meem

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“Panties and Bras Included”

Originally written by Lynn for Bekhsoos: Queer Arab Magazine.

Inspired by the march to “Take Back the Night” for International Women’s Day in Beirut, Lebanon. Dedicated to my good friend Zee who’s always pushing me to write myself into words.

March 9th 2011.

Take back the night because the morning after, at 25, you still have to argue with your mother who’s pleading that your father is unable to accept the fact that you’re coming home so late.

Take back the night because after marching for hours under heavy rain, chanting and screaming your feminist slogans, soaked in your clothes, you would rather stick to your friends instead of coming home to find all your clothes thrown on your bed and the floor. panties and bras included.

Take back the night because when you wake up at 8 AM the next day, your working mom, who should have been at work by 7:30 AM, is still home cleaning and cooking, while your unemployed father is out -not- finding a job again.

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Framing Visibility: Coming Out and the International LGBT Spectrum of Progress

 

 

- Contributed by Lynn on behalf of Meem at the ILGA Women’s Pre-Conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil

In 2007, Meem was launched as a little lesbian support group in Lebanon. At the time, and after 4 years of trying to organize alongside a majority of gay men within the framework of LGBT public advocacy, we had understood that in order to create a strong and empowered movement, we were to create a safe space to ourselves as women first. We had also understood that for women to feel safe enough to explore, share, and experience their relationships with their sexuality, confidentiality and anonymity had to be key elements in our organizing. We wanted our members to benefit from support and services without the fear of being legally and socially “outed.”

Total secrecy would have turned Meem into a static bubble. There had to be a way, an intricate way, to reach out to the queers that we hadn’t reached out to. Some of the ways Meem did this was through writing.

We’ve published a collection of true stories – our stories – “to introduce Lebanese society to the real stories of real people whose voices had gone unheard for hundreds of years” and “whose sexualities have been mocked, dismissed, denied, oppressed, distorted, and forced into hiding” (Bareed Mista3jil 1). These stories are all anonymous. “We did not sign the stories with any names, nicknames, or initials because we wanted to guard the safety and confidentiality of the brave people who told their stories” (Bareed Mista3jil 8).

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Jismi.net: A Campaign for Sexual & Bodily Rights in Lebanon

Jismi.net is dedicated to the annual “One Day, One Struggle” campaign, a unique effort to underscore the joint struggle against the violation of sexual and bodily rights in Muslim societies, which takes place on November 9. (The Arabic word “Jismi” means “My Body” in English.)

This year, the Lebanon-based groups NasawiyaHelem and Meem developed an online video campaign focusing on bodily autonomy and sexual rights of individuals.

The videos feature people of different ages, gender expressions, religious affiliations and professional fields talking about the various experiences they were subjected to in terms of sexual and bodily oppression and the ways they were able to overcome these imposed restrictions to achieve complete autonomy and independence in their sexual and bodily choices.

The campaign aims to fill the gap created in dealing with issues related to the body and sexuality, as they are always considered private matters and taboos that shouldn’t be discussed. In addition to them being an integral part of human rights, sexual and bodily rights are a political matter regulated by legislations, rules, institutions and the state, as well as inherited social and cultural restrictions which affect the individual’s relationship with their body and sexuality and reshapes it using oppressive measures, stripping the individual of their autonomy.

Last year, groups held a panel on sexuality at the American University of Beirut (AUB).

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