If you're an Arab woman who's seen Netflix's YOU, I can almost guarantee lead character Joe Goldberg has reminded you of an Arab man you know. The similarities are crystal clear from the very beginning: pushing his partner away from loved ones and attempting to "fix" her entire life are only two points out of a long list.
For those of you who aren't familiar with the show, YOU follows a young man who goes to extreme measures to insert himself into the lives of women he is transfixed by.
In fact, it would make a lot more sense for Joe's character to be Muslim or Arab with his name changed to Youssef Al-Zahab. After all, his obsessive, controlling, and delusional personality can easily be justified in the name of pity, obedience, and performing his role as the protective manly figure you need in your life.
Of course, #NotAllArabMen are like that, but c'mon, even men can attest there's at least one friend or family member they know who resembles Joe.
So ladies, if you've ever had a personal experience with your very own Youssef Al-Zahab, this one's for you.
The original version was a Eid feature, but it got me thinking of a thousand other similar scenarios
1. The Youssef making you break up with your awful boyfriend
"You don't know me Fatima, not yet anyway. I'm still a stranger to you, but this idiot you're with right now knows nothing about you yet is your lover.
He has no idea who your father is or how to get to him. His father isn't even friends with your father and he doesn't call you to wake you up for fajr prayer... but that's okay because you don't know any better. I can fix that, WE can fix that, Fatima. I'll do this for... you."
2. The Youssef schooling you on your religiosity
"You... you wear a hijab and pray five times a day. I see you even have Muslim Pro downloaded. You're really trying but you don't know that interacting with non-mahram men is haram. You think God will forgive you for past sinful relationships but it's time to put an end to that. You think you don't need a man in your life.
You don't know any better... you're in your late 20s with no engagement band on... but its okay because we'll have a katb kteb within three weeks... I can fix you."
3. The Youssef rebranding you in a matter of seconds
"You... you're wearing a tank top with skinny jeans. They're revealing but that's okay, Sarah... I know you're only doing it for my attention. You don't know any better... you've never had a man in your life care about your protection and safety... not like I do anyway.
Convincing you to wear a hijab will take a couple of weeks, maybe even months... but I'm willing to wait it out. You'll learn how to love me and obey my orders because I'm doing this for you. I can fix you, Sarah."
4. The Youssef creating a whole new social circle for you
"We're together now, Maya... and I can finally make your toxic friends go away. I can already see your future, raising our kids at home all day... so what do you need friends for anyway?
Your family has already had you all to themselves for 25 years... so you're all mine from this day forward. I'm really all you need. You don't see how useless it is to maintain all these time-consuming irrelevant relationships... but it's okay cause I can fix that. I can fix you."
5. The Youssef who knows you're only playing hard to get
"You've blocked me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp. You're missing my calls even when they're from pay-phones. You think it's over for us... but that's okay because it's just a phase you'll soon get out of.
You don't know I'm meeting your dad this Friday after prayers to discuss our nikkah... you think staying out late is going to help you move on and forget about me... but it's okay. I know that's not what you really want... I can fix that... I can fix you."
6. The Youssef starting a fight to protect you
"You don't want to get to know that guy... you're clearly not interested in him, but he's too stupid to see it. I can make all of this go away if I just punch him in the face. You'll be safe again, you won't have to deal with turning down a guy.
I would kill a man who even thinks of harming you with my bare hands... you don't know it, but I'm all you got. Without me you're weak and helpless... but worry not, I won't ever leave your side because I can fix all of this... I can fix you."
7. The Youssef teaming up with your own family... against you
"You're a mess, Mariam. Your priorities are all skewed. Your family and I agree. You raise your voice when we get into an argument and refuse to let me have the last word.
You're overdramatic and still think I'll admit it when I do something wrong or apologize for it. You don't know any better... but I can fix this... I can fix you."