Honor… In societies across the MENA region, the concept of honor is closely linked to gender, with men and women experiencing it very differently. A man’s honor might only be based on that of the women with whom he is associated. Meanwhile, a woman’s honor might only be defined by her chastity, a concept that exploits her body while simultaneously making it invisible. This iteration of “honor” then causes repression, marginalization and intimidation, violence, and even killing. The patriarchal system that promotes and practices this “honor” suppresses women and those who disagree with the firmly established masculine codes of unwritten laws, thereby building a prison in every home and around everybody. Social, religious, economic, and political ideologies have united to birth this “honor” in its contemporary form. Stages have been used, institutions have been established, and laws have been enacted to force women into an established frame. Sometimes the frame is golden, sometimes silvery, sometimes wooden, but the material doesn’t matter. In all cases, the frame remains a permanent, confining structure from which she can never escape.
In this issue, we dive into the concept of honor and trace its patriarchal roots. We try to understand, deconstruct, and analyze it, and to answer questions that linger in its wake. Where did it come from? How was it entrenched? Why is it always associated with a woman’s body, freedom, and agency? To what extent does it influence other issues such as virginity, marriage and sex? What are its pervasive effects on our minds, bodies, and societies?
“Being a female is a struggle in itself,” said actress and photographer, Reneem Al-Daoud, in her extended conversation with us on theater, cinema, photography, and feminist struggle. We address how “femininity always comes at a high price” in an article that crosses genders. We dismantle the “myth of honor” in another piece that discusses honor in terms guardianship and modernity in order to formulate the concept anew. We investigate the puzzling phenomena in which some women participating in the oppression of other women by tracing the social and political influences of the patriarchal system on the minds of some women. And, we speak with feminist groups to understand the amount of influence that honor has on their personal and social lives, and on their vision of themselves and the world around them.
This issue is an attempt that stands side by side with many others that aim to crash the patriarchal prison in which we live, that which many call “honor.”
And through this issue we also love to welcome our new Arabic editor and member of the My.Kali family, Egypt’s own Maha Mohamed.
This issue’s main contents (which will be published throughout the months of January and February) are:
Cover story: It’s worth the fight
Actress Raneem Al Dad on confronting prejudice through art
The Honor Myth!
Unpicking the past and creating a better code for the future
Why are some women propping up a system of subjugation
Some of the references of this issue:
- Rana Husseini: The veteran reporter battling ‘honour killings’ via Aljazeera English (here)
- This Documentary Tells the Untold, Unjust Story of Would-Be Honor Killing Victims, with Jordanian filmmaker Widad Shafakoj via Lenny letters (here)
Photographed by A.S.
Featured character: actress and photographer Raneem Al Daoud
Makeup by Bill Hazzam
Directed by Khalid Abdel-Hadi
Cover Design by Atef Daglees
Fashion – English and Arabic cover – vintage fisher tshirt, hot pink rain coat both flee-market. Green Earring; River Island
Conducted by Maha Mohamed and Khalid Abdel-Hadi
Translated Maya Anwar
Copy edited by Eliza Marks