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The March for Black Women and Why We Need It

The March for Black Women and Why We Need It

“Women of color have always led change. We won’t stop now.” In this case, ‘women of color’ pertains specifically to Black womxn. It’s a very true statement, yet even that they don’t receive credit for. In all honesty, I didn’t even know the March for […]

Bring Your Own Spoon To Dinner – 8 Lessons from Ertugrul 

Bring Your Own Spoon To Dinner – 8 Lessons from Ertugrul 

By Abu Awud Ertugrul (died c. 1280) was the father of Osman I, the founder of the Ottoman Empire. According to Ottoman tradition, he was the son of Suleyman Shah, leader of the Kayı tribe of Oghuz Turks, who fled from eastern Iran to Anatolia to escape the Mongol […]

Bahraini Film Gets International Recognition at ScreamFest

Bahraini Film Gets International Recognition at ScreamFest


For those of you who are unaware, a short horror film from the tiny archipelago of Bahrain was screened at the 2018 ScreamFest Film Festival in Los Angeles! ScreamFest is the largest and longest running Horror Film Festival in the United States, and has premiered some of the most successful films in the Horror genre, including Paranormal Activity, and The Grudge!

In this years line-up for Horror Shorts, we have the film Cloven, which was produced, directed, and acted-in entirely by a Bahraini cast and crew.

Clad wholly in black, the tell-tale sign of her approach is the ominous sound of hooves that send kids fleeing in fright.

Cloven is a horror story based on the Bahraini Folktale, ‘Homarat Al-Guyla’ or, more simply, ‘Um Homar’, which roughly translates to ‘Donkey Lady’. According to one source ‘Um Homar’, “…tells the story of a half-woman, half-donkey creature who seeks out and eats kids.” Parents typically use this folktale to warn their children about the dangers of indulging in the unknown. Clad wholly in black, the tell-tale sign of her approach is the ominous sound of hooves that send kids fleeing in fright. “No one knows her true origins, but the cunning and deceitful Donkey Lady is known for knocking on doors when parents are taking their noon nap after a long morning’s work. She approaches homes and cries out to kids for their help, begging for food or water. If they do as they are told and not open the door to strangers, Um Homar begins to bang on it, instilling fear into their hearts.”

The intention is to empower filmmakers throughout the region to ensure a greater scope of representation in the film-making and visual story-telling.

The producer, director, and co-writer of the film, Mohamed Fakhro, produced this film with the intention of bringing filmmakers’ awareness to the production company, Blu Steel Films, a Bahraini film company that seeks to cater to both local and international studio needs. After studying film in Paris, Fakhro launched his mission to push the production of Bahraini narrative filmmaking. The intention is to empower filmmakers throughout the region to ensure a greater scope of representation in the film-making and visual story-telling. Most certainly, the kind of recognition Cloven has received at ScreamFest, a well-established L.A. Film Festival, indicates a step in the right direction.

Starring as the lead in this film talented actress, Reem Erhama. Having acted in both short films, and feature-length movies, Erhama has travelled a long journey towards the acting world during which she has faced societal, familial, and religious customs all poised to curb her success, and stigmatize her choice of career. Irrespective of these obstacles, Erhama wishes to set an example for young Arab actresses as she hopes to inspire the upcoming generation to follow their dreams and make them come true on their own terms. This is crystal-clear indication that there could be no better team than that of Fakhro and Erhama; a creative duo demanding far-reaching representation and diverse story-telling, and being rewarding with recognition from the most exclusive film festival of their genre.



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Why You Should Always Check Your Breasts

Why You Should Always Check Your Breasts

As women, life takes us by storm. Yes, all people have their personal issues to adhere to. Women in particular though, have a lot on their plate, especially when it comes to their bodies. We get our menstrual cycles, give birth, breastfeed, deal with post-baby […]

How to Support Survivors of Sexual Assault

How to Support Survivors of Sexual Assault

Statement courtesy of the PLANNED PARENTHOOD FEDERATION OF AMERICA:                                   NEW YORK, NY— The public discourse around the accusations of sexual assault against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh has included […]

Are You My Auntie?  Here’s How to Beat the Auntie Army

Are You My Auntie? Here’s How to Beat the Auntie Army


I endured infinite glares, lectures, and snubs from the community, after I moved into my own apartment a few years ago. But from distant acquaintances in the community, that I don’t even talk to regularly. An auntie who I hadn’t seen since her daughter’s 9th grade party, glared at me in Target. Auntie, you don’t know me.

Sure, there are times when questionable actions call for discussions: like joining a gang or drinking alcohol. But, it should involve someone you know and trust, like an actual blood relative, or an older family friend you grew up with that gently and privately advises you, not publicly shames you.

Don’t get me wrong, I value community and elders, contrary to what people might think. The problem is when community members bypass their role as a supporter during hard times, and instead become judges. Giving strangers familial roles (calling them auntie, uncle, cousin, etc) allows them to further assume intimate roles typically reserved for actual blood relatives: inputting their opinion on all of your life choices. This structure may be beneficial in village communities, you don’t have your own family and need extra support but in developed, Western societies, it’s showing itself to be an extra burden.

Sure, there are times when questionable actions call for discussions: like joining a gang or drinking alcohol. But, it should involve someone you know and trust, like an actual blood relative, or an older family friend you grew up with that gently and privately advises you, not publicly shames you.

Now, back at home in my 30’s, I feel like a kid. But are my colleagues that much more advanced than me? One colleague regularly lamented that her albeit sweet mother- in- law sent her and her husband meals weekly, without being asked. She even planned their weekend activities. My colleague would suggest an event to her husband and he would say, we already have plans that night. She would say, “Those are your parents’ plans, not ours!” But they were a unit.

South Asian aunties will pull the ‘respect your elders’ card when their bullying-bordering on ancestor worship- is challenged. However, according to Islamic history and law, younger people deserve respect too, and can refuse abusive demands.

The Prophet pbuh set the example for us, saying, “Treat children fairly, treat children fairly…” (Nasai). Also, he established the value of females by rewarding those who treat them well: “Whoever has three daughters, or three sisters…and he keeps good company with them… then Paradise is for him.…” (Tirmidhi)

Don’t worry, the aunties took me off their blacklist. (How they decided, I don’t know. At their yearly Chai Convention?) I learned I was accepted again through one of their forms of communications: rishta, or marriage suggestions. Aunties will communicate that they like you, or want to make up with you, by suggesting a single guy for marriage to you. That is their way of breaking the ice. It’s pretty funny, and slightly flattering, but can be a bit manipulative. I don’t think we need to involve an innocent guy’s future in our reconciliation; a simple Hi how are you nice to see you again works well too.

South Asian aunties will pull the ‘respect your elders’ card when their bullying-bordering on ancestor worship- is challenged. However, according to Islamic history and law, younger people deserve respect too, and can refuse abusive demands.

However, the matchmaking form of communication works better for me than their most common form: gossip. Gossip is not a normal form of communication, although it’s widely used. Women may enjoy doing it for a few reasons, such as it brings them closer together, or makes them feel important, but I think the underlying reason women do it is they are passive-aggressive. When they have a problem, rather that addressing it head-on, they vent in a roundabout way by gossiping. When a woman is angry with another woman (usually boiling down to jealousy) she will badmouth her to the entire girl group- who are expected to conspiratorially denounce said woman- rather than discuss the problem directly with the involved individual. What follows, taking sides, bullying, and is totally un-Islamic, and boils down to fitnah. What happened to hearing both sides of the story (especially when both sides are supposed to be your friends), and trying to mend friendships, instead of encourage disagreements? Gossiping is an easy way out, the gossiper lays the damage and if confronted, denies denies denies. Meanwhile, they get to play ‘good cop,’ happy and innocent in front of their frenemy, while they friends are left with the burden to act as bad cop. I’ve personally dealt with this numerous times when I assertively handled a disagreement. South Asian women are so used to the passive aggressive communication in the community that they are nervous when you compliment them as ‘assertive.’

Recently, I’ve realized why South Asian mothers and aunties are so invested in their children’s lives: they were taught that their children’s futures and happiness are most important. They were taught their identity is determined by their children’s successes, not their own, that their sons and daughters dreams count, not theirs. They were made to feel guilty for pursuing their own dreams and enjoyments. This realization melted my anger to annoyance.

It wasn’t that they thought we were incapable of doing things ourselves, it’s that they were taught to think it’s their duty. Their value rests in helping us. They feel they are only loved when they are needed. Enter codependency.

At least we know the hourly texts and criticisms aren’t personal; they’ve been ingrained since the 5th century when a wizard in India came up with them.

Another reason for their involvement is their need to control. A woman does not have control over her life in the South Asian culture, her husband does. She accepts this as normal. Oftentimes he tells her if she can work, how to raise the kids, and doesn’t help her with household. Besides tasks, she is told what to do and left with a void in the emotional support department. But to exert the natural need to control something, she takes over the decision making of her children. I’ve observed this unhealthy cycle in Desi culture: Husband controls wife, wife controls child. Son grows up, had no control in his own life, so controls his wife. See the pattern? You might have lived it. I did to a certain extent. Specifically, a potential rishta disintegrated because the mother insisted on choosing her son’s wife herself. Thankfully my mom refused. (Special shout out to the Shaykh at the Orange County marriage conference for calling out Muslim guys as ‘mama’s boys.’)

Perhaps what bothers me most about the auntie army, is that it’s now recruiting women my age. Once a woman gets married, it seems her main form of communication becomes gossip and her main hobby is now judging. If you’re not careful, at first you will get swept into their smiling invitation to attend a baby shower, then get whammied with questions about your jobs, single status, and outfit. It’s not them that’s asking, it’s the Queen auntie who trained her because she needs new information to fill up her empty afternoon. So beware of these ‘aunties-in-training.’

Aunties, your personal interests matter and you deserve to live out your dreams. You are in control of your own life. Now leave me alone. This likely won’t happen for awhile, so until then:

Trust No Aunty by Maria Qamar available here.  

And to make sure you don’t become one, follow these 3 simple rules:

  1. Don’t gossip.
  2. Don’t judge.
  3. Don’t cut in the buffet line at weddings.

 



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This Muslim Woman’s Photo Essay Captures Colorism in the Social Media Age

This Muslim Woman’s Photo Essay Captures Colorism in the Social Media Age

Hi lovelies! Check out this new product that helped me tackle my hyper-pigmentation, acne scars, black heads, white heads, brown heads, and all other insecurities in just 2 days!  Say hello to unattainable-beauty-standards-fulfilling skin! #ad. If you’re tired of reading between the lines, and being […]

I Went to the Kaa’ba and It Was Everything I Expected

I Went to the Kaa’ba and It Was Everything I Expected

On 23rd May 2017, my dream came true, Alhamdulillah. On the way to Makkah, while everyone in the car was tired and taking a nap, I was a little tense. I was wondering whether I’d be able to catch Isha’s congregational prayer. As the cars […]

Women Are Taking Charge to Make the Workplace More Child-Friendly

Women Are Taking Charge to Make the Workplace More Child-Friendly


Equality in the workplace is an intense work-in-progress. There are endless issues to think about, such as the pay gap, and incessant sexual harassment at work. On the other hand, and on a brighter note, women are making things happen on their own.

Today we see both men and women responsible for the care of their children. Biologically, though, women end up playing a bigger part in nurturing. All the way from breastfeeding to emotional relaxation, a child relies extensively on their mother.

Certainly, women do get a maternity leave, but is that where it ends? Absolutely not. Women finish their allotted maternity leave, but that does not mean their child is ready to be separated from their mother, and handed off into the arms of a hired caregiver. Some children do suffer from separation anxiety. Additionally, being able to afford a caregiver is a privilege that not all families can afford. 

Certainly, women do get a maternity leave, but is that where it ends? Absolutely not.

Even in the later stages of life, a child needs their mother’s guidance, and because of work, the mother will find herself managing the delicate balance between both family and employment. Some may argue that as a result of this, women cannot manage both, as it is too heavy a burden to bear.

Looking deeper into the roots of the issue, many women are criticized for bringing their children to the workplace. Why? In one case, if a woman brings her still breastfed child into work, colleagues may deem the matter to be “inappropriate.” If the child is causing a disturbance, then yes – we can agree there is a disruption. However, many argue the main reason is breastfeeding.

Societal norms dictate that a woman’s body remain policed, and this notions trickles down to viewing breastfeeding, a natural, God-given act, as offensive. Breasts are sexualized, and as a result, breastfeeding is seen as offensive. Through this logic, one can conclude that branding breastfeeding as inappropriate in public places is purely misogynistic.

Societal norms dictate that a woman’s body remain policed, and this notions trickles down to viewing breastfeeding, a natural, God-given act, as offensive.

Another condescending argument constantly rearing it’s head against working mothers is that a mother could get distracted from her job. Whether a mother is distracted or not is not her organization’s decision to make, so long as the woman in question is still performing her work satisfactorily. The company can only act upon the issue if the mother is not actually performing well in her job or if others can’t do their job.

Shoddy arguments against working mothers are futile in this day and age. Working women across the board are breaking barriers. For example, British Member of Parliament, Jo Swinson, made history by taking her 11-week old baby to an active Commons Debate.  

MP Swinson tweeted about the ease of managing her baby at work, summarized by how simple it is to carry around a towel to wipe up her child’s face: https://twitter.com/joswinson/status/1040496963651862528.

MP Swinson was praised on the social media platform for what she did, and for the fact that her efforts to ensure clear leave policies have spurred 10 major organizations, EY and Santander to name a few, to make their leave policies publicly available.                                             

Additionally, New Zealand Prime Minister and leader of the Labor Party, Jacinda Ardern brought her baby daughter into work at the United Nations. PM Ardern continues to fight for women in the workplace, claiming that she wants to normalize the idea of women being able to bring their child into work, therefore opening up the workplace to working mothers.  

Working women across the board are breaking barriers.

Change in this arena has been slow, but steady. Whilst this year has seen rapid improvement in workplaces becoming more child-friendly, efforts to normalize this idea go back to 2010, when Italian MEP Ronzulli brought her daughter to work. The event turned some heads back then too.

So whats the solution? How can we support this new wave of mothers who insist, rightfully so, that they can tackle being excellent mothers, and stellar career-woman at the same time? By taking their needs head-on of course! Ultimately, to advance the workplace and make job spaces more child-friendly, companies can hire nannies for the mothers. They can create playing areas or daycares. The options are endless; the implementation is the more challenging part.

Efforts are being made, and people are questioning their companies’ child friendliness policies. Additionally, women around the world are constantly protesting for their governments to invest into childcare. This is how the revolution progresses! Hopefully, the whole world can catch on the importance of workspaces becoming child-friendly.





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SKIN DEEP: A Photo Essay on Skincare, Colorism, and Social Media

SKIN DEEP: A Photo Essay on Skincare, Colorism, and Social Media

Hi lovelies! Check out this new product that helped me tackle my hyper-pigmentation, acne scars, black heads, white heads, brown heads, and all other insecurities in just 2 days!  Say hello to unattainable-beauty-standards-fulfilling skin! #ad. If you’re tired of reading between the lines, and being […]