Book Reviews

How Cool is the Victim?

Posted by dshalabi in 05. Oct, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

After much will power, I finally finished reading – “The Art of Forgetting” by Ahlam Mastaghani and unlike most women I know, I have to say I didn’t really enjoy the book. The book itself was beautifully written and some of the words in it really stick to the memory, but in it the broken heart was portrayed as a disease that will almost kill us as people if we are not careful, and I prefer to die of something more major.

For those who haven’t read this book, it is an elegantly written piece of work set in the form of a series of articles directed to women who are suffering to the point of near death, all  from a broken hearts. The aim of this book is to help women get over the terrible things men had done to them and the emotional abuse they may have encountered in the process.

Now, let us really think about this. Anyone above the age of 25 must have experienced getting their heart broken at least once. Unless we are people with hearts of stone this has to have been something we dealt with as adults, and the experience comes with a really good lesson given to us coldly as part of growing up.
The general deal is that you get your heart broken, you deal with it, learn from it, and then move on. This is the real world, but in Mastaghani’s world apparently it is a disease that kills us and that requires her therapy, as a writer. Her therapy i supposed to help us forget the terrible things men did to us, as women in the relationship.
Now if the Broken Heart is really a disease that is going to kill me, I would want to see a therapist and not someone who is great with words.

I would not want to cry about it to a writer but rather to the few friends and family members I trust , and whom I know wouldn’t judge me in my moments of weakness. But , this writer sees things differently, she starts off her book by saying that women have begged her to write about this topic and that is why she did. I guess she was doing her lofty contribution to humanity or her contribution to community service as part of her social responsibility as a responsible citizen.

But then again whatever her motives were, she experienced great success with the book, so it must have appealed to some people, and maybe I am just too cynical to see the benefits of it all.
However as a reader, the one issue that really got to me, above everything else was the idea of “victimizing women”. All the women this writer talks about were helpless victims asking for her help. And, she on her part used her well studied interpersonal communications skills, and her well versed knowledge of psychology to cure them from the claws and fangs of the men who have taken advantage of their love.

At this intersection, I have to ask what is it with women and their love for being the victims? Why is it that we act like most men are beasts who are out to just play with our hearts , and that the only thing on their minds is to leave us emotionally paralyzed, or dare I say it fool us into feeling things we don’t want to feel, and doing things we don’t want to do ?
Well if this is really the case then yes we women are immature and we are not going into relationships as adults with our eyes and minds wide open, because ladies sorry, but no guy with all his persuasive powers can make you give him something as simple as a smile if you don’t want to give it, so how about giving your feelings, I think that is a stretch. I just hate to believe that we are as pathetic as this writer makes us out to be. Come one ladies seriously ! ?
Mind you, there are bad guys out there, but the minute we let them be bad to us then we are equally responsible and we are not victims. Does that mean we are angles? We are not!.
We can be bad too, we can damage men emotionally too, and we too play the games of just not responding to them, and yes we are awful , and even unbearable at times. We can just coldly forget a guy if we are evil enough to do so, so how can this writer in one of her articles attributes forgetting coldly as something only men do. Both genders are guilty of doing all of the above, and it is wrong when a man does it and when a woman does it too.

So, where do we get this idea that we are angles and the men are beasts. When any two people start a relationship isn’t it equally possible for the girl to be bad too? Isn’t she also responsible for its failures and its success?

Let us not fool ourselves into believing that it is always the guy’s fault. Any relationship failing is both parties’ faults unless one of them dies suddenly and his/her death was the only thing causing the relationship to end.

Even in the case of cheating, and as unethical as cheating is, the guy wouldn’t have cheated on the girl and the girl wouldn’t have cheated on the guy if they were both perfectly happy. So let us not embrace the idea of being victims because it is really too pathetic for us as grownups and as adults. And, if we are dying of broken hearts, when did we lose our grip on reality in the process of falling in love? I think guys and girls should be given more credit than this writer gives them. Yes, broken hearts are messy, they are awful, and they are painful , but they are not causes of death we can’t bounce back from. The truth is we often bounce back and we still want to try again. The human population would have shrunk by half if the broken heart is the same as this writer makes it out to be.

But, moving away from the book, I just think that we embrace the general idea “victimization” in all phases of life, especially in a fatalistic society like ours. It starts with our misunderstanding of the concept of God and destiny, where we convince ourselves at times that “God made us stay poor” or “God wanted us to be sick” or “God wanted us to be unemployed” or “God didn’t want us to get an education”, now I apologize to all religious people who honestly believe that God throws in our laps misfortunes so that we suffer, because I just don’t think God is that evil. Some people even think that they are victim of these issues so they need to pray more. Sorry, to all these people but if you are spending time praying rather than spending time fixing your problems then you will remain a victim all your life.Don’t stop praying please, but fix your life in the process as well.  I just think life throws misfortunes in our laps and it is up to us to deal with them.  If you like to think God maybe testing us be free to think that, and tell you what, why don’t you try passing the test God is putting you through as part of growing up and being responsible.

Moving away from God, and to our careers, we even enjoy being victims in that field too. We take our Tawjihi exams and we then study whatever major we get admitted to in university. Very few of us even ask if we like what we are studying or not, and then we move on to get a job we don’t like, and we call ourselves victims of the system. Some people even marry a man or woman they don’t really know through arranged marriage and call themselves the victim of that too. So we grow up ion a society that teaches us to think we are  victims of God’s will, victims of educational systems, victims of arranged marriages, so we are victims of life. With this understanding, then it isn’t strange for women to read this book and then enjoy being referred to as the victims of men and broken hearts.

Mind you, we have to admit that there is something attractive in being the victim. As victims we can make one mistake after the next and blame it on things we were forced into without thinking for a second that it could be us. We don’t have to be responsible for anything. How cool is it to not be responsible for failing at work, under the pretense that we didn’t choose our career?, and how cool is it for us to just hate our significant other, under the pretense that we were forced into marriage and we didn’t love them in the first place? Isn’t it easier to be the victim instead of owning up to our part in our failures.

Let us not pin everything bad on God as humans and on men as women for that matter. If being the victim is ok, then we shouldn’t be adults. But, how many of us are really ready to be grown ups and to own up for what we managed to accomplish and not accomplish in life.

I guess I just didn’t like this book because I can’t stand being looked at as a victim, but that is just cynical me living my cynical life.

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