An excerpt from LAILA by Fadi Zaghmout


                  He was rude when he crept up to me in the bathroom as I was brushing my teeth. He hugged me from behind, and, making sure I felt the bulge in his pants, he swept my hair from my shoulder, his lips ready to plant a kiss on my neck. He still wanted to impose his manhood on me as if his limited way of thinking could not accept the fact that I was repulsed by him. As if his ears were tuned deaf every time I said in no uncertain terms, ‘If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times: I don’t want you!’

                  My entire body trembled the second I felt him close to me. My muscles tensed and my blood boiled. I tried to control myself and avoid any kind of overblown reaction, but he was shameless. He didn’t care. He was enjoying the burst of male hormones gushing through his veins, ready to act on the urge coursing through his body. I let him plant his kiss on me as I resisted an overwhelming desire to grab the perfume bottle in front of me and spray it in his eyes or to bite his arm, right on the cut I inflected on him the day before. He would have screamed in pain as he hurled a torrent of insults at me, or he would have probably slapped me or lunged at me, trying to hit and hurt me worse than I had hurt him. I would have responded in kind, slapping him back if he slapped me, clawing his face with my nails, or kicking him in the balls to teach him never to do that to me again.

                  But I was wise and acted fast. I ignored his erection pressed up against me. I finished brushing my teeth and put the toothbrush down. I took a sip of water, rinsed my mouth, spat the water out, and then quickly turned off the tap and quietly peeled myself away, leaving the bathroom as if nothing had happened. He followed me a minute later, a wicked smile on his face.

                  I realized that his mind refused to register that I was rejecting him, so he decided to think of my reaction as part of a game. A chase where he was the predator and I the prey. The idea of him as the predator gave him a sense of power, while my resistance translated in his mind as a chance to prove his dominance over me, an invitation to reassert his masculinity. He must have viewed it as fake resistance, the kind prevalent in Egyptian movies. A form of coquettish hard-to-get play used by women to entice men and turn them on. At the end of such a scenario, in his mind, after a few flirtatious moves and acts of fake modesty, I was bound to fall into his arms, surrender to his masculinity, capitulate to his virility.

                  I was a predator. I didn’t think much of the chase unless I was the one doing the chasing, the one breaking a man, reducing him to a meek lamb. Obedient, submissive. Under my control. I had to act firmly when Firas stealthily slunk up behind me as I stood in front of the mirror clasping my bra. I spun around and looked him straight in the eye. ‘What do you want?’

                  ‘Gosh! You’re so stubborn,’ he huffed, as if he didn’t expect my question, or was too embarrassed to come out and just say he wanted me.

                  ‘I’m the one who’s stubborn?’ I snapped, turning my back to him. I picked up my eyeliner and leaned forward, closer to the mirror.

                  ‘Yes. You. You’re so stubborn!’ He yelled at me.

                  ‘And so are you!’ I yelled back as I opened my eye wide to line it with kohl.

                  “Oh, come on. Let’s give it a try,’ he said suddenly, changing his tone, trying to win me over.

                  ‘We’ve tried plenty of times, Firas. You want something and I want something else,’ I replied, unmoved.

                  ‘See how stubborn you are? You insist on acting like the man in bed.’

                  I stopped doing my eyeliner and fixed a sharp gaze on him. ‘Fuck off!’ I said, before adding cynically, ‘Shouldn’t you first know what being a man really means?’

                  ‘Respect yourself and act like a lady!’ he yelled.

                  ‘Act like a lady?’ I almost fell to the floor laughing. ‘Yes, sir. Whatever you say, honey. If you say so, darling. I’ll respect my self and act like a lady, just like you want me to.’ I smoothed my long hair behind my ears and spun around to face him. I put my finger in my mouth, licking it and tilting my head as I gazed at him seductively, adopting the flirtatious Syrian accent of the women from Bab al-Hara. ‘Is this how you like it, babe? What can I do for you, my king, my universe?’

                  Dumbfounded, he watched me carry on with my playacting, making fun of him.

                  ‘I’m at your beck and call, love,’ I teased. I took two steps toward the bed and sat down gently, pouting like Haifa Wehbe in her “Boos El Wawa” music video. I pressed my knees together, lay my head on the pillow, and, running my fingers across my breasts, whispered seductively, ‘Come on then. Come and get it.’

                  But before he could make a move, I flicked the switch, changing my tone of voice and my body language.

                  ‘I know it’s how you want me to be,’ I said, standing up and adopting a serious tone. I raised my head to look him in the eye and added, ‘But I’m not like that and I will never be like that. Not for you and not for anyone else. Got it?’

Excited, LAILA is released!


My third novel, “Laila wal Hamal” translation has just got published in English as LAILA. A story of a woman protagonist that challenges the mainstream stereotypes of female sexuality in the region.

LAILA is a modern Jordanian woman who grows up in a society where customs and traditions endure. Trapped in a marriage to a man she finds physically revolting, LAILA begins to realize secret truths about her sexuality and identity as a woman. Her own sexual needs and desires are in contrast with society’s general perception of women’s roles and expectations, but her reality materializes once she meets a compatible man. The story unfolds in a thrilling and engaging manner and edges towards radical feminism.

Our Arab societies have fallen under the claws of exaggerated toxic masculinity, the balance between genders have been lost, thus I feel that some radical feminist narrative is needed, at least in literature, to rebalance what’s happening on the ground and help us move forward towards more just societies. In writing LAILA, I was inspired by the work of Angela Carter (The Passion of New Eve) and Gillian Flinn (Gone Girl).

In LAILA, I challenge mainstream stereotypes about gender and sexuality in the region. The book, which was originally released in Arabic in 2018 by Egyptian based publisher Kotob Khan under the name of “Laila wal Hamal“, was banned in Jordan due to its subversive narrative and bold depiction of women’s sexuality.

Laila Wal Hamal

I am very excited about the English release of the book. People find it easier to read about such topics in English, and it will be easier to access for many since it will be available on all main book-selling portals worldwide.

Like my first two novels translated to English, this book is published by Signal 8 Press, an independent publisher with offices in England and Florida. Translation is done by Hajer Almosleh.

LAILA is now available in paperback and eBook for worldwide orders.
I hope you enjoy reading this story, and I look forward for your feedback, ratings and reviews!

You can order LAILA from Amazon.com by clicking here.

LAILA on Amazon.com

Haya: On Netflix’s Bonding and Laila and the Lamb


Hello people!
Have you missed me? I am sure you did.
And I am talking to those who were following this blog years back
Like in 2007! (omg feels like ages ago)
Those who know that The Observer is not the only author here
And that I am the infamous “Haya” have actually contributed more engaging and exciting content to this blog.
So Observer but this is true
Whether you agree with it or not!
Yes more “exciting”!
If you don’t believe me, go back and “Google me”
Wait, don’t go and google me as you won’t find anything about me
but search this blog for my older posts.
I promise, you will enjoy reading them.

Anyway, since The Observer started blogging again two weeks ago and I have been itching
I want to blog too!
For new readers, please let me introduce myself
I am The Observer’s female alter ego
The first female voice he used in this writings
Long before those 4 “wanna be” brides in his first book
and long before that boring Janna in his second
who keeps whining and whining about how unhappy she is at a time where she is back to her youth and have all what she wishes for at her fingertips!
What the hell?! Seriously Janna? Just wake up.
If you want Kamil, just go after him and be happy! (rolling my eyes)
And yes, long before his latest dominatrix protagonist – Laila
What the fuck?! How did you get there Observer?

Don’t get me wrong guys, I am all for women empowerment
And yes, there are aspects of Laila’s character that I admire
And I did enjoy reading the book
But that intro page! OMG!
What were you thinking??!
A Jordanian woman wearing a jockstrap and fucking her boyfriend!
SERIOUSLY?
Like SERIOUSLY?
Are you NUTS? Observer?
And then you go all the way and get surprised because the book got banned in Jordan!
Duh!
Did you really expect it to pass censorship? Like really?
It is a book habibi! A printed one! Not your blog!
And you needed to get a reality check!
But hey, I admire your courage
You actually went that far into writing it!
And getting it published!
And talking (shamelessly) about it!
Bravo!
I say bravo although it is not something I would have ever agreed to
If you have consulted me
But anyway, the book is out
And it is banned in Jordan
And people are finding a hard time to find it
Happy?
Enough with berating you
As I actually understand what you were trying to do with that book
I disagree with the means but under where you are coming from
And you people, stop categorizing the book as “pornographic”
Because IT IS NOT!
Yes it has a shocking opening
And few sexual scenes
But IT IS NOT PORN
It is not more of a porn than this new mini series on Netflix called Bonding
If you read Laila and enjoyed it, then you must watch it
It builds on a similar concept
(No Observer, Hollywood is NOT stealing your ideas)
Bonding is a more of comedy series of a dominatrix sex worker with a gay assistant
Intriguing, no?
Original? Despite Observer’s opinion, I’d say yes!
Entertaining? Definitely!
And I have to admit, it feels like it originated from the same line of thinking The Observer had
As in challenging mainstream stereotypes of women’s role in bed
And that’s good – a noble cause I’d say
And while the show taps onto some “disgusting practices”
It does it in a light fun way
Far from the serious tone of Laila
And there is NO SCENE that shows Mistress May (the protagonist of the show) fucking any of her men with a dildo!
(maybe in the second season?) – I bet!
But anyway, there are two things that I want to highlight here
FIRST: I understand that The Observer introduced that scene to provide a critical read for the entire act. He does it clearly towards the end of the story. And to be honest, it is a needed thought provoking read.
SECOND: (*spoiler alter*) Bonding ends with a crime, one that Mistress May commits, and articulates that she can’t report to the police because no one would believe her. That sounds exactly like Tarek’s dilemma in Laila’s story. The same concept of how someone would react when he is doing something wrong in the eyes of the society and ends up in much worse situation. Come clean or run away?

What would you do?
Have your read Laila and the Lamb or watched Bonding?
If not, then you should.
And when you do. Come back here and let me know what you think!

Sincerely yours,
Haya






Hugs to you.. Jordanian Women


This post isn’t meant to call for any kind of action toward achieving better results in terms of gender equality, and this post isn’t meant also to condemn current cultural heritage or social practices that pose challenge to Jordanian women lives. This post is truely and sincerly written to show my deepest respect and admiration to whom we consider to belong to the weaker gender and who prove day after day to be the tougher one.

I don’t know if it is just me or not, but I feel more humanity in Jordanian women in general than Jordanian men. Maybe it is their inherited tenderness mixed with their aquired toughness to meet up daily challenges that have been imposed on them through the years.

Throughout my life, I have been blessed to come closer to many Jordanian women and observe their different stories and struggles. My admiration is spread to cover every single woman I have met in my life whether she has been a woman who “fit” in the social norms or not; because both that one who “fits” had to work hard in order to fit, and those who don’t had also to work hard to stand up for themselves and pay the consequences of not fitting.

I feel like giving a hug to the woman who work hard to make a better life for her family, to the woman who endure an abusive husband for the sake of her children, to the one who do so because she fears life without him, and to the one who stood up for herself and demanded her freedom only to end up losing her children and struggling each day to make efforts to be closer to them even from a distance.

I feel like giving a hug to veiled women (spiritual hug) who deal with different social dynamics as well with their own internal characteristics.; those who are more at ease to break bridges than others and those who feel more at ease in building ones around themselves. I feel like giving a hug to non-veiled women, those who cover their body with a social veil and maintain their virginity to their husbands because society demands so, and those who try to manage and play with the space of freedom they allow themselves, and those who do break the boundaries of social freedoms and are strong enough to claim their rights to their bodies and their sexuality.

I feel like giving a hug to that Jordanian woman who is comfortable with her sexuality and who is mature enough to have sex partners based on her own personal desire and decision transending every inherited and imposed social rule around us. I feel like hugging that woman who identified herself to be a lesbian and who realized that the matching of the terms “Jordanian Woman” and “Lesbian” is a match from hell and still know her odds and proud of herself.

I send kisses to all of you, to every single one of you, to every hero of you, mothers and sisters, wives and daughters, the presumed weaker gender, the tougher one.

Cheers and happy Eid..

Like Girls Grow Breasts When They are Older, Some of Them Grow Penises


As a kid, I was bombarded with rules and stereotypes about gender. It was always a boy/girl dichotomy. Way before I had any idea about sexuality or puberty, I was taught that boys love girls and girls love boys and that’s how the world works. But what seemed like a universal law didn’t make a sense to me. I was never interested in girly things. I cut my hair really short and played soccer and climbed rocks. I deduced, therefore, with my young logical mind, that my feelings for girls could only mean one thing: that I was actually a boy. How else could I have crushes on girls? So I came to the conclusion that, like girls grow breasts when they’re older, some of them grow penises.”

That is a testimony of one of the lesbians girls in a new published book called “Bareed Mista3jil” – It is a set of letters (short stories) of Lebanese lesbians talking about each themselves and how different are their stories and struggle with both their gender and sexual identities.

There are many touching stories in the book, this one hit me the most because of the picture this woman draws of a young girl who loves girls, and who thought that because of the common norms of society, she must become a boy, and that God will fix the problem eventually when she grows up and grow her a penis!!

The girl continues her story by explaining how she finds out that some girls do actually love other girls and that she simply has different sexual orientation. That made her more comfortable with her gender as a woman.

Bareed Mista3jil is an excellent read, it gives you a broader perspective about the diversity of human beings in terms of gender and sexual identities in relations to the particularity of the Lebanese society.

It is a must read – You can find it at Books@Cafe or order it online from the Books Cafe website here for $16.95.

Social Hypocrisy 2


In Jordan, a woman may disable her facebook account after she gets into a serious relationship, do you know what else she may do? Fake innocence! That is not an uncommon advice, where married women would advice their friends who got recently into a relationship to act *surprised* if her boyfriend/fiance tried to touch her hand. If it is her wedding night, then the advice would be for the woman fake shyness and ask her husband to shut off the light!

Sadly, Jordanian women are still expected not to be sexually active before marriage. Although many are indeed sexually active, in discretion, but with no intercourse (to maintain the hymen), it is nothing acceptable to be mentioned infront of your future husband. The common perception, if a woman made out with a man, he won’t marry her! So if she made out with her first boyfriend, and his didn’t marry her, she won’t make out with her next one and end up marrying him! He, on the other hand, would try with her before marriage, and if she refuses, then she would have passed the test, and then he would end up marrying whom he thinks to be the pillar of virtue (in his own moral values ofcourse).

Well yes! That is a great advice. With such social values, and such mentality of men, women must have learnt how to trick them! and then again, it is a trick that most men are willing to take because it spares them the hectic of carrying on with what society expects from them if they know the truth!

Well let’s look at it closer:

A man waiting for his wedding night, he is eager to have halal sex with the woman he has married but he expects her to act cold, shy, and inexperienced. He still hopes that he will have good sex – that is the reason he got married afterall!!

Well that doesn’t really work! It takes two for good sex. But if she is going to please him, then she would show some knowledge, and thus alert him of a potential pervious experience which would push him to divorce her.

Do we really have to be this hypocrite? Can’t women just stand up for themselves?!

Virginity is overrated


* This post is not for minors!
** Some women might need male guidance! (kidding)

Virginity is overrated! Seriously!
It confines the whole sexual process in one act!
INTERCOUSE!
How absurd is this?
or is it not?

I had this converstion with different people
What does having sex mean?

Is it the whole package of different sexual acts?
cuddling, fondling, kissing, hugging, squeezing, oral, ..etc
or
It is just about intercourse?

Most answeres were the latter!
(what is the religious ruling here? anyone knows?)

BUT

What if I decide to skip intercouse and stick to the other stuff?
Does it mean that I am not having sex?
and that I am “shareefeh” (honorable) in the eyes of society if I am not married

DONT get me wrong
I am a married woman now (wooohoooo)

Ops…after a second thought
it can be applied on me as well
I mean it won’t be a betrayal if I did all of the above acts with another man (not my husband) without having intercouse with him
no?

*I am not going to do it, but I am talking hypothetically here*

I know
Intercouse is important to a lot of people
but as every other thing in life
People have different tastes!
Some would just enjoy their sexuality without having to be penetrated! (or penetrate!)

I am, myself, not a big fan of intercourse
I would rather stay virgin all my life!
and enjoy my sexuality at the same time
Is that a bad thing?

Isn’t virginity overrated here?
I mean, how many virgins are out there who do this?
and then hold up the moral card whenever sex is mentioned!

Regards,
Married Haya!