jdeena

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

Tag: culture

New YouTube Channel- Check It Out!

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.

The Evolution of Gender Roles

So lately I’ve had multiple debates about the roles of men and women in today’s society. Take a step away from cultural roles, because that’s a topic in itself. I am talking about the roles men and women play NOW, in 2015. It may seem that we have come a long way since the early 1900’s, and even towards the end of the 20th century women were starting to rise as powerful, professional members of society. But now, in 2015, with the possibility of a female president in our next election, I have seen many people (men and women alike) who have already started to advocate against Hillary as president. Their reason? She is a female, and therefore she should retreat into the role she was meant to fill: mother, wife, and respectable citizen of society- let the men run society.

It frustrates me when I hear these comments on radio, TV, and scrolling through my timeline on Facebook. Why shouldn’t she be president? Politics aside (because I don’t want to open that can, and I don’t want people assuming I do or do not support her), I think it is unfair to say that today, in 2015, we should not consider it an option to have a female president. Some excuses I’ve heard are: women are too emotional, she won’t be logical in her decisions, she will be neglecting her family, and she will give other women the idea that they can run for politics.

Well, DUH!

We need more people like Hillary. We need more women who are willing to step over that “line” that was drawn to segregate the genders. Why shouldn’t a woman be the CEO, the VP, the Senator, the President….if she is, in fact, perfectly qualified to do so? Just because she has certain anatomy that differs from that of a male, she should be punished? I never understand what people are thinking when they say things like “that’s not a role for women.” What is, then?

And, for that matter, who decided what role women should play in society? Who decided that women should be home taking care of the kids? Why is it not seen as masculine when the man stays home to raise the kids while his partner works? Or is that seen as noble and progressive? And if it is, why then when a women steps out of the home to work and pursue a career she is seen as selfish?

Our view of gender roles needs to change if we ever want to progress as a society. The sooner people realize that women are just as capable as men in holding a career and excelling at it, the easier it will be for people to sustain long-lasting, healthy relationships. One of the biggest obstacles I hear from females wanting to meet someone is that their life is unconventional from those who were married ten years ago, and so they are viewed as being unrelenting and difficult. But why? Why can’t the male be seen that way NOW, and for the last 100 years? And yet, when a woman decides to follow her goals, she is now being judged? Seems a bit unfair.

I met a girl who is a doctor, and she said that while she was studying to become a doctor, she was judged by people for being to driven, and not wanting to jump into marriage right after college. They asked her why she bothered with becoming a doctor. Then, when she was finally a doctor, people are now telling her she is arrogant about being a doctor and that she will never get married because men don’t want a woman who is more successful than them. Um…that doesn’t sound like it’s her problem. Sounds like some men are too insecure to be with a woman who has her shit together. That’s your problem guys, not ours.

I am not being unreasonable here. I am not saying men need to start carrying the child, and I am not saying women need to treat men the same way women were treated by men all these years- as second-class citizens and housewives. No, I am suggesting that women stand up and fight for what they believe is best for themselves, and for men to set aside their pride and old traditions to support these women. It is okay for a man to be proud of a woman who is driven, successful, and confident. It does not make you less of a man, I swear! But to continue to demean and degrade women who are making strides and following their dreams WILL make you look like less of a man.

I hope that with the emergence of social media and the plethora of stories and articles showcasing the achievements of great women, there will come a day when the question of gender roles will cease to exist. However, it could very well be that women will continue to make great strides while fighting this gender equality battle.

That, in itself, should show you how determined we will be.

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.

A Numbers Game

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of seeing one of my really good friends Nabil. Every time I’m in the DMV area, he makes time to see me, but nothing compared to this time because when he showed up he was so deathly ill, I thought he was going to collapse right in front of me. However, he pulled through (because he’s awesome like that), and we had one of the best 3 hour dinners I have ever experienced with anyone. Forget the fact that he told me some news that shocked me into a frenzied state of mind (still shook up about that FYI). We ended up discussing- which we usually end up doing anyways- relationships.

As a trusted friend of mine, I have always turned to Nabil for advice and a male’s perspective. Even when I was engaged or going through a breakup. Knowing him for ten years has given me the comfort and ease of opening up to him, and he- in turn- is candid in his responses. So at one point during our conversation, I was telling him about my last attempt at a serious relationship, where I gave the guy 3 months to make the commitment. And Nabil told me something I never would have thought about. He told me that 3 months was way too long. Because as short as our life is, we cannot afford to spend 3 months with each person we meet. His theory is that once we meet a person, we know within 10 minutes if we want to see them again. And within 24-48 hours, we know whether or not we like that person. So, at most, we will know whether or not that person is a compatible match for us within a week. And at the end of that week, as a female, we cut the guy off. If he is serious, the guy will come knocking down the door wanting to be with you. If he doesn’t, hey- you only spent a week with that fool.

I stared at him, trying to figure out if he was being serious. (He was.) But as he went on, I realized that his theory made sense. Why do we always drag things out? Yes, it is important to find out each others likes and dislikes, but you will never fully know the person no matter how many months you date. So maybe the idea that we focus on the positives from the start and have pure intentions for a solid commitment are what we need in order to find that partner. Plus, as a female, it helps us weed out the assholes who are just using you.

So all of what he said to me that night resounded in my head all weekend. I kept turning it over and over in my mind, trying to make sense of it. So if I met a guy today, I’d know in a week if I wanted a solid commitment with him? Could I really do that? And if I am doubting whether or not I could, wouldn’t that make ME the problem? Doesn’t that mean that I am the one running from commitment?

It’s true that I was the one who imposed a 3 month limit in my last relationship, but if the tables were turned, and he wanted to commit after a month, would I have agreed? That’s what scares me. Because I think I probably wouldn’t have. Because since then, I have had a few guys show their interest in a commitment, who in fact want to rush into an engagement almost right away, and I admit it scares the hell out of me. How can they be so sure about me? What if they find out my flaws and realize they made a mistake? I admit that I’m not an easy person to love. Not because you need to prove anything to me, but because I am so used to being on my own that I have a hard time letting someone love and care for me.

So, since Nabil told me I have nothing to lose, I plan on trying this new method. I just need to force myself into this state of mind that not every person will meet all my standards, but that I can overlook the not-so-important ones and focus on what really matters, which is (according to Nabil): physicality, religiousness, and character. All the other things are just minor.

After I made it back home from my vacation, I texted Nabil and he told me something that I will end with. He said: “It’s a numbers game. Just don’t hold on to one ticket too long. Keep swapping them out for newer tickets until one fits the bill.”

So that’s what I’ll do.

Missing: Gentlemen

Ladies, has it felt like recently there have been no gentlemen around? I mean real, actual gentlemen. The kind that walk into a room and command the attention. Whose presence is a compliment to any situation. Who carry themselves with class and distinction.

Since I travel a lot, I notice that there is a lack of true gentlemen gracing our society. I see groups of guys out who have no charm. Guys who are out for a “guys night” who remind me of high school jocks out for their first time. Guys who think American Eagle t-shirts and a hoodie count as “being dressed.” As a single female in her early 30s, I have to tell you that this is not appealing by any means.

Going out to a bar or club every time you “go out” is juvenile and classless. A true gentlemen engages himself in culture. He visits historical sites, museums, musical events that represent genres other than the top 40 hits. He holds doors open for women, not because he feels he has to, but because he knows women should be treated that way.

A true gentlemen dresses not only with style, but with purpose. Every accessory has a reason, and when assembled sets him apart from the rest. He wears clothes that fit him in every way: size, fashion, and atmosphere. A true gentlemen also surrounds himself with the same image that he portrays. The gentlemen he hangs out with are also distinguished and classy.

These gentlemen are far and few between. I have, however, come across one such group of gentlemen. I am highly impressed with the way they live. As a female, I can’t tell you how attractive it is to see true gentlemen such as these.

What’s even better is that they recently started a way of life for the young, male single business professional. How2Yolo has become more popular over the last couple of months. Their website how2yolo is great guide for all the guys out there who clearly need some direction in their life.

Ladies, do your male friends service by recommending they subscribe to their site. Guys, do yourselves and us females service by subscribing to it. The lack of true gentlemen in our society is abominable. As we get older, our options don’t have to diminish. We can all have that true gentleman in our life.