Mashrou' Leila Releases What They Call a Feminist Song.
Mashrou' Leila have released their song "Roman," a reworking of an earlier song with the same lyrics. A video for the song released alongside it.
The band said the song "self-consciously toys with the intersection of gender with race by celebrating and championing a coalition of Arab and Muslim women, styled to over-articulate their ethnic background, in a manner more typically employed by Western media to victimise them."
Which is a lot to pack, but let's give it a try:
Mashrou' Leila is a Lebanese band. Although quite popular internationally, having played everywhere from New York to Berlin, the band is firmly and wholly Arabic in its identity, references, tropes, and content, and partially Arabic in its sensibilities. But it has faced some rejection from the Arab world-- notably in Jordan , which, despite being home to a huge fanbase, has developed the bad habit of cancelling shows.
For its troubles, "Western media" has largely telegraphed a campaign of misinformation regarding the ban, most of it implying that Jordanian authorities barred Mashrou' Leila because the lead singer is gay.
The Middle East is a complicated place, and it's largely complicated because of an imperial history imposed on it centuries ago. But an offshoot of all this is that the Arab and Muslim worlds, often conflated, are seen as being very intolerant: intolerant of women, of homosexuality, even of different religions. The subtext is that the "West" simply knows better ; combined Europe and America's imperialistic pasts and continued racist weirdness, this gives rise to the phenomenon known as "white feminism."
Mashrou' Leila has criticised Western media's response to the ban, calling it "shameful."
With that context, the band's music video--with an emphasis on a woman rocking-out like there's no tomorrow among other Arab and Muslim women--makes sense.
But I can't conflate the video with the song, which seems to be about betrayal and alludes to Judas and Jesus. It needs a deeper think.
Anyway, check it out:
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