Muslim Girl in America

I'm an American girl, born and raised, and a Muslim.

Brave Woman

This is such a brave woman, opening up about her depression.

Bollywood Star Opens Up About Her Depression on HuffPost

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Eid Mubarak!

Eid Mubarak, everyone!

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The Shanghai Marriage Market

A look at a Shanghai Marriage Market – sounds very similar to things I have seen in Muslim culture. What do you think?

woshoudebuhao

These days, there are so many ways to find a potential mate. There’s the good ol’ fashioned random encounter — a chance, flirty conversation in a bar; an accidental bump of your cart into another’s at the grocery store (hello Social Safeway); or, hallelujah, sharing a pew with an attractive fellow worshiper at church. Many more options exist online from Match.com to OkCupid to the latest, Tinder. But, have you ever heard of Shanghai’s Marriage Market? It takes matchmaking to a whole new level, one that would surely infuriate singles of any nationality, given that it’s the parents and grandparents doing the setting-up.

Marriage market entranceEvery Saturday and Sunday, from noon to five, matchmakers set up shop in People’s Square, a park that’s a short stroll away from major tourist attractions. The matchmakers sit on their fold-able chairs behind their fold-able tables. Parents or grandparents stop by to flip through…

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Refuse to be Homogenized—Beauty, Bullying and Media “Mean Girls”

One of my favorite bloggers is Kristen Lamb. She’s a great resource for writers (and I HIGHLY recommend her classes as well). But she seems to have lived a life parallel to mine at times. Her recent posts (and the other 2 recent ones referenced in her blog) deal with bullying. She talks about bullying that writers endure on sites like Amazon and Goodreads, but she also talks about her own experiences.

I didn’t have the easiest time growing up (as you may have gleaned from my blog from time to time). I have blocked out most of my high school (which I like to call my “Dark Ages”) and I have thus far avoided my reunions and most of my high school classmates (except when I head home to visit my parents and inevitably run into one or more of them). Being the only, shall we say, tan-colored, person in school (except for my brother) for the majority of my experience, it’s not hard to imagine what happened.

I got off pretty lucky, though, overall. The hatred, the comments, the just plain meanness of folks was still tamer than others received. I was really depressed through high school, but I kept my head down, studied and worked hard, and I made the best of each situation that I could. I had to go to high school, so I just muddled through.

I completely agree with Kristen that bullies grow up and become adult bullies. Several adult bullies were my bosses through the years, coworkers, and even, while I worked retail or at a coffee shop, my customers.

And, just like the blog below, my looks were also apparently up for criticizing. I even had a recent suitor tell me that I didn’t look good enough for him. Why should we put up with it?

I recently posted a video from Upworthy (I strongly recommend watching it – see my post “How much space should I occupy?”). Letting others decide how much space we should occupy and how we should look is ridiculous. To quote a recent video with actress Jennifer Lawrence, “What are you going to do? Be hungry every single day to make other people happy?”

I AM ME. And I’m pretty darn amazing, thank you very much.

What experiences have you had with bullies?

-MK

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Last week I wrote two posts Brave New Bullying: Goodreads Gangs, Amazon Attacks—What Are Writers to Do? and Are Some Humans Born to Bully? Born to Be Victims? Can It Be Changed?. The first post was my own story of enduring hoards of Mean Girls and bullies in school (I switched schools 18 times).

Many people in the comments seemed perplexed as to WHY bullies acted the way they did and how to handle them. Thus, the second post offered even more tips and my Armchair Neuroscientist explanation as to what FEEDS bullies what they CRAVE (and tips to shut bullies down).

A Culture of Control

Since these two posts, I’ve received hundreds of comments and loads of messages and links shared on Facebook. This prompted me to speak a bit more on this topic. My opinion? I feel we live in a culture of bullies. We see it…

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all those celebrating today.

Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday!

-M

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How much space should I occupy?

I recently saw this video on Upworthy. The woman in the video, Lily, does a fantastic job of explaining, through slam poetry, how women view themselves and how they were raised fits into this view. My favorite part, though, is where she talks about the difference between men and women and how they are raised; how boys are raised to express themselves while girls are raised to repress themselves. It really makes me think (as a woman) that I have been conditioned to think about how much space I should occupy.

Great video. Please watch and leave your comments below.

http://www.upworthy.com/watch-a-student-totally-nail-something-about-women-that-ive-been-trying-to-articulate-for-37-years-6

 

 

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Eid Mubarak!

Eid and Hajj Mubarak to everyone!

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ISNA (Male POV)

So a reader to my blog (thank you!) sent me a link to another’s piece on the ISNA Matrimonial Banquet. (You can read about my experience at ISNA here). It was interesting to read about it from a male point of view (POV), though I feel I should point out the following:

1) Dress. The author spoke about how the men were dressed. Well, I have to say the same attitudes probably applied to the women as well. I was dressed nice, but others were dressed a little nicer (with eye make-up) and others were in traditional dress. Since I started with Muslim speed dating (oh, so long ago), I have come to accept that you shouldn’t compare yourself to others. Were you dressed nice and “presentable”? Yes, to both of those for me. As I have met with people who were dressed not to impress at times, everyone at the ISNA banquet seemed to be dressed very appropriately.

2) The author spoke about Club ISNA – a late night gathering for those singletons attending ISNA. I did hear about Club ISNA (and the after party), but I made a decision not to attend though a few of my friends did. It was interesting to hear that the goings on were pretty much like the banquet (awkward, to say the least). And, as I am not a fan of hookah, I did not want to attend the after party (which took place at a hookah bar). Does that make me a fuddy-duddy? Some might say so, but I prefer to think otherwise; I know what I want, and what I need, and I didn’t think I’d find it at Club ISNA. Based on the article – I feel I made the right decision.

3) The author lastly talks about what to do now, and how to find the right person going forward. It was interesting to hear the male POV (I really liked his suggestion to other males to “stop being douchebags”). But I think he missed the point about the women. He suggested that women travel in smaller groups and to put away our phones, at least in regards to behavior at Club ISNA.

I will say, at the banquet when I was either on my own or with one friend, a few guys did approach me and speak to me. But I have tried making eye contact and giving a friendly smile (as the author suggests), to no avail. Some guys think I’m too forward, others think I need dental work done, and yet others give me a small smile back and go looking for someone else. Girls find it just as difficult for guys in those situations, sometimes, I think, a more difficult time than the guys do. Because while guys are not necessarily judged for going to these events (or even being a little older and searching for a spouse) women are judged. A lot. Every day. By everyone.

Every promotion an unmarried woman gets somehow becomes a symbol of her not wanting to be married. Every time she goes out with friends or makes plans, or is independent in any way somehow becomes a symbol of her not wanting to be married. Basically, almost everything she does gets twisted into a symbol of her not wanting to be married. It’s frustrating and annoying, and not at all true. Keeping busy doesn’t mean I don’t want to get married. It just means I’m keeping busy, period. That’s all. Simple as that.

And if we do look at our phone, it’s because we don’t want seem pathetic, just standing in a corner waiting for someone to speak to them. That’s why, in my opinion, most people are always on their phone anyway – they want to seem busy and in demand. So my suggestion to the guys would be to approach women who are looking at their phone. They’ll likely be pleased and put away the phone to speak with you. As the author puts it: “Take the initiative. Approach. Be friendly and inquisitive. If you don’t get the response you want, assume that the lady in front of you may be shy and new at this too. If she still doesn’t give you the interaction you’re looking for, then excuse yourself and move on.”

4) My follow-up. I gave my email to a few guys at the event. After waiting a respectable (i.e. not-desperate-seeming) amount of time, I emailed them. But, perhaps, this makes me too forward a person (especially I as received little response back). I like when the author said we should just admit we’re all looking for someone and, I would add, those that are looking for “fun” should just admit it, too (though I don’t understand what he means by “weird, Muslim game”). I’ll keep trying and praying (because what else can I do) and hope I find that person soon.

Here’s the link for the author’s post. Let me know what you think.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/altmuslim/2012/09/looking-for-love-and-finding-awkwardness-at-isna/

Thanks for reading!

-M

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The Labels Runneth Over

I’ve been labeled a lot of things in my life. Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Cousin, Friend, Best Friend, Colleague, and more.

I’ve been labeled a good daughter and sister when things were going well.

I’ve been labeled a shitty daughter and shittier sister when things are rough and I’m the perpetual verbal punching bag.

I’ve been labeled useless by those who used their fists against me. I’ve been labeled the same by those who use their words against me.

I’ve been labeled a bitch for trying to be successful and want a career.

I’ve been labeled a good Muslim because I fast and pray and think of God throughout the day. I’ve been labeled a bad Muslim and troublemaker because I am unmarried still and, at times, I have sought my own way to the path I believe God has created for me.

I’ve been labeled a terrorist by those ignorant souls who see my tanner skin and “foreign” name, and don’t realize how much I truly love America and how much I weep when bad things happen to my fellow countrymen/women.

I’ve been labeled a whore by people who think to define goodness and badness, as if they have that right over God, and who don’t realize that I have yet to even be kissed and have not yet known what it feels like to be truly wanted and desired by someone.

I am weak, it’s true. I, for many years, was even weaker and scared of the sound of footsteps down the hall. And those who have known me my whole life still put me down to raise themselves up. And I let them. I always will. I always need to, in order to keep a modicum of peace. Those are more labels: peacemaker and protector. I take the hits so others don’t have to, so others will feel better about themselves, and never hear an apology. If it wasn’t for the blood binding us together, I would cut them out of my life for good, just to go through a week without feeling like a shitty label at some point of it.

I am worthy of love and, though I haven’t found someone who wants me yet, I still have hope they’re out there. And will be my partner and provide me with the labels I look forward to having: wife and mother. I have hope, I always will, and it’s that hope that helps me sift through the shitty labels and look for the good ones waiting ahead. I know in my heart I’m a good and decent person, and I have excellent friends (I’m talking about you, MJ) and a lovely mother who help me wade through the shit together.

Sometimes, all you need is someone to wade through the shit with you, you know?

-M

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Speed Dating Update

So, my last speed dating foray did not work out so well. Mr. Non-Repeater and I met up a few times and it was going pretty good. He spoke to my parents (at his request!) and we made plans for him to meet my brother. And then, he freaked out. He sent me some crazy novel-length text about he didn’t mind meeting my brother but he didn’t want to meet my brother and suddenly things were moving too fast. (Digression: Why do guys feel that texting is an appropriate way to break-up with someone or tell them they need space? Do real men not exist anymore, men who are man enough to at least call you on the phone and speak to you like a human being? To quote a song, “Where have all the cowboys gone?” I suddenly knew how Carrie felt being broken-up with via post-it.)

 

Mr. Non-Repeater also said that he had trouble “picturing me as his wife”– what the hell does that mean? – and that he needed to have a physical bond with the woman he was going to marry. WHAT?! To quote a line from a movie I saw – “No ding ding without the wedding ring.” As far as the whole “picturing me as his wife” thing, I think he meant that he didn’t find me physically attractive (clearly his eyes need checking).  I didn’t find him all that attractive, either (though my eyes don’t need checking) and I started thinking about why that was. Why are some people more attractive than others? After thinking about it and talking to one my best girlfriends, I realized that I grew up in the US, pretty much without Muslim male counterparts nearby, so all of my crushes were of the Caucasian variety.  But a good heart is sexy to me and I thought he had that which is why I moved forward. Anyway, he said he needed a few days to think, but then still texted me every day anyway. Then he calls me up as if nothing happened. I ask him if he’s feeling better since he seemed really upset the last time we chatted (after he sent the text) and he says he’s perfectly fine. Okaaay. Then he asks to meet – the day a hurricane is descending on our fair city. I tell him that I’m not going out when a hurricane is going to hit in a few hours. He says it’s okay. I say no, it’s not. He says, well why don’t we meet tomorrow? I say, maybe, if the hurricane’s over and I haven’t lost power and the roads are driveable and I won’t be risking life and limb, then  maybe we can meet (I mean, this isn’t “The Princess Bride” and he’s no Wesley; you’d risk a hurricane for Wesley. Or Jake from “Sixteen Candles”). Anyway, after talking with my parents,  I realized it wasn’t going to go anywhere. Anyone who just shuts down when something happens (and it seemed like pressure from his parents also contributed to the freak-out) then that isn’t someone you want to face life’s problems with you. But, I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, so I believe that everything worked out for the best.

 

Thanks for reading!

-M

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