jdeena

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

Tag: society

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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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.

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

Forced to Marry

I see it every day, all over my newsfeed and social media: girls are forced into marriage. No, I’m not talking about overseas in some remote country. I am talking about here in the US.  You might be thinking “Jinan, you are CRAZY!” but let me explain what I mean.

I know women have the right to choose their partner in Islam. I know no one can actually force you to get married. However, culturally, I feel that we are still bound by the obligations passed down from one generation to another. Think about it: when a woman says she doesn’t want to get married, what is your first reaction? Probably horror. Or, let me put it this way: when you meet a woman and ask her age, what is your reaction if she is over 30 and still single?

I am not singling myself out in this post, although I do face both scenarios quite often. But I am trying to open your eyes to a bigger issue in our society- one where a woman’s marital status and her ability to bear children is valued more than anything else she can offer. Just scrolling though social media and seeing how many comments a woman gets when she posts an engagement or wedding picture versus one of her new promotion or a solo trip she’s taken is enough to prove my point. However, it doesn’t seem to be enough for people to be convinced that we- as a society- are obsessed with marriage.

That point alone could have been enough to push me away from that institution; yet I chose to still become a part of it at the age of 27, when I first got engaged. To be honest (and I didn’t admit this at the time), I didn’t want to get married. I did it because my parents were becoming more and more frustrated with me, I was close to thirty, and the guy seemed decent enough. Everyone I knew would always tell me they thought something was wrong with me because I just wasn’t jumping to get married. What can I say? I just felt like I wanted to be on my own, and that I’d never find a guy who could tear me away from my singleness.

So, I got engaged. I went through the motions, made everyone happy -and then just as quickly- disappointed everyone when I took off the ring and left it on the bathroom sink before work one day. It was just two months shy of our wedding day. Yet I felt freer than I ever had that day.

Of course, everyone told me that I shouldn’t give up, and that I needed to keep an open mind. So I did, and I entered into yet another serious relationship that would be the beginning of the demise of my character.

Our culture fails to understand that we of this generation are looking for more than just a man to support us. We want a partner, someone we can love and respect and build an empire with. This second relationship chipped away at my self-confidence over 9 months. By the end of it, when he decided he wasn’t ready to get married, I was the shell of a human being. I was devastated and went into a depression so deep it consumed me. I felt lost, confused, and unmotivated. I was sure no one would ever love me, and spent my days crying and wondering what was so wrong with me that no one wanted to marry me.

And that was it- the breaking point. I went to therapy, and she asked me “why do you feel you need a man to love you to make you feel valid?” And it was such a simple question. Yet all my life, I was taught that marriage is half my faith and my culture made me feel that without a man I was nothing. I mean, just look at the questions we are asked when we meet people: How old are you? Oh, are you married? Oh, why not? I mean, are we seriously validating a woman by her marital status?

So since that day in my therapist’s office, I have vowed to work on loving myself. I have thrown myself into work and activities, focused on my writing and activism, and learned to be alone. I have a great circle of friends, but they are all married. So to count on their company proved fruitless. I go to movies alone, I go to restaurants alone; hell, I even travel alone! It’s empowering and liberating, but even more so, it shows that a woman does not need a man in order to enjoy life. I am not saying I will never get married; but I will definitely be enjoying the journey until that happens.

Do I get questions from my family and friends? Always. Everyone is scared of the “single girl” especially when she is so content in her singleness. But no matter; I don’t let it bother me. I have learned to laugh it off, and to focus on what is important to me. The way I look at it is, this is my life. Not theirs. To live your life for others will mean you will never truly live. So be content in your choices, as I have become.

They won’t like it, but then again, who cares?

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.

World Hijab Day, and Why I’m Against It

So this past Sunday was the 2nd World Hijab Day, a day where non-Muslim women are encouraged to don the hijab to “see what it’s like wearing hijab.” This even was started in 2013, and as noble the idea is, I can’t help but have a few reservations about those celebrating it; Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

What is the premise behind this event? So a non-Muslim woman can wear hijab and see what we, hijabis, go through on a daily basis. Now, I know that some girls do get comments and are harassed sometimes. I will not say it doesn’t happen. However, having worn hijab for 18 years now, my incidents have been far and few between. Yes, some people will stare, some will make a comment (I’ve been called terrorist and oppressed), but you will find those incidents in any social interaction in society. If I didn’t wear hijab, I’d be harassed as a woman. If I wasn’t a woman, I’d be harassed for the way I look….and on and on it goes. Because you will NEVER be fully accepted in society, no matter who you are.

So let’s say the woman wearing hijab for a day DOES get harassed. Now she will feel pity at the women who do wear it daily. She will also feel some resentment towards a religion that mandates a woman to succumb to that type of ridicule. No, she will not understand that the struggles we face will be rewarded. It might seem like a sweet idea to believe she will, but because she does not understand Islam, she really won’t see it that way.

That leads me to the second point; the women wearing the hijab for a day do not understand Islam, nor do they have the emotional connection to hijab and what it truly means. They have it on for a day- not a lifetime- so they will not truly respect the idea as someone who knows they have to wear it for years to come. It takes a certain type of person to understand that when you wear hijab, you are preparing yourself for a lifetime of possible hardships. To wear it for one day and then go back to your old self will not give you the full experience.

But here I am talking about IF they DO have an experience. Because honestly, most will not. If you wear for hijab for one day, you most likely will not experience harassment. I go out every day to the gym, grocery store, shopping areas, etc….and I never get harassed. I get looked at yes- but I like to think it’s because of the smile on my face, or something I’m wearing. We can’t always assume someone is looking at us because of our hijab. How self-centered can you be? I travel a lot for work, and the last time I flew, I had two flights each way to my destination, and on each flight, the person I was seated next to was welcoming and asked me lots of questions. There was no fear and no ignorance.

So assume these non-Muslims wear hijab for a day- AND NOTHING HAPPENS. No one looks at them, no one says anything to them….they are treated as a regular person. And again the possibility of this is much higher than the opposite reaction. So now these non-Muslims will wonder “what the heck are hijabis complaining about all the time- they don’t get harassed! No one views them differently. So why all the fuss? This is what you wanted me to experience? Hijabis don’t have it harder than anyone else.”

Also, whatever happened to hijab making women feel empowered? Why do we want people to wear it to feel how oppressed we feel in it? It’s like asking someone to dress in blackface to see how it feels to be black. One, that would never work; there would be such an uproar on how disrespectful it is. Black people know that if a white person donned blackface for a day, their experiences will never measure to the ones they face daily. Suffering for one day with someone will not alleviate the overall suffering of that people. Hijab is not meant to be used as a method to get people to sympathize with you, because just like I mentioned above, they will not be able to fully comprehend the notion.

So let’s assume they wear the hijab, and they somewhat get harassed, and now they sort of understand it. This is the best case scenario. Now, what happens when someone bashes hijab and the idea of it in front of this person? Of course, this is the reason why we want them to wear it- so they can defend us! So they will bring up their experience, and say how for one day they wore it and it was hard and awful and people looked at them funny….so now more people will pity us? COME ON PEOPLE. We do’t want that, do we? When people used to ask me about hijab, I never whined. I never complained, nor did I throw out the “woe is me” card. I replied with strength and courage, and said it empowered me and gave me experiences that shaped me into the person I am. I don’t want people to pity me. You shouldn’t either.

The last point I want to bring up is about Muslim women who support Hijab Day. I honestly do not understand how the SAME women who wear hijab and judge other Muslim women in hijab, are supportive of non-Muslims wearing the hijab. Because they are not wearing it up to “your standards” yet you are applauding them for taking the chance to wear it to see what it’s like. So it doesn’t matter if these non-Muslims in hijab have nail polish on, wear skinny jeans- heck, even have short sleeves on in hijab- because hey, they’re just trying to empathize with us!

HYPOCRITES.

I cannot STAND that idea. How about you first learn to respect your other Muslim hijabis, and not judge them, before you applaud someone for trying it out for a day. How about, instead of focusing on a World Hijab Day, you focus on becoming closer with other Muslims that you know first? I love how we as Muslims are so excited to get non-Muslims to learn about us, yet we create such divisions within our selves. So what if your fellow hijabi is not wearing hijab the “right way?” Did you ever stop to think that maybe your constant judgement is making them feel so far from their community that they will no longer listen to you? I see it all the time- there is even a page on Facebook that was leaked recently where Muslim women take pictures of hijabis in public and then bash them with comments. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Then these same women want to encourage World Hijab Day? PLEASE.

You want people to learn about hijab, write something. Speak at a conference or woman’s event. Get involved at your university or in your community. Talk to people you meet in public. Be approachable. I don’t know how many times I’ve been approached by someone wanting to ask me about hijab but they are too scared because the last hijabi they asked was mean-spirited and disrespectful. Having someone wear the hijab may get them to see how hot it is maybe underneath it on a summer day. Or see how warm it keeps you in the midst of winter. But it will not give them the full idea of hijab- not even a small idea. To them it is a costume they will wear for a day- “oh look, I’m Muslim!”- and then discard the next day and return to their life of detachment.

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.

The Price of Feminism

I’ve had quite a few conversations lately about the status of women in society- ranging from street harassment to body image. It seems that the internet has helped launch a campaign to showcase all the terrible things women face daily. From death threats for refusing advances to hateful comments being posted under Instagram pictures, women are facing the biggest battle of the century.

It comes as no surprise to my friends and social circles that I am an advocate for women’s rights. I abhor anything that resembles objectification of women. Women are not commodities, so for men to feel that they have the right to harass them verbally or physically builds a rage in me so strong that any objection to my view can result in a very severe tongue-lashing, no matter who you are. I actually have been in many heated debates with my best friend, who has the view that women should be objectified if they so desire. She thinks that if women have the assets and men find them attractive, that we should feel pride and accept it. Which obviously doesn’t sit well with me. She also claims that women who push for feminism shouldn’t be hypocritical and allow women who want to pose nude to do so, as it is ultimately their choice. I can understand that part, but from MY perspective, WHY does a woman feel she should be nude at all?

So the purpose of today’s post- while it can go many ways- is going to focus on the much talked-about picture of Kim K and what it means for feminism.

I, of course, am disgusted by her display of her body in such a classless way. Forget that she is a mother. Forget that she is clearly photoshopped and covered in oil (gag). The first emotion that rose in my chest was shame. I was embarrassed for her.

How desperate must a female feel to be accepted by society to stoop so low as to bare it all in a magazine. And before everyone jumps down my throat to claim “it’s her choice, her body,” let’s discuss that. Is it REALLY her choice? Did she dream of growing up and posing naked for magazines, or was it just a product of her fame? And while we are on that subject, what is she famous for exactly? Being naked and engaging in sexual acts on camera. I’m not saying she can’t have sex, but to have a video released for all to see? Classless.

So, back to the objectification of women. Yes, Kim K is an adult. Yes, it was “her choice.” But why is this even a choice for women? Why is it that we view nudity as empowering? Is it because society has taught us that as women we should embrace our bodies and not be ashamed? I can contend to that idea, however, I feel that most women who flaunt their bodies (and IG is FULL of them) are really just seeking for approval from society, and from men specifically. I’ve read the comments under some of these pictures, and they are so degrading they make me cringe. What woman with any self-respect would allow a man to say those things to her? And on top of that, claim she ENJOYS it?

The women who are standing up defending Kim K and these other women are contributing to the larger issue at hand, which is allowing men to continue to see women as objects. Although many women object to it, there are some who approve of it. So men are not seeing this as being a real issue since some women are accepting it.

This doesn’t only stop at the nudity issue, although it is a big part of it. The other part of objectification includes women who are fully clothed as well, yet are still seen as an object. Take the street harassment video that was recently released. I don’t know how many guys I personally know who saw nothing wrong with the video. According to them, women should take those comments as a compliment as it means they are beautiful enough to be noticed. Which is a load of crap.

It doesn’t matter if I am beautiful; that does not give anyone the right to harass me. And YES, it IS harassment. Because most often, it is unwanted attention. I don’t leave my house every day wishing for men to notice and compliment me. Yet I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had comments directed at me that are unwanted and uncomfortably inappropriate. Don’t tell me God gave me these looks so I should embrace it. Don’t tell me to feel flattered. Don’t presume that I want the attention- THAT I SHOULD EXPECT IT- because I’m wearing heels, makeup, skinny jeans, etc. What I wear and how I look give you NO RIGHT to comment. NONE.

So to all the guys who think it’s funny or cute, let me just say this: the more you continue to act this way, the more women as a whole will continue to be guarded. Guys wonder why women act so defensive when they first meet; well, how am I supposed to let my guard down when there are guys out there making a living on teaching men to emotionally and mentally manipulate women to sleep with them, degrade them, harass them? You want us women to stop being so “bitchy” and “prudish?” Teach your fellow brothers to respect women, and to give us the space we deserve while out walking the streets.

I know many think feminism means women being treated better than men. It’s not. It means women receiving the rights that are due to them. But feminism is not just for women. Men who also want to fight for the respectful treatment of women are also feminists. That doesn’t make you less of a man. In fact, I feel it’d make you MORE of a man, to help stop the mistreatment of women. I know there are plenty of guys out there who have started this campaign, but in truth, we need so many more.

So before you argue that women need to stop acting or dressing a certain way to receive respect, know that this mentally is what is ultimately holding back feminism. We aren’t looking for special treatment; in fact, it’s quite the opposite.