28 year old French tennis player Marion Bartoli is your 2013 Women’s Singles Wimbledon champion!
That’s Bartoli there on your left. And I’m sure you can see the problem here. You don’t? Oh, that might be because you’re not a BIG SEXIST ASSHOLE. Because, if you were, you’d take one good look at the Tennis player next to her, Sabine Lisicki, whom she beat to win the title and realize “THE WIMBLEDON CHAMPION IS NOT A TALL SKINNY BLONDE MODEL LOOKING WOMEN! THIS CAN’T BE!!!!”
What it is like to a Muslim woman and why we know what freedom is (and you may not)
I have been through much of this and can relate. Reblogged from “A Veil and a Dark Place”. I encourage you to follow the link and go through her blog if this interests you. You might want to start at the FAQs to get a sense of where she is coming from as she is just starting out with her blog.
I have keys.
When I first moved to the United States eleven months ago, it took me several weeks to grasp this bit of information.
I have keys.
I have keys to my own front door and I can open this front door and walk down the street whenever I want to.
I can walk down the street without being watched through the windows and without anyone calling my parents and telling them I am roaming loose on the street.
I can walk down the street, sit down on a bench under a tree, and eat an iced cream cone. Then I can stand up and walk back home.
There will be nobody waiting for me at my house to ask me where I have been, refuse to let me in, call me a liar, and use my walk as renewed incentive to rifle through all of my possessions for proof that I am doing something wrong.
Because the simple desire to take a walk cannot but hide something deviant.
Because there is no good reason why a woman should want to walk down the street just to walk, and expose herself to the questioning and predatory eyes of the neighbors and strange men.
I have keys to my front door, now, and I can open my front door and walk down the street whenever I want to.
In the first weeks when I was in the United States, I had so much fear and trembling at this freedom. I stayed in my apartment alone during my first two days in my new home, and when I did finally venture out, I checked to make sure my keys and ID and wallet were in my purse a thousand times. I wore long, flowing dresses and tied my hair up in a scarf even though it was August and very hot, even though I am an atheist who happens to find no personal value in modesty, even though I was not going out to meet anybody and knew not a single man in town, even though I tried to convince myself that in this land it wouldn’t matter if I was. I looked around every corner and checked over my shoulder in case my father was somehow watching, lurking.
It took a couple of months to stop expecting to see my father in a place I was going or coming from.
I soon got into the groove of my new life, my new graduate program, my teaching and department readings and events. I actually went to bars and stopped feeling guilty about it. I met people. I made friendships, some of them with men, none of them that I had to hide or lie about. I had sexual and romantic relationships.
And all this while, and even now, it sometimes feels like I am another person living a distant dream. A phantom woman. A woman who is only pretending to do things and be things that were never hers.
Even now, I sometimes cannot believe I am not hallucinating all of this from a dark room in Beirut.
Even now, I wake up from dreams of Lebanon and think, “I have my own place. My front door. MY key. And I can open the door and walk out into the street? Whenever I want? And I have MY papers and MY things and MY income? And I can just go somewhere. When I want? I can do this?”
It must be a sick joke.
And I can be at the library however late I want without panicking and fearing for my safety once I go home? Without knowing the neighbors will call me a whore? I can have people over when the sun is down and some of them can be men and we can play games and eat and drink and talk together and nobody will hurt me because of it?
And if I leave something someplace, I will come back and find it where I left it, unless I moved it myself.
And if it’s somewhere else, it is likely I moved it and forgot, and I will not start panicking, wondering where and why and how it was moved. I will not wonder: if whoever moved it saw it, did they see that other thing and did they do something with it and what do they know and what do they not know?
Even though I am hiding simple things. A tube of mascara. Some lacy underwear just to see what it feels like to wear that. A poem I really love from the persona of the devil. Something written by a Jewish author. A novel a boy in my class gifted to me. A box of tampons.
I can write things without hiding, coding, burying, and stashing them. I can make notes for myself in a notebook that are for my eyes only without fearing anybody reading them and demanding I reveal their meaning. I can have a password on my computer and to my email and facebook accounts that my parents do not know. I can save my contacts under their real names and not under various female pseudonyms.
I can keep my texts when I receive them and not instantly erase them. I can take my phone off silent mode and if it vibrates in my pocket I can take it out and answer it or turn it off without having a panic attack and without having to find a reasonable excuse to sneak out of the room without seeming flustered.
I can talk on the phone without somebody listening on the other end.
I can ignore a phonecall from my father when I am in class or teaching.
I can forget my phone in another room and not be asked where I am and with whom, and what I am doing because I missed a call from him.
If I spend more than five minutes in the bathroom, nobody will bang on my door demanding to know what I am doing in there.
I can shave my legs without being interrogated as to why I’d do such a thing when nobody ever sees them.
I can brush my hair and look in the mirror and try on clothes and try to feel like I can manipulate and move and enjoy my body, try to feel pretty, without being interrogated and asked who he is and how long I have been seeing him and what I am doing with him and whether I am a prostitute or pregnant.
I can slim down inadvertently or say I am not hungry for dinner without anybody demanding to know why and for whom I am trying to lose weight,.
I can shower without being asked why.
I can smile because I had a good day at work without being forced to explain why I am so happy.
I can cry at my empty, robotic life without being forced to explain why I am unhappy.
I can have facial expressions. Facial expressions.
I can have facial expressions.
I can have facial expressions.
It has been so hard to train myself to voice my feelings and opinions. To turn my face on.
I can sit however I want within my own house without being told that the position my legs are in is immodest.
I can stay up late doing work and reading philosophy or just derping around on teh interwebz without being forced to go to bed.
I can read and use the internet without surveillance and censorship.
I can watch a movie without turning it over for examination first.
I can sleep when I want, wake when I want, eat when I want or don’t want to.
I do not have to pretend to fast and pray.
I can prioritize my work over serving other people. Never again will I pull somebody’s socks off and bring them their food and drink on command.
I can get up in the middle of the night and use the bathroom or get a drink of water without tiptoeing in terror.
I can lock my room door. I can lock the door of my own room.
Saying I want to be alone, that I need space, that I do not want to reveal personal information, that I do not choose to answer that question, that it is none of your damn business, that this is my body and I can position it on the furniture however I like, that I do not have to explain to you why I am smiling, that this is my time, that this is my work, this is my mind and I can use it to read and write what I please…
I can say these things now.
I never could before.
We never could, before. So many of us cannot, still.
This way of living–having to regulate and hide our personalities, our humanity–the tone of our voices, their volume and timbre, the manner in which we sit or stand or walk or speak, whether and when we can leave our homes, how and when we speak to people, what we do and do not read, can and cannot think or express–this way of living is the reality and default for so many of us.
We are suppressed beyond imagining.
Notice that the above does not even begin to touch upon the horrendous physical violence–abuse, marital rape (or just rape), child marriage (enslavement and rape), rape, whipping, stoning, genital mutilation–that happens to a not insignificant number of women who violate the above code of living.
Pretend that isn’t even a thing. Ignore the violence, for now. Set that aside.
And think, now, how even setting all of that horror aside, and pretending that it doesn’t come hand-in-hand with an obsession with the control of our bodies and our conduct and honor and shame, even setting it aside, this is how we have lived.
This is how my sister lives still, my mother, my cousins, my friends.
Think of this, and try to understand what freedom means to women like us. What it means to have choice. What it means to have true choice and not just a variety of empty options. because we too can walk into an iced cream shop and choose what flavor we want just like we could in America, and this is not freedom.
Chronic misunderstanding of institutional forms of oppression is blind to this distinction. The pervasive and fallacious argument that women from Muslim families and/or who live in in Muslim-majority countries with laws on the books allowing them to do everything I have cited as forbidden, that allow them to have technically as many options as men, or as women in the West, claiming that nobody forces them to do anything absolutely–this is akin to saying that African American kids growing up in inner city slums have the same opportunities as straight white males.
Yes, many of us can go to school, can work, can earn and spend our own money. But what we study or work at, and how and why and when and where and with whom and wearing what–all of this is controlled. If we try to do otherwise, there are institutional mechanisms in place–sectarian politics, social norms and customs ignored by law, people in positions of influence at our workplaces and schools and police stations and government–that can destroy us. That this is a common and chronic condition wherever Muslims live and socialize is true–that it also occurs in other third world societies and countries where Muslims do not live and socialize makes this no less of an actuality in places where Muslim thought and custom constitute and contribute to society and politics.
We have freedoms that are not freedoms, and we can continue to go to school and go to work and be empty robots all the while. And if we gave up and stayed at home, we would be giving up our education and our careers, it is true, as limited as those things are, but we would also be giving up the chronic hopelessness and self-defeat and empty confusion of striving, striving, striving to be fulfilled when we are effectively mannequins.
It is like three quarters of our limbs and muscles are controlled by strings, and the quarter we have some ability to move keep trying to overcompensate and convince us we are real people.
Giving up is so, so tempting.
But sometimes, sometimes, we escape.
And after we escape, or after things change for us?
We will spend some time adjusting. We will be able to grasp, eventually, what it is like to have freedoms.
Some days we will even take them for granted, and if we realize we’ve done so, we will feel a sort of confused resentment at ourselves for being such spoiled first-world brats and then guilt for feeling that having human rights means we are spoiled because rights should be just that–granted.
Some days, however, we’ll be very aware of our rights. The ridiculous pervasiveness of choice around us will paralyze and confuse us, and we will feel empty, incomplete.
I have had a panic attack choosing pizza toppings when my partner would not take ‘whatever you want’ as an answer for the umpteenth consecutive time.
I have become so used to choosing things according to a quick assessment of what other people want, prefer, or require, so that they will be happy and content and thus my life around them will be easier, so that they will not hurt me or destroy me–so used to choosing what will make others happy– I have become so used to that that I am deeply depressed trying to make anything meaningful for myself.
I do not know how to become invested in my work and my art, because my life was never more than a big empty chamber of apathetic nothingness at best, and horrible torture at worst.
And I am afraid of becoming capable of being free. I am afraid of transcending my ability to let my trauma and unhappiness consume me. I am afraid that succeeding in pulling together that broken part of me that does not know how to choose or care or be, how to quit compulsively faking emotions and detaching–I am afraid of becoming free because I am afraid of being no longer angry, no longer cognizant of this incredible injustice, being blind to what it means to not to be free.
I am afraid of being happy because it might mean I accept and am blind to my former chains.
I am afraid of forgetting what it means to be free.
I am afraid that once I have freedom, I will no longer understand what freedom is worth and why it is important.
This is my reminder.
Disclaimer: This is clearly not meant to be reflective of the experiences of all or even necessarily most women who are Muslim or have been raised in Muslim-majority countries or households. This is meant to further understanding of what it is in fact like for many women. This particular blog post is also not making any argument as to how, why, or whether Islam as a religion, doctrine, or ideology in any or all of its forms contributes to the oppression described in this post. That goes beyond the scope of this piece, but I will address it in future pieces.
PS: I can with confidence say, however, that the above is very reflective of my friendReem Abdel-Razek‘s life and experiences. If you support freedom and have the willingness and the means, please help her stay in the United States. Please contribute to her campaign and support the right to political asylum. For reasons why you should support her, read my blog post on the topic here.
Man of Steel Movie Gripe (SPOILERS) - "A Good Death is its Own Reward"
There are parts that I really, really like about the movie, like the origin story that unfolds on Krypton, the part where Superman is learning to fly, the CGI and a lot of the action sequences, particularly the mid-air fights:
Faora’s character was absolutely brilliant! Russell Crowe was wonderful as Jor-El. Henry Cavill was also believable as Superman and I liked Diane Lane as Martha Kent. It may actually be my favorite Superman movie. But there is so, so much that bothered me about this movie as well so in no particular order:
Clark’s father suggesting that because humans might not treat him well if they found out about him, he should have let all the children on the bus die. Also, the whole religion/country theme woven into movie.
The tornado part. Why would you hand over the child to your indestructible son and go back to save the dog when you could stay put and let said son save the dog? This whole scene where Clark’s father dies is so melodramatic and predictable, it was hard not to wince. Epic fail.
I was glad Lois Lane was portrayed as such an intrepid reporter with decent investigation skills but how many times can a woman need saving? When Superman is handed over to Zod, she goes right with him. The whole scene was cheesy and unbelievable. I felt like rolling my eyes when she said “I’ll go.” Then she is conveniently left alone on the ship while Superman’s brain is probed, free to talk to Jor-El and stir up trouble. Of course, maybe the whole point of it was for her to hurtle down to earth in a damaged escape pod so Superman could save her for the second time. But what bothers me most about her story line is in the next point.
Was there a point to her being on the aircraft with Colonel Nathan Hardy? I mean is there some science to pushing in a key that specifically needed her presence? Or was it just so she could fall off the plane so Superman could save her yet again? And what is with drifting down to earth in slow motion, gazing into each others eyes, all about? We are in the middle of an alien invasion, are we not?
The Daily Planet scene in the middle of all the action was bad. I felt like the movie wanted to drive home the point that humans were kind, generous and would needlessly die for someone they can’t save (which makes it important that they continue to flourish on Earth, of course, a contrast to those cold, immoral aliens).Yes, needlessly. Because at some point, it is very obvious that Perry White and the other man will not be able to get the intern out so they just stand there waiting to die. Oh, and bad acting by the intern who I fervently hoped would end up abandoned and dead, anything to save me from watching her faux fear.
The movie had bad people-are-getting-killed scenes in general, focusing on the entire crowd, then on a man, then on a woman…was that supposed to make me feel for them? I am sure some people liked the way these were shot. I did not.
More Lois Lane madness. Instead of staying away from danger (and possibly interfering in crucial fights), she walks right into them. So she is right there to comfort Superman after he kills Zod. The “you know it only goes downhill from here?” line? Also cheesy.
I love, love, love action but I have to admit that it may have dragged on quite a bit in this movie.
That no one can recognize Superman if he puts on glasses is as unbelievable as it ever was. There is no possible way you can forget what this man looks like that easily. To prove my point (and because you can never have too many gifs):
I understand the movie may be very accurately following the comics but I still don’t get how it is getting such rave reviews. I enjoyed the movie but on imdb it has a higher rating than Iron Man 3 and at least one over-enthusiastic fan wants it to be in the top 250. It is a fun action flick but let’s not get carried away.
Are my breasts big enough My waist thin enough My hair long enough My face pretty enough For you to consider me A Proper Woman?
Are my eyes downcast enough My voice low enough My walk slow enough My personality amiable enough For you to consider me A Proper Woman?
I adore heels And everything pink I don’t think woman should run Or so much as think May I please be considered A Proper Woman?
These are all things you may have heard at one time or another. Or if it’s not this, then the opposite because you can never be good enough! Now that we’ve got any unreasonable expectations out of the way, let’s talk about some of the things you can do to be a Proper Woman. I’ve heard women in my country look at a woman and judge her reproductive capacity by the size of her hips (ref: arranged marriages). But of course wide hips must not mean that she be fat, oh no, she must still be thin and fair. So after years and years of participant-observation, I have cultivated the wisdom of centuries of oppression those who know better than us and thus I present my short take on the Right and Wrong way to be a Woman.
A woman must not be flat chested. That is just obvious, you know, because how else will they be able to tell you’re a wimman! (Hair and make-up helps but still, let’s not kid ourselves). But lest you think your large chest is without a problem, think again! That just makes you look too sexual so draw down that chador and pretend like you don’t have them. We all know you do but all that sexuality is making everyone uncomfortable. You don’t want anyone to be uncomfortable, do you?
What? You cut your hair?!? Oh my god! Don’t you know your appearance must be pleasing to men? Oh, you were trying to express your personality and youlike how you look? Are you crazy? That’s not how it works! Britney Spears was officially deranged the minute she shaved her head and Rihanna effectively went from girl-next-door to vamp when she cut hers. That’s how it works. Or you’re a lesbian (which is an insult, no, if you think otherwise, you are a lesbian…why else would you support them?). Why else would you want short hair? It’s not like it’s easy to care for or anything. It’s not like you don’t want to look your best. Just stop pretending. I can see right through you. You made a mistake but it’s okay. Don’t repeat it and make sure you hide all the pictures. As soon as you look appropriately feminine enough, all will be forgiven.
You like to curse AND you talk loudly? Did your parents not raise you right? I know your brother sounds like a boom box but he’s a man! Also, how could you not smile back at the man harassing you? How dare you rob him of looking at a pleasant face? That’s just asking for abuse you know. You can’t piss off a man and then complain about his behavior. Why don’t you take it as a compliment and smile dammit? Just smile and be quiet.
While we’re talking about being pleasing, the most important thing a woman can do, it behooves me to tell you that you shouldn’t leave home without make-up. Those bushy eye-brows will have to go as will all that hair on your body. Yes, yes, everywhere. It is unhygienic. What about men, you say? Men, uh, men have a special system whereby it’s not unhygienic. Look, why don’t we talk about something else? Like heels. Why on earth do you not like heels? Don’t you know it makes your butt look more attractive to men. Sheesh! Must I teach you everything?
Why pink, you say? Pink is just sweet and dainty and meant for woman. I won’t even try to explain that one. Just trust me on this and learn to appreciate your new hot pink laptop. It’s like you’re trying so hard to be ungrateful. You don’t think this is all, do you? This is just the beginning. There’s so much more to being a Proper Woman. I can’t wait to teach you more. You’ll be so happy. With your husband and your children and your house.
There’s two ways-it’s more effective if you do both:
1) Block them here and then report for harassment.
2) You can also email tumblr at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell them to ban creepshots. Provide them with the url to the blog (creepshots.tumblr.com) and explain why they should be banned. If you’re too lazy to write out an email, you can use mine:
Hello tumblr staff,
Please remove/ban the blog creepshots.tumblr.com. They post demeaning, humiliating and objectifying pictures of women (typically their asses and breasts and even under their skirts) that they take without their permission on the street and in public. These guys were banned and deleted from reddit. Can you really say that tumblr is less of a safe respectable place than reddit?
What they are doing is wrong. Many, many users on tumblr feel violated and unsafe by this blog’s presence in the tumblr community. These men are violating the privacy of women everywhere. They specifically state in their about me: “Creepshots are CANDID pictures. If a person is posing or aware that a picture is being taken, then it is no longer a creepshot. A true creepshot captures the natural sexy, embarrassing or funny aspect of the subject mater/person without their knowledge.” They specifically state that only accept pictures of people whose privacy has been violated (source: http://creepshots.tumblr.com/AboutUs).
Please do something to show that you care about the safety and dignity of women, particularly the women in the tumblr community. If you don’t care about that, can you at least ban/delete them in the name of protecting yourself from legal liability? because there’s a strong likelihood that some of those pictures are of underaged girls. Given that these men are taking pics of young women they don’t know, how can they know their ages for certain? All it takes is one concerned parent or adolescent seeing their picture on that site, and if you don’t take it down, legal action could be taken against you.
So please, in the name of what is ethical and right and even legally responsible and smart, delete creepshots. Thank you.
I’ve long wondered if this - that women don’t recognize the symptoms of a heart attack in themselves, and consequently don’t get the fast care that is vital for heart attack survival - is the reason heart disease is the #1 killer in women. Women statistically take better care of themselves health-wise, than men do. Women see doctors more frequently and are more likely to follow those doctors’ recommendations closely. Why would both men and women have the same most common cause of death?
Heart attack symptoms in men are well known. We all know what it means when a guy on TV clutches his chest or left arm and falls over. This scene is often followed by a rush to the emergency room in an ambulance, and a shirtless guy being shocked back to sinus rhythm with the electric paddles. “CLEAR!” Right? Everyone knows that’s what a heart attack looks like. Because of TV.
Except you can’t show a topless woman on TV - and you can’t defibrillate a woman in a bra. So victims of heart attacks on TV are *always* male. Did you know that a woman having a heart attack is more likely to have back or jaw pain than chest or left arm pain? I didn’t - because I’ve never seen a woman having a heart attack. I’ve been trained in CPR and Advanced First Aid by the Red Cross over 15 times in my life, the videos and booklets always have a guy and say the same thing about clutching his chest and/or bicep.
And people laugh when I tell them women are still invisible in this world.
UPDATE: So, it’s been brought to my attention that the language/information in both the original article and my commentary is not trans* friendly, and for my part of that, I sincerely apologize.
I’m not a doctor and I don’t know how a heart attack would present itself in a M2F or F2M on hormone therapy, or with any other medical differences that affect this kind of thing. I also don’t know if there’s been enough research for the medical community at large to know either - cursory googling hasn’t given me any satisfactory info. If this affects you, I’d recommend asking your trusted physician. Talk about being invisible.
But you tried to take that all away from me. You tried to take away my kindness, my voice, and my power.
You, stranger in the night, tried to dominate me. You saw me, this unknown naked blonde girl sleeping in your brothers bed, curled up in his arms, and you thought I was yours to do what you please. And when I awoke, to the sharp pain of your penis forced deep into me, You thought you had won.
Who are you? Who is this stranger on top of me? You said, “shh, you know me, its me, its Pablo”
You raped me, pretending that you were your brother You raped me, while your brother lay asleep in the bed next to us.
But to your and my own surprise, I saw all the colors of my courage. And I fought back. I fought back even though NOTHING MADE SENSE.
And I screamed And I kicked And I bit your hand with all the force in my jaw as you tried to cover my mouth Until your pathetic naked body was forced off me, And you stood distressed in the corner of the room, terrified, Terrified that I did not lay there idly as you raped me.
“Don’t say a word. DON’T TELL PABLO.”
You misogynistic little fucker. I am going to tell everyone. Because you CANNOT silence me. Because your penis CANNOT silence me. Because your money CANNOT silence me. Because this patriarchal society CANNOT silence me.
You don’t know who you are messing with: Because you see, I am a courageous fearless woman. You see, MY world has empowered me. You see, I hear the brave voices of my sisters and brothers that speak out against sexual violence. Because you see, I CANNOT be destroyed by the mighty and all-powerful force of the penis
But you don’t see. Because it’s dark in this room. And your money has blinded you.
I ran for my life, completely exposed, down the hallway of the ship On that fucking Christmas cruise I made it to my sisters room. safety. I knew what to do next. They teach you this. Of course a woman’s voice is not enough evidence We must get proof. So I called the doctor.
And for the next four hours, The male doctor poked and prodded at my vagina Took invasive photographs Examined the areas that looked sore and swollen. Searching for proof of forced entry. He used his fingers, in the place where you had violated me, to check for tearing. He put a large cold metal plate into my vagina to look for semen. I had three vials of blood taken. The pills were shoved into my hand.
Take these. Anti-HIV. Plan B. Chlamydia. Just in case. And then, they gave me their strongest drug Silence. And this one was forced to go all the way down but I, I will throw it up The truth, I will ALWAYS regurgitate.
And in my white hospital gown With my swollen blue eyes The young blonde girl Lost her innocence. I was tainted. my mother stared at me with such sadness, and her eyes said it all. Damaged goods.
It’s not so much what you did that I struggle with today In fact, the hardest part was how those who were supposed to protect me the most, failed. The first thing Sahil said: “what did you do to get yourself into this situation, Kristina??”
Apparently I should have better judgment, Apparently I am too trusting, Apparently I need a NO ENTRY sign on my vagina Or was it something I was wearing at the bar that night? Or maybe it was because I was sleeping naked. Victim blaming. Not you too Sahil.
And how about when the captain of the ship, the first officer, my father, and my rapists father all met up to figure out a way to silence me. Four white males, feeling so secure in their positions of power. They wanted this to go away. But I was the one with the power. I had woken them up. I had shaken them. I was their nightmare. I AM your nightmare. Because I SPEAK. Because I WON’T stay silent.
I didn’t get to fight for justice then. I was told it was too dangerous. Your family is too rich and had too much power, I was told. My dads cowardly fear of retaliation And the absurd hypothetical completely unrealistic idea that if I left my room, one of the 22 Mexican members of your wealthy family would dispose of me by pushing me overboard. All evidence gone. Except for the now useless rape kit sitting in the freezer
They say it’s one in four And as I sat in the room the day after With my three beautiful sisters I asked them. And in our case, it was four in four.
Rape is both a crime and a tool of social control. I was told they will hire a great lawyer and find out all about my previous sexual encounters. Major defamation of character. Oh no, I thought, I won’t fit into the category of blonde white innocent pure girl anymore. Because they will find out, That not only have I had a lot of great consensual sex, I’ve had a lot kinky sex I’ve had anal sex I’ve hooked up with women I’ve had a foursome And the worst part, I’ve enjoyed it all. Oh, I can’t even count the number of mind-blowing orgasms I have had. Because sex, Sex is wonderful, and fun, When its consensual. And I had wonderful and consensual sex with Pablo, your brother, just hours before you raped me, BUT apparently my sexuality will lose me this case. I will labeled a “promiscuous” slut, who was asking for it. I will be punished for stepping out. Because you see, this rape is my ultimate punishment for my pleasure.
But you didn’t win. Because I I am going to keep having great sex. You see, I have a pleasure-affirming dream of female sexuality Where saying yes and no are equally acceptable moral decisions. In fact, nothing feels better to me, when I am empowered to ask my partner to fuck me, to touch me, to caress me, to bite me, to tie me up and choke me, to kiss and lick me all over.
I want you to know that I am still a powerful woman. And no mighty penis, no position on a multi-billion dollar company board will ever take that away.
My mom said she wanted to chop of your penis. My best friend said she hoped you died from leprosy. My ex-boyfriend said if he ever saw you he would bash your head in with a shovel.
But I hope none of that ever happens. Because I think you are suffering too.
I didn’t prosecute you. Because I don’t believe that putting bodies into cells will stop sexual violence. But you are still arrested in your mind. And although you are not locked up down under, you are sitting incarcerated in this patriarchal society. The one where you’ve been told its okay to rape a woman.
Instead, I hope when you go back to college this Spring, That you take a Woman and Genders studies class. I know its not that simple, and can’t combat rape culture alone, But I want you to recognize the institutionalized ways that you have learned to oppress women. To understand you have been taught to feel entitled to dominate and use womens bodies.
Because I want to use my strength, my power, to in fact empower; never to oppress. Instead, I will not take, but make power, create spaces for co-powerment, and dismantle structures of oppression that will destroy both you and I.
And now I am calling on my friends, My father, my mother, my brothers and sisters Being a silent bystander makes you complicit in rape culture Don’t be a coward Don’t laugh when someone makes a rape joke. We need to bear witness to the stories of survivors, Not engage in victim blaming by asking them what they were wearing We need to teach men not to rape. I ask you tonight, to have the courage to stand up against all forms of oppression.
I can still feel the gust of the wind from that night. It was so strong, the stars so bright and beautiful, the ocean endless. I was excited, for all that was to come.
And now, I can still smell the stench of alcohol on your breath as you told me to shut up. I was stuck on the ship, with my rapist, with no land in sight for three days.
I keep looking out at the endless ocean. I still haven’t seen the land. But I know I will soon.
I was reading an article on catcalling on Jezebel. In the comments, people are sharing their experiences of catcalling. Since this blog has turned into a feminist blog, more or less, I am going to share my experiences with street harassment here.
My street harassment started when I was about to approach puberty. Since I started developing early, I must have been 11 or 12 when men in crowded bazaars started pinching me. It has never stopped since. I have been followed home, had cars slow down as I’m walking down the street, had men on bicycles say something sleazy as they go past, been exposed to genitalia, been abused, stared at, touched…you name it.
Street harassment in Pakistan is different from that in the US. Mainly because I spend very little time travelling on foot so the only opportunity men get is following me on a car and waiting till I get out or in shopping areas. I have walked to a place sometimes out of necessity and it has been a nightmare. It wouldn’t matter if I was in a large group, with elderly women in the group, or with my big dog. The only thing that would stop men would be another man by my side…but that wouldn’t stop the stares. The stares that a European woman travelling in Pakistan described to me as being “undressed with their eyes”. Rage-inducing stares. I had gotten so used to them that a colleague, whom I walked across the street to get lunch with regularly, remarked that he noticed that men stared whenever he was with me but he never got that alone. Welcome to my world, I wanted to say, not sure he would understand. He seemed to think it was a “compliment” so I bit my tongue. I’ve mostly learnt to ignore them, stare straight ahead, not smile, walk fast, never make eye contact, and when I have to talk to anyone, to talk sternly and to the point. But sometimes it’s not so easy. These stories are of some of those times.
I live in a pretty upscale, supposedly safe neighborhood in Lahore. I started noticing it was deteriorating in the last few years, that it was where I started feeling the most unsafe. Driving everywhere else was generally better than entering my own locality because I would be followed everywhere. If I parked, I could almost always expect to come back to a note tucked in under my door handle. Did they expect me to read it? Honestly? I would let it drop to the ground as mind-numbing rage consumed me. One of the worst experiences though was having a man follow me on foot as I got out of the car. In panic, I blindly entered the first shop I came to, went upstairs to the women’s floor and started browsing. Soon, I was relaxed, a sufficiently amount of time had passed and I felt I could leave…except the man had followed me inside the shop. I couldn’t do anything I came to do at that point and just quickly made it back to my car and left the area.
Another time, the upteenth time I had been followed by a car, I stopped to get rotis for home. The man proceeded to park next to me and harass me. I decided to call him out on it, one of the few times I have called out anyone because it was so excessive, being followed to the goddamn bread shop, MY area, MY bread shop, the place where I go everyday. I wasn’t about to let my safe spaces be contaminated with his presence. As I lashed out at him, all he was capable of saying was “why are you so angry?”, “what have I done wrong”? As if you don’t know, as if you don’t know…
No place was safe from harassment. Not the supposedly modern localities populated by highly educated people, not the high-end shops, not my neighbourhood shops, not even the street outside my house, and not my university. A few years before the above incidents, I was harassed by a foreigner who was a transfer student in my university. He decided to block my way, invade my personal space and hit on me and would not stop no matter what I said. I mention he was a foreigner because this is not a problem restricted to desis, just like I mentioned the upscale neighborhoods to show that it is not a poor, illiterate person problem. Anyways, some other students saw what he was doing and stepped in to help. Another time, in a line for a concert at the university, the man behind me behind to grind himself on me. I was almost numb in disbelief. It wasn’t supposed to happen at my university. You would think with the years of harassment, I wouldn’t have held such high expectations. It was so rare as to be almost non-existent, so I was taken by surprise.
Recently, in the States, I had a man whisper shit in my ear as I waited to cross the street. Not two seconds later, another man did the same. The same week a man viciously abused me downtown for ignoring his harassment. A crazed, angry man bearing down on you spouting vile abuse can be mind numbingly frightening. I looked around and saw tons of people. No one stopped to confront him but I was thankful they were around just the same as I carefully sidestepped the harasser and power-walked away.
I haven’t been that scared in a while. But I’m always at least a little scared. As a woman, you have to be vigilant, see where you are, who’s near you, how dark it is, how many people there are, who those people are, where the exits are, whether you’re capable of running, etc etc, ad nauseum, at all times. Sometimes, at night, I walk holding pepper spray in my hand. I don’t know what else to do to feel safe. I could carry a knife but somehow I doubt I’d be get to it and open it in time to prevent an attack. I wish I didn’t have to live this way. I wish no one ever had to live this way.
The hovertext reads: ”You’re too pretty to stab me in the face with that knife.”
It is so weird when someone you would never again date, even if they begged you, because they are so wrong for you, so hurtful, so in the past, when that someone is in your thoughts. You’re not thinking about how nice they were, no, just about how horrible it all was and how happy you are that nothing ever came of it, but you’re still thinking about them and you don’t want to…but you just don’t know how to stop.
Facebook has long allowed content endorsing violence against women. They claim that these pages fall under the “humor” part of their guidelines, or are expressions of “free speech.” But Facebook has proven willing to crack down on other forms of hate speech, including anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and homophobic speech, without claiming such exemptions.
The page shared above shows the companies (Audible, American Express, Dove, Zipcar, Vistaprint) whose ads appear next to those pages and who are therefore tacitly supporting VAW through their ad money. I have written to all the companies and I suggest you do too.
At least one of the companies, Vistaprint, has responded inadequately to public complaints on their Facebook page, either not understanding that reporting these pages does not get them removed or, more likely, choosing to ignore the issue and pass on their responsibility:
//We are aware of the issue surrounding some of our Facebook ad placements earlier today. Vistaprint does not condone or endorse any offensive content or pages. We’ve discussed this issue with our partners at Facebook and have been assured that these pages have been removed. Our ads on their platform are targeted at individual users, not tied to the content or pages created by users on the Facebook platform. If you see a Vistaprint ad on an offensive page, please visit the link below and report it. Facebook’s Operations team monitors user feedback on offensive content/pages and will remove the page.
Thank you for your understanding.
-Vistaprint social media team//
This is unacceptable.
Other companies whose ads are clearly visible in the screenshots are: Mitsubishi, NYU, Pringles, and FinnAir.
FinnAir has responded in a more befitting manner on Twitter, though it is not clear whether they will take the step of boycotting Facebook till it changes its policies.
You Don't Just Discover You've Lost Weight and Not Eat Ice Cream
So today I weighed myself and discovered I was down a couple of pounds. I didn’t trust the scale so I adjusted it and tried again. The weight went back up 2 pounds but was still lower than before. I took that as a sign that I needed to eat even more ice cream and quickly wiped off a pint, drowned in chocolate syrup. Not that I’ve ever needed a reason to.
“The need to love is as important a force in human society as is the will to power. Power wants to destroy or consume or drive away the other, the one who is different, whose will is different. Love wants the other to remain, always nearby, but always itself, always other.”—Margaret Trawick (For square pegs in round holes)