The past several months, I have been experiencing so much patriarchy and it has been so draining to deal with it all, to fight it all, that I have even lost my courage to write for pleasure. I decided today that I’ll write amidst a bunch of deadlines because I need to regain my spirit, my energy, my passion, my love for everything that gives meaning to my existence. I was reading Warshan Shire, a brilliant feminist poet whose each word makes my heart ache in the most beautiful ways possible. (She has this incredible book of poetry called Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth. Read it.) I want to hug her every word. She writes so powerfully. And it is her poetry that gave me the strength, that reignited my passion, to write again. They say that when you lose interest in the things you love and have always loved—not because you’ve found new interests (which is all valid) but because you lose the love for everything you’ve ever loved doing—it’s not a good sign about your health. I’ve been fighting this urge to lose interest in all things I love for so many months, and I regained it all only yesterday. I want to cry loving all this beauty that’s been breathed back into me, that’s finally returned home to me. May you, too, always have the strength and the energy to keep loving everything that brings you peace and power.
I’ve been thinking days and nights over things like parents’ overprotectiveness of daughters ironically ends up incapacitating the daughters, making them more vulnerable to violations of their dignity, their existence, their rights. It infuriates me that this overprotectiveness remains long after we’ve achieved adulthood, married, had kids and even grandkids, but if we are divorced or widowed, we regain that overprotectiveness. At this point, I refuse to see it as overprotectiveness or anything well-meaning at all – at this point, at a point when you’re a mature, adult woman with plenty an experience to live in and survive the patriarchy that motivated your parents’ controlling behavior in the first place, this behavior stems from an utter rejection of you, of an utter lack of trust in you, of an utter greed of personal reputation that always has and always will come before the daughter.
I’ve been thinking about the fact that when you call someone out on their patriarchy or use the word patriarchal with them to identify something they’re doing or saying, they go, “I’m NOT patriarchal!” – that they understand the harm of being patriarchal and don’t want to own that patriarchy but STILL do it anyway. Kashmala tells people they’re being patriarchal when they’re being patriarchal, and I’ve recently begun to worry about a very possible case in which she might tell a student that they’re being patriarchal, the student will tell the teacher on Kashmala, and Kashmala will be reprimanded for “accusing” people of being patriarchal. I worry about the effect that might have on Kashmala, however temporary.
I’ve been thinking about the tone-policing that women, especially feminist women, receive for being critical – whether of practices, of institutions, or of individuals. (This happens to me a lot, but today, I experienced this in a very special way. Special in a bad way, that is.) Here’s to every. single. woman. who resists the status quo and writes in a way that feeds her soul, regardless of what others have to say, even those in positions of power over her. Comforting thoughts to all who have to censor themselves because they can’t afford to carry themselves their way ❤
I’ve been thinking about the moments when the men we love, the men of our families and communities, choose the best of the patriarchy of the east and the best of the patriarchy of the west whenever they benefit them, but refusing to extend us the benefit of the either of these patriarchies. This dangerous combination leads to a unique type of patriarchy that destroying women individually and their relationships with the men around them but benefits the men immensely. (I’ll write on this separately. It requires separate attention especially because it angered a male academic scholar on my Facebook today.) It’s not resentment that I feel. It’s not envy that I feel. It’s something else, and I haven’t quite yet figured out what it is. It doesn’t reduce the love we feel for the men in our lives, but there’s a feeling, a strong feeling, a bitter taste that their dangerous selectiveness of the best for themselves leaves in our mouths. In a discussion on the ways that “Islam” is imagined particularly in mainstream western conversations on “Islam,” Saadia Toor calls this selectiveness “patriarchal opportunism” in her article How Not to Talk about Muslim Women. It’s when “the rights granted to women under Islamic law become inconvenient for the purpose of patriarchal control, in which case ‘Islam’ is all-too-easily tossed aside in favor of ‘custom’ and ‘tradition’ and when “patriarchal structures from families to nation-states strategically select elements from an ideological ‘toolbox’ in their attempt to gain support for the sexual regulation of women.” (And this is a practice employed very conveniently by Muslims and non-Muslims, by institutions and individuals.
Again, I’ll have to discuss this in more detail another time because the topic is becoming too important to me not to.
Anyway, all this to say I’m excited to write again ❤ And everything I will write will be a love note to myself and to other women. And speaking of love notes, you should read this love letter by The Fatal Feminist – she writes that everything she writes is a love letter ❤
Happy New Year to the world! May we all have a beautiful feminist new year!