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The Occasional Virgin is about two Lebanese women struggling to find their identities between the pressures of their successful businesses and their traditional families and personal desires.

The struggles that Yvonne and Huda go through remind me of a song that the Sweet Tones has covered a couple of times: “Quiet,” sung by MILCK.  This song became the unofficial anthem of the Women’s March in 2017.  A choir of women (who had only rehearsed together online) came together to sing it a cappella at the march.  This is such a beautiful, powerful song about the pressures that society puts on women, and it calls every woman to be her true, authentic self.  It’s always very well received wherever the Sweet Tones perform it.

Huda, especially, as a Lebanese Muslim woman, is expected to behave a certain way.  She doesn’t dress or act the way a devout Muslim woman does, and it surprises strangers when she tells them she comes from a Muslim family.

“Quiet” has a few lyrics that I feel truly speak to Huda’s situation.  “Put on your face/ know your place.”  The reader sees this sentiment directed at Huda by Hisham, who expects that she will marry him after she “seduces” him.  He guilts her into buying a hijab to wear to dinner with him, and then suggests that she purchases a veil to hide her eyes because “‘it makes the woman’s face as a whole less provocative’” (149).  MILCK’s song moves from the introduction into the first verse with “But no one knows me, no one ever will/If I don’t say something, if I just lie still/Would I be that monster, scare them all away/If I let them hear what I have to say.”  I get the sense that Huda has struggled with a similar thought process when she still lived with her parents in Lebanon.  Then the chorus comes, with MILCK repeating how she is a “one-woman riot” who “can’t keep quiet.”

Ultimately, “Quiet” is about MILCK’s struggle to overcome anorexia, anxiety, and depression to come into her own as a performer.  While Huda hasn’t had to face these exact problems, she has had to come to terms with her religion and family history, and I think this anthem describes her journey very well.



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