Thursday, July 10, 2008

Changing Blog

I've decided to continue my blogging on WordPress, mainly because they enable more creativity. From now on I will be blogging here.

I have transferred some of my posts from here over there as well just to keep some of the ones I feel are most important together.

See you there!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

My Favourite Bollywood Songs - Part 7 (now otherwise known as "My Fob Self")

This song is a classic and still a favourite for many. I have never seen the film and have no desire to ever see it. The song is enough for me. Though apparently, since the film was directed and produced by Aamir Khan's father, Aamir Khan actually has a role in it as a child actor. Funny.

Song: Chura Liya Hai Tumne Jo Dil Ko
Film: Yaadon Ki Baraat (1973)

I Really Am Straight

There's this group invite on my Facebook page which has been sitting there for weeks. It's for Salaam: Queer Muslim Community and I've been wanting to join it to show my support for and solidarity with queer Muslims, but considering I'm a single straight Muslim woman looking to find a single, straight Muslim guy, I'm not sure if that would be a good idea. I'm afraid it may make it seem as if I'm a lesbian. And of course, there's nothing wrong with that except I'm not a lesbian and I don't want potential male partners thinking I am. They'll avoid me more than they do now. So I don't think I'm going to join BUT I do support LGBTQ Muslims.

New Background

Although I'm not a huge fan of blue, I find this new background quite soothing on the eyes. Let's try it for a while.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Frustrations Remain

Bah! I've already gotten a complaint about the new colours. I'll keep trying.

I've found a new roommate for next year! Yay! She seems very cool. A first year law student. I'm looking forward to getting to know someone from outside the department as well. As much as I like the people in psychology, sometimes it's nice to get away from them. I am very much in the mood to meet new people. Lots of new people. I think I'm becoming a bit of an extrovert. Curious. Anyhow, let's hope it all works out. Oh, and my new roommate is of Korean origin. I have not had a single White roommate yet. Interesting eh?

I'm frustrated with my supervisor. She hasn't gotten back to me on my minor paper. It was supposed to be done by June 30th. It's a few days past. And nothing! Ugh!!! I need to get this done over the next week. Absolutely have to. I'm praying that it gets done in that time Insha'Allah.

On another note, I think I am in love with my ex. I think I will tell him. What have I got to lose? Not much. If he doesn't feel the same, (I am 95% sure he doesn't) at least I will know for sure. And maybe telling me will make my own feelings clear to me. Until I tell him and find out, I don't think I'll be able to move on completely. Not whole heartedly at least. So we'll see. Insha'Allah I hope it works out well. Otherwise, my love life is STILL non-existent. This is the one area of my life I have given up working on. At this point if God has someone for me I really do hope He brings him to me. *Sigh*

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My Favourite Bollywood Songs - Part 6

Song: Satrangi Re
Film: Dil Se (1998)

I thought they tried too hard to be "contemporary" and "artsy" but the song is still very beautiful!! The lyrics are in Urdu, and beautiful Urdu poetry at that. Additionally, it has a very obvious Sufi touch.

And yes, yet another Shah Rukh Khan song.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Changing the Format

Everyone seems to be changing their blog format. I thought I would too.

Weekend in Chi-Town

I'm getting very bad at posting. I don't feel like writing lately. Not only that I don't have much to say.

I went to Chicago this past weekend. I love the city. It has the most beautiful architecture. And so much history. We were there for a conference. The SPSSI conference. (By "we" I mean myself, a grad student colleague, and my supervisor). I was able to make it to the Taste of Chicago festival though I didn't eat very much. Better that way considering there was so much soul food at the festival. And we all know how fattening soul food can be. Probably why it's so tasty. The people of Chicago are so nice and friendly. If I were to ever move to the States (very unlikely to happen) Chicago would be one city I would be OK living in. I think it may be the only city. Though I've heard the state of Vermont is very Canadian-esque. May not be a bad choice, if I HAD to chose.

I had to share a room with my supervisor. Didn't turn out to be as bad as I thought. We had our own beds so it worked out fine. Though I have to admit, seeing my supervisor in her jammys was a little awkward.

The conference went well. I made a few contacts which is one of the perks of conferences I enjoy. But this conference also made me realize the differences we have with our neighbours to the south.

For one, my colleague presented a poster on her research for which she took a socialist-feminist perspective. Apparently, some of her American readers were shocked and uneasy with the word 'socialist.' Funny, considering one of our main political parties, the NDP, is really a socialist party. Socialism is something we Canadians have become very comfortable with whereas our neighbours still seem to shake in their boots. Very curious.

Second, presenters kept referring to Indian people as Asian Indians. Asian Indians? Technically they are the ONLY Indians in this world. In Canada, Indians are East Indians. Indians as our neighbours know them are Natives, First Nations, or Indigenous people. Only old school people and insensitive, clueless people use the term "Indian" when referring to our indigenous people.

It was also interesting how I was lumped into being Indian. In one talk I attended on "Asian Indians" the speaker noted how many Indians there were in the audience. She included me in that count. I love my Indian counterparts and I believe we basically have the same culture, but I don't like my Pakistani heritage being denied. Then another researcher, when informing a third party about our mutual research interests said "We're interested in studying South Asians, mainly Indians." No!! Not mainly Indians! I want to study all South Asians. If anything mainly Pakistanis. I found this extra emphasis on Indians especially interesting since in Canada most psychological and/or sociological work on South Asians, as limited as it is, seems be being conducted on Muslim and/or Pakistani South Asians, by Muslim and/or Pakistani South Asians. I found my Pakistani-ness being denied. Strange.

Overall a good experience.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A month of fantasy

June has been a very busy month for me. I wish I had written more but the stresses of the month left me devoid of any desire to write. The beginning of the month was spent preparing for a conference, the next fews day at the conference, and the time since at home with my family. Tomorrow I head back to my school town, but Alhumdollilah only for a few weeks. I will then Insha'Allah be coming back here.

The conference went well. Things went very well Alhumdollilah.

I met up with my ex last week too. And I think, though I'm very unsure, I think I may still be in love with him. But I don't know. We are such different people. We argue about everything. But healthy arguments. Rarely do they get heated. Just debate-ful. Yet he confides a lot in me too.

I don't believe we can only love once. I know we can love more than once. And I think I will always love him. This does not mean I cannot love anyone else. Insha'Allah I will love again. But I'm still very confused about my feelings for my ex. Especially since in the past few conversations we've had I've received mixed messages from him. Things said to me such as "Someone like you could never love someone like me" or "you always misunderstood me."

But then I wonder if the reason I think I am still in love with him is because I am alone and I need someone to fall back on. Believing that I am in love with him will give me someone to focus on perhaps. Or at the very least placing such importance on my love for him will.

I do not doubt that I love him nor that he loves me. But whether or not I am IN love with him is what confuses me. And I very strongly doubt that he is in love with me. In fact, I am quiet sure he is not.

I have this fantasy - a fantasy of unrequited love. In it, I am in love with him. He is not in love with me. I don't care. I will always be in love with him and love him from afar. I will always pray for his happiness and will try to make him happy in whichever way I can - from afar. I have another fantasy in which I am the one to save him from his self-destructive lifestyle (which he has). I will be the one to come in and change his life for the better.

I know these are just fantasies are just that - fantasies. Yet they make me wonder whether I should let him know. Do I want to tell him how I feel? Am I missing something by not telling him? What if he feels similar but, like me, as a self protective measure, not admitting it? I have done whatever I can to convince him that I am not in love with him. I don't want to make myself vulnerable to him. I don't want him to have any upper hand. Am I letting my ego get in the way in this situation? Should I take this risk and tell him? I don't really have a lot to lose. We hardly ever talk to each other anymore and we never see each other either. It wouldn't be as if we would have to avoid each other or would talk much less. We already keep our distance from each other. That would just continue. My only fear would be losing him completely. But I don't think he would want to do that.

But then do I want to tell him because I actually am in love with him or is it because I am lonely? Is it because I have no one else in my life? When I was in my first relationship after him, I missed him so much. But in the next relationship I didn't. In that relationship I remember thinking "I don't miss him anymore. I must be over him." So this makes me have doubts. Yet, things always come back to him. I have no idea what's going on in my head, or my heart rather.

The research I want to do for my dissertation is highly inspired by him. I want to do research to help him. Yes, even my academic work is a part of my fantasy.

Oh dear...I don't know what to do. Matters of the heart are so confusing.

Friday, May 30, 2008

A Few Days Grey

My posts are getting more and more scarce. Oh well, it's like an online diary. I write when I want right? Anyhow, lately I haven't felt like writing much. This past week has not been good although I am much better now (except for these oh so annoying hiccups). Earlier this week I found out that another of the four other girls in my program and in my year has gotten engaged. So that's one married, three engaged, and one single...and that single one is me. And it hit me HARD. I fell into a depression for two days just realizing how alone I am, crying my eyes out the whole time. Sure there are people around me but that's not the same. I am lonely. And to be honest it's very difficult to see any hope sometimes. Now, I know that God tells us never to feel hopeless. We should always have faith in God and not fear. Those who fear are weak in faith. But this is hard to do. I've been trying to have faith. And it is getting better. I've been trying to get into Sufi philosophy more and I've started reading Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth - supposedly the greatest thing since sliced bread. And so far so good. I'm enjoying it. And it is helping. As well, Broken Mystic has been teaching me a lot about Sufism, the philosophy of which has helped. Thanks dude.

Additionally, I'm actively trying to fix the situation. I'm back online searching - a venue I hate to be honest. But I feel like I am at least making an attempt. I'm also trying to relocate for the next year. I'm convinced that the city I live in is a huge hindrance to my love life. They do say that God helps those who help themselves. Let's hope this is true Insha'Allah.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

My Favourite Bollywood Songs - Part 5

I promise that soon enough I will get back to real posts. I have so much to say but sooooo little time. May is super crazy month for me. SUPER CRAZY BUSY. So until then, to appease myself and to ease my own guilt every time I see that same "May 12th, 2008" on my latest post, I will post another of my favourite Bollywood songs.

I find this song so haunting and beautiful. This one is from a movie which was a the first of its kind depicting a cross border love story between a Pakistani woman and Indian man. The movie was enjoyable. However, I hated the way they showed Pakistanis. It wasn't anything negative, just inaccurate. What Punjabi Pakistani does the whole adab thing? NONE!! What Pakistani Punjabi man wears pajama-kurta? NONE!! What Pakistani Punjabi woman wears the gharara? NONE!! Not in everyday life at least. Seriously! They depicted us Punjabi Pakistani Muslims like their own Muslims from, like, Lucknow or something. Ugh! Not that there is anything wrong with their culture, but our culture is different. Just because we are desi Muslims does not mean we are all the same. Ohhh...I should do a critical analysis of Muslims in Veer-Zaara. Add to my long list of critiques. Anyhow, at least we weren't portrayed as pure evil like in some other Bollywood films. This film came out when India and Pakistan were just starting to this latest bout of good relations. Personally I think the fact that this film was a hit means that the people of the sub-continent perhaps are not so hostile to each other.

Song: Tere Liye
Film: Veer-Zaara (2004) (If you have not seen this film and plan to see it, do not click on the link. Desi people cannot keep a secret.)

Monday, May 12, 2008

On the Pitfalls of Being a Perfectionist

It, I'm sure, will come as no surprise to those who know me when I say that I am a perfectionist. I think to get into graduate school one has to be. But being a perfectionist has it's disadvantages and the most disruptive of which, for me, is procrastination.

I've spent the last two days avoiding writing a paper on issues to consider when conducting violence against women research in minority populations. Why? Because this is not my area of expertise. I am new to this. So I'm scared to write it. In two days I have written one page. Eeek. And I'm presenting this in 4 and a half weeks at a conference.

For the past two days I've had Word open. I would approach the paper. Write a little. Then decide I was hungry and get something to eat. I would come back to the paper, think about what to write, re-think about what to write, then get annoyed and go get something else to eat. Then I would decide "maybe I need to read more." So I would pull out the many papers I've found on the topic of violence against women, and read a little only to realize that it wasn't helping and that I may be wasting time reading. So I would then go back to the paper, write a little more with nay a care about well formed sentences, get stuck, and take another break. I would look at my many written notes and not know how to organize them, get annoyed and take another break. This has continued for the past two days. Yesterday I promised today would not be like this, and today I make the same promise about tomorrow. I just hope I can keep it. And now I have another paper to work which does not scare me as much, but on which I have procrastinated all semester.

Procrastination is my life.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

My Favourite Bollywood Songs - Part 4

This song came out when I was about 13 or 14 and I remember hearing the previews for it and LOVING it. I was so looking foward to hearing the whole song. But I also remember that this song created a lot of controversy because of its double meanings - Choli Ke Peeche, or Behind the blouse. However, me and my family too, loved the song. We found it so catchy. And it seems so did most people because if memory serves me correctly this song was super popular. I've always loved Madhuri Dixit and Sanjay Dutt too.

Song: Choli Ke Peeche
Film: Khal Nayak (1993)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

My Favourite Bollywood Songs - Part 3

I love this song. Kajol is one of my favourite actresses and Aamir Khan is amazing always.

And, the lyrics of this song are so beautiful.

Song: Mere Haath Mein (In My Hands)
Film: Fanaa (2006)

Friday, May 2, 2008

My Pledge for May

My pledge for the month of May is that I will give up sugar and fried food, and exercise more to see if I can lose the little pudge I have in my midsection. This part of my body is the one I've been struggling with forever it seems. I've spent many, many, many hours at the gym trying to reduce this section only to lose weight everywhere I didn't need to. But my midsection kept it's little pudge. No doubt the pudge is small but it's there. And the one part of my body I would love to have toned is my midsection. I just love the look of a toned midsection.

Giving up the fried food should be easy but sugar will be a struggle. Especially once that time of month roles around.

May 1st:

I did have sugar. I had remnants of a chocolate which I had to finish so I had one piece of it, sharing the rest with my roommate and friend.

May 2nd

Today I've been good. I had a sugar free pastry today and some vanilla oat cereal which has sugar in it. Other than that no sugar. But no exercise either.

Let's see how long I can keep this up.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I Am Not One of Them

Them being Muslims. I am a Muslim but my religion is my own business and it is between me and God. I feel absolutely no connection nor any obligation to those people. At one point in my academic life I had wanted to do research on them. But then they hurt me. They hurt at a time when I was the most vulnerable I have ever been in my life. They tried to make me think God hated me. They tried to tell me that God would never forgive me. They tried to tell me that God was petty and cruel. And they almost made me believe all this. They made me think God had deceived me. Now I know who the real deceivers are. I know who the real liars are. It is them. God is perfect. Islam is perfect.

Now I will never help them. They can fend for themselves. I will not do research to better their lives. They don't need me and I don't need them.

It's unfortunate when I have to face Islamophobia but that does not make me feel any more affiliation with them. I will deal with that with the help of God. And so will they. I will not help them. I will not work for the betterment of their lives. If their lives are bettered due to my work it will be by coincidence.

I will however work to better the lives of my fellow South Asians. They have not hurt me. They have given me love and respect. They have not made me feel inferior. They have not tried to destroy my relationship with God. For all their faults, in my eyes, they are much better than Muslims.

I purposely dress so that I am not identified as one of them. Not because I don't want non-Muslims to not know that I am Muslim. I want them to know. I tell people proudly that I am a Muslim. I don't want Muslims to know that I am Muslim. I will tell them if they ask but I don't volunteer the information. I will not wear long, loose shirts that cover my figure. I have curves damn it and I don't care who knows. I will wear capris that show off my sexy ankles. I will wear short sleeves. Oh riske! And I sure as hell will not cover my hair.

I love Islam and I love God with all that is in me. I will never leave them and I pray they never leave me. I will be a Muslim and defend Islam until I die.

But I dislike Muslims. They are not my people.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

My Favourite Bollywood Songs - Part 2

I love this song. It's so romantic and so beautiful. I'd love Shah Rukh Khan to sing this to me.

Song: Suraj Hua Madham (The Sun Has Dimmed)
Film: Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Ghum (2001)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My Favourite Bollywood Songs - Part 1

This is the first instalment of my favourite songs.

This is one song I used to listen to as a child and I think that has a huge part to play in me loving this song. It reminds me of my childhood. Plus, it's super catchy.

Song: Mehbooba O Mehbooba (Beloved oh Beloved)
Film: Sholay (1975)

Monday, April 21, 2008

I'm Not Worthy

Have I said I hate men? Well, ok I don't hate men. Not all men. But some. Men have done such a good job of making me feel less worthy. I know I shouldn't base my own worth on other people but its hard not to when you find out your ex didn't want to tell his parents about you, yet his parents have already met his new girlfriend and love her. Ugh! I hate men. It's hard not to base your self worth on other people when another ex was in love with another girl the whole time he was with you. Ugh Ugh!! I still hate men. It's hard not to base your self worth on other people when yet another ex tells you you are not a good Muslim and need to change. Ugh Ugh Ugh!!!

And then not to mention the guys who expect a little something for "free" from you. Jerks!

Seriously, there are very few good men out there. My apologies to the good ones. I don't hate you. I don't know very many of you. Other than the men in my family I can only think of 3 guys who I would say are good guys. And all three are off limits for me.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

As I was Procrastinating I Found This...

This post is from HijabMan and can be found here.

Fear can stop your love, what about your God-consciousness?

One of the first steps one takes when Getting Things Done is the process of capturing/collecting the thoughts floating around in your head, everything that has your attention. After that harder-than-it-sounds task, you file it into your system (whether that consists of folders or electronic means). Now, If you are really good about keeping that system up-to-date and flowing well, a trust with that system naturally develops. Ideally, if you trust that system, you no longer need to actively think about everything you need to do or every thought in your head.*

I’m not even close to completely emptying my head of the multitude of crap that is plaguing my brain, but I’ve definitely gotten better. But the fact that I’ve even emptied my head of just a fraction of that crap has reduced my stress level dramatically.

While thinking (hah!) about this process, a thought occurred to me that connected this idea with spirituality. What about emptying ourselves of the various forms of fear that plague us? Wouldn’t that enable us as believers to be more God-conscious and free us? Imagine your life without insecurity, worry, and even procrastination. They can all be forms of fear.
Procrastination is fear? What?

In fact, it is the most consuming fear I have! Think about it. We tend to avoid those things that we are afraid of. As many personal-productivity gurus explain, one of the reasons (or is it the only reason?) we procrastinate, is because we are afraid of what comes “next.” The future. If we busy ourselves with not-so-productive tasks, we delay impending decisions and new projects.
My current slip-up (one of a few) has to do with delaying a simple phone call, a phone call that would lead to my decision to go back to school. I was afraid of something without a name. It was one of those down-deep fears. On the surface, it may have been fear of failure, debt, and well, just school in general. Am I disciplined enough for it? I delay these big decisions by putting off tasks like paying bills, cleaning, dishes. Do you see where I’m going now?

I let the gravel gather up, so that all that I’m concerned about is sweeping away that gravel. And because I am so consumed by sweeping those little rocks away I don’t have time to think about the big rocks** I have to move. And I’m so worried about the gravel and the big rocks combined that I don’t have any time to reflect and realize that the biggest rocks I need to move are these deep-down-I-don’t-even-know-what-they-are fears. And dealing with those means I have to ask some really hard questions of myself. Those questions I don’t want to ask, if you know what I mean. In my experience, the process of going to those “scary” places leads to one place: If I am aware that God is in control, and that I should just strive, the idea of fearing something so silly, you know, like future, would be laughable. Indeed, I often laugh at my irrational fears (after the fact, of course ;)

What do you think? Does this have merit? That one would be have a clearer path to God-consciousness by doing some kind of mental sweep of [all of the forms] of fear?

*I’m simplifying the GTD process, if you are interested, go buy the book.

**I got the concept of the Big Rocks/Gravel from ZenHabits’ Big Rocks First article.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Happy - Not So Happy

Yay! I'm done my paper. Happy!

But I lost sleep to do it and am quite sleepy now. Not so happy.

And it's hot outside. Happy!

But I don't have much in terms of summer clothes. Not so happy.

I need to go shopping which I enjoy. Happy!

But I don't have much money. Not so happy.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Men I Love

I've been tired lately and completely sick of school. I'm working on a paper for my qualitative psychology class due this Friday and it is so torturous. I have no interest in it at though I did when I first started it. I am analyzing Hindi film songs for constructions of heterosexual romantic relationships. I thought it would be fun but at this point it is just a chore.

So I can't write any intelligent post. Therefore, I'm posting pictures of beautiful men. Not objectification, but rather as a Cheerful Bird once told me, simply admiring God's creation.

I present - Men I think are beautiful:

This guy is over 40 and still hot! Love the beard on him.

Oh so cute! Seriously, him and Kareena Kapoor make a stunning couple.

Abhishek Bachchan

I think this guy is hot BUT he's married to Ashwariya Rai (sorry I mean Bachchan) who I really am not impressed with. Plus he's Amitabh Bachchan's son who I have heard is not too fond of Muslims. And the beard is the magic for me. Don't know what I think of him without that facial hair. What can I say? I'm a sucker for beards. Maybe the Muslim in me...

And of course...

I don't need to say anything...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Picture This

There many Muslims, stupid, ignorant Muslims, who will say that having/taking/making pictures or drawings of people is haram. Well, it's not. How could it be when Prophet Soloman (pbuh) had his jinns make statues for him? If two dimensional pictures were haram then for certain statues of a person would be too. And a prophet of God would not do anything haram would he?

Surah Saba

12. And for Solomon the wind was given, traveling one month coming and one month going, and We caused a spring of tar to flow for him. And from among the Jinn are those that worked for him by his Lord's leave; and any one of them who turns from Our commands, We shall cause him to taste the retribution of the Fire.

13. They made for him what he desired of enclosures, and statues, and pools of deep reservoirs, and heavy pots. “O family of David, work to show thanks.” Only a few of My servants are appreciative.

Friday, April 11, 2008

I Wish I Was Pregnant

Well, alright. I don't know if I want to be pregnant per say, but I do want a baby. My maternal clock is ticking and every time I see a baby I just fall apart. Their cute little chubby cheeks and their giggles. Oh...I'm melting. I'm so craving a baby.

And the new Pampers commercial didn't help. I guess they have a new campaign where if you buy a specially marked bag of Pampers diapers, Pampers will donate one tetanus vaccine to UNICEF to be used on mothers and their newborns in needy places in the world. A large part of me finds it so annoying when corporations use social issues to sell their products. Exploiting people's problems. Why not just donate anyways? But I guess they need to make the money to donate it. Ugh! Capitalism! Anyhow.....

In the commercial we see a White woman with a stroller who has bought such a bag. As she is walking down the street she sees a what I presume to be a South Asian baby with his mother(who I believe is Muslim as his mother is wearing a dupatta on her head). She then sees a little Mexican baby in a poncho run up to her. Oh so cute but oh so cliched. The baby's mother comes to get it - she's dressed in traditional, native Mexican garb. Finally, a Japanese baby comes to her and gives her a kiss as she lifts him just before it's mother, dressed in a kimono, comes for it.

The baby's were adorable and pulled at my heart strings. But I couldn't help but laugh at the very obvious attempt at differentiating the ethnicities of the baby's and their mothers. I understood the South Asian mother. Many women in that part of the world do indeed dress like that. But from my understanding very few women in Japan wear the kimono on a daily basis. Additionally, the Mexican native woman's child was wearing pants underneath the poncho. If it's mother is wearing such traditional garb then wouldn't the child too?

Anyhow, this commercial did not help my situation. I want a baby more than ever now. I'll dress her/him up in traditional Pakistani clothes - just because they look so cute in it.

Side note: I have the TV on and A Baby Story just came on with the scene of a woman in labour pains. I had to switch the channel. Nothing will deter me from wanting a baby. Not even her moans of pain.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Do we need love?

I really should be working on a paper. And I will. But first I felt the need to complain. Complain about where I am in life.

Now don't get me wrong. God has given me so much and I will be eternally grateful for all that He has given me. I am truly blessed. But I think and hope God will understand if I complain every now and then. After all I am human and it is human nature. I cannot be happy all the time. So....

Yet ANOTHER friend of mine is getting married. Sorry, another TWO friends. And here I am, almost 30 and not a proposal on the horizon. But, you might say, a lot can happen in a short amount of time girl. You never know. And I will respond with, yes, I know. But that's what I thought two and half years ago when I moved away from my hometown which is small with a non-existent young, Muslim, male population.

However, this is not a rant because I am alone. I am fine with being alone. My complaint is about the looks of pity I get from others. My complaint is about the pressure my parents feel to get me married off. My complaint is about the culture that tells us that women are nothing without a male companion. My complaint is about the culture that tells us that marriage is about companionship and not love.

I know that when I get married I will most likely be getting married because it will be the right thing to do. I think my match is someone with whom I will be compatible and get along with - not someone I will love. I do not even know if I am capable of loving someone. I think my heart is too tired to love. I think my mind is too tired. Or maybe love really is overrated. I often see myself as one of those desi women who gets married because that is what she is supposed to do. I will devote myself to my husband because that is what a good desi wife does.

Or maybe I'm scared to get married. Maybe because there is no one in my life right now who I want to marry it seems unnatural and unrealistic. At this point getting married does seem like a terrifying prospect because getting married at this point would mean marrying someone I don't know or love.

Yet, despite all this I crave being in a relationship. I crave having someone. I crave the conversations, the excitement, the passion, the weak knees, the butterflies in my stomach, the comfort. I do feel that as a heterosexual woman I do need that special someone.

I don't know if writing this will have negative repercussions for me. There are walls around me which I'd like to take down but the risk is too high. Who knows what will happen with me. Who knows what God's plan is.

I know things will get better. Insha'Allah. But for now I'm feeling a lot of confusion. We'll see where things go in my life.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

My Love Affair Continues

I just came across this article written by Naomi Klein - who just happens to be Avi Lewis' wife. They have become my new favourite couple. I only wish I had looked into their work sooner. It's sad that it took them defending Muslims for me to listen to them. I really should be listening to anyone defending the rights of the oppressed at any time. I pride myself on trying not to favour anyone and trying to fight for the the rights of all oppressed. But I guess something really becomes salient when it hits close to home. Anyhow, people on the left unite!

It's no slur to be called a Muslim

Naomi Klein
The Guardian, Saturday March 1 2008

The turban photos affair was a missed chance for Obama. If he really is to repair the world, he must tackle this Islamophobia.

Hillary Clinton denied leaking the photo of Barack Obama wearing a turban, but her campaign manager says that even if she had, it would be no big deal. "Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely."

Sure she did. And George Bush put on a poncho in Santiago, while Paul Wolfowitz burned up YouTube with his anti-malarial African dance routines while World Bank president. The obvious difference is this: when white politicians go ethnic, they look funny; when a black presidential contender does it, he looks foreign - and when the ethnic apparel in question is vaguely reminiscent of the clothing worn by Iraqi and Afghan fighters (at least to many Fox viewers, who think any headdress other than a baseball cap is a declaration of war on America), the image is downright frightening.

The turban "scandal" is all part of what is being referred to as "the Muslim smear". It includes everything from exaggerated enunciations of Obama's middle name (Hussein) to the online whisper campaign that Obama attended a fundamentalist madrasa in Indonesia (a lie), was sworn in on a Qur'an (another lie), and if elected would attach speakers to the White House to broadcast the Muslim call to prayer (I made that one up).

So far Obama's campaign has responded with aggressive corrections that tout his Christian faith, attack the attackers and channel a cooperative witness before the House Un-American Activities Committee. "Barack has never been a Muslim or practised any other faith besides Christianity," states one fact sheet. "I'm not and never have been of the Muslim faith," Obama told a Christian News reporter.

Of course Obama must correct the record, but he doesn't have to stop there. What is disturbing about the campaign's response is that it leaves unchallenged the disgraceful and racist premise behind the entire "Muslim smear": that being Muslim is de facto a source of shame. Obama's supporters often say they are being "Swift-boated" (a pejorative term derived from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign against the 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry), casually accepting the idea that being accused of Muslimhood is tantamount to being accused of treason.

Substitute another faith or ethnicity, and you'd expect a very different response. Consider a report from the archives of the Nation. Thirteen years ago Daniel Singer, the magazine's late Europe correspondent, went to Poland to cover a presidential election. He reported that the race had descended into an ugly debate over whether one of the candidates, Aleksander Kwasniewski, was a closet Jew. The press claimed his mother was buried in a Jewish cemetery (she was still alive), and a popular TV show aired a skit featuring the Christian candidate dressed as a Hassidic Jew. "What perturbed me," Singer said, "was that Kwasniewski's lawyers threatened to sue for slander rather than press for an indictment under the law condemning racist propaganda".

We should expect no less of the Obama campaign. When asked during the Ohio debate about Louis Farrakhan's support for his candidacy, Obama did not hesitate to call Farrakhan's antisemitic comments "unacceptable and reprehensible". When the turban photo flap came up in the same debate, he used the occasion to say nothing at all.

Farrakhan's infamous comments about Jews took place 24 years ago. The orgy of hate that is the "Muslim smear" is unfolding in real time, and it promises to greatly intensify in a general election. These attacks do not simply "smear Barack's Christian faith", as John Kerry claimed in a campaign mailing. They are an attack on all Muslims, some of whom actually do exercise their rights to cover their heads and send their kids to religious school. Thousands even have the very common name Hussein. All are watching their culture used as a crude bludgeon against Obama, while the candidate who is the symbol of racial harmony fails to defend them - this at a time when US Muslims are bearing the brunt of the Bush administration's assaults on civil liberties, including dragnet wiretapping, and are facing a documented spike in hate crimes.

Occasionally, though not nearly enough, Obama says that Muslims are "deserving of respect and dignity". What he has never done is what Singer called for in Poland: denounce the attacks themselves as racist propaganda, in this case against Muslims.

The core of Obama's candidacy is that he alone - having lived in Indonesia as a boy and with an African grandmother - can "repair the world" after the Bush wrecking ball. That repair job begins with the 1.4 billion Muslims around the world, many convinced that the US has been waging a war against their faith. This perception is based on facts, among them the fact that Muslim civilians are not counted among the dead in Iraq and Afghanistan; that Islam has been desecrated in US-run prisons; and that voting for an Islamist party resulted in collective punishment in Gaza. It is also fuelled by the rise of a virulent strain of Islamophobia in Europe and North America.

As the most visible target of this rising racism, Obama has the power to be more than its victim. He can use the attacks to begin the very process of global repair that is the most seductive promise of his campaign. The next time he's asked about his alleged Muslimness, Obama can respond not just by clarifying the facts but by turning the tables. He can state that while a liaison with a pharmaceutical lobbyist may be worthy of scandalised exposure, being a Muslim is not. Changing the terms of the debate this way is not only morally just but tactically smart - it's the one response that could defuse these hateful attacks. The best part is this: unlike ending the Iraq war and closing Guantánamo, standing up to Islamophobia doesn't need to wait until after the election. Obama can use his campaign to start now. Let the repairing begin.

A version of this article appears in the Nation.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Why I Love Avi Lewis

This morning while listening to the CBC radio program Sounds Like Canada I became a fan of Avi Lewis.

Canadian journalist (formerly of the CBC), Avi Lewis, who is now working for Al-Jazeera English as a US correspondent, was one of the guests. He was all praises for Al-Jazeera English. This was not surprising. As I have heard before, Lewis re-iterated that the journalism standards of Al-Jazeera were very high. Not stooping to the hi-jinks of CNN and others American news organizations Al-Jazeera has been able to maintain the integrity that journalism is supposed to have.

During the course of the show they discussed an interview Avi Lewis did with the ignoramus Islamophobe Ayaan Hirsi Ali. (For an excellent critique of her work which exposes her as the fraud she is see this The Nation article.) While listening to the clip I was infuriated and very impressed. Infuriated because of what Hirsi Ali was saying. And impressed because Lewis criticized and challenged her. Something people never seem to do. They always seem to fall for her cons. The closest I saw to an American critique was on the Colbert Report when Stephen Colbert expressed surprise when she said Christianity was obsolete.

Check out the CBC interview:

In his radio interview this morning, Lewis expressed his disbelief at her assertions and at her popularity. To hear that radio interview click on the link for Sounds Like Canada podcasts, and scroll down to The Best of Sounds Like Canada April 8: Avi Lewis.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Even Muslims Need Makeovers

I have this video on my Facebook and have emailed it to numerous friends. But I thought I'd post it here just because I LOVE this short film and LOVE these guys. In comedy they've shown the ludicrousness of religious fanaticism and extreme conservatism. Plus, the Afghan/African American guy is hot.

The director of the film is Imran J. Khan from the US somewhere... In one of their, um, 40 provinces.* You can watch some of his other videos here.

* I know they have 50 states. I was just doing a Canadianized imitation of our neighbours to the south. And Khan is in California.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The History of Words

I love language. Proof is I took two linguistics and one psycholinguistics courses in my undergraduate years. Additionally, as I've mentioned before I am a budding social constructionist (though I doubt I will ever be a pure social constructionist) and social constructionists will argue that our reality is socially constructed through our language. The words we use to describe our worlds actually shape our realities and our experiences. Our words come first, then our reality.

For instance, when we label people a certain way our experiences and interactions with, opinions, thoughts and feelings about, those people will be determined by that label. For instance, if we label someone 'depressed' not only will our own interactions with that person be coloured by that term, their experiences with the world will be too. Or look at the term 'single woman' versus 'spinster.' They have very different connotations. They mean the same thing technically, but in reality are very different words. If we see someone as spinster, we feel bad for her, expect her to have many cats, and be lonely and sad. If we say single woman, although some similar thoughts may come to mind (and to those of you who have those thoughts I have some rude things to say to you) but for the most part things don't look so bleak for her.

Anyhow, I digress. So words. Have you ever wondered where words come from? I often do. For instance, did you know that the word 'vagina' comes from a Latin word which meant 'sheath' or something which covers a sword. Hmm...I wonder what sword they were referring to. Apparently the first to use the term was an Italian anatomist. So the female gentalia only exists in reference to the male member. The role of the female gentalia is only to house the 'sword.' I say lets stop using the sexist term 'vagina' and use something else. Don't know what else we could use.

And then there's the saying 'rule of thumb.' This was based on an old English law which stated that a man could not beat his wife with something that was thicker than his thumb. Ah well jeez...thank you so much. I say let's stop using this phrase too.

And then there is the word 'ottaman' for the foot stool. I'm not completely sure where this word came from but I am sure it has something to do with insulting and degrading one of the greatest Muslim empires in history. Again, thanks racists. Again, let's boycott this word. I never use it anyhow. I always call them foot stools no matter how beautiful it may be. Hmpf! However, according to Online Etymology Dictionary it was called so because it looked Eastern. I don't know about that.

I'm sure you've all used the rhyme "Einee meinee myni mo (I'm not sure of spellings) as children. In the version I rhymed off we would say 'catch a tigger by the toe.' But of course in the original version the word tigger was not there but rather it was the 'n' word. When I first realized this I was completely shocked. My friend who informed me of this also told me that at one point as a child, she was using this rhyme when a teacher came up to her, ordered her to stop using it and forbade her from using it again. At the time she did not know why. I know I won't be allowing my future children to use this rhyme.

Then there are the words with benign origins. Or so it seems at the moment. Many words in the English language originate in the sub-continent as a result of colonial occupation. For instance the words 'thug,' 'bungalow,' 'cushy,' 'loot,' and 'cummerband.' And did you know that although the word 'tamarind' comes from the Arabic word 'tamar hindi', the Arabic word means 'date of India.'

However, I have to admit that the words and terms which are controversial and have shady origins fascinate me more. I will continue the search for such terms. If you know of any please to pass them my way.
* Click on the picture to see where I got it from.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Busy as a PhD Bee

Busy, busy, busy. Those are the only words for my life right now. It's the end of the semester and things are almost due. Some things will continue on, but some things need to be done very soon. So I apologize for not writing much. I will return very soon. I have so much on my mind.

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Little Dhol for You

I saw this song/instrumental a while ago and just loved it. I love the way the dhol is incorporated with Western sounds - especially the drum. I love the sound of the dhol. Maybe it has something to do with me being Punjabi. I can't help but love it I guess. The dance beats of it can be hypnotising.

The song is Overload, group is Cursed (their name),they're from Pakistan and their preppy drummer is cute!


Sunday, March 23, 2008

I don't want to be anti-social but....

Sometimes I feel like being anti-social. I should be doing things, but I feel like I have to force myself to do those things. I'm not social as much as I'd like to be usually, and I worry that I may get into an anti-social rut. But I think if I'm conscious of it I can ward off hermit-itude. Today I'm deciding whether I should be anti-social or not.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Race Above Gender

As you know I am a feminist. However, I do need to qualify that. I am a South Asian, Muslim, feminist. And there is an important reason I must qualify this. It specifies, to a certain extent, where I stand on issues.

Western feminism has not traditionally been very good at including non-Western, non-White women. And although, wonderfully things have come a long way, and sincere and definite efforts have been made to include 'other' women, there are still serious problems.

Western feminism still makes assumptions about Western "normalcy." "If we can do it, so can you." And I am not even speaking of the age old dilemma of Western feminism imposing their views on other countries. Many Western feminists are working to rectify this attitude. I am speaking of Western feminism imposing it's views on minority women in North America.

There is a stream of feminists, and from what I understand a prominent one, which expresses disgust with their fellow feminists' choice to sleep with or marry men. The heterosexual relationship, especially marriage, is seen as maintaining patriarchy. Many feminists have chosen lesbianism as a form of protesting patriarchy. And to be honest I can see the relationship between heterosexual relationships and patriarchy very well. Heterosexual relationships do encourage patriarchal behaviours from men and women. However, why run away from the problem? Why not change the meanings of heterosexual relationships? Granted this will be an uphill battle but there are many foot soldiers in the ranks and from within we can try to change the meanings behind heterosexual relationships.

As a South Asian woman, for whose culture marriage and children are so important, this demand of many Western feminists is extremely unfair and yes, even racist. In South Asian, as well as many other "Eastern" cultures, family is central to life, and necessary to family is marriage. By demanding that we, to fight patriarchy, not get married to men is highly unfair and pretentious. How dare they?
The importance many of us place on family often comes in conflict with many Western feminist expectations. So many of us desire to remain close to family. Yet, many Western feminist scholarly agendas tell us to place career/academics etc as our first priority, not considering our cultural contexts. To not do so somehow makes us lesser feminists.
Additionally, Western feminism's critcisms of the men from our ethnic background places us in a very uncomfortable position. As a South Asian woman I cannot ignore the patriarchy in our culture. I cannot disregard the mistreatment of South Asian women at the hands of South Asian men. However, I refuse to 'sell out' my men so that Western feminists can further stigmatize my people. After all, I know many South Asian men who will stand by at every turn. I know many South Asian men who support me and love me. I know many South Asian men who care for and love the women in their lives. I refuse to sell out my father, brother, uncles, and friends so that I can unite with the Western feminists who will use the information against my culture. Yes, I am saying it now, that for me, my ethnicity and my race is more identifying than is my gender. I feel a greater connection with my counterpart men.
My race and gender cannot be separated. I cannot experience being a woman without experiencing being of colour. And in the world in which we live today, my colour and my religion stigmatize me much more than my gender.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I am woman; hear me tell you to screw off when you put me down

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending a brief and introductory talk on Muslim women and the veil - images throughout history. The speaker, Dr. Shanaz Khan of Sir Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, provided a brief overview and introduction to the issues of orientalism and the harem girl image, the image of the oppressed Muslim woman, and finally the image of the terrorist Muslim woman. On the topic of orientalism she spoke of the hyper sexualized images of the Eastern Muslim woman in the veil, of which there were many examples; images which aided in demonizing and degrading Muslim people and further solidifying our inferiority in the minds of Europeans.

Her talk was very interesting though brief. The intent was to introduce the topic to an audience who, for the most part, would not have had any exposure to the ideas. Everything went well.....until......some self-righteous, arrogant and sexist men decided to assert their power and superiority over women.

Once Dr. Khan had completed her talk on the history of the veil, this one retired professor, who was of South Asian descent, and whom I assumed to be Muslim, decided to begin his attack. His was the first "comment." He began by telling Dr. Khan that she needed to clarify what the veil meant. He told her that she was misinforming the audience about the meaning of the veil. When she said she did not understand what he was trying to say, his response was "Well, that's why I'm teaching you!!!!!!!" That's why he's teaching her??!! That's why he's teaching her??!! She's the scholar on Muslim women and HE'S going to teach her. Oh yes, he is the almighty man and for a woman to claim to know more than him would be the equivalent to humans saying they know more than God. It's blasphemous isn't it? His version of the veil was a face covering. His claim was that the veil was not just a head covering but rather only the face cover. He blatantly displayed his ignorance. Within the literature the veil is used very generally to refer to various forms of covering. Luckily, the audience was filled with intelligent women, one of whom spoke up, related her research on the history of women in Christian theology, and clarified that the veil does indeed commonly refer to all forms of covering - not just the face veil.

But wait, this didn't end with this comment. At the end, when everyone else had asked their questions, this man decides to teach the audience what Dr. Khan has just said. By starting off by saying, that his comment is in her favour (as if he was some sort of judge), he set the stage for his humiliation. He then proceeded to summarize for us women, because of course we were too stupid, what Dr. Khan just said.

It was ironic, that at a feminist talk, patriarchy and sexism displayed their ugly and hateful faces so clearly.

First, by claiming to teach her about something she does research in, something which pertains to women only and which only women could understand, he tried to claim his superiority in intellect and knowledge not only over Dr. Khan, but the rest of us women as well. "I'll tell you what this clothing that only you wear really is."

Second, by summarizing what she said he dismissed her completely. By doing such he stated that she was not capable of explaining the issues to us. She, with her inferior woman brain, was incapable of forming intelligent thoughts. Therefore, he, as the superior man, would come to her rescue and help her explain her points to the audience. Additionally, as I said earlier, he also dismissed our intelligence.

And what makes this even worse was that he wasn't the only one. Another man, a professor of Arab descent, decided to tell her, in front of everyone, that the talk was not what he expected and how disappointed he was. Wow! The nerve. There are many times when we attend talks which are not as we expect. But we do not complain to the presenter. It is not the presenter's responsibility to cater to every individual at the talk. There is an overall topic which has to be addressed. The fact that he did not get what he had expected was his own problem, not hers. She had no responsibility to ask him, beforehand, what he would like to see in the talk. But he had a responsibility to find out what the talk was about. Therefore, the problem was his. However, because the presenter was a woman, and this man as well as the other seemed to have no problem trying to humiliate her because she was a woman, he felt that he was entitled to let this 'stupid, inferior' woman her place. "You tried to be scholarly but you failed woman. Go back to the kitchen!"

I can bet anything that if the presenter had been a man these men would have kept their inept and rude mouths shut.

Now people wonder why some women hate men and are so vocal. As a Muslim when I face Islamophobia, I have an intense desire to declare my Muslim-ness. I want to display that I am a Muslim and I am proud. If you have a problem with it, just too f-ing bad you.

But it's the same when I encounter sexism. At those times I too want to declare my pride in being a woman. I want to say "I am a woman and I am proud. Wanna make something of it??!! Screw off you sexist jerk!"

However, Dr. Khan handled herself very well and with a lot of grace. And those men made complete fools of themselves.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Budding Feminist on Obama (radio-edit version)

It has been a few days since I've written and I apologize to any readers I may have. So much seems to have happened while I have been toiling away at my stupid cognitive psychology presentation.

So former democratic vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro said Barack Obama is lucky he's Black. That, according to her, is why he has gotten so far and why Hillary is being left behind. So now Ms. Ferraro, who I am sure claims to be a feminist, is fighting sexism with racism. Classic isn't it. As a feminist I have been increasingly infuriated with the way women have been supporting Hillary Clinton because she's a woman. Yes it is historic that a woman is running for president. A little behind the times of course considering countries like the UK, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Argentina, Chile, Finland, Ireland, Liberia, The Philippines, Germany, New Zealand, Mozambique, The Netherlands, Antilles, Ukraine, The Åland Islands, and Canada have all had female heads of state, either as President, Prime Minister, or Governor Generals (this list may not be exhaustive). The fact that Hillary Clinton is being left behind could not be because of her political policies, and apparently supporting her for many is not contingent on her policies either.

Perhaps, you can tell that I am a supporter of Obama. There really is no point hiding my agenda. We all have agendas but pretend not to. If there is one thing feminism has taught me (it has actually taught me many things) it's that we all have agendas and it is better to acknowledge them so that others can engage with and challenge us accordingly, rather than pretend not to have any and thus avoid any real discussions and progression. I do like Obama and if I were an American I would not only vote for him but would most likely be actively working on his campaign.

Having said all that, I do have reasons for supporting Obama and staying away from Clinton. Though they may not be politically impressive reasons. Obama is new. I know many people are saying that his inexperience is a liability. But with our neighbours being ruled by a Bush or a Clinton for so many years, I think someone new would be wonderful and very refreshing. And America, you need some major refreshing - you're getting really stinky.

Additionally, Obama, I do believe, is much more liberal - or as liberal as an American politician can be. I believe, that he would be just, he would be egalitarian, his foreign policies would be diplomatic and amicable. Perhaps I am being idealistic and perhaps I've gotten caught up in the hype around this political rock star they call Obama. He is quite infatuating, charismatic, handsome, intelligent, and well spoken. Hey, I'm Canadian. I don't need to look at the "real" issues. Even if I did I am so in awe of the man I think I would like his policies. Wait. this post is getting more and more teenage girl crush - ish. Back to the topic.

Obama, seems to time and time again display sincerity (as sincere as a politician can be). With ease he dodges all the fireballs thrown his way. And some of these fireballs have been thrown by the Clinton camp. Some very Islamophobic ones at that. And that is the main reason I do NOT see Clinton as a feminist and I do not support her. Obama fits much more into the feminist ideology as I see it. Hillary, with her wishy-washiness on the decision to go into Iraq and her low and implicitly Islamophobic attacks on Obama, has turned me off for good.

On a quick side note: Of course race is playing a huge role in this article but I did not realize how racist this campaign had gotten until Obama had to distance himself from a pastor who, in no uncertain terms, stated that racism in the US was alive, and well - and quite robustly healthy. It is unfortunate that Obama would have to downplay and distance himself from a Black man's legitimate experiences with such intense hate. America, you need to face it, you have a serious racism problem.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Still Islamophobic

Just as a follow up to the last post:

Today I caught a little bit of The View on TV, a show I never watch because those women give a bad name to women as far I'm concerned. They discussed the Republican politician who said that Obama as president would make the terrorists dance in the streets. The women were disgusted by his comments, calling him an idiot. The politician's reasoning was that because his middle name is Hussain he would have Muslim sympathies. But NO ONE at ANY POINT asked why it was such an insult to imply or suggest that Obama was a Muslim!! Why is being Muslim so offensive?? Why the hell is no one saying SO WHAT??!!

Oh dear goodness. What is happening??

Friday, March 7, 2008

A Nervous and Ranting Canuck

Last weekend I went to Chicago. A Canadian in the United States of America. Well, one of many. First of all, let me say that Chicago was absolutely wonderful. It's a beautiful city with wonderful people. Being a tourist I visited the Sears Tower, the waterfront, and went to see the musical Wicked.

However, I must say at this time that as a result of my, and friends' visits to the land of the free, I have realized how absolutely ignorant the people are and how messed up the American system is. Now this will come across as offensive to many. And it should. But it should also be known the impression the American people have on those visiting their country.

First, as I was entering the US I was harassed by American customs. I wonder why that could be. Even my bags were scanned. Again, I wonder why that could be. What a wonderful way to say welcome to America. The racist asshole at customs figured I must be up to no good because I have brown skin and a Muslim name. Makes sense doesn't it.

The rest of the trip was fine though I have to admit I did at times feel like a fish out of water. That could be because the US is not home, and as they say, there's no place like home. As a Canadian who visits the US, I can attest to that. There really is no place like home.

However, when I was there, the stories I heard from a fellow Canadian living in the States about the American people annoyed me. How they don't know anything about Canada, the country next door. How they don't know that they are the only country in the entire world with embargoes on Cuba, still whining about Castro becoming president. Seriously, get over it. It's been what, 4 decades! The rest of the world has moved on.

And I was shocked, absolutely shocked at the level and acceptance of Islamophobia in that country. Before I went I knew this existed though. The Islamophobic accusations toward Obama and the way that no one challenged them was completely shocking!!! How is it possible that overt and explicit racism like that is acceptable? But when I was there, I felt like I could not talk about being Muslim. I could not talk about how I hated the extreme individualism of the culture. I couldn't talk! Unheard of in a "free" country. Waiting in the Chicago train station watching Fox news (sorry piece of crap excuse for journalism) I felt that if I were to say "I am a Muslim" people would panic and run away from me. Being a Muslim in America is a stigma it seems. Perhaps the Muslims living in the US don't see it that way. But as a Canadian Muslim visiting the US that is the way I read the situation.

My experiences combined with my friends who visited the US at the same time:

Louisiana: Where the poor people have not had their houses rebuilt yet and are completely neglected by their government - the richest in the world. It's been over 2 years! I guess they have more important things to spend the money on, liking killing people in Iraq.

NY: Where two women were overheard saying they would never vote for Obama because his name rhymed with Osama. Great strategy there morons. And these women were teachers!

DC: Where at a conference, attended by academics and community professionals, they did not know what diversity meant. Nor did they know what "the West" meant. Oh, and many didn't know what Western feminism was - and this was a violence against women conference!! Apparently they've been doing research on violence against women without looking at the ecological model (the environment impacting our behaviours). How is that possible?

Anyhow, enough of my rant. Those Americans reading this are probably a little pissed off now. However, don't be. Just take this as an example of how your country is read from a visitor's point of view.

However, I must say that although we faced some harassment at the Canadian border when returning I have never felt happier and prouder to be Canadian (stupid customs people - racism sees no borders eh?).

God bless Canada!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

No posts this week

As you can tell I have not been posting this week. I was away for a few days and the rest of the week I must spend catching up on school work. Posts will resume next week. Thank you for reading. Do check out some of the other blogs I have listed.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

What's Beneath the Clothes?

So when I should be doing my school work I am blogging. Ah, blogs. A grad student's downfall - along with Facebook of course.

I was having a conversation with a close Desi friend of mine yesterday about the issue of racism. Specifically speaking, we were talking about non-Desis dressing up in Desi clothing (saris, shalwar kameez) for various reasons, the worst of them being Halloween. This Desi friend of mine, like me, was born and raised in Canada and it currently doing her PhD. Her and I both agreed that this phenomenon was extremely offensive.

Previously, I had discussed the same issue with another Desi friend as well as an Arab friend, neither of whom found it offensive, and both of who would consider wearing Desi clothes on Halloween themselves. Why the difference of opinion? Well, my Canadian born Desi friend and I came to the conclusion that it was because they were both born and raised outside of Canada - one in Pakistan and one in the Middle East. Neither experienced the type of racism we did about our Desi culture growing up. They didn't hear "Eww, that food stinks", or "Does your mom wear a sheet?", or "Does your dad wear a towel on his head?" The culture that once was disgusting, gross, and weird is now the thing. Everyone loves Indian food, knows about Bollywood, and is in awe of our saris. But then, when we were growing up, when we were in our most impressionable years, when we were in our identity formation years, it was not cool at all to be Desi.

So I suppose there is some bitterness there. What you once thought was repulsive you now embrace. And as much as we appreciate this new found appreciation, we still cannot forget our humiliation.

However, as bitter as some of us may be, this is not the deepest explanation. I think, a more intense reason for which I am offended at the thought of seeing someone wear Desi clothing on Halloween, is the racist undertones which occur in the presentation. These same racist undertones are present when a non-Desi person, particularly a member of the dominant group, or a White person, wears Desi clothing in other situations. For example, the White Hollywood actresses who wear saris to events, or Madonna wearing saris and decorating her hands with henna.

For years, people like myself and my family, struggled to maintain this culture. We struggled against the sneers and smirks, to maintain a sense of pride in our culture. We struggled to normalize our culture and thus ourselves. Those who grew up in the sub-continent at that same time were never a part of this struggle. They have come here now, after we made our culture somewhat normalized and made others appreciate it. They have it easy. Although they may face racism as well, their struggles will never be the same as the pioneers of our community.

Therefore, when those from outside the community don our clothing as if to say "this is fun, this is cool, this is easy" they trivialize our struggles. They fail to recognize how much we fought, often within ourselves, to make others appreciate our culture, our clothes, our food, our identities. So what we say back is "What we did to get to a point where people respect our culture was not fun, cool or easy. Now you're taking that respect away. You are taking away what is ours through a fight. You are taking away what identifies me. You are taking away what identifies my struggles. You are not appreciating our struggles. You are not respecting our fight. You're saying all that is a fun and funky outfit.You're reaping the benefits of something you never worked for nor could appreciate." And then to make that into a Halloween costume adds insult to injury. Now it's all a costume.

Now I'm not saying don't eat Desi food or listen to Desi music, etc. I am saying there is a limit which should not be crossed. And that limit occurs when you appropriate our culture and deny our experiences. Truly respecting our culture is to recognize the racism we experienced, the fight we fought.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

It's snowing outside and I LOVE it. Yes, I am truly Canadian. But let me explain why I love the snow. Or, to be more precise, why I love the snow falling.

When the snow falls outside, I feel cozy inside. I crave hot chocolate and a good book. I feel giddy and young. I go back to my childhood days when we would pray for a snow day every single winter day, and run around the house ecstatic when our prayers would be answered. We would stay in our pajamas and watch cartoons all day long. Even now, those same smiles come to my face when I see it snow outside.

Being a PhD student however, I cannot curl up with a good book but rather have to negotiate with my laptop - or at least with the documents stored in my laptop. Yet, the snow outside encourages me to do the work needed to be done. After all, the snow tells me it is winter and I am supposed to be in school. It tells me to stay inside and fulfill my duties as a student. Had there been sun and green grass, like the devil, it would tempt me away from that which I have to do. The snow, like the angel, tells me to be a good student.

Another reason I love the snow. I live in a condo here and do not need to shovel snow like I do at my parents home. My car is also with my family. No snow-clearing workout every morning. That may be why my views of snow have become so much more positive since I moved away from home.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Let's Tell Them: Sex Does Not Sell

I have been wanting to rant about those damn Tag/Axe commercials for AGES! I cannot stand those degrading, disgusting commercials. For a few years now, every Tag and Axe commercial depicts women as skinny, scantily clad, wild, animalistic, nymphomaniacs who cannot control their beast-like impulses when presented with a Tag or Axe scented man/boy. How such obviously disgusting and degrading images are allowed on television in the 21st century is beyond my understanding.

These commercials further this notion of woman as sexual being. They are telling men that this sexual animalistic woman is the type of woman they desire. This nymphomaniac is the woman they should want chasing after them. However, the most disturbing is that these commercials are saying that women are animals! Yes, we are animals. Not humans anymore, but animals. Roaring, chasing men as hunters chasing prey. This vision of sexuality honestly reminds me of Al-Ghazali's notion of female sexuality in which the woman is the hunter and the man the prey. These commercials, surprisingly, advocate Ghazali's idea of female sexuality. Though, I am sure this version of female sexuality is NOT exclusive to Ghazali. It is nonetheless extremely degrading and repulsive. It also extremely disrespectful.

However, this is also the culture in which women willing expose their breasts for the offensive and disgusting Girls Gone Wild videos. Ariel Levy so aptly calls this female chauvinism in her book Female Chauvinist Pigs. According to Levy the culture of pornography has provided the model of female sexuality today. Women believe that to be sexually alluring to men is a part of their sexuality. Women today confuse sexual power with power.

Ironically, as I write I am watching the show X-weighted, a reality show, in which one contestant tries to lose a certain amount of weight during the course of the show. The show I'm watching is following a 20 year old girl who aims to be able to wear a bikini in three months. At one point a "men's lifestyle" (is that what they call 'those' magazines now?) comes to ask her to be in the magazine once she has reached her goal. While explaining the process he tells her that her picture will appear at the back with the other girls they profile. According to this man they choose girls who are healthy, have a healthy lifestyle and diet, and take care of themselves. Meanwhile the example pictures they show are of half naked women, one with her bikini top coming off. Yes, that's healthy. And the contestant wants to model for them (though she doesn't think she will ever be that fit) because she thinks that will be a confidence booster. Again, this is another example of how such images are shown as the ones we as women should aspire to.

Just on a side note: Many women enjoy those Dove commercials. The Dove: Campaign for Real Beauty commercials have worked so well they've increased their sales. Although a cheap and sad ploy of using feminism to make money it has worked with women. However, other than the business aspect of it there is a very important warning that MUST go along with this campaign. Unilever is the company which makes Dove products. Unilever ALSO makes Axe products!!! Just so you know. Food for thought.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Body as Battleground

All our hearts ached for the victims of the devastating tsunami a few of years ago. One of the worst natural disasters in recent history. Many people asked why such a horrible thing would happen. How could so many innocent lives be taken like that? Who knows why things like this happen. Who knows God's plan. Who knows why God planned that.

Well, it seems some people in Indonesia do know why it happened and have found the culprits. Yay! Actual people to blame. But guess whose fault it is? Well, no, not the West. Not directly at least though one could argue there may be an indirect connection. Anyhow, guess again. That's right! WOMEN!

Why is that not a surprise to me? According to my friend, and journalist, Natasha Fatah, the right-wing conservatives of Banda Aceh have been blaming the women of the town for the calamity. In her article, Religion and natural disasters shouldn't mix, Fatah tells us how, following the tsunami, the local sharia-pushing conservatives found the perfect opportunity among the terror-ridden residents to spread their version of events. According to them it was the immorality of the women that caused God to punish them. To protect from further disasters they forced many restrictions on the woman. These self appointed morality police banned night time concerts so women would not be out at night and movie theatres were closed so that men and women would not be in the same dark space.

What was their proof? That's right. They had proof. The naked dead bodies of women from the disaster. When the force of the water hit these women, for many it ripped the clothes (sarongs and nightgowns) off their bodies. However, these guardians of Islam provided an alternate explanation saying that they were naked because of their immorality and this was God's way of punishing them, as well as everyone else for allowing them to be immoral.

Now this is getting to be an extremely old story. Whenever so-called Islamic law is implemented the first victims are always women. Always. They are the prey for the perverted, testosterone-thirsty (because real men, who follow the example of the Prophet (pbuh), would never behave this way), estrogen-hating 'mullahs.' Women are less powerful than men. They are easy targets. Easy to push around and bully. Their bodies are vessels for a very weak, fragile, and restless morality which, if not carefully watched, will find the first opportunity to escape into the real world to cause chaos, or fitna (disorder or chaos), among society. Therefore, they, like little, naive children, need to be instructed and ordered so that they do not harm themselves or others.

Fatah, in her article, quite aptly points out the 'female body as battleground' phenomenon.

A woman's body is always the easiest battleground for religious zealots. It's hard to monitor honesty and morality but it's easy to chastise a woman if her hair is showing, if her clothes are too tight, if she's talking to a man in private, if she's out after 9 p.m.

For centuries it seems the female body has become a political battleground around the world. No part of the world is guiltless. Whether it be using rape as a weapon of war or telling women how to dress, this is an international and ageless tragedy. However, in recent times it seems Muslim countries have made the female body a favourite playground for their war games.

Iran and Saudi Arabia tell women she must cover her body from head to toe, she must have a male relative accompany her body when outside the home, her body must not drive - all to guard the morality of society, all to control this sexual being who was created to wreak havoc. *

Turkey tells women they must not cover their heads so that the rest of Europe does not see them as extremist or sympathetic to the fundamentalists. After all, we all know that only those extreme women wear the hijab.

Women everywhere are told to veil for two common reasons. The first is to protect the morality of the Muslim Ummah. The morality of the Muslim Ummah lies in her body. If she uncovers her hair her sexuality will be released to wreak havoc and will lead to the ultimate destruction of the Ummah. The second, to pledge allegiance to other Muslims and demonstrate solidarity. The hijab is a clear label of Muslim-ness. It clearly tells the whole world you are a Muslim. Therefore, to show the Ummah's pride and confidence Muslim women must cover.

Just as these occurrences in Indonesia point out, the female body is still a ripe and 'fertile' battleground. Used to instill fear in people's hearts, her body terrifies men into oppressing. This makes this tactic extremely successful for those in the business of using bodies. How and when we will be able to defeat this is one question I wish we could answer but unfortunately this plague seems impossible eradicate.

* Read Fatima Mernissi's description of Imam Al-Ghazali's interpretation of female sexuality. The idea of woman as fitna-causing originate with him.
Mernissi, F. (1987). Beyond the veil: Male-female dynamics in modern Muslim society. Bloomington : Indiana University.