You Can Even Call Me the B Word

Three posts down, there is a small comment, a mere ten words long, that reminded me of why I stopped blogging: Someone took time out of what must be a very boring life to write, on a post about cooking, "No such thing as a Muslim feminist, dear. Try again."

It is obviously not the worst thing someone could say. No profanity, nothing threatening. But seeing it, in the midst of comments by fabulously lovely people, in a post that had nothing to do with Islamic feminism, made my cheeks burn.

There is the infantilizing "dear," which is an ironic thing to call a grown woman while you're accusing her of not being a real feminist. And then there is, of course, the negation of my right to define myself.

It reminds me of the people who repeatedly float the old canard that no Muslims condemn terrorism (hello, FOX News). Inevitably, online lists pop up in response, linking to hundreds of public condemnations. It's always curious to me that there are people so invested in spreading a lie that is so easily exposed. And while I understand the impulse to set the record straight, I hate the lists that result, because they seems to dignify the lie in the first place.

And yet.

I can name twenty or thirty prominent Muslim feminists, men and women, off the top of my head. A quick look through the books on my shelves would yield at least a hundred more. A few minutes with google and we could fill a page. And I thought about doing just that, here--listing all of the names I could find.

But what would that prove that needs proving?

I am a Muslim feminist. I don't care if you believe me. Or if you think I'm the only one in the world. The fact that I exist makes the comment untrue on its face. And ridiculous and sad.

You're free to call me whatever you want. I can't stop you. But as for telling me what to call myself? 

Try again, dear.

22 comments:

  1. Oh, deep, cleansing breaths. The Middle Path. What would Buddha do? ;-)

    First of all . . . oh, crap, don't even get me started. Here's the thing, I could launch a rant right now of how utterly pathetic that comment was, and I could back this up with facts. I could comment on the rise in this country of fear of Other, of how we have become a sickening morass of ugliness in the anonymity of cyberspace, and so on and so on. But here's where I step back, breathe deep, try to think like a Buddhist, and say, "You know, people invested in being ugly . . . will not listen or 'see' rightly." And by rightly, I will quote one of my favorite authors of ALL time. And that will suffice, I think, for me. Rather than with a rant, I respond with this:

    "And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye."
    Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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  2. LOL. Yes, we will be like Buddha, and not hurl curse words at our computer screens! And we will not actually start making that list! And we will not start typing it into blogger!

    :)

    What a lovely quote. And I think it's where I, too, ended up. But there was some pettiness on the way. The how invested do you have to be to go to the trouble to comment and why are you even here stuff. BUT, deep breaths. Middle Path. Wisdom from Erica.

    Nothing better. :)

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  3. ja:
    Believe me . . . BELIEVE me . . . I can get into whole imaginary arguments in my head. It's so difficult not to. Particularly when someone attacks a fundamental elements to your being. I know when I left the house of worship I used to attend, I was so outraged at how people spoke to each other, to ME personally . . . how they behaved. And it was very personal. I "held on" to some of it for a time, until I realized I would not waste another breath on people who are not significant to me. Hold onto your grace and your inner beauty, which matches the outer. :-)

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  4. A pox upon him or her or whoever!This is YOUR blog and even though they had the right to their opinion about the issue they did not have the right to express it here. Can I ask why you didn't delete the disgusting comment?

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  5. Erica, how I wish we were close enough to get together and chat! Or sneak you into Yankee Stadium with us. :) And as for your last sentence--thank you. And it takes one to know one. :)

    Cath, I do invite comments, so technically people can say what they want. But I don't have to like it. :) And I have deleted other comments--that's why the post on the weddings was closed to comments. I got one right before I left and didn't want to invite further ugliness.

    But this one...I don't know. I feel like it exposes more than it harms me. So I guess I'll sit with it for now. Thanks for supporting me!

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  6. Having fought hard to prevent climate change and against brainless right-wing politics for several years, I've learned not to rage, but to burn with a slow, even fire of commitment and faith. I've been receiving hate mail for years. It used to infuriate me. Now it grounds me.

    We can't change the world, but we can change some people. And I think this blog is a fine place to start.

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  7. Richard, I see a lot of similarities between those who deny any human role in climate change and those who say things like there are no moderate Muslims (or, here, feminists). It's as though they think if they keep saying it loudly enough and long enough people will not believe what is plainly before their eyes. And that so many people seem inclined to is a mystery about the human condition that I cannot solve at this early hour. :)

    I love that--we can not change the world, but we can change some people. I hope so!

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  8. If you made a list of all the ignorant trolls online, it should fill an encyclopedia. However they hide beneath a mask of anonymity. They lack the courage of their convictions and therefore must lead a miserable life. I pity them when I think about them at all - which isn't often.

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  9. Yes! Or a whole set!

    I try not to think about them much either. I just don't understand the need to say what they say. Okay, you don't agree with what I said (or here, apparently, with what I claim to be) but why not just move on?

    P.S. Did I mention how much I LOVED the pages you posted? :)

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  10. Well, since everyone is being so nice, I can see that it's important for me to balance things out a little and take "the low road" and just say, "Wow, was that person just a dumb ass."

    Sorry, can I say dumb ass here when everyone is being so cool and talking about Buddha and stuff? Because I really want to say it. :)

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  11. Wendy, someone had to say it.

    :)

    Dumb ass is fine. In fact, it's kind of awesome. :)

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  12. Thanks. Any time you need me in the future, lemme know. I'll be down here in the gutter.

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  13. LOL. I have a feeling we'll need you again; I've just started this blog.

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  14. Thanks for the love!

    One more round on the first chapter and then I need to just finish this one and get it sent out.

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  15. Totally welcome. I really did love it. If you ever need another reader, please consider me. :)

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  16. You always know when you're saying something important--something that needs to be said--when the douchebags come out in full force to try and stop you from saying it.

    I am so grateful for your voice, in all its incarnations (and Venn Diagram overlaps ;)). And I LOVE it best when it roars.

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  17. Sarah said douchebags!

    But really, such a comment about Muslim feminists shows ignorance about Islam or feminism or both...and suggests a fundamentally narrow view of humanity in general. Not worth your energy.

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  18. Thanks, Sarah! I do miss the roaring just a bit. :) And I am eternally grateful that you are there to hear my voice in all of its crazy incarnations. And Venn Diagram overlaps. Of which there are more, for better or worse, coming. (You can groan at this point; I'd totally understand.)

    Precie-ha! She totally said it. :)

    I like how you put it--a narrow view of humanity. Or trying to accomplish that, to make certain people smaller. Either way, ick.

    Thanks for commenting!

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  19. Are you kidding me??

    I adore the Venn Diagram overlaps. Complexity that still manages to shoot like an arrow into some heart of truth--that's where it's at. :)

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  20. Sarah, you really are too kind. Maybe I should have queried it that way: "I hope you'll consider my Venn Diagram novel." :)

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  21. My wife is a Muslim, and very feminist, though I don't think she herself would say she is. And she is from Indonesian, where people tend to be very demur and non-confrontational.

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  22. Wow, that's so interesting Surazeus. I think a lot of people are hesitant to use the word feminist, for fear that it means something anti-male. I know an activist/scholar who fights for women's rights in the Muslim world who still rejects that label.

    I, of course, love it. :)

    Thanks for commenting!

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