Tighter Than A
On poetry, gender differences, and heterosexual vs
By Ala'a J.
Abu Nuwas was an influential Arabic poet who changed the shape of classical Arabic literature in the 1st century. In addition to creating a new genre of wine poetry he had many love poems dedicated to men.
I die of love for him, perfect in every way,
Lost in the strains of wafting music.
My eyes are fixed upon his delightful body
And I do not wonder at his beauty.
His waist is a sapling, his face a moon,
And loveliness rolls off his rosy cheek
I die of love for you, but keep this secret:
The tie that binds us is an unbreakable rope.
How much time did your creation take, O angel?
So what! All I want is to sing your praises.
Before this, poetry was usually about the man’s heroic adventure for the love of an idealized woman. It was the dangerous plight of a man for an imagined woman. This convention was later challenged when poems began to express the voice of women as well. They shined the light on the inner thoughts and conversations about relationships. Instead of the women being the beloved and the man being the lover, their roles became interchangeable. Abu Nuwas’ poetry was still unconventional and he was exiled and imprisoned, yet he is regarded as one of the most important Arabic poets.
In modern society a man may be repulsed, or socially taught to act in a certain way, about anything feminine, such as talking about relationships. For example, there were complaints in a Jordanian newspaper about a radio show that talks about problems having to do with love and personal relationships. Some believe it is against our culture. On the other hand, talking about relationships and having more liberated ideas about love is only natural. Otherwise we would be living a complacent lifestyle. It is one thing about having an opinion about a relationship but what is the point in saying that it is against the culture?
It is actually a healthy way of confronting and working out problems in relationships. Relationships don’t always happen so easily for everyone and people may decide to change partners more often than traditionally expected. Simply said, people who are happier are probably more of a benefit to society than people who keep trying to avoid working out these kinds of issues. It is a very important part of life. The topic of homosexuality is probably avoided even more.
We should recognize that many other countries legalized same sex marriage and there are communities that are supportive of gay people. Having a community where people feel safe to cross gender and sexual boundaries is very important. Going to a space that is more accepting than is defining your way of life is like undoing an 18th century corset. They are able to breathe properly. To grow up living a certain way is one thing, but to be constricted and repressed is a hateful way of confronting homosexuality.
Heterosexuality is something that defines our culture. A society shouldn’t dictate how we love but they find a way to do it, it is either a taboo, a crime or a sin. The heteronormative culture that idealizes the typical relationship between a man and a woman has a strict definition of what gender is as two completely different identities.
Imagine an Arab man going to work in a bright pink miniskirt, he wears make up and walks like a model in high heels, and he has a stylish purse to match it all. This may cause people to faint, pull out their knives, maybe even cheer or whistle, some may even wonder where he got that purse from! This mental exercise shows how gender is socialized by clothing. A man is described in ways that typically make a woman appear more beautiful, if the same thing were done with opposite genders, there probably won’t be people fainting, and cheering and pulling out their knives. Such a society seems more sensitive to how a male should appear. Either way, fashion and style reflects the kind of heterosexual norm whereas gay people may add a new flare to fashion and style that may have nothing to do with miniskirts.
Another similar kind of example, a woman can get away with driving a masculine or feminine looking car, while a man would be more likely to be ostracized for driving a feminine car, maybe it has glitter and flowers painted on it. Why are flower’s mostly feminine anyways, it’s not so emotional when the guy gets the rose. Women are named after flowers, not men. The macho man who hides his emotions would probably wince but men are capable of deeply moving emotions as well. Just think of the male barber shop and the female salon. Men walk in, watch some soccer, and their hair gets mechanically trimmed to a short buzz, for the most part, any old tub of grease would do for gel. Women do their hair for hours, and behind them are shelves of endless products for which to pamper their slightly curled hair, for the most part.
Gender differences are heavily reinforced. Each gender is faced with polarizing expectations and they continue to drive each other apart. It’s as if these are the two only units of life and it is crucial to be maintained that way. Real love shouldn’t be confined to a dichotomy. Even though gay people do exist, they quickly drown in a sea of heteronormative conformity.
Gay Pride is celebrated with elation in other cities. It is a great accomplishment to celebrate love openly on the streets. If anything gay people create more happiness and cultural diversity, and it is something anyone can participate in. It sends out a lot more positive vibes than people who discriminate and exclude people from their society because of homosexuality. The word gay has been through quite a rich history itself, it use to mean someone who is happy, and then it turned into a derogatory insult, then it became a label, and now it is an empowering attribute.
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