Maya El Helou’s reply to David J Constable:
Boobs, Botox and the Babes of Beirut, Seriously?
Did the world just run out of decent titles, or is it now the trend, to demean women in titles as a desperate attempt to attract readers!?
For the past few years, Beirut has witnessed thousands of white orientalist journalists who come to see the place where “Arab” women wear bikinis and party, but rarely have any of them had the nerve to write an article so blunt & so incredibly out of touch with reality. Usually it is amongst its other charming characteristics misleading, full of stereotyping and demeaning, as much as this one.
In his article, David talks about Lebanese women as if he met each and every one of them, he sounds so informed, so confident, as if he has lived in Lebanon since he was born. He wrote his article as if everything he said in it, was a scientific fact and allowed himself to voice out a judgment such as Lebanese “women care more about their appearance than men”…. I am just curious, how did he allow himself to generalize very narrow samples he saw in a party, and put them down in an article, as if it was a small research, in this ridiculously unprofessional cheesy cheap way.
And it continues, another generalization, describing women in Lebanon as ones who wear “skimpy” clothes, really, and what about those who don’t? Let us assume that maybe in the small alley where David lived in Beirut, he didn’t see anything but the Lebanese women who he calls “dolls” in “skimpy” outfits… did he expect all the other people who read, to be stupid enough to believe him? When I read the article, I thought to myself, maybe he got so drunk in one of the elitist parties he attended so he assumed the rooftop of Taiga represents all Lebanon…
And so, some women in Lebanon wear skimpy clothes. How did this information exactly help add anything to the world as we know it? Was it a life changer to you Because to me the reader of the article, you didn’t come across as a real journalist, but more like an orientalist fetishist amused by the exotic idea of an Arab woman wearing tight skirts.
I can go on like this forever, pointing out all the irrelevant illogical facts in his article, but this is not my purpose.
In this era of new media, and easy access to information through the Internet, I cannot help to wonder, where the ethics of journalism have vanished. I do realize that David might be simply writing from his own experience, his own point of view, but my problem with this article, is that it stereotypes, generalizes, and it is written in a way, that all claims said in it must be perceived as pure facts.
It is important to question, which crowd did David search for in Beirut, and where did he hang out. Beirut is a very diverse place where the rest of the 87% of the population that David mentioned nothing about, cannot afford hanging out in elitist super expensive places such as roof top nightclubs. I cannot deny the fact that people with plastic surgeries do exist in Beirut, and that a certain crowd, such as the one he described does exist, but as a matter of fact, they are a very small elite upper class which consist of barely 10% of the Lebanese society in general, and Lebanese women in specific. David, next time you want to talk about Beirut, try to look way a bit beyond your nose, so you can have, the minimum credibility, which a journalist must have, and carry on with your responsibility in portraying the truth behind the countries you go to.
Regardless of all the disasters this article contains, David, couldn’t even muster a little respect for women, and allowed himself to demean and objectify them by calling them “dolls”, using words such as, “suck out”, “stuff in”, and “blow me up operations” to describe the plastic surgeries these women undergo. And since I already suggested that David wrote in a shallow way, this epidemic of plastic surgery in certain Lebanese societies didn’t trigger his journalistic curiosity and make him wonder why there is this huge number of women who undergo these surgeries… no, that would’ve been too much work to do. Well did you David while going up to Taiga, see, all the billboards scattered along the highway, those billboards that portray the same stereotype of women, the same kind of beauty, the similar face and shape…and did you watch television, did you see how media bombards the Lebanese woman everyday with endless ads about beauty, plastic surgery, bronzing cream, aging cream, skin cream, and spend 24 hours of the day telling them directly and indirectly, how they should look like, how they should dress like, and what is beautiful and what is not, and make them feel like outcasts if they don’t confirm to this norm of beauty, or was it just way easier for you to simply disregard this obvious link and build an article on superficial claims, that I am sure, didn’t make sense, to anyone who read them, even to the ones who did not come yet to Beirut.
Dear David, and those western journalists, who came before, and those who will come after, who find it a brilliant chance to built fame through an article that objectifies and fetishsizes Lebanese women, I feel sorry for you, and for your readers, who have to suffer your lousy research, and your opinionated macho writing, which I have to admit, will add nothing new, to the lies about Lebanon, that have been written and perhaps a lot more gracefully than before.