They circled Him

2015

When I was in the eighth grade, there was a boy with me at school who was blond and fair-skinned. He was a grade younger than I was.
Wherever he went, the other students would harass him. He was absent a lot because of this. His father came in to complain more than once but to no avail.

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I Hit Him

2014

I hit him because I wanted to hit everyone.
After Friday prayers, he got into his car and harassed a girl who was walking by.

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A Little Extra Weight

2019

I went to school in an Arab country.
I was kind of chubby,
But not obese.
I just carried some extra weight.
And my breasts were a little big,
Compared to the other kids.
body image, bullying, masculinity

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Can’t Stand This World Anymore

2019

I’m a boy.
I’m not fat, but I have man boobs.
I come from the countryside, and the first thing people notice are my boobs.
I get comments by everyone on the streets, in classes, and at school.
body image, bullying, masculinity

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Live Wire

2019

I kissed two women for the first time in my life today at a party.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a kiss on the mouth.
It was a peck on the cheek.
Just a normal kiss; the way you’d kiss a guy friend.
You’ll think it’s weird,
But when you know my story,
You’ll applaud me.

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Skinny

2019

I’m thin,
I don’t have any muscles or abs.
I was okay with that, to an extent, in the beginning,
Because my body hadn’t fully developed yet,
Or basically, because I hadn’t decided to go the gym yet.
body image, bullying, masculinity

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Don't Cry

2016

I used to be told when I was younger
“You’re a man, don’t cry!”
“You’re a man” was a punishment to me,
Because it imposed on my a certain lifestyle
Things I have to do, and other things I can’t do.

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August's Sun

2017

A relative of mine who works in construction,
Decided to take me to work with his brother-in-law.
Back then, I was in middle school.
Around 12 years old.
I hadn’t worked a day in my life,
And now I was to start work in August?
Everyone in Aswan knows what the sun’s like in August.
masculinity, social pressure, work

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Male Species

2017

“Don’t react to anything you hear.
Just keep walking.”
“Don’t talk back, no matter what.
Walk away.”
“No one knows what he could do to you.”
That’s what we’re told.
We’re told to obey.
If someone insults me,
I should just walk away.
That way he’ll keep doing what he does.

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There’s No Such Thing as a “Man’s Honor”

2017

Growing up, I was taught that girls were responsible for preserving their honor.
I, as a man, have nothing to do with it.
My mother never brought up the word “honor” around me or my brother.

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