Friday, February 14, 2014

#stripforjackie - you can't use your body as a weapon before embracing it (UPDATED)

Following the now infamous Jackie Chamoun debacle a major hashtag sweeped the Lebanese twittersphere #stripforjackie (where people took selfies on cell phones naked in support of Jackie - and most of the time forgot the mirror effect of a cell phone so the hashtag that appeared on their photos was more often than not eikcajrofpirts#) and even a facebook movement called "I am not naked" (whereby people agreed to pose naked for professional photographers which emphasizing they are "not naked" but "film director" "just friends" etc...).
Apart from the fact that is is what is referred to as Slacktivism - or activism in the comfort of your own home - the issue drove home the point of how come so many people were ready to strip for Jackie but not raise a finger for Manal Assi whose husband beat her so severely she died from her injuries the next day in the hospital. Still, if one wants to do activism on the cheap, it's their right and apparently it eases one's conscience of "at least I did something" (and frankly "at least I did something cool, and funky" since the self-marketing factor cannot be denied here as it provides stories you tell your children later or your friends immediately).
However, for me, the major syntax error in #stripforjackie and "I am not naked" was this: You cannot use your body as a weapon before embracing it. Before you stop looking at your body as an instrument of provocation, seduction, manipulation and whatever else you cannot use it to protest.
Anyone who has been to Holland, Germany or the Scandinavian countries could easily encounter what is referred to as "body culture" - naturism (the act of being naked in a designated public place, beach or spa) is part of daily life there. As a matter of fact saunas and spas require you to take off your clothes and only designated days (usually low-attendance afternoons) are scheduled for those who wish to wear their bathing suits at the spa.
An introduction to such a culture could prove challenging for someone coming from such a "body conscious" place such as the middle east. But it takes no time to start discussing geopolitics with a Danish CEO and his wife as one enjoys the aroma heated pool in the buff, and only then one understands how unerotic the setting is and how much of a big deal it has been done about it.
Actually the Dutch Immigration Office requires everyone who wishes to immigrate to Holland to watch a video - one of the scenes features a girl coming out naked from a lake and two men kissing each other on a bench in the park. The idea is that, if you can't accept this way of living, probably you should not apply to immigrate to Holland then.
Still, the major problem with the hashtag and the "movement" that resulted proved that people were willing to use their bodies to defy before even understanding such bodies, and accepting them for what they are - simple shells that takes them from A to B (birth to death).
Had they understood that intrinsically their bodies are banal instruments, they probably would have used their organs to protest against what happened to Manal Assi.
MARCH has an ad coming out about this:
And as a final funny note leave it to Miled Issa from Bil Amaliyeh to come up with this:
"Dress up, you'll catch a cold, there's a storm coming tomorrow"

Update: I have received the following message from a friend (P.A.S.)
Regardless of what I think about the whole thing, they did use theirbodies to protest against what happened to Manal Assi.
According to their facebook posts history:
I am not naked group joined facebook on Feb 11
Their first post was Feb 12 saying " Agreeing to be photographed nude
falls under a category of endless personal choices that each of us
should have the liberty to make and not be scrutinized for. "
Their second post on the same day said " Do not Forget Roula Yaccoub.
Do not Forget Manal Assi. "

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