jdeena

Never settle for what is…come tomorrow it will be what was

Stop Shaming Non-Hijabi Muslim Women

In recent months, the conversation around Muslim women has shifted, both from the alt-right who seem to have a savior complex mixed with a violent need to save us from “oppression”, and the Muslim sheikhs who seem to follow our every move, both on and offline.

As a hijabi myself, it is SO FRUSTRATING to be attacked by conservative non-Muslims who claim I am un-American, and at the same time attacked by conservative Muslims claiming I am too liberal and need to wear my hijab to “better represent Islam the correct way”. And what way is that? Well, based on the sheikh of the day, it can vary from a woman who shouldn’t wear makeup to a woman who can’t leave her house, because- well, why would she if she finds a suitable man to marry her and “take care of her.” Blah.

There was actually a guy on Twitter who recently private messaged a Muslim girl to tell her that her selfie profile picture (mind you, just her face, and in hijab) turned him on so much he had to take a shower to re-cleanse himself. Yea, I’m being serious. Not kidding. It was the most disturbing thing I have seen since the racist, misogynistic Twitter attack on a black Muslim sister who commented on Drake’s album and compared it to memorizing Quran last year. This time though, the Muslim girl took the blame upon herself and APOLOGIZED for creating discomfort for this guy. It was a disaster. Twitter was in a frenzy, and my fingers were exhausted trying to fight off the hypocritical guys with shirtless avis who were shaming hijabis in makeup.

Yet, this is not what my post is about. Now that we hijabis have absorbed most of the controversy (since we are more visible in society), there is an emergence of hate directed towards Muslim women who DO NOT cover. At first glance, you can’t tell if they are Muslim. But usually they have a Muslim name, so they may get some non-Muslim commentary. However, the hate they seem to face the most comes from within their own communities. Yes, you heard me. Muslim men AND women (unfortunately) have labeled these women as shameful for not covering. They refuse to acknowledge their struggles that are just as tough as covered women, and even more so- because these women are not visibly Muslim, they work harder to promote a positive image of Muslim women while not really “looking the part.”

You’d think that burden would be bad enough, but now you have people telling these uncovered women that they are not fit to represent Islam because they are not adhering to true Islam, i.e. covering. Says who? Last time I checked, you’re not God. And when these women are out there fighting patriarchal and misogynistic ideals that have plagued our communities for years in order to improve the state of Muslims in America, HOW DARE YOU TRY AND TAKE THEM DOWN? A woman doing her best to serve the community, to stand up for social justice, to fight for marginalized communities, to CARRY OUT THE DECREE OF HER FAITH by serving humanity, is not good enough for you because she doesn’t cover? Muslim women come in all images- hijab, non-hijab, part-time hijab, abaya, niqab, skinny jeans, skirts, dress pants, leggings, makeup, makeup-free, and so much more. We are not autonomous. We are not one mold to be recreated over and over. We are individuals and we serve our Lord by wearing or not wearing hijab as it is our choice and we have control over such a decision.

So, the next time you decide you want to judge a Muslim woman by her hijab- or lack thereof- look back to the scholars and example of our Prophet PBUH, who spoke with kindness and drew people to Islam with his beautiful words and understanding of people. Only then will you know that this uncovered woman you so despise, is at a much higher level of faith than you.

*Dedicated to my non-hijabi sisters, with one in particular. I love you RM, keep fighting the good fight and your reward is with Allah <3*

 

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Here is my latest video on my channel: Depreciating Value. Enjoy!

Broken Seals, and Other Objectification of Women

I was on Twitter today, and saw a guy tweet the following:

“Teach your daughters to keep their virginity until marriage. Even on products it’s written ‘do not purchase if seal is broken.'”

WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK IS THAT?!

Sorry for the profanity, but seriously. Seriously. SERIOUSLY people! Who talks like that anymore? Who equates women and their virginity to seals on products, like a box of fucking Cheez-Its? It is so disturbing. Demeaning. And the thing is, these men (and some women) think it is perfectly normal to base a woman’s moral compass on whether or not she is a virgin. Since when did a woman’s virginity determine whether or not she is a good person? Yet I hear it over and over again.

Guys I meet online are quick to ask if I’m a virgin in the first few minutes of us corresponding. I ask why it’s important to know; they say it isn’t. Yet they continue to push for an answer that I refuse to give them. Not because I am ashamed, but because it’s none of their damn business.  How is that a concern so early in the conversation? Maybe down the line before an engagement or we’ve talked for more than 5 minutes, I might answer it. I MIGHT.

It’s not just the men who shame women for losing their virginity. How many times have we seen women shamed by women in real life, and in movies, books, etc.? Remember the movie Easy A with Emma Stone? Her best friend turns on her, calling her names and distancing herself. But why? Why is it such a bad thing for a woman to enjoy sex? It’s HER body and HER life. What she does with it has no bearing on anyone else. Yet women will slut-shame other women with ease. Whether it is because they themselves are virgins and can’t understand, or they are envious of a woman having that kind of control over her own sexuality- these women serve as the fuel for men to continue to judge a sexually active woman.

I have heard many guys talk about how they want to marry a woman who preferably hasn’t slept with any guys, because her giving her virginity to him is the most precious gift, and he wants to be the only one to receive it. (I literally just gagged typing that, and my fingers felt weird typing that out. Ew.) It’s like they fetishize virginity; it’s gross. Honestly, what guy wants to be the one to create that pain for a woman? What type of guy gets off on something like that? I’ll tell you who- the guys on dating sites looking for a “good” Muslim girl aged 20-25, when he himself is pushing 40. FUCK THAT. You’re a disgusting pig.

Parents who teach their boys to want a virgin, and the ones who teach girls they are worthless if they are not: just stop it. You are creating issues within our community that are the cause of relationships falling apart so quickly. Guys have unrealistic expectations, they shame a woman, and then spread it around town and ruin the woman’s reputation. Girls who are taught sex is bad are shamed to the point they don’t know what sex is and what happens, so come the wedding night she is literally terrified of her husband. She sees sex as a shameful, dirty thing, which then creates issues between her and her husband. I’m not saying let people run around and have sex, but properly educate your children on sex and answer their questions. Don’t let them feel ashamed.

Also, a woman being sexually active does not mean she should be susceptible to rape. Just because she has sex with multiple guys, it DOES NOT MEAN she should be blamed when she is raped. Sex without consent is RAPE, plain and simple. If she consents to sex with 100 guys and at 101 she refuses, IT IS HER RIGHT.

One more time if you didn’t get it:

IF A WOMAN CONSENTS TO SEX WITH 100 MEN AND AT 101 SHE REFUSES, IT IS HER RIGHT.

Not sure why how many sexual partners a woman has had has anything to do with whether or not she should have been raped. No guy has the right over any woman’s body, whether that man is her boyfriend, friend, husband, or stranger. If she says no, she means no. So let it go.

Lastly, stop objectifying women. Stop correlating our virginity to broken seals, flowers, wrapped gifts. Stop comparing covered and uncovered women to lollipops, pearls, chocolate. And for the love of God, stop treating women like sex slaves, auctioning us off to the highest bidding suitor based on our age and virginity status. This shit happened hundreds of years ago. Not now. Not anymore.

Women are more than just their sexual status. It’s about time we got rid of these backward ways and embraced a more open, judgement-free outlook.

I Was Victim-Blamed

I am exhausted.

Months have turned into years as I have struggled to change the perceptions of men in regards to the women in their lives. I have debated married men on why it is NOT ok for them to call their wives nags. I’ve had to correct young guys on comments they make about women’s clothing. I’ve had to tirelessly fight with my male friends on their stereotypes and misinformation of women.

And I am just.

So.

Tired.

What is it about our society that allows men to feel entitled to thinking and acting with no regard to women’s feelings? And some will actually defend themselves, telling me they were raised this way and nothing will ever change them. It frustrates me so much when someone says that to me. That they can’t change, and I can’t expect centuries of teachings and societal norms to change overnight. That I should adapt myself to how things are because I’m just one person, while they are millions.

I never thought I’d have to experience this first-hand. And then this happened.

The other day, I was asking my (male) friend why another (male) friend has recently been acting aggressively towards me. We used to be fine; laugh and joke, text, go out to grab coffee or whatnot. But lately he has been very mean, calling me names, telling me to shut up when I talk. So my friend said: “Jinan, remember when a couple months ago I asked why **** has started become a little too touchy-feely with you? And you talked to him and told him to stop and that you didn’t welcome that behavior?”

I looked at him through narrowed eyes and said “Yeah…so?”

He replied, “Well, he’s probably mad you said that to him and is acting out. You can’t really blame him, you gave him an open door for that behavior early on so he has every right to be mad.”

I looked at him, my mouth gaping open, and said “Are you really blaming me right now for him treating me like shit?!”

“Well, you are pretty flirty with a lot of people, so he thought he could approach you that way and when you rejected him he felt like you were playing him all along” he said.

I was in absolute shock. Stunned. Did I just get blamed for being a friendly person? And then get blamed for telling a guy that his behavior was unwanted? What the hell was happening!

I was being victim blamed.

I don’t think that had ever happened to me before. As I sat there, trying to go over every interaction I had ever had with ****, I suddenly snapped out of it and turned on my friend.

“HOW DARE YOU blame me for this! I never gave any indication that I was interested in ****, and even if I was and I changed my mind, he has NO RIGHT to treat me this way just because he feels rejected.”

He said, “Well maybe you should change the way you act, so this doesn’t happen again.”

There it was. Full-blown victim blaming. Nothing about how **** should change HIS behavior. Always on the woman to change things so she doesn’t suffer the wrath of an insecure, jilted man-boy. And people tell me this doesn’t happen anymore. Ha.

I told my friend “why don’t you tell HIM to not treat me like shit instead of telling me to change my ways. That sounds like more of the right thing to do.”

His reply, “Well, it’s just easier if you change. Because other guys will think the same way **** did, and you can’t change all those guys. You’re just one person. And they’re…well, millions.”

There it was. The reason why things would never change. Why I feel like all my fights for gender equality and breaking down gender walls was all for naught. If my own friend, a guy who has an open mind about SO MUCH, could still view this issue through the eyes of our grandparents….what was I doing really? What had I actually changed?

I told my friend that if he actually talked to **** and told him that his behavior was wrong, not mine, then that was how things would change. The fact that he resorted to asking ME to change, instead of chastising **** was a prime example of why things never WOULD change. But they COULD, if only the narrative would shift from blaming the woman to blaming the man.

Yet no matter how I tried that night, my friend was not convinced. And so, I picked myself up and walked the walk of hurt, feeling his eyes on my back as I retreated, defeated back to my life as a victim of blame.

My only crime? Being myself. In a world where if that does not fit what a man wants you to be, can be used against you. Over and over again.

Women Are Not Your Slaves

It’s been a while, lovely readers. The past few months have been tumultuous, with job searching, interviews, emotional and physical struggles. But I am always assured that coming back home to my blog will make things right in this world. To keep myself occupied (and earn some income) I took a job as a server at this new hookah lounge in Toledo. I went there sometime back in July to write (coincidentally, the last post I have on here), and the owners offered me the job based on my background in restaurant experience and customer service. It’s a fun job, very laid back, and although standing on my feet for 7-9 hours is exhausting, I’ve met some great people.

However, I have also met some not-so-great people, mostly males. Arab males to be exact. So before I took the job, my bosses failed to mention that the majority of their customers are men. Mostly Saudi students from the university nearby, but also men from the community. At first, it didn’t bother me much that these were the majority of my clients. Well, the Saudis bothered me because they don’t tip well (or at all). But slowly, I started to realize certain behaviors from these customers that have since propelled me to speak up even if the time and place isn’t exactly opportune.

For instance, when asked about my status (relationship, of course) most of the males are shocked to hear I am 34 and single. Many will see me work every night and make a comment like “you should find yourself a man and get married so you won’t have to work.” The first time a guy said that, I looked at him and said “why? So I can sit at home with the kids and take care of the house for him while he works?” He said, yes, that life is a much better fit for a woman, and this way she won’t be worrying about living expenses because- lucky her!- she has a man doing it for her. Um, no thanks dude.

There are two types of married men who come into the lounge. The first type are the ones who will hit on the servers even though they make it clear they are married. These guys are scum no matter what anyone says. How dare you defend a man who is married, with children at home, who finds nothing wrong with stepping out on his marriage for the “fun of it?” This one customer actually pointed his ring finger at a server and said “look, I’m married, but I want to take you out after your shift.” She said no, and he kept pursuing it, going as far as leaving her a large tip at the end of the night. I know who he is and who his family is and I could easily shame him in the community, but what good would that do? I’d probably end up being the one who is shamed for exposing him, as that is “unlady-like.” Fuck off.

The other type of married man is the sexist misogynist. These guys come in almost every night and stay until close, hanging out with other married men. They never bring their wives. I know the majority of them and know they are married, so one day I asked a group of them why they don’t ever bring their wives. One replied “we have 4 kids, who else will babysit?” I stared at him in disgust and told him “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize your wife is your babysitter.” He gave me  a dirty look (because God forbid I call him out in front of his friends). The other guy with him told me that his wife goes out with her friends other places, during the day while the kids are in school. So I asked if she ever gets to go out at night, and he said she can’t because they don’t have anyone to watch them and they don’t trust babysitters. When I suggested maybe he could watch his own kids- gasp!- he stared at me blankly, as if the concept was foreign to him.

Another married man calls in on his way home from work for me to get his hookah ready, as he usually only has 45 minutes or so before going home for dinner with his family. The one day he was talking to one of my bosses, and his wife started calling. He groaned and silenced his phone, then started a tirade against his wife, calling her a nag. I was sitting there and looked up from my phone and replied “well maybe she wouldn’t be a nag if you didn’t force her to stay at home with the kids and allowed her a life of her own.” He laughed and said “oh, now look, we have a feminist amongst us!” As if me advocating for women to be something other than an imprisoned housewife is something to be laughed at.  Asshole.

Now, when any of these men tell me that I should get married, I say “why? So I can be like your wives who sit at home with your children, cleaning your house and washing your clothes, just so you can be here smoking for 4 hours while you piss me off with your misogynistic rhetoric? No thanks.” I know a hookah lounge is probably not the best place to argue my feminist points, but when this is all I see every day, I can’t help it. It’s an uncomfortable feeling when one of these men tells me a hookah lounge is no place for a woman, but they have no problem with me serving them or them looking down our other server’s blouse.

They want to be hailed for keeping their women at home and “protected” from men just them; men who will ogle and harass the few women who do enter the lounge. Men who seem to have an opinion on everything I do: smoking hookah, living away from home, being single, and not wanting kids. They want to “fix” me; they want me to be just like the women in their lives. Why? Because I scare them with my decisiveness and independence. I talk back; I fight. I make it clear that the lives they have provided for their wives hold no interest for me. I’d rather be working 48 hours a week, exhausted and weary, driving my old car and living with roommates, than live in their mansions and drive their luxury cars with a diamond as big as a pistachio as a center stone.

The talk I hear about women from the men who come in either show them as sexual conquests or their domestic employee. But women are not your damn slaves; we were not created to do things FOR you. Unfortunately so many women feel as if they have no choice because of the way they were raised. So what we need now is a revolution, one where women will start shutting down these men and their ideas of what it means to be a woman in this world. Only then will men start to realize that we will no longer be silent in the face of their sexism and misogyny.

Muslim Women, Stand Your Ground

Some people might argue that being a covered Muslim woman in America right now is just about the worse thing that could happen to me. With the heightened Islamaphobia and the attacks on Muslim at an all-time high, it is normal that any time I go out, I am told to be careful and watch my surroundings. Call me careless or irresponsible, but I haven’t taken heed of their warnings. Why? Because I don’t want to. In doing so, I will no longer be the carefree, fearless woman that I am. And because just like the islamaphobes don’t want the “terrorists to win”, I don’t want their ignorance to win either.

In wearing the hijab for twenty years now, I have become so comfortable in my identity that no amount of hate will make me second-guess my worth as an American. Yes, I am different. So is everyone else. To allow the fear instilled in me by my family and friends to take over my life would be counterproductive to my mission as a Muslim woman in this country. Instead of fading into the background of society, I feel more empowered to wear my hijab and venture out into the world. More than ever, we need to be visible and become the voice for Muslims, to speak out against bigotry and hate in order to educate the ignorant masses that surround us.

I know that there are many legitimate instances where Muslims have been targeted. I will not discount those. However, what bothers me lately are the Muslims who have decided to retreat into safer waters by blending into society. For example, some people have suggested that women in hijab should not make their hijab so apparent- such as wearing a hat or hoodie instead so as not to be a target. Or having men shave their beards so as not to appear menacing. To those people I say: you are a part of the problem. What we need now more than ever is to be ourselves. Changing and becoming less visibly Muslim will not change the conversation around Islam in America.

When it comes to Muslim women in hijab, another thing we need is support from our Muslim male allies. Instead of voicing your concerns for us after every terror attack, how about you voice your admiration for us being unapologetically ourselves. You know that after 9-11, my father suggested to my sister an I to take off our hijabs if we felt scared for our lives. We both looked at each other and had the same answer: never. To take it off would allow hate to win. And for me, that decision became the gateway to years of advocacy where I was invited to speak in non-Muslim communities and all around my college campus to teach people about Islam. THAT is what we need now.

Let me give you a real example. Yesterday, my sister called me and told me she finally got a job in her new city, Knoxville, Tennessee. She wears hijab, so we were worried that she would face discrimination. It was her second day on the job, and a client apparently was upset that she was working there, and he voiced his concerns to a manager. My sister overheard the strained conversation and after the client left, she asked the manager what the conversation was about. Her manager seemed hesitant to relay the information, but my sister assured her there was nothing she hadn’t heard before. So the manager told her that the client was saying that “her kind doesn’t belong here” and that she needed to “go back to where she came from.” And then the manager burst into tears.

My sister asked her why she was crying, and she said she just doesn’t like how hateful people are. My sister consoled her and told her it was okay- that most people say these things because they are uneducated. And from that incident, my sister was able to start a conversation with her manager about Muslims and hijab. She showed her a picture from her wedding and told the woman that wearing hijab on her wedding day made her feel like the most beautiful woman in the world. And that in wearing the hijab for the last 20 years, she has become so much more secure in herself and her identity. The manager was impressed by how my sister turned an awful situation into a teachable moment, and did so with grace and compassion.

It is so easy for us to get upset when someone makes a hateful remark about our hijab. It takes a very strong woman to turn a bad situation into a good one. My sister is one of the strongest women I know, and I admire her for her ability to act with grace under pressure. And now, she has the opportunity to teach her colleagues at her new job about Islam, which never would have happened if not for the reaction of that client.

So, to all my fellow Muslims out there: do not be frightened by the sensationalization of the hate you see online. Yes, we are experiencing the highest instances of Islamophobia since 9-11, but that does not mean that we cannot rise above and use this time to teach others about who we are. Do not cower in fear. Be strong and humble, and while it is smart to stay aware of these issues, do not let it diminish your identity. After all, America is the land of the free, where freedom of religion is a right. So use your voice and make yourself visible. It’s the only way we can stand united against hate.

Nice Guys Finish Last- Because They Want To

This isn’t going to be a nice post- not like any of mine usually are. But I am pretty wound up, and I’m feeling a rant coming on. So I, of course, want to share it with you, my loyal followers.

Every article about relationships lately seems to focus on the f*ckboys. You know these types of guys- the ones who seemingly use women just for sex, but mask it as a deep interest in her in order to achieve their goal. They act so sweet and understanding, and after they get what they want, they disappear. We hate these guys, right? They’re scum; they don’t deserve our time. So we dial up our girlfriends and rant. We cry and swear we are never going to talk to another guy like that. We promise each other to alert the other when they start to fall under their very effective spells. We take a deep breath, and vow to only go for nice guys from now on.

But…what if the nice guys are just as bad as the f*ckboys?

And trust me on this. They can be. Because while a typical jerk will make it known he only wanted you for the sex, a nice guy will pretend he doesn’t want it. But he does. Yes. He. Does.

The nice guy will try and talk you off the ledge after a jerk has hurt you. He will claim that you are too good for that kind of treatment, and that you need to stick to guys who truly care about you. Like him! He will tell you that you can open up to him, and tell him anything. He is your friend and shoulder to cry on. He will ask you to let down those walls so he can slide in and offer comfort, while secretly plotting his deceiving move. He gets you to trust him. He’s one of the “girls” so “tell me anything.”

So you do. You feel lucky to have someone like him in your life. You thank him and tell him just that. After a while though, the conversations start to shift. They’re starting to sound like the texts you get from f*ckboys. “Send me a pic” he says. And you’re confused because you don’t understand why he’s asking. You ask as much, and he says that he’s different, because obviously he’s spent months putting you back together after the last heartbreak. But when you refuse, he gets mad. He tries to make you feel guilty.

He asks again, and you still refuse. Now he’s angry. He starts accusing you of not trusting him. He points out how you sent pics to other guys who weren’t as deserving as him. You’re shocked at this behavior, and tell him as much. He stops talking to you for a few days, then comes back and asks again. Now you are angry. No longer confused. Because a pattern has started to develop. And the guy whom you thought was nice, is actually a f*uckboy himself.

Except this is worse. Because he played it off like he was a “nice” guy, but nice guys don’t do this. At least I don’t think they do. Right? Well, maybe they do. Maybe there is no such thing as an actual “nice” guy. Because at the end of the day, they all act the same, don’t they?

Nice guys just take a little longer to get there.

 

Married Men Cheat

Oh, I know I am going to get a lot of hate for this post. And it’s probably a subject that most people will shy away from, but it has become so common in my life that I need to address it.

Married men cheat.

Yes, they do. Oh boy, do they! I remember reading a statistic once that about 80% of married men cheat. I laughed at the time, thinking to myself that there is absolutely no way the number could be that high. But after seeing and experiencing advances from many married men, I can see how that number could be true. Now, before you start to blame me for their actions, such as saying that I lead them on, or I manipulate them, read on.

I don’t go out of my way to meet married men. More than half the time I don’t even know they are married. Rings do come off you know. And if the guy does not mention a wife or kids, how am I supposed to know?

By the way, I know married women cheat as well- I’m not going to deny that fact. However, this post is based off my personal experience, which is why I am focusing on married men.

The first time a married man approached me, I was hanging out with friends at a cafe. The guy was seated across the room from me, and he kept looking over. Towards the end of the night, he approached me and made small talk. He seemed nice enough, and he had no wedding ring on. So when he asked for my number, I said ok. We exchanged information, and he said he’d call me so he could take me out to dinner. As soon as he walked out, our waiter (whom I knew) came over and asked me what the guy wanted. I told him, and he looked at me and said “Jinan, he’s married. And he has four kids.”

I was appalled. Seriously? He came up to me that casually, asked me for my number with the intent to take me out and he was MARRIED? What the hell! So I thanked my friend, and decided to see if the guy would even contact me. He did, later that night. In order to not assume anything about him upfront, I played along, not wanting to unfairly accuse him of something until I was sure. Maybe he was looking to offer a business opportunity, or something else along those lines. However, the conversation was anything but professional. When I hinted at the fact that I knew he was married, he got upset and said it wasn’t true. I told him I knew for a fact that he was, and that he was lying, and he finally admitted he was but he was unhappy and looking for companionship. I told him that if this was true, he would need to tell his wife, get divorced, and then contact me. He did not like that, and I ended the conversation by asking him to never contact me again.

The next time it happened, a guy messaged me on Facebook. I didn’t know who he was, but we had one mutual friend in common. As the conversation became inappropriate (from his end, not mine) I felt so repulsed that I texted our mutual friend (who was a close friend of mine) and asked him what this guy’s deal was. He asked me why and I told him. That’s when he said “Jinan, he’s married.” WHAT THE HELL! I went back to the guy, told him I knew he was married, and he gave me the excuse that he was “separated.” I asked my friend, and he said no, he is definitely still married. I told this guy as much and he got upset, saying that he knows his life better than anyone, and if he says he is separated, then he is. I told him that may be, but I wouldn’t consider talking to him until he was fully divorced, or had a legal separation notice. He didn’t like that. Our conversation was over at that point, and I blocked him.

I could probably go on and on with similar stories, some of them worse than others, but I won’t. I’m sure you get the idea. Unfortunately, I do not have friends who know all the married men who have approached me, so I don’t find out until after we have gone out. I mean really, how am I supposed to know? I’m sure there have been times when I have never found out. That is the part that really pisses me off. If you are that good at hiding your marriage, what else are you capable of?

Here’s my take on men like that: you are all cowards. You live a life where you lie, constantly. You lie to your wife, to your kids, to me- and most importantly, to yourself. You claim you are unhappy in your marriage. Well, guess what? You can get a divorce. You claim you are trapped, and can’t divorce because you love your kids and you’d lose them. Well then, pick a side. You cannot have the fun without facing the responsibility as well. You feel tied down? Then don’t get married! It really drives me crazy when guys will get married- because duh, it’s what they are supposed to do- and still expect to have the fun of a single guy. If you are not ready to uphold the values of a married man, it’s simple- DO NOT GET MARRIED.

You may think these guys are random men, but let me explain something to you. These men are my friends’ husbands. They are prominent men in the community. They are men who sit on boards of reputable charities. Men who seem like the most religious type on the outside, but have the sickest, most twisted thoughts swarming around their head. You may want to blame me at this point, and ask me why I engage with these men. Do you know what it takes to get an unhappily married man to spill these things? Pretty much nothing. If you even engage in a conversation, and you are a single female like I am, married men will start dropping hints in the conversation early on to gauge your interest. They will throw in winking and heart emojis after you’ve answered a basic question about work or an event. They will want to “drop by” your hotel room to help you with conference materials, or ask you to stop by theirs to look over their speech.

Don’t tell me that married men are innocent. Maybe a small percentage are, but the majority need to realize that some of us won’t keep it quiet. They use their power and authority to intimidate, but let me tell you something: I WILL reveal names if it continues. I WILL send screenshots to your wives and fellow board and community members. I have no problem being seen in a negative light for a moment, if only to reveal the HYPOCRISY of the married men in our community.

I know a lot of women want to have the ideal marriage where they feel they can trust their partner. That is so admirable. I applaud you. But just remember that your husband is not perfect, and at some point he will be tempted, just like I am sure you will be. I am not saying monogamy doesn’t work. I am just saying that as humans, we cannot expect people to be without faults. I have come to terms with that, and if I ever get married, I will realistically recognize that my husband may step outside the marriage at some point. It doesn’t make me naive. It makes me smart. But to you married men out there who think YOU are smart, I have to tell you that you are sorely mistaken. You may cheat on your wives and try to justify it any way you can- she doesn’t appreciate me, we don’t have sex anymore, we drifted apart- but the truth will always be there when you look at yourself in the mirror.

And that truth is: you are a CHEATER.

 

Why We Need Male Feminists

I was having a conversation with one of my male friends, and he was telling me about his day. It was a pretty typical conversation for us- we usually text every night or every other night, the things we discuss ranging from typical (work, family, gym) to more elaborate (politics, religion, feminism). This conversation started typical, then took a turn for the worse, simply because my male friend did not realize that in discussing a specific thing that happened at the gym, he had crossed the line into misogyny.

I try and be more understanding of my male friends, because I know none of them (or I’d hope to believe that) are actual misogynists. Sometimes they say things that seem funny, or inoffensive, when- in fact- they actually are very offensive. Sometimes I point it out, and sometimes I let it go.

I could not let it go this time.

While describing his workout for the day, my friend referred to the thigh abductor machines as the “good girl/bad girl” machines. At first, I overlooked the comment, because I wasn’t sure what he was talking about. I personally had never heard anyone use those terms in a gym to describe any machine or exercise. When prompted, he explained which machines they were- the ones where you spread your thighs open against weights, and the other when you press your thighs together.

My mouth actually fell open at these descriptions. He thought it was funny.

I did not.

To have such a disgusting view of a machine at a gym stems from a much bigger problem than just the name. Think about what those terms indicated: a “good girl” would close her legs, while the “bad girl” spread them apart. See the problem?

Why are we still valuing and labeling women by their sexual lifestyles? Why do we place such disgusting labels on women in the first place? Do we do that for men? No. We don’t. Yet somehow we think it is ok to continue to label women in this way.

I pointed out as much to my friend, and his initial reaction was laughter. He thought my response was funny. Why? Because he felt I was overreacting. He said “it’s not a big deal” and that I “take things too seriously” and “that’s just what the guys at the gym call them.” Ohhhhh, ok. My bad. Since everyone seems to call them that, I MUST be overreacting! Let me test that theory.

I asked three male friends of mine if they had ever heard of those terms before. They said they had not. And they are avid gym-goers. However, it doesn’t mean that my other friend was lying- maybe it’s a regional thing. Regardless, those words were said. And while my friend laughed, the fight for women’s equality was set back another 10 years or so.

What people don’t seem to realize about feminism is that true feminism- not white feminism- believes that women should be treated with respect, and be afforded the same opportunities and rights that men have had for, well, ever. It really gets me when men feel they have the right to tell you how to react or feel towards something. And that is exactly what my male friend was doing when he laughed and told me I was overreacting.

We need more male allies; we need male feminists. Actually, it perplexes me why most men don’t say they are a feminist- if you are human, why wouldn’t you support such a movement? But when I brought this up to my friend, he said that he couldn’t stand against these types of comments because “the other guys will laugh at him and call him a p***y.”

Seriously? That word had always triggered something in me, especially because how is it an insult to be called a woman’s private part? Come on. Seriously. Stop it.

But to all the males out there, why do you care so much if your fellow “bro” makes fun of you or calls you names? Do you think what they are doing is right? Do you AGREE with them? No? Then it’s simple- stop them from continuing this. The problem with male allies isn’t that they join in and continue this misogyny. The problem is that they stay silent- and some think that staying silent is a form of support. In a way, I’m glad you aren’t dumb enough to join in these conversations, and that you somewhat respect women.

However, that is not enough. When you hear a guy make a comment about a girl as she walks by, and you see her uncomfortable with his cat-calling, maybe you should tell him to stop. Maybe you should tell him that it isn’t ok to treat women this way. Because honestly, that is what we want to see. Not to see you stand next to him, staring at the ground as he harasses me as I walk on by. You, at that moment, are just as complicit.

Imagine if one guy in each group stood up to their friends and said stop. Imagine how many more women would feel safer walking in the street. How many more women would not feel insecure working out in the weights section at the gym. I always feel insecure doing my squats because the guys openly stare. Why though? Never seen a woman in your life? Maybe you concentrate on your reps on the rowing machine, and try to keep your back straight instead- because dude, you’re doing it all wrong.

I have a lot of guy friends. And if I cannot see any support from them in regards to feminism, then they can no longer be a part of my life. I said as much to my friend towards the end of our conversation, and he told me I was being “dramatic.” How is wanting your social circle to be filled with positive people who uplift you being dramatic? I cannot be friends with someone who laughs at my pain. Who seems my offense as an overreaction.

After a few days, my friend came back and apologized. He said that after thinking about it, he realized why those terms were offensive. He promised never to use them. He won’t stop others if they use it, but that’ll be the next step. I was just happy to know that he finally understood me. And that is all I wanted.

Someday soon, he will be a feminist. He just doesn’t know it yet.

 

 

Online Dating Woes, Part 2

So last week I joined another dating website. I figure that I need to try all avenues before truly giving up on ever finding a partner. So, I filled out my profile, writing about my passions, my activism, my writing. I filled out all of the categories. I put together a really great profile, if I do say so myself. Of course, I did add a few pictures, as I personally loathe it when someone has one grainy photo of himself.

Imagine my surprise when almost every single message I received was about my looks. And they weren’t even clever openers. For example:

TypicalGuy1 (not his real screen name): You look gorgeous.

Me: That’s because I am. Anything else in my profile catch your attention?

TypicalGuy1: To be honest your shirt that has your country’s flag.

Me: Ok…anything else you READ in my profile not related to my pictures catch your attention?

TypicalGuy1: Why? Do I have a quiz?

Me: Well, if the only thing that prompted you to contact me was my looks, then I’m not interested. I have more to offer than my looks.

I have yet to hear back from him.

WHY? Why is it that with everything I have to offer, my looks are what drive men to contact me? Oh, I know, initially something has to prompt you to want to talk to someone, but I would hope that after my looks, reading my profile and seeing all that I do would be more of an incentive to want to talk to me. What I really want to say when a guy tells me “you’re so hot” or “wow you’re gorgeous” is “yea, I know.” Because I do know. I am not being conceited. I know I have good looks. And enough people have said it that over the years I’ve started believing it. But that is NOT what I want to be known for.

The other thing that annoys me are the questions about my virginity. Why is it that every single guy just HAS TO ask that within five minutes of conversation? Are we really that regressive that we still judge women by their sexuality? Why does it matter either way? When I bring these points up after being asked, I am told to “calm down” and that I am “overreacting.” Overreacting? Did I ask about your sexual status? Did I try and judge you solely by something that neither is your business nor your right to know?

So here I thought this dating site would be different. Here I thought that I would be able to find some men who were more enlightened. Not to say I haven’t has some decent guys message me. I have. Or I have, somewhat. So many are getting smarter, and will mask their misogyny by pretending to be interested in me, but then once we exchange numbers, turn it all around. Thank God for being able to block numbers.

Lastly are the Muslim guys who will flat out judge me for being on this site. Um, hello- you are as well! Why is ok for you and not me? For example:

TypicalGuy2: Why are you on here? (yes, his opening line)

Me: For the same reason as you, I suppose.

TypicalGuy2: Isn’t that inappropriate for someone like you?

Me: How so? I’m just trying to meet someone.

TypicalGuy2: Well, I’m just looking out for you, I don’t think it’s right.

Me: I don’t need you to lookout for me, I can take care of myself.

TypicalGuy2: So you’re being a bitch to me and I’m trying to help you. Nice.

Me: This conversation is over.

TypicalGuy2: Why? Because I was trying to be nice and you’re a bitch? That’s the thanks I get?

Me: Conversation is over.

He continues to message me, until I finally block and report him. As if I need harassment on top of his judgement. Seriously, what is wrong with you men?

Bottom line: using any online dating site leaves you to be disappointed. People are rarely who they say they are, their pictures are usually not current (or even of them), and every guy feels like a big man behind the screen- meaning he will harass, berate, or judge you if you reject his lame advances. You might ask why I continue to torture myself, and the answer is simple: it’s hard for me to meet people, regardless of all the traveling I do. It’s nice to be able to talk to someone and get to know them, and even meet up once we are both comfortable.

And, if nothing else, all these experiences make for a good blog post. So for now, I will continue to put myself out there, hoping that someday all my efforts and patience will pay off.