As a first-born Muslim daughter, I was neither sad nor happy. There were challenging situations, but there were beautiful memories too. I kind of feel like it has moulded me into a stronger person. I can handle a lot of things because of what I went through.
We have explained why “Why were you out so late?” and “what were you wearing?” are problematic responses to cases of violence. It communicates that women should be held responsible for their own safety and blamed when things go wrong. But have we ever considered that even well-intentioned instructions to “be careful” and “take precautions” can be energy-sapping and exhausting?
The pick-me attitude is both dangerous and deserving of compassion; dangerous because it is damaging to our collective existence as women and deserving of compassion because this game is unempowering even to the women who signal their virtues as distinct from the rest.
We want to (rightfully) debate and critique Islamophobic establishments that bar our sisters from their rights to wear hijab. However, we will ignore the epidemic of the rising “spiritual leaders”, “scholars” and “holy men” in our communities who have been demonstrated to commit various forms of abuse against vulnerable women.
I feel very strongly that we shouldn’t just have ‘sisters’ committees’ which are kept separate from the main decision-making Board. Women should be sitting with men and feeding into discussions and decisions that affect the whole community.
Society tells women a million ways, how to avoid being harassed, how to dress modestly, how not to walk alone at night, how to be extra careful, how to be a nun practically and live in the forest or disappear. No one preaches hard to men to refrain or endeavour to look away as enjoined in the Qur’an. It’s really not about dressing. It’s about power dynamics and zero consequences.”
I acknowledge that once upon a time, our “aunties” were once Muslim girls, who unfortunately were subjected to the same experiences bedevilling young Muslim women of today. Due to the sexist structures put in place to uphold their oppression, they were unable to adequately navigate and dismantle their predicaments.
For what it’s worth, it’s important to discuss the sex scenes in ‘Bridgerton’ and analyse whether or not they are a representation of what good sex should look like. In this writer’s humble opinion, ‘Bridgerton’ sex is terrible and should never be a model or a “how-to” manual for sex. This is especially in relation to female orgasm because as women, we deserve better. Bad sex scenes are unfortunately common in a lot of TV shows and ‘Bridgerton’ is not an exception.
Belonging at the margins of society without any facilitation or channel, more visibly Muslim women are finding themselves at the receiving end of the growing Islamophobia and the perils of it. They feel unsafe both at the hands of the liberal who finds it a responsibility to rationalize them with modernity and to the far right-wing which views them as objects of fascination to be subjugated if they ever raise their voices.
I didn’t have a name for what I was going through. My trauma vocabulary didn’t include domestic violence, spiritual abuse, victim blaming, or power and control. But it sure was full of self-loathing and blaming, helplessness, and hopelessness. I had internalized every woman-hating khutba (sermon) that echoed outside of my apartment once a day, if not more, at the nearby mosques.