Music to Our Ears: May Matar’s Metlak Mish Ayzin

Most Arab women I know have at one point or another cursed an Arab man and his stubborn adherence to male chauvinism, something that rears its ugly head in patriarchal societies around the globe. This topic usually boils down to this: a man has problem with independent woman.

In a song titled “Metlak Mish 3ayzin” or “We’re not in need of people like you,” singer May Matar parodies popular misogynistic Arabic songs, such as “Jumhoriyet Albi” (or “The republic of my heart”) by singer Mohammed Iskander, which says women should stay at home instead of putting themselves in danger of mean harassers and the tough outside world.

“Jumhoriyet Albi” calls on women to stay at home and take care of their husbands instead of working: “We have no girls here that work with their degrees. Our girls are pampered. Everything she wants is at her service.”

And, get ready for this part: “Assuming I agree that you work, what would we do about your beauty? Your job is taking care of my heart … it’s enough that you’re the republic of my heart.”

The lyrics are so ridiculous that you can’t help but laugh. But it’s not funny when you know that train of thought has supporters. Attempting to guilt-trip women into thinking that making something of themselves is wrong or that their beauty (and not male behavior) will make them victims of sexual harassment should have no place in any society. Matar’s song title says it all: “We don’t need people like you.”

She explains why in this Los Angeles Times article and destroys the argument described in “Jumhoriyet Albi:”

“I have status, I have work and I’m up to the responsibility. Not a hundred managers can give me that indecent look,” sings Matar. “Enough pretending that you are concerned about me. This is weakness and selfishness.”

“Metlak Mish 3ayzin” cuts to the chase with lyrics like, “We don’t want young men from the era of ignorance. He comes and controls us and says ‘This is manhood.’”

And she describes the type of Arab man we need more of: “We have young men who take pride in their education. They are the young men who like girls for their intelligence and compassion. …We’re not in need of men like you who are only concerned about themselves and their lust.”

Seriously. It’s sad that the idea of an educated or financially independent woman is still questioned, not only in the Arab world, but around the world.  “Metlak mish 3ayzin” is a necessary response to the single-minded, out-dated mentality that encourages the Arab woman to underachieve. Kudos to Matar for having the courage to sing about a topic which won her fans and enemies. And let’s not forget that the song’s composer, Toni Abi Karam, is an Arab man.

He tells the LA Times that he wants to “answer every song that comes out against women and “counter every sexist song that is released.”

Now there’s an example men everywhere can follow.

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