June 30, 2012

The Judmental Lebanese: A Pierced Society

An eyebrow piercing is all what it takes for you to be perceived as an alcoholic, drug addict, or even a bisexual overnight! Yes, This is the Lebanese societal logic that never fails at disappointing /amazing/ frustrating me and a lot of the youth of my generation.

Ever since I was 14, I've wanted to wear an eyebrow piercing. Of course, my parents never allowed me to do so, approaching me from both social and religious perspectives, arguing that piercing and tattoos are socially not acceptable (عيْب)، and  forbidden in Islam (at least), even though there isn't a clear text in the Holy Book that states so. in any case, if piercing were truly forbidden in Islam, why would ear piercing be an exception to the norm, even in the 'presumably' conservative societies such as Saudi Arabia, where nose piercing is also very common? Since then, it has become apparent to me that our society often tends to confuse social and religious norms with one another. Why is that? The answer to this question goes beyond a quick blog post and requires a thorough scholarly research. However, I believe that it may be due to:

1. being misinformed about what is religiously considered a taboo and what not (not necessarily in Islam alone).

2. the tendency for such misinformed people to generalize or hastily classify new 'social' norms' as being religiously taboo without having valid proof (holy texts, etc), perhaps for personal interests...

3. Most importantly, a fear (often developed by parents, religious institutions, political institutions) that the new generations will break free from their old schooling, which may lead to social reform (I hope), or at least a reflection on the norms that we are passively spoon fed as children and sometimes unconsciously act upon as adults.

Now, and after 8 years of persistence, I have finally gotten my eyebrow piercing still without my mom's approval who does not allow me to wear it at home. I have been bombarded with questions such as: 'Are you an alcoholic?' 'Are you on drugs?' 'Are you bisexual?' 'You are such a graphic designer!' These and other comments/questions, all of which revolve around my religious views, social image, and others' perception of me, made me realize how judgmental, fake, intolerant, biased, and mentally oppressed our Lebanese society is. I came to a realization that we are good lawyers for our own mistakes, yet the best judges for others' wrong doings.

This is the Lebanese and Arab logic... the sickening logic which assumes that:
- eyebrow piercing is not acceptable, but belly piercing is. Is it because the belly  pierce doe not always show? mmmm I guess so!
- that eyebrow piercing is not acceptable socially and religiously, whereas eyebrow and lip tattooing are... (even-though Islam clearly forbids tattooing!)

and the list goes on...

I am not an alcoholic, nor a drug addict, nor a bisexual. Yes, I am a graphic designer. Most importantly and at a very basic level, I am an individual who promotes free unbiased thinking that questions social norms which we are often brought up to consume without serious reformulation. On this, I would like to note that re-questioning social norms does not equate to re-questioning one's own religious views. This is not of any concern to me at all.
my persistence for wearing the piercing initially was for aesthetic reasons. Now, I'm persistent onto wearing it for this and other social concerns. Thanks to my piercing and to my beloved judgmental society, I'm writing this social post now, hoping that the readers, especially the youth, will at some point, take time and courage to think for themselves, revisit certain thoughts, be creative, and rebel decently. yes, decently...

Finally, as a graphic designer I would say: do not judge a book by its cover, but also never judge a person by their appearances (for better or worse).

For those interested in social issues, 'Arab Youth: Social Mobilisation in Times of Risk' is a great book!

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