Why yes, I am a woman…

So I want to preface this post by saying that this isn’t going to be particularly articulate.  Nor is this post an article – and it definitely has Islamic content, but no Islamic scholarship.  This post is purely and simply an outlet for something that has been bugging me.  And since I’ve got nowhere else to put this anger, I’m sharing it with the world – right here on this blog.  

For me, hijab is a lot of things.  First and foremost it is a reflection of my personal modesty, a personal modesty that I take up purely because Allah has commanded me to.  I suppose after that, it is about self-identification and then identification as a Muslim to the outside world.  It is also about how I want to express my spirituality and how I feel about my relationship with Allah.  

But what I want to talk about right now is how hijab for me is such a height of femininity.  This is not to take away from those who do not wear it, this is purely about me.  I feel like hijab, veils, head-wraps, saris, head-dresses and more – all of these are such a beautiful expression and adornment of feminine beauty.  This is a kind of female beauty that is world-wide and seen across many different cultures and religions.  It is a way of expressing the epitome of all that is feminine without that having to be a sexual thing.  Subhanallah, I probably can’t even describe properly how beautifully feminine hijab is, how intrinsically and how simply and strongly feminine it is.  Just trust me that it is.  

Inter-linked with this notion that hijab is a great way to express femininity without sexualising the female, is the counterpart to that, the role that men have been given by Allah, as expressed through Islam.  So how do men express their height of masculinity, the counterpart to my femininity, without it becoming a sexual thing?  What are the rules and regulations of our interaction as two sides to the human state of being?  

Late last year there was an incident, hanging out with a group of male Muslim friends and a Muslimah (one of the brother’s wife) when one of the brother’s said something bawdy.  The married brother said, “uhhhhhh, there are sisters present”, to which the brother apologised to the other Muslimah and then (from memory he was prompted and responded with) “Eugenia, oh no need to worry, she’s one of the guys”.  

This experience really prompted the realisation that I have been mixing with some men, that perhaps (I don’t know because I can’t see in to their hearts, but this is how it seems to me) have, in their efforts to be good Muslim men and de-sexualise me, have also de-feminised me.  To me (and I’m no scholar here, so correct me if I am wrong), this just seems completely wrong, because as my hijab indicates, I am a female who has the right to be treated as such.  This means, I should not be treated like “one of the boys”, I should not have to listen to bawdy conversation and I should not have to be subjected to such behaviour…and  here we perhaps hit the real issue, I think I should be afforded a real marriage from a strong masculine Muslim man who knows how to bring out my femininity and respond to that appropriately and as the counterpart to that.  

Self-conscious as I feel, I’m still going to post this.  I am a Muslimah who is well-educated, I’m opinionated, I like to think I am accomplished, I like Hip Hop and Rap music, I have a successful career and I love politics, hard-core thoughts and direct action.  The really sensitive part of me feels like this makes people view me as masculine and perhaps that is why I get treated this way.  The extra-sensitive part of me goes “this is why I continue to go unmarried” – viewed as unmarriagable by those men who are simply just not masculine enough to respond to the strength of my personal type of femininity.  Sure, it may not be typical or it may not be like the other types of feminine that other Muslimahs put out there, BUT it is most definitely feminine.  

At any rate, this post was just kind of a rant.  One to remind people that I am not one of the boys (sometimes I get sick of being the only female in discussions, or having to constantly debate, share and engage in critical thought with mostly men).  Two to let you all know that I will never again allow myself to be treated as a non-female, just because someone got lost on their way to de-sexualising me.  Three to just get some anger out of my life. 

Now let’s all hope and pray I never have to mention this again!

Peace ❤

Oh and P.S. – who wants to bet on how long before I get all self-conscious and take this post down??? haha!

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11 thoughts on “Why yes, I am a woman…

  1. I identify with so many things you said – that because you are successful and opinionated you are somehow unfeminine. Because I’m beginning to feel that in the Muslim world, to be feminine means subservience and tangible inferiority. And I think that’s really sad.

    1. Hello there lovely lady, thank you for your response. I was going to actually delete this post this morning, but then when I saw your comment it gave me a bit of courage to keep this up. So thank you, thank you, thank you!

      It is incredibly sad when you think about the great respect that the Prophet Muhammad PBUH had for women. I always go back to this story here: http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Islam/2004/10/I-Will-Stand-With-You-Mother-Khadija.aspx

      I recommend everyone reads it!

  2. You’re very welcome – thank you for writing the piece in the first place.

    I think the utmost expression of gender comes back to something not gender related at all – character. I think strength, honesty, compassion, humour, humility and righteousness are the epitome of masculine quality. But, have a think about each of those qualities, and they are also equally feminine.

    I’ve noticed that Muslim women often lament the lack of availability of good Muslim men in this day and age. But it has occurred to me that Muslim guys have the same complaint – and that it is perhaps because we do not know our fellow Muslims and wider community the way we should. I feel a great barrier in communicating with Muslims of the opposite gender; even in the most basic, constructive conversation in community spirit. Perhaps it is this disengagement that has left many of us feeling objectified, degendered, uncherished and unappreciated.

  3. Hullo! Salam alaykom.

    I really like this “rant”.. The beginning is beautiful and a beautiful description of hijab. I have actually memorised a line or 10 for next time I get asked why Muslim women wear the hijab 🙂
    (I don’t wear it .. yet .. inshAllah one day, but how you describe it is really compelling).

    To LM .. yeah I’d like to wish, but no. The Muslim girls are awesome. The Muslim boys poor things are really confused how to act. And I think Eugenia touches on this with the boys not knowing whether to treat a girl as one of the boys or a female to be revered and precious or what. And they don’t know how to be strong without being aggressive, don’t know don’t know how to be confident without over compensating, don’t know how to be religious without almost always making it their job to “teach” a woman (me) what’s wrong ..
    Well .. at least the boys I know. 🙂

    And the girls I know are so awesome. Balanced, happy, great Muslims .. etc

    But yes, absolutely, I live in a bubble not having the facilities to mix and get to know Muslims outside my circle.
    I guess that’s a community problem though .. and of course having segregated events .. and mixing etc being “taboo” ..

    Then again I could be wrong and that’s just my experiences 🙂
    Anyway, thanks Eugenia .. back-reading and really enjoying your reflections. Thanks and looking forward to more!!

  4. Walaikum Salaam Zena, thanks for your comments and support of my writing!

    It’s such a huge issue in the community at the moment, this whole thing about finding the right spouse. So many good spouses (both female and male) ‘on paper’ but in reality it’s like the connection isn’t there. Are we just asking for too much? Allah knows best!

    I guess just to balance my rant, I look at some of the brothers I know and their wonderful relationships and totally awesome wives and it gives me hope – ultimately hope is always with us!

  5. hehe I don’t know .. only a close inspection of ones heart can satisfactorily answer that question.
    Me, I’m 29 single and a happy go lucky kind of kid.
    I don’t want someone who I am not excited to see when I see them or excited to talk to when I talk to them or am embarrassed of .. or doesn’t make me laugh or who wants me to “fly” but only in cages.
    What’s the point?
    Why should I go backwards in life?
    Yeah I see happily married relationships everywhere including my parents ..
    I want that .. but it’s so hard to find decent Muslim guys.
    Now decent muslims girls? They’re EVERYWHERE!!
    Loving your writing 🙂
    So conversational 🙂

    1. Zena – thanks for the feedback – I suppose you are right, as women we aren’t asking for too much and we should never settle for less. I just don’t want to dishearten the multitude of brothers out there who are decent Muslim men. I know some of them, although most of them are already married or about to be married (mashallah and inshallah).

      Allahu’alim!

  6. Hey Eugenia, I came across your blog by chance but I’ve heard some great things about you from the Ayubi sisters!!

    I’m glad you didnt delete this post…love it 🙂

    1. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment Maria! I’m glad I didn’t delete it afterall as well 🙂

      As for the Ayubi sisters, well yes, I have heard about you from them too 😉

  7. Salaams Genie, I decided to drop by your blog because I haven’t had time to read it in a while. I’m glad you didn’t take this down because it’s something that I think a lot of Muslim women struggle with. I know so many strong, opinionated, out-there, amazing women who would make fantastic wives but all I hear from Muslim men are that they want someone who isn’t as smart as them, isn’t as educated as them, won’t stand up to them, and is naive and submissive in speech and act. Not necessarily directly but it’s there, and it is all too common.

    It baffles me that these men (who are often the same men that don’t want their wife to work) want someone who is, essentially, an airhead – who looks pretty and does what she’s told, who doesn’t think for herself, who is just plain DUMB; is this the kind of person you want to be raising your children? Why are some people so insecure about themselves that they are willing to let their children grow up in that kind of household, just to satisfy their own ego???

    1. Hey salaams love I know this was ages ago but I thought I should still reply! This topic is just so relevant and as we’ve discussed I still feel really angry and hurt by my Muslim brothers who failed to assist me in my strive to make a marriage. But alhumdilillah I have what is best now 🙂

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