We are foolish to perpetuate the myth that the male gaze can be averted with the way that we dress. The male gaze is taught to all genders alike. It’s an oppressive system of looking and objectifying, of possessing and othering, of usurping the right to speak, intellectualize, and decide on her behalf. A woman can live inside a house with blackened windows, or be nude at the beach – she is still seen by, owned by, controlled and affected by, framed by the male gaze.
The way a woman dresses is not what is going to change the oppression of the male gaze. The oppression of the male gaze must be challenged as a system. The male gaze is taught from an early age. It’s taught and perpetuated in every institution and form of media, art and literature. It is taught with Quran and Bible in hand. Continue reading “Recognizing and Challenging the Male Gaze”→
I picked up the phone and waited for the blank TV screen in front of me to show a person. I had never been to a bank where they had a system like this. Felt a little futuristic, for someone like me who lives under a rock. With a huge smile and bursting energy, a woman in her thirty’s with beautiful ebony skin and braided hair tied in a half-ponytail greeted me.
‘Ramadan Muslim’ – it’s a condescending, derogatory term used to refer to Muslims who ‘all of a sudden’, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, ‘show up’ to attend the mosque for every Taraweeh prayer, stop cussing/smoking/drinking/clubbing/pre-marital sexing, pray all of their five prayers, and fast from sunrise until sunset ‘religiously’.
I grew up playing at the local mosque in the hour leading up to Mughrib prayer while my dad volunteered and socialized. I attended an Islamic School where our classroom windows had a view of the mosque. I’ve attended jumuah prayer for an overwhelming majority of the Fridays of my life. I began volunteering and organizing around the mosque in my early teenage years, and continued well throughout high school, college, and even after. The mosque has been a constant space in my existence since before my first memories, and up until about 3-4 years ago.
I am now/have been for quite a while, for lack of a better term, a ‘Ramadan Muslim’, if I can call myself even that. My mosque-going has dwindled down to special occasions such as weddings and a few days in Ramadan (give or take, mostly take).
There are so many ‘layers’ to this dreaded headscarf discussion (and the dreaded word ‘debate’) (and even the dreaded ‘layers’ pun). I am constantly on the edge of flipping off every conversation surrounding it. I cringe in public (real and virtual) settings that mention the word ‘hijab’, seconds from theoretically and literally puking. F*** it all is what my philosophy usually is when it comes to the headscarf debates. I am intrinsically, from deep within myself turned off, and yet desperately plugged in to conversations that directly impact my life. Continue reading “I am not a hijabi”→
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:
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.
I finally figured out in a concise way to explain what drives me absolutely nuts when I hear religious rhetoric. It’s the way that it is framed in a manner that asks the reader to abandon critical thought and embrace the edict or verdict or whatever it may be with open arms because, well, a package wrapped in good, that speaks of good, can’t be anything but good, right? And we’re supposed to love everything good, and it would be bad not to, right?
I don’t want to say “wrong,” but I take issue with framing good to be accepted without critical thought. I think this creates a community that loses the ability to see people as people, and to see more to a situation than black and white, Good versus Bad.
There are far and many complexities and intricacies that get lost with such thinking, and a richness is lost in feeling and thinking and learning and growing.
Just because something is good, on paper, or in words, doesn’t mean that it must be emblazoned in gold, framed, and hung over everyone’s lives as The Truth. The Truth is human life and experience, and words are by which we come to learn and recognize these experiences, not the other way around.