Beyond Labels

The below is my article about Women published in Kouhl online magazine. Click here to read the original posting.  Feel free to share and empower other women.

The Way I See It:    No more labels for Women, enough!

Love & Light

Noha

BEYOND LABELS 

What’s your label?   Are you single, married, divorced or widowed?  Are you childless, overweight, ugly, beautiful, tall or short?  Are you easy to get, open- minded, conservative, veiled, unveiled, wealthy or poor?  Throughout our lives, we as women are labelled, pigeon-holed and corralled.  Why does it happen and what should we do about it?

This constant classification of women is a means of controlling our lives, limiting our potential and banishing us to secondary roles.  It may not be pre-meditated, but the casual manner in which society labels women reveals a great deal about its regard for females.  What is even more devastating is that most of these labels relate to our relationship with men and that we are labelled far more frequently than men.

My intention in this article is to discuss some of these labels and to challenge the perception that a woman’s worthiness is primarily derived from males and her association with them.  This perception is unhealthy and it erodes a woman’s self-esteem, her sense of individuality and completeness.

People make assumptions about us based upon our age, our physical appearance or whether we are single mothers or childless.  Unfortunately, Egyptian culture is not very kind to women.  It blatantly promotes the idea that a woman’s worth stems from her association with men.  In Egypt, we are immediately labelled by our marital status and the image we project.

I will choose a few labels to discuss in detail.  Are you labelled “single?”  This is the moment when you are transformed from a human being into a big question mark.  “Why aren`t you married?” you are asked suspiciously. “You look good.  You are educated and you have a pleasant personality.”  In essence, you are being asked, “What’s wrong with you?”

You may feel obliged to defend yourself because no matter how intelligent your answers are or how well you highlight your accomplishments, these are of little significance to the person questioning you.  You may have a decent job and financial independence but your achievements are overshadowed by your marital status.  Your interrogators will invariably end the conversation with the hope that you will get married, as if nothing else mattered.

Are you a divorcee?  This label transforms you into a “conversation piece” and everyone is curious about what went wrong and why you couldn’t handle it.  Divorced women are cajoled into relating their often painful personal stories in order to justify their divorce.  They must be redeemed so that they can maintain their worthiness or their option to remarry.  Not only are they trying to heal from a divorce, but they are sometimes forced to explain

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what went wrong when they may be trying to figure it out themselves!

Are you classified by physical appearance?  Labels such as “ugly” and “fat” are used to remind us that our core worth is defined by a specific definition of beauty, a definition conceived and promoted by society and the media.  To deviate from that definition is to find ourselves devalued, our accomplishments and concerns of little recognition.

Then, of course, there is the age factor.  Successful women over 35 seem to come with an expiry date.  They are identified as “the good friend,” “confidante” or ‘the other woman.”  Although they provide a comfort zone, they are not necessarily “the partner” or “the wife.”

When we allow others to define our worth, we lose our own perspective and a part of ourselves. Sadly, we become subjected to perceptions of ourselves that are not necessarily our own but of family, friends and community.  We are left to follow an artificial script which requires us to meet others’ expectations of whom we should be.  The results can be painful, leading us to lose our sense of individuality, worthiness and freedom.  Thus, our aspirations become limited and controlled.

We women need to be reminded how strong and influential we really are.  We are the movers and shakers.  We are the artists of our society.  We are the workers, the thinkers, the lawyers, the athletes and the politicians.  We are doctors, scientists, teachers and journalists as well as wives, sisters, daughters and mothers.  We contribute.  We get things done and we do them well!

So what is the path to a better future for Egyptian women and all women?  How can we avoid the distraction of being labelled?  The answer is to stop thinking about an “opposite” sex and to appreciate what individuals have to offer when they are perceived as full-fledged human beings.  This means looking beyond labels and viewing ourselves in a different light.  It means moving past conventional expectations by empowering ourselves politically, economically and socially.

Women need to be politically active and aware.  We need to run for public office and vote.  We ought to participate in decisions that affect our social and economic standing.  We ought to involve ourselves in education and public policy.  We should stand together and spread the message that we can make a difference.  We should reach out to women in the hinterland, to those outside of the major cities.  The way to do this is through increased literacy, general education and gainful employment.  This is the key to independence for these women and it leads to increased awareness of their rights.

There is power in numbers and we have the numbers.  In May 2012, Egypt’s Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics reported that Egypt’s population had reached 82 million.  49.3 per cent of that population is female and, according to UN Women, 23 million of those females were eligible to vote in last spring’s election.  So, yes, we make up half the population.  All we require is a sense of solidarity, a stronger and more unified approach.  This is the message of empowerment that I am keen to impart in my fellow women, particularly those in the Middle East.  It’s time to extricate ourselves from labels.

Written by: Noha Hassan

Edited by: Joanne Madden

Noha Hassan – A freelance writer and poet, creating in French, English as well as Arabic. Publishing her work in Egyptian newspapers as well as her blog (nohahassan.com). A devoted advocate of women’s rights and is particularly concerned about the welfare of women in the Middle East, focusing on empowerment of women through Pen, Poetry and Photography.

Photo Credit:  Samer Kamel Photography – Mashrou3 Hagar

Top 10 Inspiring TED Talks Women Should See

To celebrate Charmain Gooch winner of the year of the $1 million TED Prize and TED’s 30th anniversary – Anna Verghese, Deputy Director of the TED Prize recommended the top 10 moments for women in TED that we all need to see.

What’s TED anyway?     TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 (YES TED IS TURNING 30!) as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.

The Way I See It:  One of my empowering tools online is to check TED and see what’s new! Women should always empower other women to achieve their dreams and potential. There are many ways to do that: having conferences, talk, sharing experiences are some ways to do so…but you don’t have to get an audience, stage or to go online to send a message and to have an impact.

Women can do – and actually do it on a day-to-day basis with their normal lives. Funny enough Women in many cases don’t know the role they play in others’ lives. They don’t know that their stories could be the inspiring example to other women around them.   To all women: we can change and inspire our daughters, nieces, neighbors, family members and our communities’ females. Take their hands, show them the way and share the experience.   Every woman can be a TED guest and inspire, every woman has her own stage and audience where she can leave them with a life changing impact and ideas to think about.   I am happy to share these recommended 10 TED talks that all women should see; to be empowered and inspired. I recommend searching TED for more inspiring topics and talk.

Love and Light

Noha

Amy Cuddy: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are (19,393,029 Total Views)

Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.

 

Brené Brown: The Power of Vulnerability (16,248,080 Total Views) 

Brené Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. A talk to share.

 

Jill Bolte Taylor: My Stroke of Insight (15,640,661 Total Views) 

Jill Bolte Taylor got a research opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: She had a massive stroke, and watched as her brain functions — motion, speech, self-awareness — shut down one by one. An astonishing story.

 

Elizabeth Gilbert: Your Elusive Creative Genius (8,716,450 Total views) 

Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses — and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius. It’s a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk.

 

Chimamanda Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story  (7,21 7,329 Total views)

Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.

 

Sheryl Sandberg: Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders  (4,567,724 Total Views)

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg looks at why a smaller percentage of women than men reach the top of their professions — and offers 3 powerful pieces of advice to women aiming for the C-suite.

 

Cynthia Breazeal: The Rise of Personal Robots (841,456 Total Views) 

As a grad student, Cynthia Breazeal wondered why we were using robots on Mars, but not in our living rooms. The key, she realized: training robots to interact with people. Now she dreams up and builds robots that teach, learn — and play. Watch for amazing demo footage of a new interactive game for kids.

 

Leymah Gbowee: Unlock the Intelligence, Passion, Greatness of Girls  (803,897 Total Views) 

Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee has two powerful stories to tell — of her own life’s transformation, and of the untapped potential of girls around the world. Can we transform the world by unlocking the greatness of girls?

 

Courtney Martin: This isn’t her mother’s feminism (705,887 Total Views)

Blogger Courtney Martin examines the perennially loaded word “feminism” in this personal and heartfelt talk. She talks through the three essential paradoxes of her generation’s quest to define the term for themselves.

 

Angela Patton: A Father-Daughter Dance…in Prison (620,942 Total Views) 

At Camp Diva, Angela Patton works to help girls and fathers stay connected and in each others’ lives. But what about girls whose fathers can’t be there — because they’re in jail? Patton tells the story of a very special father-daughter dance.

 

Original article by Glamour.com 

Tell Yourself Happy V. Day First

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I hate it when I believe in people more than they believe in themselves. – when I can see what they are capable of doing and they don’t- when they don’t believe me when I tell them how beautiful , deserving and powerful they are. ..oh well I guess they will know on time .. When they are ready to discover their true selves and regain their own power. No one is helpless or lost or unloved .. you simply can’t see it – believe it or able to find it deep in you… love yourself first -it all starts from this point ..If you don’t ..Please don’t blame life or the circumstances or what you should have or shouldn’t have done… it is a  “you and you” relationship :-) ..So start by wishing yourself a Happy Valentine and a year full of self love before thinking who will or will not say it to you.

Love yourself and say out loud: I am ok ..All is good.. Thank you ..

Love and Light
Noha

Still I Rise: A Message To Every Woman

The Way I See It: 

Every WOMAN should seek the power within and Rise. Ladies: Connect with your roots of Strength, Pride and the essence of who you really are. No matter what you THINK you look like, no matter what ANYBODY is telling you who you SHOULD BE, HAVE to BE…break the frames, the fear, the disappointments, the doubts, unwrap yourself from any label and set yourself free, to soar, to fly to BE what YOU meant to BE: A WOMAN that Still will Rise. It’s ALL within Ladies, All within….

Everyone in the world will pair one way or another with fear pain or loss or disappointment yet each of us has awakened and risen. Maya Angelou

Love and Light – Noha

BIO (more): Dr. Maya Angelou is one of the most renowned and influential voices of our time. Hailed as a global renaissance woman, Dr. Angelou is a celebrated poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist. Born on April 4th, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri, Dr. Angelou was raised in St. Louis and Stamps, Arkansas.

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Maya Angelou

DO NOT LET YOUR SELF-WORTH BE DEFINED BY BULLIES

The Way I See It:

All of us need to stand up to all kind of bullying and fight back. All of us have to teach children around us how to be kind and non-judgmental by being the example they will follow. We need to remind ourselves and our kids the basic simple gift of LOVE: to love one another disregard of how we LOOK LIKE on the outside. I Salute anchor Jennifer Livingston for fighting back on behalf of all so called FAT Women. As she said in her own words: “I am much more than a number on a scale.” AND “Do not let your self-worth be defined by bullies. Learn from my experience that the cruel words of one are nothing compared to the shouts of many.”

Love and Light

Noha

For More details on the story please click on the below links: Do not let your self worth be defined by bullies and News Anchor Strikes Back

 I will leave you with this inspiring video: 

The Art Of Letting Go

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Photo Courtesy from Google

I have spent all my life believing that you have to do your homework first.  You have to work diligently to get what you want and achieve your dreams  – and this is precisely what I have done.  I have held on  …trying … fighting …. hoping . . . shaping and reshaping myself with a multitude of personalities and characters.   Maybe, just maybe, I thought , you could fall in love with one of them.

With each attempt and with every trial, I unconsciously tore my soul apart.  Then one day I vividly remember waking up and  looking at myself in the mirror.  My heart sank and I saw nothing but an empty reflection.  I had lost it.  I had lost myself and I didn’t know who I was anymore.  I found myself lying down in a very deep hole and my own soul was crucified with my love for you.  As a lover, I did what I had to do.  I fought hard and I stood up to all the challenges I had to endure.  I watched you as you continually fell for others.  Still, you leaned on me, knowing I would be there to lift you up.

Yet I was so busy “being there” for you that I neglected to be there for myself   I forgot to focus on myself.  I forgot that I too felt lonely.  I forgot that I too was in love with someone and that my love was not returned.  I failed to realize that I too needed support.  I felt lost and confused, emotionally and mentally.

Everything except you became fuzzy and hazy.  Then came this moment in life where I had to make a decision, a really critical decision.  I had to choose between  you and myself.  My mind and my soul could not handle both of us.  I had to make a choice and I am really sorry but I couldn’t chose you.  I simply and miraculously discovered that I love myself a great deal more . . and I survived:-)

PS: I have never hated you because hating you would be tantamount to hating myself.  You will always remain in my heart in a little place I call my “survival kit” to keep reminding me that I love myself more than anybody else.  If I have survived you, I can survive anything.

The Way I See It: Not all of us are mastering the art of  letting go in the right time, some do it too early, some do it too late. The only way to do it just on time; is when you ask yourself these three questions:

1-Do I love him/her more than myself ? if YES ..continue with
2-Do I feel loved as much? if  NO…continue with
3-Am I putting so much effort to make them love me and it’s not working?
if YES….
So leave….just walk away…..trust me it’s the right thing to do…if they didn’t love you at first they won’t with time, no matter how hard you try. Just break free…walk away and let it go.
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
― Dr. Seuss
Love and light
Noha

EXPERIENCE THE RISING – One Billion Rising Feb 14, 2013

Women around the world are RISING….enjoy the live coverage and videos for One Billion Rising events around the globe …share and spread the word. Let us all work together to stop violence against women around the world. (Click here to see all video don’t forget to share on your FB and Twitter) 

Women will prevail…………..we are lovers …we are teachers …we are beautiful creatures …

Love and Light

Noha

Video

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