Fairy tales are fun, they give us a singular face and a simple story for large groups and long histories. The Good Guys, the Evil Witch and so on. The entertainment we derive from reading these fantasy-filled fables is partly because they often contain social commentary artfully hidden between the bland narratives. Fraught with danger and strife, they speak of heroes and villains and damsels in distress. And of course, the good guys win.
Watching TV these days I find myself resorting to fairytale jargon in my head, shameless generalisations assert themselves when the same groups seem to flit by my eye in new forms. Any official occasion demands their presence, the Men In Suits.
They stand around, talking with firm determination to no one in particular. You can never hear what they say – a commentator will keep you entertained by pointing out the obvious: whatever it is has not started yet. The Men In Suits are almost always older and a bit portly. They gesticulate wildly while standing around being So Obviously Important. Once the press conference or announcements are ready to begin, the MIS fade to the sidelines, rarely to be heard from again.
I like the Men In Suits and since it is never clear who they are I get to make up lives for them. I have decided they are part of a secret society, but not as cool as the Men in Black. They meet once a week, on Tuesdays of course, in a bare room serviced only by chairs and fluorescent lights. They stride in with their usual aplomb, but as soon as the doors close they inevitably sag deflated in the chairs. It has been a hard week – lots of official occasions – and being Important For No Reason Whatsoever takes its toll.
I am fond of the MIS because they pose no threat, unlike the Other Men In Suits that follow in their wake. Those guys are less fun. They look stern and carry papers – they are seldom the bearers of good tidings.
The Men Who Wear Something Else also make regular appearances on our screens. Lately we see them in groups, waving Egyptian flags or punching their fists in the air. It is not always easy to tell if they are against or for something, if they are upset or celebrating. They dance and surge, emotions borne high for all to see, passionate and invigorated by those that surround them. Their power is most obvious when it is dark, their faces lit up by fireworks or fires.
During daylight The Women Who Wear Things mingle in the throng of TMWWSE, the general atmosphere is usually quieter even if the determination is just as strong. They are Egyptians and they have a cause, and they are making themselves heard. When night falls a lot of the women slide away, back to what they do when they are not taking a stand.
Because The Women Who Wear Things know. They have learned that once the frenzy hits at night, it has the potential to grow exponentially into something that has little to do with why they came to the square to begin with.
If they are not careful they may end up in that small, but growing group of women that none of us wants to belong to. Because those of us who do, know that no matter what, you never really get to leave. There is no happy ending to that story.
A young journalist joined that group a few nights ago. Others decided she should. Violently and relentlessly she was targeted and ruthlessly she was shown that mercy and decency sometimes disappear when freedom of expression turns into loss of humanity.
In Tahrir she was brutally initiated into The Women Who Were Forced To Wear Nothing.