Fighting for My Right

Fighting for My Right

I took the metro one day during Ramadan,
And got on the women’s passenger car,
Because I didn’t want to be harassed,
Or even looked at.

There were two men on the car,
And we kept asking them to get off at every stop,
But they refused to.
And other men would get on and ask,
“How come they’re here?”

A seat became available,
So I sat down.
I was tired of quarrelling with them.
After I sat down,
A girl went to speak with them,
And one of them cursed her,
I was furious.
“Don’t try to act all manly and tough in the women’s car!”
“I’ll do as I please, you fucking bitch!”
“Men aren’t allowed in here!
This is a women’s only car!”
“I’ll show you how manly I am, bitch!”

And then he hit me.
The women who were supporting me at first suddenly turned against me.
They pulled me away from him.
A woman wearing the niqab told me,
“Don’t engage with him, dear.
Don’t get yourself into trouble.”
“Don’t tell me not to stand up for myself!”
“Let it go, dear.
He looks drunk.
Can’t you smell his breath?”

The whole thing was over because I had to get off at the next stop.
I was still in shock when I got home.
The same thing happened multiple times after that time.
Two men would get on,
And they’d keep increasing in number at every stop,
Until the women’s car was full of men.
I can’t speak up anymore.
Not because I’m scared of being called names,
Or getting hit.
But because I don’t have the energy to engage with rude people,
Who think it’s okay to be aggressive with us,
Just because we don’t have the same genitals or build.

I was in tears when I got off at my stop.
That was the moment I started being passive,
And abandoned my sense of responsibility.
I thought to myself that if I stopped standing up to men who ride the women’s car,
Then bit by bit,
I’ll stop arguing with people who support the military and the Ministry of Interior,
Or even former president Mubarak.
It felt as if I was going against the revolution,
Because I didn’t stand up for myself.
But I had no energy.
I can’t get into a fight every day.

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