Dear Lebanon, Banning TV Shows Because Some Are Offended Is Never Okay

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Almost a week after a tirade in which MTV called the women participating in LBC’s show “Take Me Out” whores, the country is still talking about that show and what to do with it. Spoiler alert: the answer to that question should be nothing.

Instead, the systematic outrage waged by rival TV stations at a show cannibalizing their viewers in primetime frames that they’ve become used to making millions from has gotten the government to start interfering at its highest levels with secretary of media and press Melhem Riachi saying the show was “immoral,” probably paving the way for governmental interference into the show and its possible cancellation.

It seems that the Lebanese populace as a whole, and MTV and our government and those agreeing with them in particular, have forgotten that this is 2017 and that their spectrum of “morality,” which is firmly stuck in 1943, does not apply anymore. Furthermore, they’ve totally forgotten that in the 21st century, viewers have the choice in what they want to be exposed to.

Picture this: in a few days from now, the government cancels a show because it has sexual connotations. But anyone in this country, those outraged and those who aren’t, can still turn on their laptops or unlock their smartphones, go to their browsers and stream their favorite “hedonistic” western series or – gasp – go on some porn website and look at people engaging in all the haram.

It’s truly saddening that some branches of our government and of our population are more concerned with a TV show they can simply not watch, rather than with the actual horrendous things threatening our well-being and the future of our children.

Your children will not be ruined because of the content of a TV show that airs at times they should be sleeping. They will be ruined because they live in a country where their mothers are second class citizens and where their father has the upper hand in society just because he has a penis.

Your children will not be ruined because someone dared to be provocative on TV, but they will be ruined if they’re brought up to be convinced they should be ashamed of who they are because they’re women or they’re not the model figure society thinks they should be.

Your children will not be ruined because of a TV show, but they will be ruined because they already have almost $15,000 in debt and won’t know the feeling of growing up with electricity or water or fast internet, or in a country where their worth isn’t relative to the sect you brought them into, and the list goes on.

It’s not that people don’t have the right to be offended by the content of any TV show. Everyone is entitled to have an opinion, albeit I’d prefer for that opinion to be well-informed, without any attempts to oppress others who disagree. Such oppression happens when you advocate for the cancellation of a TV show just because you don’t like its contents, or the closure of a newspaper because it published an article you disagree with or the jailing of some activist because you don’t agree with the politics of their activism.

The thing about “Take Me Out” or the entertainment industry as a whole is that it thrives with the attention you give it. The more we talk about this, and the more we challenge it, the more people will tune in. The other thing about the aforementioned industry is that, because of its competitiveness, it gives you – the viewer – so many options to choose from that you really have no excuse to be up in arms about something you can take a magical device called a “remote control” and flip the channel.

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The fact of the matter is, more harm is done when MTV calls the women appearing on shows airing on rival TV channels as whores, when it pretends to be worried about the “honor and reputation” of Lebanese women towards Arabs because she’s portrayed as “easy” or “sexual.” It baffles me that some aspects of my society actually give two fucks about what Arabs, whose women can’t drive or have to cover up to go out of the house or can’t even go anywhere without male companionship, think of our women. Is that the standard we want for ourselves? Why don’t we just migrate to Arabia and be done with it?

What’s even more horrendous is that a TV station that was once closed down for trying to oppose the status quo is now advocating for another TV station’s material to have the same fate. Can you feel the tangible hypocrisy in this? It’s not like said TV station is a beacon for morality itself. Wasn’t it recently that they had this level of material on its airwaves? Won’t the thighs and legs the dancers show on their show getting beaten handily by Take Me Out also give a “bad reputation” for Lebanese women?

The moment we allow someone to dictate what is moral and what isn’t for us, we start slipping into horrifying realms of oppression. Welcome to the Taliban’s Qandahar.

The perfect summary is as follows: Take Me Out is watched by two thirds of all viewers on Sunday when it airs. A good portion of those viewers tune in, finish the episode, and are then outraged at what they watched. Every single Sunday. You’d think with all their anger about morality and whatever other things are angering them they’d have changed the channel by now, but no. It’s 2017. Can we move on already?

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No, Wanting to Date & Have Sex Doesn’t Make Lebanese Women Whores

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It’s 2017 and we’re still talking about this, but then again what can you expect when one of your country’s “liberal” TV stations is more conservative than America’s Fox News?

Earlier today, following this viral blog post, MTV decided to take part of the crusade against the seriously bad show on LBCI called Take Me Out.

Whilst the blogpost they tried to copy was somewhat conservative in tone as is the writer who penned it, a relative of mine whom I respect enormously, MTV took it to another extreme by calling the women on the show, without explicitly saying the word, whores.

This happened after a guy took off his shirt on TV. So the women got the short end of the stick? If you don’t get it, don’t even try.

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To them, being on a TV show about dating and wanting to go out on dates or – gasp – even have sex degrades the value of our women. The vocabulary used in that article was as degrading as it gets, reminiscent of those arguments that should have been way behind us as society but unfortunately aren’t, let alone arguments used by a TV station whose pre-requisite for female media personnel is them having good enough looks.

I quote (and translate): “Do the producers of Take Me Out accept for their daughters or nieces or sisters to participate in such a show? Don’t the women participating in the show have fathers or brothers who refuse the level of public prostitution that their daughters and sisters are doing on TV?”

Because, as we know, the only relevant reference for what a female entity can do in this country is always in reference to her male superior figure. This is just disgraceful and shameful.

No MTV (and whoever in Lebanon agrees with it), our women can do whatever the fuck they want without having entities like you breathing down their neck, thinking you are allowed to have the “moral” high ground. The only ground you get is a ditch somewhere where your disgusting backward thoughts can rot.

No MTV (and whoever in Lebanon agrees with it), our women don’t need their brothers or fathers to tell them what they can or cannot do. They don’t need a man to dictate their lives for them. They don’t need you to beseech that male figure that exists in their life to defend their honor because people without honor can’t call it for others.

No MTV (and whoever in Lebanon agrees with it), our women don’t need your approval or the approval of anyone other than themselves to go out on dates, sleep with whoever they want and do whatever they please. You’re shocked? Let me shock you further: our women have the right to enjoy their bodies as much as they want, drool over as many men or women as they want, and do whatever makes them happy. And the best part is? It’s none of your business.

No MTV (and whoever in Lebanon agrees with it), you do not get to preach about morals when you sell sex at every possible chance you get and would sell anything sexual whose rights you’re able to procure if it gets you enough ratings. You don’t even get to worry about the reputation we “sell” of ourselves to Arab countries because they’re not even a standard anyone should follow when it comes to reputations or women rights. Isn’t the fact that your shows are getting beaten according to IPSOS why you’re suddenly the knights in shining armor coming in to defend our women’s hymens?

We have a long way to go before our women can get the same rights and privileges as the men in our society, but that won’t happen when they’re still being shamed, in 2017, for wanting to date and have sex and seek out pleasures that others may not approve of.

You don’t want women to have sex? Well, keep it in your pants and cross your legs. You don’t want women to date? Then talk to your mother about arranging you the next available husband or wife. But don’t you ever think that you get to dictate your narrow-minded point of view on others, under the guise of morals, and get away with it.

You know we’re fast hitting rock bottom when a trashy TV show is used to spark a conversation about morals. To quote MTV: متل الش… يلي بتحاضر بالعفة.  W 7zaro l sh ya shatrin.