Posts from November 2014

Some thoughts about “Street harassment”

November 10, 2014

In a perfect world things would be more like this:

“Tell the believing men to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what they do. And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.” (Translated by Sahih International, copied from Quran.com)

There is a now viral video about street harassment online, and many other reactive videos (I’ll post the ones I watched below). The cruz of the video is a women walking around New York for ten hours, poor girl, and being “harassed” by men, many take issue that the only men show harassing were black and hispanic men -in watching the video I did think -is she in Harlem? What I also thought was that this women is dressed, though mostly covered, in very tight fitting jeans and t-shirt. I think the video producers want us to believe the clothes she has on is standard American wear -which it is, but I also think that want us to believe that because it is a typical American girl outfit it is also neutral. That simply isn’t the case. As a girl whose gone through quite a few fads in clothing I know the difference between wearing standard American gear and wearing a full hijab and Abaya (or other loose fitting clothing), it’s not the same. To be fair, no matter what I wear I usually get a comment from someone about something (I live in a Caribbean/ black neighborhood and I think it’s just a part of the (our) culture) but the comments do decrease the more modest I dress.

There is a nuance issue here as well. To paint all comments as street harassment simply isn’t fair. There is a difference between a man calling out “smile” or “princess” to him calling out derogatory or invasive comments and their is a big difference between a passing comment and being followed. But if were honest, which I know it’s hard to be, even following is sometimes welcome. I remember walking home once and this man started talking to me I wanted him to leave me alone but as he kept talking he began to ask about my father. He was one of my dad’s acquaintances and maybe assumed I knew him. He walked me about a block away from my home, then left. This has happened to me many times. The guy I think is a random creep trying to hit on me turns out to be a long time neighbor I never paid attention to or a family friend that I never really knew. Then there is the guy who starts talking to you, at first you’re annoyed then he mentions you go to the same whatever together. There are other times when we as women dress nice and if we don’t get complements from strangers we’ll wonder if we overestimated our beauty. When that random guy calls out “beautiful” as much as we don’t want to talk to him there is something inside us that says “thanks”.

Some men are disgusting and crude but honestly I can’t recall ever hearing anything beyond the “I didn’t like you anyway” when I’ve rejected to engage. If there was ever the b-word or a vulgar sexual remark, I didn’t hear it. We can’t pretend that street harassment is a black and white issue. We can’t excuse men for bad behavior but we can’t excuse ourselves either. When women get dressed up they want people to notice, the issue is most of us only want certain people (or a certain person) to notice and we wish all the rest would leave us alone. Well, that’s not going to happen. If you “look good” all men will notice and if you don’t want them to notice throw on a burka and they won’t. Men have to change as well. Vulgarity that some women experience is atrocious but are the calls to “smile”, “take care” or “you’re beautiful” worth a campaign, I don’t think so.

But really God already told us what to do. A challenge, because men are visual. A challenge because women like to be beautiful. Allah gives us the best of solutions to fulfill our needs and remove harm from our interactions. Women, be beautiful to those men who not alone adore your beauty but respect you and with whom you don’t have to fear harm. Men look at the beauty of women, but only those who you love respect and honor.

Men should leave strange women alone and gaze at the beauty of those whom they love (their household). Women should dress beautiful for the men of their household and conform to modesty in front of strange men. If we followed God’s way there would be no street harassment… but human beings are, in most things, contentious. Lets’s talk…

The same person

November 6, 2014

We were the same person
At different times
You held your ground
And I was out of line
You told me to look both ways
But don’t speak
Touching from a distance was my escape
It was my escape
It was my escape

All I wanted was to know you better
Rain or shine
And in the perfect weather
All I wanted was to know you better
Rain or shine
And in the perfect weather

You were afraid
And I was scared
It always seemed like you’re never prepared
You blinded me
To the pain
Beneath your cover I could see your shame
Wash me clean
Purify my eyes
It’d be too bold
To say
You were a liar
I just wanted to know you still cared
Wanted you to act like I was here
I disappeared
I ran away
But from you I can’t escape
I can’t escape

We were the same person
At different times
You held your ground
And I was out of line
You told me to look both ways
But don’t speak
Touching from a distance was my escape

You were wrong
But I wasn’t right
It always feels like I live in fright
I wanted to hear those words
I chocked up with the story you told
I couldn’t cry because it was too late
But I forgive of your mistakes
For your mistakes

Clean Up!

November 5, 2014

10606063_1527783407463065_227292540332011506_nClean up time. I moved in/out about two weeks ago -wait, no, only a few days ago. Yes, it’s true time does fly (or rather it moves extremely slowly?). I still remember flying on a plane to visit my sister in Qatar. And remember even more clearly saying goodbye to my parents in the airport. How fortunate I am to have them. Why did they let me go so far away to be in a community they’ve barely heard of with people they never met? All this comes to mind though all I wanted to write about was the garbage on my floor. A Starbucks bag from the muffin and cookie I just bought. I think I discovered where the white people are in Jordan.

When I went to Starbucks.

There they were. Though I’m not sure if they were white, they looked white. But at the counter were white women, laughing and giggling the way they distinctly do. Starbucks lovers and somehow they kept their figure. Starbucks was some kind of status symbol we could all afford. But only the white girl with Starbucks in hand counted, how American. But these white women were speaking Arabic as any other Arab would. It was too culturally embedded in their phrases for me to think they were white girls who happened to know the language well. They were what one great leader envisioned -“Indian on the outside, white on the inside”. With the obvious Arab insert.

Jordanians are an interesting bunch. Cab drivers are always interesting. My cabby on the way to the mall was best* and not beast*. That’s what I thought he said, “Jordan is beast”, see my friends that makes no sense. Its like mistaking a ح for a ه or a ا with a ع since you just can’t do that. Because it could change the whole meaning. Only a few out of context minutes later did I realize what he said and didn’t find my realization worth revelation. But yes he was best* because he had a brother who lived in California and ask me normal not-too-personal questions. Though he asked me the standard “Are you married?”. To which the answer is ‘no, in sha Allah’ but to which I always want to say ‘Are you proposing?’ because really I don’t get the point of a question like that otherwise. Unless he was married and wanted to see if we could compare the glories and trials of married life, which I’m sure would be interesting -but weird.

Well I was cleaning and there were candy bar wrappers and I just ate bread with olive oil and cheese and I’ve just been wondering when exactly I’m going to get on track with my diet and lose 50 pounds. I want to come back to NY as the self I once was over three years ago. Slim. Not happy, because being slim doesn’t make you happy. Though it does make you happy about your weight. And so I await to have the ‘harojuko’ (?) moment Tim Ferris was talking about. Still waiting. Lets’s talk…

What is wrong with me?

November 2, 2014

What is wrong with me?
Is there something I cannot see?
Is there something I do not know?
What is this disease that seems to grow?
And what is this peace I seem to lack
And why the lack of contact
And where do I find you
When I know your always there
And how can I worry when to you I entrust all my care
And where is it that your hiding
And why am I so veiled
And why all this hypocrisy when I know what love entails
And where do you wait for me
In my prayers or in my sleep
Or in my dhikr
Or when I weep
And why am I so distant and you so close to me

What is it I cannot see
And how many appointments have I missed
And how I’ve missed you
And I’ve been drowning without you
I’ve been in this sea
You taught me how to swim but I forgot how to breathe
You gave me everything
So what is it that makes me so unsure
And what do have in store
And how I’m afraid that I won’t last
And how can I account for my past

When the veil is lifted will I be shocked to see the mountains of sin piled up by me
Lord please forgive
I know what to do but I’m trapped in this sea
You threw me a raft
But I can’t quite reach
This life filled with emptiness

And you are supreme

-6/13/2014

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