Who You Are

On 26 March, Palestinian hip-hop group DAM released a new single that addresses gender roles and women’s rights. Titled “Who You Are,” the song and music video were produced as a joint project with the United Nations Population Fund, which focuses on gender equality, reproductive and sexual health, and youth empowerment. This was DAM’s first project since the addition of Maysa Daw, the group’s first female member. The lyrics she sings include, “I am the dishes, the ironing, I am everything, I am nothing, but remind me: Who are you?”

The video features Daw doing chores stereotypically associated with women while lip-syncing the song’s male vocals. She told the Hebrew-language Local Call, “I’m very proud of both the song and the video. I think it is an honest attempt at criticizing our society. Men try to stereotype women all the time, and I just want to ask which stereotypes define men, if any?” In the same interview, DAM’s Tamer Nafar added, “We speak out against our own oppressive society, of course, but I believe it is just as important to criticize the hypocritical part of our society, which likes to play ‘make-believe feminism’ from time to time.”

While their music has historically focused on the occupation, DAM’s 2013 album, Dabke on the Moon, marked a thematic shift with songs focused on issues within Palestinian society. The move attracted criticism, and DAM’s Mahmoud Jreri told Al-Monitor in April 2013, “They want us to focus on the occupation, but the political and social struggle[s] should go together and not be separated.”

In addition to its new music video, DAM launched the hashtag #Who_You_R, encouraging fans to share photos of themselves challenging gender norms. While the project mainly targeted an Arab audience, people from around the world posted pictures and videos.

#Who_You_R 1

Salim Daw, a well-known Palestinian actor, at the stove. The commentary fromDAM’s Facebook page says: “Kudos to Salim Daw for taking up the challenge. Wondering what’s cooking? I say maqloubeh, because we want to turn reality topsy-turvy!”(Maqloubeh, a signature Palestinian dish, is a savory upside-down preparation of rice layered with meat and vegetables.)

#Who_You_R 2

In response to DAM’s challenge, Facebook user Murad Ayoub posted a picture of himself doing one of the chores traditionally considered women’s work. His caption reads: “Women are half the world; and they bring up the other half.”

Who You Are is published in the Palestine Unbound section of Journal of Palestine Studies Vol. 44 No. 4.

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