Kharabish Nasawiya (Feminist Doodles), a Facebook page creating feminist Arabic comics is smashing the patriarchy one witty post at the time.
The page revamps comics found online, adding an Arab twist that delivers important messages, all the while making people laugh with tongue-in-cheek humor.
Tackling issues that range from gender stereotypes and LGBTQ+ rights to sexual harassment, the page has grown a wide fan base since launching in March 2017 and has already amassed 16,000 followers on Facebook.
StepFeed reached out to the woman behind the page - a feminist researcher, artist, and writer who chose to remain anonymous - to learn more about the inspiration behind it and how it aims to change the conversation regarding feminist issues in the region.
"Kharabish Nasawiya aims to occupy a feminist space online, where feminism is not demonized but rather celebrated," she told StepFeed.
"It aims towards recycling pop art found on the internet and give it a feminist tone and message in Arabic," she added.
She explained that internet users in the Arab world often fall for humor that predominantly relies on racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, and classist messages.
Therefore, she counters this narrative through Kharabish Nasawiya, where she tries to "subvert this dominant violent practice and use humor itself as a tool to critique patriarchy and capitalism."
As for the message Kharabish Nasawiya aims to send, the artist running the page hopes to provide "a safe space for women and those who subvert the imposed normative gender roles," as well as a platform for debates and discussions.
"We live in an extremely violent world. Society still polices and punishes everyone who does not conform to its standard of femininity or masculinity. Most of the time, neither the public nor the private present a safe space for women and those who subvert the imposed normative gender roles," she explained.
She also aims to "present an alternative critique of the normalization" of different forms of injustice plaguing our societies, such as sexual harassment, domestic violence, the stigmatization of mental health, racism, as well as structural and legal violence against certain communities "that are systematically produced as underprivileged."
This, along with promoting freedom of speech and fighting various forms of censorship.
"But, most ultimately and frankly, my basic aim is for women, non-binary people and trans people in the MENA region to look at those comics and relate to them," she added.
She went on to say, "I want them to wake up and while browsing social media to see comics that do not practice violence against them, stories they can relate to."
As for the woman running the page, she is a feminist researcher with a bachelor's degree in Arts and a master's degree in Gender and Women Studies in the Middle East and North Africa.
"My main interests in research are gender, feminism, migration and social movements. Through my comics, I aim to reflect those interests and to recycle pop art that can be found on the internet and give it a feminist twist," she said.
Additionally, having noticed the shortage "in the language of gender, sexuality, and feminism" in Arabic dialects, she tries to focus on "communicating and deconstructing the system of oppression in Arabic through those comics."
So, without further ado, here are 10 of Kharabish Nasawiya's brilliant comics:
1. On unsolicited opinions
"Hello? Weight police? I would just like to let you know that my body is not anyone's business, whether I lose or gain weight, get taller or shorter, whether I am dressed or naked, my body is none of your business. Bye!"
2. On being asked to smile
"Him: Smile, you will look so much better if you smile.
Her: Leave me alone. It would look so much better if you leave me alone."
3. On being happily single
"Him: Why do you get angry whenever someone hopes you get married soon? They are hoping you find joy and start a family.
Her: Thanks, my dear, for their good intentions. But if you take a look at the personal status laws, you would realize that they are wishing me misery rather than happiness."
4. On setting facts straight
"It's called Palestine. Its capital is Jerusalem."
5. On PMS ... and its lack thereof
"No, darling, I'm not PMSing. I'm just angry because you're stupid and can't do your job."
6. On pretending menstruation doesn't exist
"Woman (left): Oh lord, don't let anyone see it!
Woman (right): Hide it well, it's still showing.
Girl: Mom, auntie, I just got my period, it's not like we're hiding a body."
7. On revolting against gender norms
"Woman (right): What do you mean you are transsexual?
She answers: I mean that gender is a social construct and I deconstructed it and rearranged it the way I find comfortable."
8. On white saviors
"Empower whom, sister? Where have you been the past ten years? Do you think we were just sitting down silently waiting for you? Empowerment out of my face!"
9. On being a strong independent woman
"Yes, I am a free, independent women who does not derive the validity of her existence by belonging to the marriage institution. If that's what you mean by calling me a spinster, then yes, I am a spinster and proud, my dear."
10. On witty comebacks
"Him: What's up, Ashta?
Her: What's up, you waste of Oxygen?"