We Are a Grassroots Feminist Media Monitor
“We aim to empower women and strengthen their relationship with their body image and self-esteem by criticizing the mainstream media discourse that stereotypes their roles and objectifies their bodies.”
The authors of this article will remain anonymous to ensure their personal safety.
We are Kherrberr. We are not an organization. Rather, we are a grassroots feminist media monitor. Kherrberr in Arabic means dental drill, and the concept behind it is that we aim to remove cavities and decay from the media—specifically, sexism, racism, homophobia, and violence. Our activists are kept anonymous to protect their personal security and safety. The people who we criticize in Kherrberr are usually influential, as mainstream media outlets in Lebanon are owned by tycoons who are very powerful on business and political levels. This monitor began as a personal initiative in 2010, when we as feminist activists noticed a wave of demeaning and sexist songs and advertisements—a wave that reached its peak with Mohammad Iskandar’s song stating that women should not get employed and should instead stay home and take care of their husbands. We thought we should do something about this, so we did.
The Lebanese media is rampant with discrimination based on race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The main gender stereotypes include the typical image of what constitutes a “feminine woman” (skinny body, huge lips and breasts, full makeup), the typical gender role of a housewife, mother, stupid girlfriend who knows nothing about anything except makeup and fashion, portraying women as submissive, objectifying women’s bodies and using their sexuality and “sex appeal” to sell products, and portraying women as inferior employees, as ignorant when it comes to sports, and as always looking for a husband. These are just a few among many, and we have compiled a reference list of 2011’s Top 10 Offensive-to-Women Ads.
Footage from January 14 Fight Rape protest in Lebanon
Media in Lebanon are extremely influential on people and on public opinion as a whole, particularly because they reach out to everyone, everywhere (especially through TV and radio), and they play a major role in constructing social and individual politics. This deeply impacts the views of the new generation of Lebanese citizens, especially when it comes to very sensitive issues that are not discussed on a daily basis, such as women’s issues and rights, sexuality, and violence against women. Believe it or not, it is under this influence that one of the banks in Lebanon created a loan for plastic surgery! Media should be monitored for multiple reasons, including the lack of laws that criminalize sexist, racist, and violent ads, the Ministry of Information’s lack of influence on media and its content, and the total lack of awareness in the majority of the media, including advertising agencies, comedy and other TV and radio shows, magazines, and websites. The frequency of sexist ads, songs, and statements that we are subjected to on a daily basis everywhere we go must be monitored.
Kherrberr’s main objective is to point out the negative influence of sexist, racist, and irresponsible media content in TV, radio, newspapers, websites, and pop culture in general. We aim to present a different media approach to and discourse on sensitive issues revolving around women and other marginalized groups. We aim to empower women and strengthen their relationship with their body image and self-esteem by criticizing the mainstream media discourse that stereotypes their roles and objectifies their bodies.
Follow Kherrberr on Twitter: @Kherrberr
Follow the Connection Point initiative on Twitter: @Connection_Pt
The views and opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Peace X Peace.