Tameem Youness’ “Salmonella” is the Most Controversial Thing of 2020 and I’m Genuinely Pissed

Written By: Fadila // Researched By: Zeina Amr

Ok, it’s no secret I adore Tameem Youness. I genuinely believe he is a creative genius, the man took 3 words and an overused cliché beat and made one of Egypt’s biggest hits – Enty Ay Kalam. So, whether or not we all like it, we have to admit he’s talented af. However, I’m also currently pissed because, Tameem, wtf??? Salmonella is both stuck in my head and pissing me off, as a feminist, but really, as a woman, I’m offended as fuck. No, seriously, the first time I listened, I was so angry, I couldn’t speak for 20 minutes. Here’s what I (and many others) think about Salmonella.

First off, here’s a question, what do you think the consequences of this song are – socially??? It’s nowhere near clear enough that the song is a satirical/sarcastic take on “men” who don’t take no for an answer. My consent is paramount to me, it means everything, having it stripped away from me because an asshole of a man’s fragile ego can’t handle rejection affects me for life. It affects my standing in my community, affects my mental, emotional, and even physical health, affects my psychological state – I get to live with scars inflicted upon me that most people disregard because I am a fucking woman, and he is a fucking man, and it is MY fault for supposedly triggering his sorry ass into snapping the yes-es from between my lips and taking whatever he wants from me like a savage??? I get to live with victim blaming, too. Have you thought of all that when writing the song? When singing it? Have you thought how I, as an Egyptian Muslim 19 year old woman who had been sexually harassed time and again would feel? Listening to this? With how unclear the message was made out to be?

Violence is such a big theme in this song. All I see is a bunch of men. Not a single woman. So, pray tell, how can this be about the empowerment of women when not a single woman is present in the video and the song? Can you tell me how this is supposed to be a powerful message, when it’s basically a bunch of men nodding to the (supposedly sarcastic) bullshit of the lyrics? Hold up, another important question, how many women were involved in the production – if any? I get that representation is the next big thing, that we capitalize on marginalized communities’ suffering, and that we claim we’re doing good because we’re “uncovering” the oppression and violence against these people, but this song was 100% counterproductive. Mostly, because you’re a privileged educated upperclassmen, so are most of the people you usually work with (who happen to be male). There’s this thing called “male privilege”, there’s also “mansplaining”, both of which dominate your supposedly empowering song brilliantly.

I will use a couple of “big-words”, so kindly, bear with me. There’s this thing called “passive voice” and nearly everyone (no matter how woke you are) uses it, because that’s how deeply we’re conditioned. We say “violence against women”, we say “women who were r*ped”, we say “women’s oppression” – where the fuck does it mention the fact that the privileged terrorist man is the active agent in these horrendous acts of violence??? It should be “men violating women”, “men’s r*pe of women”, “men’s oppression of women”. That’s my 3rd problem with this song, for those of you counting. It’s not only passive, the language is actually quite offensive.

Zeina kindly pointed out one major issue. One of the world’s most discussed topics right now is consent, and you know which line in the song stuck out to people most? 3ashan teb2y te2ooly la. I don’t know whether to cry or bang my head against the wall because this is so deeply problematic. That millions are shouting out a phrase that so many traumatized women have heard, a phrase that wakes some people up in the middle of the night in fear, a phrase that is so associated with pain and suffering. So, how the fuck was this supposed to help? Maybe, Tameem, because you’re male. You’ve never had to walk down the street with your arms wrapped around yourself, completely hunched over, because you’re terrified of being catcalled. Perhaps, because you’ve never had a much stronger and bigger man call out how he’d like to bend you over and take what belongs to you before leaving you for dead. Perhaps, because you were never followed down the streets at night by a bunch of guys who are “just trying to have fun”. Perhaps, because you’ve never had to sit tight and send your mom your live location every 10 minutes in an Uber because your fear was suffocating you. Perhaps, because your body has always been yours and its never been policed by nearly everyone around you, friend and stranger. Perhaps, because you never had to worry about the length of your shirt and whether or not it will cover your ass because your entire society will say that you were “asking for it”. Perhaps, because you’re not forced to abide by archaic laws and virginity myths. Perhaps, because genital mutilation was never a thing you had to think, let alone worry about. Perhaps, because you were never violated on a nearly daily basis. Perhaps, because your yes-es have always been yours.

Definitely, because you’re a man.

I’m pissed because I’m hurt. I thought we were moving towards less man-pig art, I thought more of such an educated, creative, successful genius – one I genuinely looked up to, one I raved about and defended so many times. I confess myself disappointed, more than anything, even though, I don’t think my appreciation for Tameem’s genius is any less profound. I just think, more women need to be put on the field, less misogyny, less oppression, less shitty fucking attitude from men. As a woman, as a feminist, I just want to be treated like I’m human, worthy of respect and compassion above all else, it is my basic human right, which, if we’re honest, I don’t have, privileged as I am. I am worth a lot more than to be be forced to listen to the shouts of “3ashan teb2y te2ooly la” in every public space I venture into. My safety matters, my sanity matters, and I definitely deserve A LOT more respect than that.

If you want to read an honest take on this too and her own experience with Tameem (which, makes this song very hypocritical of him) you gotta read Doua Fatfat’s facebook post.

Also, here’s Tameem’s response to Doua’s post:

I have nothing to say except that I believe her, woman to woman, I do. But also, because yet another woman opened up about her own crappy experiences with Tameem, which you can find right here. This, opened the flood gates, and suddenly, women are shouting out about their shitty experiences with him…

Here are two of Zeina and I’s favorite responses:

Women of Egypt

Karim Tawfik

P.S our full support to Doua Fatfat and Aida El Kashef, as well as every other woman who chose to have agency and speak up about the men who committed acts of violence against them.

P.S.S we’d like to thank Mariam El Khosht and Rosaline El Bay for loudly expressing their stance on this. thank you, truly.

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