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on the Bard College Berlin Student Blog

Having been born and raised in Cairo by upper middle class Egyptian Muslim parents, gender issues and women’s rights weren’t topics typically dealt with in my family despite how “open-minded” my parents claim to be. A patriarchal culture filters through life’s many branches in Egypt, silencing the voices demanding the downfall of the patriarchy and the end of misogyny that has long infested the Egyptian culture. To try and understand such matters, one must avoid looking only at the similarities in the Arab countries’ attitudes towards gender and sexuality as they ultimately have defining differences in their historical contexts and the operation of their societies today. My intimate experience with Cairo compels me to make it the focus of my article.

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► Monday: Not my Revolution, if …

rev

Staged as a musical, the stories of a fictional anti-globalization activist unfold satirically. Angie O. is the kind of activist you would come across in every movement, from Occupy Wall Street, to anti neoliberalism in the Maxican jungle, to hugging trees, protests against banks, and the list goes on. The performance tackles issues of hypocrisy, economics and self-serving factors as a motivation for activism in today’s neoliberal world and how activism can be a productive force in challenging and redefining the status quo.  

  • When: 20:00
  • Where:  Stresemannstr. 29, 10963 Berlin
  • Admission: 11€
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► Monday, October 3rd: Day of German Reunification Celebrations

berlin

End your long weekend by participating in Berlin’s 26th anniversary of the German Reunification – which followed the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 –  at the huge street festival by the Brandenburg Gate. Not only will you get to take part in cheerful and celebratory atmosphere of a very important historical occurrence, but you’ll also have the chance to enjoy plenty of beer gardens, diverse snacks and an entertainment programme: Look forward to stage performances, a concert, horseback riding and horse races, big wheel funfair ride, and karaoke at the Berliner Dom.

  • When: 11:00
  • Where: Straße des 17. Juni, 10557 Berlin
  • Admission: free
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body

Credit: Charlotte Boccone.

 

One of the first things that the two women, a burlesque dancer and a party organizer, mentioned to me was how hard it is to be a woman in their businesses here in Brazil. I was interviewing them for an anthropological project on sadomasochism. In the room below us, a man was lying face up on the floor while a woman in a pink dress and four-inch stilettos was dancing on top of him. Another woman watched with a beer in her hand, sitting on the back of a man on his hands and knees. They were playing The Smiths very loudly when a man asked to worship my feet, but I informed him that I was just a researcher, thanks.

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feminist

Are you a feminist? In my opinion, this question is very difficult. The reason for this difficulty is somewhat simple: I don’t speak the ‘language of feminism’. I have noticed that if I say I am a feminist – or even when it is somehow naturally assumed by others given that I am an «aware» and educated woman, as long as I belong to the crowd of cosmopolitan college students learning to become critical – I am expected to know how to speak feminism. I should know what word to use in which context. What I can say and what I should not. Political correctness, I agree, is perhaps recommended in some social settings. Language policing appears sometimes to be a duty in certain contexts. And feminism sounds like a good idea. But when I read that we need to use the «F*» word meaning feminism, I get confused. Or when one says «I hate the word feminism» or «I am an anti-feminist» woman, I hesitate how to react for a minute or two. Why is «No, I’m not a feminist» such a horrific answer? Without the knowledge and in lack of the “proper” words, I hesitate to identify with the « ism » of feminism. 

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