from Wafaa' Al-Natheema's report on her trip to Iraq passing by Syria
in April/May 2005.
Read more of her trip at
"69 For You" with apology
Wafaa' Al-Natheema - INEAS@...
Friday, July 1, 2005 3:50 AM
We apologize to those of you who understand what "69 For You"
signifies and feel offended by the subject title of this email.
The author of the article chose the title for two reasons; to
attract the curiosity of those who don't know what it means and to
grap the attention (and maybe interest) of those who know what this
phrase signifies! This is also in the hope that those living in the
non-English-speaking world (especially in the Arab and Islamic world)
read this article and become aware of the phrase's meaning, not for
its importance, but you will find out below why!
"69 For You"
By Wafaa' Al-Natheema
I still remember the era of the "The Last Temptation of Christ". A fiction
movie, yet caused tremendous temper and protests in the USA, not to
setting fire to a movie theater in France. Similarly was the reaction
infamous story, "The Satanic Verses" by Salman Rushdi, which resulted in
the death of few Pakistani protesters.
How would you feel if one day, you are on train or walking in the
street with your
teenage daughter or son and you see a Chinese guy laughing at the Chinese
calligraphy on her/his T-shirt? It is your daughter's love of
calligraphy that made
her buy it without realizing its insulting message!Â Which do you
think is more
problematic what goes on in fiction movies and books or in reality?
I was stunned during my visit to IRAQ to see three teenage girls
(including a relative) wearing a white T-Shirt with the words, "69 For
You" written on it without them knowing what it signifies. This is
happening in a society where girls are expected to be virgins before
marriage. A society that goes even further beyond virginity to
consider women's underwear Ayb 'shameful' items and therefore should
not be spread on the house yard's rope in open air after being washed.
What would neighbors say? In an effort to put humor to this sad
reality, I told a woman, let's hope they don't have binoculars!Â Of
course men's underwear can be placed on the rope openly, they are not
shameful ! That perhaps reflects the corrupt male minds and their
level of interpretation and imagination!Â Knowing their set of
values, I don't need to mention about how Iraqis would react should
they realize what â69 For Youâ means.
Even when I brought their attention to the fact that the phrase has a
sexual meaning, it didn't occur to them that a mere number can have
such an erotic interpretation! âWhat does it mean?â a couple of
them asked. It puzzled them even more the fact that I refused to
literally describe it. Luckily they decided not to wear the T-shirt
What bothered me were so many issues. I was fuming as I had the
following thoughts and questions pour through my mind:
1. For a fact: Arabic calligraphy is more beautiful than English
writing. Culturally, when Arabic calligraphy is used in designs, they
portray wonderful messages either from the Qur'an and bible, poetry
verses or wise quotes by reputable figures. Whereas in English, the
meanings of the writing used in fashion are often shallow including
women insulting and/or erotic messages. Yet decorating clothes with
English writing is a worldwide phenomenon! If Arabic calligraphy is
more beautiful and meaningful, then why choose English, the foreign
language, to decorate their cloths?
2. Since these T-shirts were not made in IRAQ, why have they been
imported for Iraqis to wear? Who are the idiots importing them with
English messages without checking what they mean? Are Iraqi merchants
and business men that naive and careless? Eventhough T-shirts are not
necessarily made in the UK/USA, they can be made by American/European
companies in Asia! Are these T-shirts imposed on Iraqis like other
American products? This reminded me of a recent example: When Iraqis
recently decided not to import American wheat and instead purchase
Australian wheat, they later discovered shredded tiny metal pieces
mixed with it. After alerting the public and removing it from the
stores, the American wheat immediately appeared in the market, what a
3. Shouldn't Iraqis boycott American/western products in general and
those unhealthy or with the wrong type of messages and symbols in
particular? Why do they wear T-shirts with English writing on them
when English speakers have bombarded them for 14 years, killed their
people including children, tortured prisoners and raped women?
4. Speaking of rape, what would be worse than wearing a "69 For You"
T-Shirt in an occupied country by English speaking militants who know
the meaning of this phrase? Encouraging the rape perhaps? It is
shocking the number of Iraqi women and young girls
who have been raped since April 2003. Unfortunately, nearly all
published reports about this subject tackle rape cases of women in
prisons , but not elsewhere (in the streets, at work, etc....)
Since the hate crimes that followed 9/11 and the "war on terrorism", I
have boycotted American/western products and all American airlines. I
even substituted my previous style of western clothes with Arabic and
Indian fashion, and western prefumes with Arabian oil perfumes (from
Saudi Arabia and the UAE), which have better fragrance, are healthier
and less expensive!
I hope Iraqis (inside and outside of IRAQ), particularly women, join
together in an economic boycott of American/western products. After
all, most of American and British food and many other products are
terribly unhealthy (especially what's being exported to the developing
world, which includes expired medicine and food). According to a
report by the National Public Radio, one of the main reasons for
obesity, from the USA to as far as China, is the consumption of
American food! The vast majority of health products, women's make up,
lotions, tooth paste and mouth wash are lithered with harmful
chemicals such as Cobalt, Flouride, Aluminum and other chemicals ! So
why use them?
Copyright by Wafaa' Al-Natheema, 2005
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