Sigh...Lina Sinjab but this time on women in Syria. I'm thinking of having a label on this blog specifically for Lina Sinjab. Her articles truly amuse me, especially that there are so few Syrians who write professionally about the country for a prominent news outlet such as the BBC.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
In her article, notice how bars are filled with "liberal-minded" Damascenes. The word liberal is by itself an adjective which means good, or open minded. There is no politics in Syria, only the archaic equation that barra, "outside" (as in the West) automatically equates to enlightenment, civilization and open-mindedness.
Lina begins her article with a fluffy image of all the ripe promise that Damascus can be one day, then we descend into the darkness of arranged marriages, conservative Syria and a stifling tradition. She describes what is actually a typical Syrian wedding, in all its happiness and quirkiness, as something sinister and dark. Since when Ms. Sinjab, has it been odd or demeaning that single women in weddings will try to attract attention to themselves, or is it only alright for that to happen in America because you saw it on a "rom-com" but not because they are Arabs or Muslims?
Later in the article, we look at what it is that Ms. Sinjab really admires, " Dressed in jeans and tight trendy tops, with modern hairstyles, they chat, swapping details of their busy lives." These are the two rebels that Lina portrays as the hope for her vision of Syria.
These two women, it is implied, are liberated, strong and independent. Also implied is that Syrian men are weak because they cannot handle this, because they are insecure. Now this theme is quite popular in British or American news columns which like to portray Arab men as weak and so in need of "dominating" their women. The Western man wants to sleep with the Eastern woman, but in this article, we are now shown a female that has internalised that logic so that the Eastern man is no good for her, she wants the open minded Western, or Westernised Arab [read castrated], man to come and sleep with her. Then notice the cigarette, the "torch of freedom", that the strong, independent lawyer lights up with. Edward Bernays would be proud. This is not sinister at all for Ms. Sinjab. In fact it is something which we should find admirable.
I would love nothing more than someone like the woman she described to bring up my kids in a beautiful Americana la-la land away from those ugly un-photogenic Syrian people who have morals or principles, or who might pray, or who speak that funny language that's written in strange squiggles from right to left. I'd love to have my kids be that liberal-minded.
For Lina Sinjab, the modern Syrian woman is loud, assertive, independent and sexually liberated. She has her own penis (cigarettes) like the man, and is fighting for her place in Syrian society. Truly a bold vision. Of course any woman who is not like that is cowed by her family and tradition, a second class citizen with no voice or aspiration. Apparently the hejab covers a woman's brain and not just her hair.
Having said all this, I know there are problems in Syria, and that tradition is stifling, but I refuse to allow somebody like Lina Sinjab to speak for these issues. Syria's nouveau rich of the past forty years have produced a generation of "Ataturkized" young professionals, much like Ms Sinjab and, if you are unfortunate to read his articles, Dr Sami Moubayad. What they don't realise is that they are in a painful minority. It is only their money and connections which make them think they are the centre of their own world. Lina's articles are ideological, and that is why I constantly criticise her. As one of the rare outlets for Syria in English, she should know better.