Watch: Layla Hazaineh ’20 Challenges Sexism in Arab Societies
Layla Hazaineh ’20, a Jordanian-Palestinian feminist, has created a series of videos tackling women’s issues in Arab societies.
Hazaineh began the vlogging (or video blogging) project in response to a Jordanian YouTuber who published a video last year claiming that harassment and assault is primarily caused by what women wear.
“Such views were no news to me,” Hazaineh says, “but I was furious, because I got sick of hearing the same biased and backwards views over and over again, and watching them receive so much attention and praise.”
Most Arab women experience sexual assault or harassment, Hazaineh says, and she is no exception. Her feminism, she says, arose when she was eight years old and was assaulted by two men. In her society, she adds, rape is stigmatized and women learn to feel ashamed of having been assaulted.
But Hazaineh isn’t afraid to speak on controversial issues. By vlogging, she hopes to turn the tables.
“I am shaming the rapists and empowering the victim,” she says. “I want people to understand that our experiences with rape and harassment do not define us. We have nothing to be ashamed of.”
Hazaineh prefers videos because they are attractive to a younger audience and more likely to go viral than a written article, and because she wants men to see her face.
“I am not some random girl writing from behind her screen about abstract issues,” she says. “No. I am Layla Hazaineh. They can hear me, they can see me, they know who I am and what I am fighting for.”
In her society, she adds, “men are not used to girls standing up, speaking their minds, and rejecting the misogynistic norms.”
By vlogging, Hazaineh hopes to show other women in the Arab world that they have the right to speak up. She also believes that using videos will help her followers feel closer to her and communicate with her.
Since making her first video, Hazaineh has vlogged on a series of other women’s issues, such as domestic violence and virginity tests. She is also beginning to vlog on other issues and aims to pursue a career oriented towards women’s issues and hopes that her voice will reach women across the world.