have as many ‘relationships’ (i.e. flings) as they want, but if a girl falls in love with one guy she genuinely cared about, she is forever looked upon as tainted goods. Because really, that’s what women are in Kuwait – goods. When a guy wants to get married, he evaluates her as he would evaluate a product. Is she good looking? Is she clean? Has she been used before? Is she purebred? Has her previous owner tamed her properly? Does she sit when I tell her to, ask “how high” when I tell her to jump? How does she dress? Has she been exposed to foreign places? Has she done any of the things I have shamelessly done? If so, I want nothing to do with her, and I pray that every “good” Kuwaiti man (whatever that is) be warded from this tainted woman.
Guys wouldn’t be able to last ONE day living as Kuwaiti girls, let alone a lifetime of living in this society that is so damn miserable. And if we do try to go against everything that this messed up society stands for and deems “honorable” and “virtuous” – we lose every ounce of respect that we have worked so hard to earn. We’ve worked hard to earn that respect by doing something good for others, by taking part in our community, by being good to all, by thinking outside the box, by educating ourselves, by reading about taboo subjects in an effort to expand our thinking, by demanding our right to be equals, by wanting to love and to be loved, by asking for our simple right to have coffee with friends of the opposite sex. Every ounce of respect, obliterated. Why? We had coffee with a coworker. We fell in love. We went tanning in a bikini. We pursued an education abroad – because we want to learn from the very best, not because we are hoping to get lucky like the guys are. We openly discussed how unjust the different standards for marriage are for men and women, different standards for everything. And we were labeled “impure”. Keep your definition of purity if it means I must oppress myself so you can buy me later on.
These two are the cutest kids ever. They’ll definitely turn out to be soul-mates, they’re already planning how many kids they’ll have when they’re married. Adorable!
Elliott talks about his future marriage to Bowie:
Elliott thinks a good husband can be good by:
“picking her flowers”
“making sure she doesn’t get hurt”
And a good wife will:
“I want her to joke”
“I want her to just be how humans are, just like how I am” “which is what…?” “Beautiful.”
I am thoroughly enjoying the Language and Culture unit we are doing in English. A few days ago we focused on an integral part of each culture: names. Mot of the time, names reveal a person’s ethnic background. Us Arabs have very obvious names; Fahad, Noor, Bader. Sometimes they reveal religion; Mohammed, Abrar, Abdullah. As for our full names, last names reveal history. It tells strangers where we descended from, what kind of lives our ancestors lived, what conditions they lived through, what struggles they overcame or what luxury they lived in. It tells people what kind of person you are; maybe your parents gave you a name that made you want to live up to its meaning.
My English teacher is originally from Guiana, and told us that the last name she carries is not technically hers. When slaves were still owned, they would take the last name of their ‘owners’. My teacher is proud of her last name because as she said, her people have nothing to be ashamed of, and did nothing to be ashamed of. The ‘owners’, on the other hand–the whites–do. The same people who deem themselves ethical and everyone else to be primitive today, have a long, disgusting history of torture, imperialism, oppressive methods, and establishing supremacy. When my teacher was in school, whites and blacks had recently started attending classes together. But the content they studied, of course, focused solely on white history. When my teacher would ask if they could even sing black music in Music Class, it would be dismissed as “backwards” and “primitive”. Whites would impose their beliefs on the blacks, trying to get them to despise themselves and feel ashamed of their innocent ancestors, imposing their immoral perspective on them, leading to their self-loathing and sadness.
In my Understanding Knowledge class, we looked at a form the U.S. uses for their annual census. I can’t seem to find it online, but one of the things the citizen would have to fill out was identifying his race by putting a check mark next to the options given. The options were extremely limited. “White – Hispanic – Asian – Black – Other – Declined to provide.” Now think about just how many races fall under ‘other’! Are all the other races — including us as Arabs — too insignificant for the officials to be bothered to include them? Or is the point of these options to hurt our pride and make us choose “declined to provide”? Declined to provide could mean three things: 1) we didn’t want to be categorized as “other”. 2) we were too insulted by their racism to actually tell them where we are from. 3) some may actually feel ashamed of their race. Which, again, makes no sense to me, as we do not have a shameful history. At some point we were the most powerful people on Earth, and that is good reason to be proud of our heritage.
I see nothing wrong with embracing certain positive aspects about the Western culture, such as education and a different way of thinking – but I do not think that we should strip ourselves of our own cultures. If we do that we are signing up for our own ethnic cleansing upon our Arab culture – at some point our grandchildren/great grandchildren would not speak Arabic, would not know how Gulf countries reached their current economic statuses, would never read Arabic. Our language is one of the most difficult languages to learn for foreigners who are so fascinated by it and want to learn how to speak, write, and read it so badly. We are privileged enough to have been born as native Arabic speakers. It is an integral part of who we are, and I think it’s vital that we never let that part go – it is in our blood. In honor of all the sacrifices our ancestors have made for us, the least we could do is cherish our cultures. Balance is key.