On the Unruly (Muslim) Woman

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This morning, these blogposts left me feeling… uplifted, elevated, and relieved as one can be when someone says for them what they wished they could say themselves, and in doing so, unlock the pain and allow it free by acknowledging what one knew all along:

If you don’t already, I would recommend following the blog Love InshAllah on which Zainab Chaudary’s piece was published.


  1. Unruly
  2. Female Unruliness: independent thinking women, not letting the patriarchy define them.

When is the last time that someone – a female – offended you with her expression, or ‘failure’ to ‘express’, her ‘femininity’ (as you and I, and the greater body of collective consciousness around us, perceives it)?

I have: been offended, been asked to be offended, been offensive, and have been a privy ear to the vocalized offense people have experienced at the beholding of various women.

The Unruly Woman could be discussed in light of the way Women, and in more of my personal experiences, Muslim Women, are ‘policed’ by those around them, and are learned to police themselves. (‘Police’ meaning: A group that admonishes, cautions, or reminds) 

I have been offended with the forced intake of my senses having to bear witness to:

The woman, who is happy with the way she dresses. There she is, in her ‘frumpy’ sweatshirt, her ‘crooked’ scarf, her 1990’s ‘clunky’ Reeboks in the year 2013. There she is in her ‘ill-fitting’ pants. To my eye, her personality, her beauty, did not ‘match’ how she dressed. For years, I kept ‘making her over’ in my mind. Until I saw this:

The Unruly Woman is so outside of convention, she is entirely out of your framework of understanding women – she shits on mine and your understanding, politely, meekly, silently, or brazenly.

Many, many women, in my opinion, are at least a little bit Unruly. Sometimes, I can see a little bit of unruly shining out of the corner of someone’s eye.

Society will always try to place a finger on the Unruly Woman, to ‘define’ her so as to be able to consume her (as a product), to be able to have power over her. But the Unruly Woman is elusive. She can’t be defined…

The Unruly Woman has hips and curves she is not afraid to show, and show off. She enjoys and wields her sexuality as she desires.


The Unruly Woman knows that no matter how she acts, how she dresses, she will never be ‘appropriate’ enough. And so she is as appropriate as she would like to be, no more, and no less.

The Unruly Woman shows her hair. The Unruly Woman covers her hair. The Unruly woman covers not enough of her hair to please the Beliefs of her beholders. The Unruly Woman covers her body and thwarts the ability for men and women alike to judge her ‘goods’. The Unruly Woman ‘shows’ her goods, meaning does not hide them, offending the eyes of others with her flesh. The Unruly Woman who does not hide herself is assumed to be be inviting eyes and minds and bodies to prostitute her.

The Unruly Woman knows she has breasts, knows she has an ass, and knows that no matter what she does, someone, somewhere, will, and will find a way, to ‘feast’ on her (and after ‘feasting’, possibly spit on her existing). The Unruly Woman cares. The Unruly Woman doesn’t care. The Unruly Woman Knows and does with this knowledge what she must, or what she pleases, or what will bother her least (or all of the above).

The Unruly Woman Laughs.

The Unruly Woman drives. The Unruly Woman is in no need of the conventions of perceptions of freedom – she doesn’t drive, she has children, she ‘stays at home’. The Unruly Woman learns. The Unruly Woman got her PhD. The Unruly Woman didn’t go to college. The Unruly Woman knows you will perceive her to be dimwitted, unintelligent, less worldly and less sophisticated. The Unruly Woman does not allow this to thwart her existence and Life, nor allow it to Eclipse her self-perceived worth and value.

The Unruly Woman doesn’t need to ‘show’ her intelligence when someone tries to evaluate her Degrees. The Unruly Woman isn’t afraid to challenge others with her intelligence, even though she knows she will come across as Manly, Abrasive, Aggressive, Rude.

The Unruly Woman attends the MSA. The Unruly Woman takes over the MSA. The Unruly Woman doesn’t care to use her energy to change the world through the MSA. The Unruly Woman doesn’t give a crap about / have time / make time for the MSA. The Unruly Woman speaks out about, challenges, and creates change towards less patriarchal structures within the MSA (sometimes just by existing in the spheres in which she traditionally causes discomfort by being in).

The Unruly Woman moves across the country to support her Man partner in his pursuit of career and success. The Unruly Woman offends others by having her Man partner move across the country to support her pursuit of career and success. The Unruly Woman takes care of, and is cared for by, her Man partner in the ways in which only he and she intimately understand. The Unruly Woman isn’t only a tool for the success and nurturing of all Men around her. The Unruly Woman is perceived to be a tool when she does the things she wanted to do for the Man / Men in her life.

Let’s not even talk about the Unruly Woman who is Masculine. Our society has no place to discuss the Unruly (Muslim) Woman who is masculine in any way.

The Unruly Woman walks. The Unruly Woman stamps. The Unruly Woman shuffles in order to avoid unwanted attention. The Unruly Woman knows that her body will always be ‘in the way’. So she moves her hips in a silent ‘fuck you’. And she moves her hips and says nothing at all. She just moves her hips. She enjoys moving her hips. She dances and frees her hips which she has bound and frees when she desires.

The Unruly Woman laughs and screams with her friends, as loud as she possibly can, as loud as she so needs to express wholly her innermost need to laugh and speak and yell and scream, paying no mind to the irked strangers and acquaintances around her. 

The Unruly Woman shouts about boobs and vaginas and whatever else she would like to speak freely about, regardless of whose ears her words will fall upon, regardless of whom she is offending by ‘crossing’ the bounds / boundaries of ‘private’ and ‘personal’ and ‘taboo’. She will laugh about farts and poop and ‘uncomfortable things’ and she will make you uncomfortable.

The Unruly Woman sees a mess, and has no desire to clean it up. She doesn’t know a teaspoon from a tablespoon. She can’t cook. She won’t cook. The Unruly Woman cleans and is perceived to ‘subjugate’ herself. The Unruly Woman rules the world with her recipes.

To all the Unruly Women in my life. Your unruliness keeps a flame in me alive. Every time I witness your unruliness, the flame burns brighter, more fiery. I am with desire to live. I will not mock you by imitating your unruliness. For neither you nor I lives to be unruly. It’s that we… Live, and we understand that we will be understood as unruly, in the many facets of our Lives. And we may be Acceptable in some ways, Exceptional in others, and Unruly in all other ways, and that’s just it, it’s all so trivial. 

I won’t apologize to the Unruly Woman to have judged her, nor to have felt offended by her. To apologize for me would mean that I have made her out to be a Victim. But she is no Victim. She has been way past the need for my apology.

When a Woman sheepishly confides in me her Unruliness, “This really bothers me” “I don’t really believe this…” “I do this…” “I don’t do this… is that okay?” I hope that I will always be honest: to let her know what she and I both already know, which is how some (and sometimes many, and sometimes most) people will perceive her. But to also let her know, what I feel, and that is: that it is okay to be as unruly as you are or desire to be, as unruly as you dare to be, as unruly as you can be without getting burned, or as unruly as you are if you can deal with / are willing to deal with the flames of consequence. And that I promise to be there to help her heal if or when she is burned, and to be there for her whether she chooses to carry on, or to call it, and carry on.

When success is defined in such a narrow way, and in different narrow ways by different Belief systems upheld differently by different people and groups of people, everyone is a little bit Unruly.

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