The Hamas movement is worried sick about how "masculine" young men in Gaza are.
The resistance movement has been busy with shaving young men's hair and forcing them to write vows that they will not grow their hair and will not wear pants that show parts of their underwear. Of course the movement has not decreased its chronic activity of arresting activists who criticized it via social networks or who wrote articles against it. Assaulting female activists during protests is yet another sign of “masculinity” which Hamas is gravely concerned about these days.
The masculinity which occupies Hamas' mind was expressed by caretaker interior minister Fathi Hammad who, in a campaign dubbed “pull up your trousers,” supervised the graduation of members trained to pursue those with weird hair styles and those who wear low waist jeans. The minister warned female and male Gazans that there “are security apparatuses to monitor everyone who contributed to decreasing the level of masculinity.” He concluded that Hamas has its own means to protect masculinity.
The Palestinians remember the “masculinity” practiced by Hamas when it took over the Gaza Strip and when its masked members smashed pictures and televisions and arrested and humiliated people. Hamas continued to practice this masculinity for years until Gazans got tired of this campaign to monitor masculinity and responded by mocking it.
There are no doubts that Hamas' expressions in its campaign to “protect masculinity” are derived from an extremely reactionist dictionary to the point where if you read of this campaign, you'd first think it is a satirical piece of news. Protecting masculinity means the latter is under threat - a threat we reject amidst our pride in masculinity values particularly when it comes to concepts in which violence mixes with heroism. The disciplinary campaigns launched by the movement against Gaza's female and male youths, activists and journalists have backfired on the movement's image. Thus the movement is being mocked as the masculinity it aspires has been transformed into a negative value.
Hamas' interior minister supervised the graduation of scouts responsible for checking that Gaza's male youths "pull up their pants." This is how a minister of a movement which tasked itself with great missions, the least of which is confronting their enemy and liberating the land, puts it. The minister's statement resembles the actions of a father who is confused about his son's naughtiness and who failed to build a solid relationship with his son. But when the father is an authority, a government and a state, he deprives fatherhood from this relation leaving nothing but arbitrary contexts of it.
Pull up your trousers
Can we imagine a government tasking itself with such types of missions? It is a mission equal to lifting the siege, providing border crossings and protecting around two million Palestinians.
We read news on this with terms that varied between “pull up your trousers” and “protecting masculinity,” and we pitied the residents of the Strip.
During this historical phase in the region, Hamas is occupied with youth choices and is suffering from bitterness because it has noticed that a "lack of masculinity" has struck a few Gazans.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on May 27, 2013.
Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in Asharq al-Awsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV. She can be found on Twitter: @dianamoukalled.