She Killed Scheherazade

Wow, i was just reading about this amazing Sagittarius woman – Joumana Haddad – in the New York Times.

So she is Sagg, Moon in Pisces, Mars-Uranus in Libra, Venus & Jupiter in Scorpio….Neptune is currently sitting on her idealistic North Node in Neptune (see below for how to have a functional Neptune transit) and Pluto is on her Mercury.

Wow. The article is worth reading in whole but getta load of this:

“…In the Arab world, suddenly she’s everywhere, a dark-haired, golden-eyed looker sashaying onto talk shows in stiletto heels, provoking Hezbollah with her contempt for Shariah law, penning newspaper columns and books about Arab gender politics, publishing a racy magazine and flashing a winning smile as a judge on Lebanon’s “Celebrity Duets.”

A poet and the cultural page editor of the Lebanese daily An-Nahar, she started publishing Jasad (“body” in Arabic), a quarterly erotic magazine, in 2008…Her latest project is a book in English…

“I Killed Scheherazade: Confessions of an Angry Arab Woman” is many things: a coming-of-age memoir, a sexual polemic and a spirited call to Arab women to stand up for themselves….

A mother of two sons by two different men, she is on her second marriage, to a fellow writer two decades older, and they live separately. She cultivates a wanton streak…”

She also has a passion for manicures and beauty therapy; she is about to get her own night-time talk show.

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28 thoughts on “She Killed Scheherazade

  1. I thought Lebanon was a pretty relaxed country as far as women go? But then again…

    • Lebabon is one of the more Westernized and open countries within the Middle East, but it’s still in the Middle East and I know that after the last terrorist attacks there it’s not completely considered safe to travel in. I’ve always wanted to though. The blending of cultures makes it a fascinating place that produces fascinating people. 😀

  2. She’s fascinating! She is Arab but she is not Muslim. I think that distinction needs to be made.

  3. Article quotes her as saying, “If you don’t feel humiliated and insulted, nothing is going to change. We don’t need reconstruction in the Arab world. We need destruction and construction. We can’t just try to make it better. We have to cancel it and have a fresh start. . . .” Doesn’t this seem very apropos of Zap Zone/Uranus-Pluto square?

    • Doesn’t this seem very apropos of Zap Zone/Uranus-Pluto square?

      Yes! and also her Venus & Jupiter in Scorpio

  4. oh no, THAT name ‘Scheherazade’ – it has annoyed me since trying to read Amis’ ‘The pregnant widow’. why do characters in books with these difficult names annoy me so much? Dostoyevsky also had a thing for these names that just irritated. Oh Rushdie also…

    but this beauty sounds like now, cool.

  5. Joumana Haddad is quite amazing and an important voice to listen to from the Middle East … she is however, one voice among many important voices. The thing I find problematic (after reading parts of the book, although admittedly not the whole thing) is that her image as an archetypal Scheherazade appeals very strongly to our Western conceptions of liberalised sexuality, which in turn colours how we imagine Middle Eastern sexuality, both in a historical sense (the romanticised eroticism of belly dancing/harems) and in a contemporary sense (repressive, totalitarian).

    The reality is that sexuality, as a cultural construct, is far more convoluted and complex than the binary between sexual freedom and sexual oppression would suggest … coming from a Middle Eastern (although not Arab) background myself, I find that the territory between Western and Middle Eastern conceptions of sexuality one that, at times, can be difficult to navigate – particularly when one cultural lens gets in the way of the other. I think this letter from Bekhsoos articulates this in a much more eloquent way than I can:

    • Thanks Piscesienne, interesting, will take a look.
      In the Sexual Arena, books i have read about the
      ‘beautiful boys’ that are in Mid East cultural history
      and novels. How preferred they are & how ubitquitous.
      Extremely feminine eye makeup & sinous bodies.
      (Didn’t germaine Greer write about that???)
      I knowhow much they are willing to pay for
      Virgin girls of 12 & 13 years from stays in Muslim countries
      & Singapore.

    • Point proven in the ‘Letter to Joumana’. QED.
      European ‘the boys’ & European thoughts re what has been
      gleaned by mainstream ie that’s ME! (just this once it’s me being
      mainstream :-)

      • Pegs, I highly doubt you are ever mainstream! Glad you enjoyed the article – I found it particularly thought provoking in relation to the question of sexuality and how it is understood/thought of in the Middle East (ie, ignoring, as you said, the beautiful boys).

    • So many good points are raised by your post Piscesienne and by that letter to Joumana. I haven’t read her book, but I can understand the struggle of trying to establish an identity that doesn’t necessarily conform to Western stereotypes. There was just a special report on the BBC about this new generation of Arab film makers and how they are re-interpreting the stories of people living in the Middle East. I think all the emerging voices are great, not only because of what they have to say, but because of the discussions that can now be had because of what they have to say. There is no single writer that can speak for all the people in the Middle East. As the letter to Joumana states, that’s the problem with referring to the Arab world as one big collective entity. You assume that all Arabs are the same and have the same opinions about their culture and in what ways it needs to change. While the “mysticism” of the Arab world has long fascinated the West, I believe there is so much more about its history and culture that never gets the attention it deserves. I started learning about the political history of the Middle East in university, but as I became more interested I was disappointed that there weren’t any courses that dealt with the culture of the region…not just the wars and who ruled what for how long, but the culture…art, music, food, social customs, family structures, sexuality, tribal relations. These are the kinds of things that I wish I had been able to study in more depth, but the resources can sometimes be difficult to come by.

      • “… because of the discussions that can now be had because of what they have to say.” Beautifully put, Lauren! As you said, the cultural and religious diversity of the Middle East is vast, as it is within any geographical region of the world (or even within in one country!). Studying the Middle East at uni does tend to focus more on the political/religious/economic dimensions without making the connection to the wider cultural spheres of art, music and so on. I realised that I’m also not much help in that regard, resources wise – most of the cultural knowledge (which isn’t much) I have has been developed in a kind of experiential way, through family and listening to stories.

        I was going to recommend reading Robert Fisk’s ‘The Great War for Civilization’, which is totally worth the effort (it’s massive!) but it is mainly a modern political history from the perspective of a war correspondent. That said, it gives a sense of the conflicting cultural issues that cause tension within the ME, let alone the cultural issues raised from interactions with the West! Edward Said’s ‘Orientalism’ is a fairly classic text – I think it’s mentioned in the article from Behksoos – and outlines the way in which the ME has been romantically conceived of in the West. Thinkers like Ibn Al Farabi, El Ghazali, Rabi’a and (perhaps obviously!) Rumi are worth reading too for their Sufic ways of thinking and writing about the world.

        And this: is pretty great. It’s fairly simplified (I’ve used it in my teaching at high school quite a bit!) but gives a pretty comprehensive overview of what is referred to as the Muslim ‘Golden Age’! – I think this guy lives in the US now, but if you scroll down and play my favourite game, ‘follow the links’, he has heaps of great links to writers, artists and thinkers. x

        • Awesome! I’ll look into all of them. I’ve also been able to find more cultural resources by subscribing (it’s free!) to Saudi Aramco’s magazine. Yes, it’s a magazine that an oil company puts out, so some people say there’s an agenda there, but the only topics discussed are cultural and from what I’ve read there never seems to be any political bias and its contributors come from all over the world. It also has lists of teacher resources for classroom discussions in the back of the magazine, as well as lists of museums and galleries that are hosting events and exhibits related to Middle Eastern art.

          I think the curiosity about the Middle East will only continue to grow and that the West will continue to be somewhat ignorant of what goes on there until ME education is integrated into our school systems. From my perspective people of my generation only started to become interested in it after the 9/11 attacks. A lot of people were quick to make judgments and stereotype all Arabs. But some of us were intrigued by a culture that we had never been told about before, so we went looking for answers on our own.

          • Thanks for the link – had no idea Saudi Aramco had a magazine! Searching for your own answers is one of the best ways to learn … and being genuinely open and curious to learn more about the world is a beautiful thing (although being a teacher, I guess it’s somewhat predictable I’d say that!). x

  6. Is she Zarathustra?
    Always wondered who Zarathustra was?
    Coz she ‘Thus Spoke’.

    • Funny, thought Saggs’ NEVER wore purple!
      Ultra Violet on rare x rare occaisions, maybe.

      • I’ve never associated purple with Saggs. Aquarius maybe, but for Saggs I always think of fiery earth tones, like sandstone or granite, vibrant greens or flaming tigerlily orange. I’m a Sagg Rising, so I suppose I should be dressing in Sagg colors and I DO wear a fair amount of purple, but I feel especially Sagg-like when adorned in orange for some reason.

        • Colour…..can’t wear it, too distracting, my mind perhaps
          full of colours enough? Cap rising likes neutrals, earth tones,
          nudes, creams, white & black. More an age thing as def wore
          colours in youth. Practical as everything goes with everything
          else = practicality.

  7. Timely post for me as I am back in the ME tying up loose ends for my new business. Down here in the remote regions of the empty quarter, I have noticed that things have changed in just 9 months. Girls are waling around WITHOUT THEIR VEILS!!! What gives….Yeeehaaaaaah. So so so much is changing here.

    But as an outsider, I don’t think that Lebanese experience could really speak for the Gulf and vice-versa. yes they are both Arabic/speak Arabic, but totally different cultures, mores, beliefs and ways of dealing.

    As for sexuality – it’s over-rated n’est pas? There is a different sexuality here, a different take on what is important. the western idea of Arab sexuality is quite twisted and not near the truth at all. genuine love and genuine sexuality/sensuality exist in every culture, not just ours, but are expressed in very different ways.

    Back soon all. Gotta go before I run outta bandwidth. See youse in the markets in Sydney, you’ll know me, I’ll have the weirdest products you’ve ever seen. And I will talk for hours about womens issues should you want to, facsinating!!!!

  8. I was really excited to learn about Haddad – will she do for heterosexual Arabs what Canadian-Pakistani journalist Irshad Manji did for lesbians raised in the Islam faith?

    Or is she more of a creative subversive – perhaps the Arab Margaret Atwood?