jdeena

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

Month: January, 2015

Feminism and Islam: Does it Mix?

The other day I posted the blog of the Christian woman who wrote about her decision to stop wearing yoga pants in order to respect her husband and the sanctity of their relationship. If she would have left her sentiments at that, I could have accepted it. After all, a woman has the right to save for husband what she wishes. However, she included in her post that before coming to this decision, she asked her female friends and her husband about what they thought of women who wear yoga pants, and her husband admitted that it would be hard for him “not to look” if a woman walked by in them.

Um, what? So your husband openly admits he might sneak a look now and then, and instead of telling him to avert his gaze, you make the decision to stop wearing them so other guys don’t look at you- because it’s disrespectful for your husband? What about all those other women still walking around in yoga pants? And now you will only wear yoga pants at home for your husband, but he is still out there looking at other woman in them. Seems like a useless decision.

This is what I have a problem with. Women who choose to stop wearing something “because men” something: can’t help themselves, might be tempted, might get the wrong idea about you. How about, men control their mouths, their hands, their thoughts? Don’t tell me men are animalistic by nature. Don’t tell me they are primal beings that have the gene of provider and pro-creator. We’ve come a long way from the Dark Ages.

As much as this topic is interesting, what I really wanted to get into was the debate that ensued after I posted this article. My point in posting it was obviously from a societal standpoint- that as women, we continue to be blamed for men’s reactions to what we wear. And that in order to get them to stop, WE have to change. As a feminist, that doesn’t sit well with me.

A few people came on to the post and told me that from an Islamic point of view, this is why we women cover- to avert mens’ gaze. However, I don’t believe that should be reason enough. And really, it is not meant to avert a man’s gaze, but more so to keep hidden the things you should only want to show your husband (which is subjective in my eyes, since I have many friends and family who have lived their life uncovered and are by no means bad people). Ok, so back to the comments. I was told that is a woman PROPERLY covers (meaning that I do not), she will not have men harassing her or looking at her in a lewd way. So basically, if I don’t want to be harassed, cover up.

BIG ISSUE HERE. Because I have had friends overseas who will cover completely, and men will still harass them. Men will cat-call a plastic bag if it has the right curves, okay? Regardless of what you wear, you will get harassed. I was wearing no makeup one morning, barely awake, and filling up gas. It was sunny so I had sunglasses on, and the guy at the pump next to me said “Hey ma, why don’t you take off those sunglasses so I can see your pretty face?” I’ve had guys hit on me at the gym (insert lame “let’s workout together” comment here) as I was red-faced, sweaty and panting for air. Some guys will just harass because they can. And yes…it IS harassment. It is unwanted attention, it is not a compliment. See previous post for rant on that.

Once I got everything out of my system on why men should not harass a woman regardless of what she wears, and once I advocated why women should be allowed to dress any way they choose without harassment, I was told that as a Muslim covered woman, I cannot support that ideal. Because my religion encourages women to cover, I cannot advocate on behalf of women who want to dress provocatively.

Wait, what?

So because I am a Muslim woman, I cannot fight for women to be able to wear what they want without fear of retaliation? I was told yes, because fighting for that goes against the very ideals that Islam instills in us. Which is that women should be covered and therefore will be protected. Of course, this did not sit well with me, as I feel a woman should be able to do whatever the hell she wants to do. I have many friends and family who are not covered, and so I will fight for their right to be uncovered and not harassed. It has nothing to do with religion, it has to do with the fact that women are HUMAN beings, not animals, and they deserve to walk out of their homes without worrying if a skirt above the knee will warrant unnecessary comments. Or that a pair of heels will not invite men to make disgusting comments about where else they can wear them.

So can I, as a Muslim woman, be a feminist? Well, I say yes, because here I am! I am fighting for women’s rights all over the world and I wear hijab and identify as a Muslim. Now, many people seem to have a problem with that, but guess what? I don’t care! Regardless of whether or not you think my ideals coincide with Islam, I am content with still upholding my traditional Islamic values while also fighting for female equality and proper treatment. I recently read an article about a woman who identified as a feminist while being Christian, and she spoke of many of the same issues I have discussed here as well (although she went a bit further). Here is a link to her post: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/worldview/christian-cleavage-probably-isnt-problem#o97qZSH5dpz14m3H.01.

It does stem a bit further than just Muslim women, so really, can we say organized religion and feminism cannot mix? As far as I can tell, yes, it can….it is those who doubt the power of the feminist movement and have yet to believe in its cause that seem to think it cannot. If you want to seemingly hide behind your scarf and use that as your shield against the “harassment” you go right ahead. But I will have no problem continuing to prove you wrong.

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Hot and Cold

So, something that I experience regularly with guys that I meet is this “hot and cold” relationship. You know what I’m talking about. When the guy seeks you out, pursues you relentlessly, makes you take down those walls you’ve built from the last jerk who broke your heart….and then once he’s done ALLLLL that work, he flips. He disappears-POOF!

I can never know what the heck happens at that point. It’s usually about a month or so into the relationship, and I will have just become used to the idea that, yes- maybe I can get married! Maybe there is a guy who really gets me after all! Oh happy day!

But all that is short-lived, because once the guy sees me give in, he changes his mind. This always happens to me, and it is so frustrating. I even ask the guy to PLEASE just be honest with me and let me know if things don’t seem to go the way he was expecting, just so I have the courtesy of a proper breaking-up. No such luck. Maybe because I am so outgoing and opinionated, they fear a really bad confrontation. Either way, they do me the favor of trying to weed out the cowards myself. So thank you.

However, recently, I had a guy actually come back after a month or so and actually apologize- and get this- EXPLAIN why he did what he did! Woah. That’s a bit much to take in. But it was refreshing nonetheless. So here is what happened:

I get a Facebook message of “sorry” and a picture of a bouquet of flowers. I tell him “not accepted.” We go back and forth, and I tell him how hurt I was. I mean, he was showing he was head over heels for me, and then when I was in his city visiting and texted him, he ignored me. It was pretty shocking and disappointing.

So finally, finally, after asking him what happened, he admits it. He was scared. Now, I know we women think of this excuse as a cop-out with most guys. But I am going to give this guy the benefit of the doubt. He said that he was afraid of me coming into town, him falling even harder for me, and then me leaving. We live about a 7-hour drive apart. We have known each other for about 2 years now. We have stayed in touch this whole time, and he always told me I was the perfect woman for him, but I never believed it. But since I was going to be visiting his city, I wanted to see what was really there, so we made plans. But the plans never happened, because he bailed.

That got me thinking; is this what happened with all the other guys? Did they realize something and were just too afraid to tell me? And if so, why did they feel they couldn’t talk to me about it? Am I a big scary monster? Maybe, and I just don’t know it. However, I still don’t believe that as an excuse. I mean, one of my ex fiances did this same exact thing- no explanation, nothing. But this has become such a habit with guys that I meet that it has started to really grate on me. I mean, give me the courtesy of an explanation at the very least. Don’t I deserve that as a human being?

I don’t usually like to speculate, but sometimes I can figure out why a guy has disappeared, and it’s not always favorable. I just wish I could know what goes on in their head. Do they just wake up one day and say “yea…not in the mood to talk to Jinan. EVER.”? I mean, one guy went from skyping me 3 times a day for 2 weeks straight to not responding to my texts, and deleting me off of social media (which I figure is because he posted a pic with a girl shortly after haha). Another guy went from forcing me to talk on the phone (which I hate) twice a day to not answering my calls the day he didn’t call me on his way to work as usual. Literally: hot and cold.

So, what is it then? Is it me? Or are they not yet ready for a commitment? And if it IS that, then why do they force me to break down my walls and open my mind to a relationship, when they themselves don’t want it? Is it a game then? Do they want to see how many girls they fool into falling for them?

Whatever the case, I now know what could be the excuse, thanks to this latest revelation. Quite possible the guy was scared. Which is a lame excuse, but an excuse nonetheless.

Or, quite possibly (and more believable), he was an ass. Either way, I learned my lesson. The next time a “hot” guy comes charging at me, I’ll be sure to extinguish him with my “cold” heart.

The Curse of Youth

This past weekend, I attended an event in Michigan. It was the 3rd annual Lebanese Student Association gala hosted by the student groups from 4 local universities. It was an extremely impressive event, with over 1000 attendees. The hall was beautiful;  really, it was worthy of a wedding. I was really impressed with the dedication of the students to come together and host such an amazing event.

I was there to support a friend who is on the board of one of the student groups. I was also seated with a some friends of mine who were also in college. So needless to say, I was at least 10 years older than the oldest person there. At first, everything was fine. We laughed and joked and I didn’t feel “old” except when they started asking me if I was still in school and how old I was. I still get a kick every time I see a shocked reaction to my age. One girl even said I looked 21 which is so untrue, but was sweet nonetheless.

When the dancing started, that’s when I started to feel my age. I remember the carefree feeling of not caring who I was dancing with at school events; I could look around and see myself surrounded by all my friends. And even though I knew some people at this event, they were, of course, distracted by being with their friends. Which I completely understand. So I just sat quietly and observed the youth in their element and reminisced about my youth.

And at that moment, it occurred to me that I would never be young again. It’s fine to LOOK young and to FEEL young, but I will never actually BE young again. And that thought depressed me. Because as much as I think that I’m still young, I really am not. I will be 33 in a few short months. And while I still don’t believe that age defines a person, I believe that there comes a time when you outgrow certain things.

Would I have had more fun if I was with people my age? Absolutely. And it wasn’t that my friends there were acting in a way that was unacceptable. They were just being their 20 year old selves.

Sometimes I wish I was still at that age, but would I want to go through my 20s again? I don’t think so, but then again I did make plenty of mistakes so I could always rectify that. But who’s to say I wouldn’t make different mistakes? This is the curse of youth- to never fully awaken and to continue to be surrounded by younger people, attend events with them, while the rest of the friends your age mature and move on with their lives. If I spent more time with people who were married, I’d feel more of an urgency to grow up.

I feel stuck in a place where I am suspended alone, caught between growing up and not wanting to grow up at all. I wonder if I could change my license to say I’m 25….but then again, too many people know me for me to be able to pull it off. So for now, I guess I will just have to live this curse until one day I outgrow it.