Composer, singer take on ‘sexist’ Arab pop in new song


The backlash rages on over a recent Arabic pop song by a Lebanese singer that beckons women back to domesticity and is regarded by women’s rights activists as sexist and advocating backwardness.

In the latest development, a Lebanese composer and a singer have picked up the gauntlet and released a track that parodies popular Arabic songs considered by some to be patriarchal and demeaning to women.

The song is called “Metlak Mesh Ayzin“, or “We’re not in need of people like you” and is composed by Toni Abi Karam and performed by May Matar.

“We don’t want young men from the era of ignorance. He comes and controls us and says this is manhood,” Matar sings in Arabic.

It continues with, “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.”

The track, currently playing on Lebanese radio stations, is a response to songs such as “Jumhoriyet Albi,” or “The Republic of my Heart”- the hit single by Lebanese singer Mohammed Iskander released earlier this year which called 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,” sings Iskandar in Arabic. “Our girls are pampered. Everything she wants is at her service. 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,” he continues.

The lyrics triggered a street protest in Beirut by angry feminist activists, fueled Syrian women’s rights advocates to lobby local radio stations to take the song off the air, and upped discussions on the issue of allegedly “sexist” songs on Lebanese TV channels.

“The song that came out irritated me,” Abi Karam told Babylon & Beyond while emphasizing that Metlak Mesh Ayzin is not targeting Iskander in particular but rather the genre as a whole. “Why this attack on girls”? I have more than 600 songs and not once in any of them did I talk to women from above,” he said.

Abi Karam thinks songs like that of Iskander embody the fear of some men of educated and career-driven women.

“This is not strength, this is weakness. They’re scared of women’s strength.This guy lives in an area where they behave like this but he shouldn’t [impose] this view on people,” he said.

Lyrics aside, the music video of Jumhoriyet Albi has also raised some eyebrows. The clip appears to show a father on a farm who’s worried about his daughter’s eagerness to work. Afraid that she will be sexually harassed by her manager at work and that her future children may be mistreated by foreign domestic workers, he urges her to stay at home and vows that she will be supported financially. Toward the end of the video clip, the daughter is seen sitting in a brand new Mercedes that is wrapped in a giant red bow smilingly waving a credit card.

Abi Karam raises particular concern over the amount of violence in the video. The clip shows the father loading his gun and supposedly putting it into the mouth of a manager who sexually harassed his secretary (thinking that this could be happening to his daughter), gagging the man, and throwing a paper box over his head.

As for Metlak Mesh Ayzin, it calls on women to stand up for themselves and not buy into claims by their husbands that they should stay at home to “protect” themselves from mean harassers and the tough outside world.

“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,” she continues.

The song has been hailed by feminist activists in Lebanon while others think the recent campaigns against what some call the “patriarchal music industry” are much do about nothing.

Abi Karam, however, thinks the issue is important to address and vows to counter every sexist song that is released in the country.

“I want to answer every song that comes out against women,” he said. LAT



23 responses to “Composer, singer take on ‘sexist’ Arab pop in new song”

  1. Leb-Syrian Avatar

    I blame Hezbollah and Syria for these new Sexist songs. LOL now I sound like the typical commentor on here. 🙂

  2. Leb-Syrian Avatar

    oh wait looks like we cant blame the syrians for this one.

    “fueled Syrian women’s rights advocates to lobby local radio stations to take the song off the air”

    1. Anti-zio Avatar

      This song should be taken off air, power to the men! now I better log off before my wife sees this post and kicks my ass big time:)

  3. Anti-zio Avatar

    all Seriousness I really hate sexism and guys that think by demeaning a woman they are somehow tough. sexist guys are just insecure little boys. hope this song gets lots of airplay…………. ok my wife just left now what I really think……. 🙂

  4. Anti-zio Avatar

    oops didn’t read the article properly, the song itself is sexist so hope it doesn’t get air play….see what happens when you read while chugging down beer…not a good combo…

  5. Sandman Avatar

    I guess we do not have first amendment protection in Lebanon – for free self expression.

    I am as far from sexist as can be and although most women even in Europe and the US long to have successful careers and be financially independent (at first) they later realize what value it is for a wife/mother to be home and raise her kids and nurture them instead of her kids being raised by total strangers.

    Look at the western social fabric and ask yourself if you want your daughter to grow up like Lindsay Lohan. Just because a woman may choose to be a stay at home mom, that does not make her job any easier and is by no means inferior to a working man.

    Life is about moderation and equality and each one of us will have completely different views. Only you can decide what’s best for you and your family not some crusty old man hating feminist.

  6. may matar looks cute. now go to work girl and bring home the bacon while i sit with anti-zion and chug down a beer.

    is that demeaning? i am respecting her to work aint i? lol 🙂

    1. Leb-Syrian Avatar

      hahahah good one. Im gona make a music video of my wife (even tho im not married yet) workin her a$$ off all day, and me just chilllllin watchin tv w my friends over, and ill sing for womens rights then too!!! haha JUSTTTTT KIDDDDDDDING

  7. Anti-zio Avatar

    oops my posts are suddenly getting moderated, i must have pissed someone important off :/

    1. Anti-zio Avatar

      Woman hurry up & go get us some beers !……..

      my wife reads that & she’ll kick my ass for a week…..if im lucky 🙂

    2. just talk to sami bro from ya libnan dude. he moderated me as well dude cos i was getting really rude with pro-israelis and using foul language.

      just talk to him. he’s a very reasonable man and actually i gotta tone it down too but i let sri lanka and others get to me. i shouldnt cos its really not personal what we post but they get personal with their attacks.

      i did promise to keep it clean and i have been for the most part but i will restrain myself more.

      good luck with that.

      1. Leb-Syrian Avatar

        out of all people I cant stand sri linka and joey the most, i can tolerate the others, cuz they are all moderate, but just those 2 man, they IRK me.

      2. Anti-zio Avatar

        I agree Leb-Syrian they tend to get on my nerves too. but I also have issues with tarie & voice of reason that guy/girl is Seriously an#l

  8. Anti-zio Avatar

    lol….Hey Tony i’ve got some chill’n in my refrigerator plenty to get the both of us really sh#t faced, aussie expression, excuse me if it seems crude…

    1. Tarie Al Fanarie Avatar
      Tarie Al Fanarie

      ANTI-ZIO I don’t care if you like me or not. I am just telling the truth without being biased toward israel as you might think and others too of course. But the truth hurts sometimes I do understand and people like you want to believe the 2 hrs of Nassrallah Chit chat on TV about the lies and the spies. Trying to tell us how honest he is and its all Mossad and nobody else. I think he’s watching too many movies like “Spies, Lies And Naked Thighs.”

      Stay away from the beers you’re already drunk with delusions.

  9. btw ay zee your expression is world wide man. it aint aussie at all.

  10. yo ay zee good night mate. its 140am here in vancouver. i’m gonna crash bud.

    catch ya later.

  11. Anti-zio Avatar

    sh#t you can tell I don’t get out much 🙂 I need to travel more learn about local sayings. All I know is we definitely own the rights to ” throw another shrimp on the barbee” funny thing is i’ve never ever heared anyone here say it in my life 🙂

  12. Anti-zio Avatar

    sleep tight buddy

  13. beer ?? beer?? did anyone say beer?

    now you got my attention.

    Sandman, is you James Hetfield in disguise?

    I reckon anyone should be allowed to sign about anything, and if you don’t like it, then don’t bloody listen!

    soon, I’m gonna sign about my 3 hairy legs, anyone wanna buy the single?

  14. xeroxman Avatar

    Am I the only one disturbed by the depiction of the South East Asian maid in the Iskander video? What’s the message here, that if loving Lebanese women leave their childeren in the care of the “help” they’ll be neglected and abused? The Iskander video scores major points as rascist as well as sexist. Iskander embarasses his country, his industry and most of all himself.

  15. For crying out loud songs about the brutality, betray, etc…of men is out there in every language in every country and I do not see men making a fuss about it…. i think most women movements in Lebanon are too board to pick on every hint that women are not as perfect as they want them to be…pretty much like me…NOT PERFECT. Toni Abi Karam’s song is not sexist, it is in a way a refelction of some current mentalities that rightfully exist in Lebanon and in the region and who on earth gave women so called activist to judge that this is wrong… my advice for the members of these movements is too……get layed more often 😛

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