This isn’t an attack. I don’t hate white people. I guess it would make for an alluring headline but I’ve already read a post like that (and agreed with some of its points). Thing is though, the headline for this post is WHITE WOMEN. I have some grievances to talk about today and just note that I’m not always like this. It’s just a build up of all the little things I’ve been ignoring. They’ve all piled up and hey presto you have a furious Mahima ready to unleash hell (and be warned: expletives) with her keyboard.

And I think this feeling is probably in line with how much I despised people talking Aristotle to me until I figured out that Aristotle used to be a household name in the Muslim world a long time before it became one in the West. It’s why I can’t say that I absolutely adore Brain Pickings despite Marie Popova’s reviews being absolutely #goals in the sense that they are so heartfelt and engineered towards connecting everyone with their own humanity.

Thing is, I’m a feminist. I always have been. Also I belong to a community of girls who would have loved feminism if they were white. When we were younger we all got into the whole women-are-cool and stand-up-for-yourself-in-a-man’s-world sort of empowerment because that shit made sense. When we finally had a label for it (GUYS! WE’RE FEMINISTS) it was cool. For a day. And then we found out that we couldn’t really be feminists.

I’m going to let my dad choose a list of potential husbands for me.

When I go travelling I can only do so with a man accompanying me.

If there was a female cultural stereotype I’d most be aligned to it would be the Victorian “angel of the house”. Victorian. 18th century. Angel of the house.

As a Muslim woman who chooses to cover herself, I don’t want to enter mixed gyms and that really sucks balls for me sports-wise.

I AM LIMITED. AND OPPRESSED. AND DEPRIVED OF ALL THINGS GREAT. (Like the feel of the wind running through my hair…).

And then we have feminism, which is already on to conversations like non-conformity and like, keeping with the theme of Muslim women and their goddamn clothing, clothes.

And I guess my friends must have realised just how far away feminism was to all the solid women-power stuff they’d been brought up with. We were tough nuggets ourselves, but feminism was nowhere near what we’re going through.

And here’s the thing, when my friends backed away from feminism I still stayed. I love the textbook definition of feminism: equality of the sexes. I like how this definition supports and wants support for safe spaces for human beings to act like human beings. I grew up learning and witnessing these powerful women “strong and independent” as they are taking ownership of their lives and I loved how feminism was all over that shit. I was so goddamn excited every time I saw a feminist post I resonated with and feeling like giving these writers high-fives for their awesome content.

God, I, with my non-white background, wasn’t ready to go into feminism and have so many white women exclusively talk about the hijab when it came to featuring non-white content.

Here’s me with my dad still escorting me to some places sometimes, and then there’s you. Just constantly talking about hijab or tripping up controversies over a  black woman making a small business through her Instagram. 


Oh my god, how do I explain.

Okay fine. Let’s talk about my infatuation with this movement. As someone who does come from a more patriarchal background than white women are used to, I was very much so about feminism. While white women were talking about what skirt to wear, I was here telling girls not to let their fathers make every goddamn life decision for them. I was here educating myself and my peers about the decision to wear hijab instead of just wearing it to please the parents (read: not just the daddy-o). I was here taking part in conversations about girls standing up for themselves, being confident in who they are, and learning that no matter what they have every right to make something of themselves in this life. No matter what. Feminism resonated with me because I know women are oppressed by the patriarchal system. And I didn’t understand this whole fixed gender business anyway.

Also a lot of the time I didn’t understand feminism. And any conversation that wasn’t about white women was about wearing a headscarf. Like, come on. Surely, out of all the ways my culture is different to yours hijab (it is the most obvious I guess) is the least important. There are BIG problems happening here, but white women don’t care.

And here’s the thing okay. I can no longer say “Yay feminism!”. I’m sick and tired of sticking it out with a movement that’s so fucking hypocritical. I’ve read all those pins about incensed women who write paragraphs upon paragraphs about why they feel sorry for women who denounce feminism, why they’re so angry that these women dare to denounce a movement that has given them so many of their rights –

But no. The Suffragette movement gave me my voting rights. The Civil Rights movement made sure I was put into the category of “woman” in the first place.

I don’t agree, anymore. I can’t stand it. Feminism is a people’s movement. Its purpose, its cause, its definition I do agree with. Wholeheartedly. I want equality: political, social, economic equality of the sexes. I want everybody to be treated with equal worth no matter what gender (or non) that they choose to subscribe to. I want goddamn respect.

But feminism is a white women’s movement. And white women have hurt me. It doesn’t matter that the only time Muslim women appear on Jezebel is when they’re talking about the Olympics and hijab-clad athletes. It doesn’t matter that my heart fluttered that one time I saw a doodle of a Muslim woman on that one Lenny piece on Syrian women. I’ve stuck with that sort of feminism for a long time. I’ve learnt how to siphon through conversations and articles and double meanings in order to translate the lessons that white women have learnt into my life and take part in that conversation on empowerment. I love how feminism has connected all of us and made us feel like we are together, that women’s experiences should be valued…

But it hasn’t, really. I was just kidding myself. White women don’t know how to hold a conversation with me. Feminism, for all its worth, would have to go back a hundred years just to talk to me about some of my issues.

I remember when my sports teacher talked to us about why lots of hijab-clad Muslim girls aren’t into sports and we said that in our culture it isn’t valued that highly, that our people would rather have us home than out at the gym. He said that we’re strong girls, so why don’t we, like the women in Britain before (read: white women) start our own movement, and pave a path for Muslim girls in hijab to take part and rejoice and be celebrated for taking part in sports?

How do I explain how hard it is?

White women have hurt me. A few days ago the picture of a Muslim woman forced to undress on the beach as she was held by gunpoint by at least three men looming over her was unleashed into the internet – this woman forced by these men to undress while she was crouching on the sand taking her swimsuit off for them because of the new burkini ban – white women have hurt me the most when, from all my glorious feminists, when that picture was released all I got was static.

And it felt incredibly more hurtful knowing that in feminist discourse the hijab is only ever  disputed or ignored.  I don’t know, but imagining the level of humiliation that woman must feel right now and must have felt undressing – imagining the level of humiliation I would have felt if the same had happened to me, and then knowing that the movement I so wholeheartedly fell in love with would just sit and watch, perhaps some of them open-mouthed at the aftermath of all their hijab-is-oppressing arguments just steeped together into a photograph of three men looming over a woman, forcing her to undress, and then the rest of them keeping mum for god fucking knows why—

It hurts.


10 Replies to “WHITE WOMEN.”

  1. I believe feminism is more about only fighting for equality, it’s also the quiet girl who supports another female which in turn, empowers her. That woman on the beach who was forced to not only remove clothing, but a piece of herself was absolutely deplorable and it’s white people and our insecure and utterly disgusting prejudice that create these laws because we hide our bigotry fear as an excuse.

    I had an argument on social media a few weeks ago with a man who was spitting out the word feminist as an insult. The young girl was clearly upset and I felt the need to step in, rather than he continue to target her. This man then tried to school me on the workings of Islam, telling me that feminists should be liberating young Muslim women from oppression. A white man. Schooling a white woman. On feminism AND Islam. Needless to say, I tried to suggest to this lovely gentleman that it’s not a woman’s responsibility to revolt against her oppression (in any form, domestic violence, an abusive partner) but for men to change their attitudes. Let’s just say, it ended with TWO white men congratulating themselves on telling the ‘feminist’ on what feminism is really about and safe to say, they both proved my point. What makes white men, or white women believe they know the struggles of what women of colour endure in their lives. Modern day feminism has given women a platform again, spreading messages through social media but I couldn’t agree more, it’s a white women’s movement.

    Those two men, who are still probably congratulating themselves, did give me something to think about though. What makes the white world believe that Muslim women need liberation? To wear a hijab is a sign of your cultural background, of who you are and who is anyone to suggest that to wear a hijab is oppressive. I had many Muslim friends growing up and most were from families where they chose to wear a hijab because they’re proud. And damn fucking right they should be.

    But now we’ve created a world in which those rights are being stripped from humans based on the colour of their skin, their religious beliefs and telling a woman on a beach that she is breaking the law by wearing a burkini.

    THAT is what we need to stand up for. For her, and the women who come after her. It should be a basic human right to celebrate who you are, what you believe in and where you’re from. Feminism SHOULD be about supporting women who cannot fight for that basic right and if we no longer care enough for ALL women to do that, then I’m turning in my badge too.

    My god how I love you Mawa. I hope to one day have a daughter as brilliant, fierce and incredible as you are.

    1. Kelly, how do you do this? Every single time I read a comment by you it makes me euphoric. Honestly, embarassment aside, you know how me to make me feel so confident about myself. Thank you ❤

      I was apprehensive about posting this for many reasons, but I’m so glad to have done it now. What you’ve said about feminism being also about men changing their attitudes to women is super insightful and has got me thinking about so much. The way the world so easily judges and restricts people because of what we look like and how different we are to them upsets me because it shows just how far we have to go, still.
      Thank you so much for your support, Kelly. And yes, I’m so pissed with feminism right now – but I hope that this changes and that the world is no longer still the defacto white world vs everybody else because as we know very well coming from such diverse backgrounds as we do, the white vs non-white world is not practical. It exists on paper, and in laws, and in fear, and in politics. But not in the day-to-day goings about of people and definitely not in our humanity.
      And that last line in your comment? I have it memorised! 😛
      Thank you for all of your words Kelly. I love you so much for them. Whenever I doubt myself, I know who to look to.

  2. Yes, this. I don’t fault any women who belong to a marginalized group (whether due to their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc) for not wanting to identify as a feminist, or for mistrusting mainstream feminism, because the focus of mainstream feminism is quite narrow. Women of color have always been integral to the feminist movement, but that’s not what pop culture would have you believe. And like, I am white so I haven’t had the same exact experiences that you have but I can sort of relate? Because mainstream feminism doesn’t want me, either, since they’re all about saying that, “Feminists aren’t angry, hairy, man-hating lesbians!” So. Yeah. That’s a thing.

    (Also I’m really sorry about the #NotAllWhiteWoman pushback that you’re getting in the comments of this post…)

    1. THANK YOU! Yes, this was a full criticism of mainstream feminism, and I was thinking that you’d be able to relate. There’s only so much of it that you can take from pop culture without having to say something, y’know? What you said in another comment about surrounding yourself with positive media outlets on LGBT+ issues really resonated with me. I feel like I need to surround myself with positive information on how women of colour (and other marginalised groups) have participated and brought forward feminism.
      There’s no need to apologise, but this sure did warm my heart <3. I’ve replied and hopefully cleared the air. I’m just glad that no one else has (as of yet) missed the point of the post yet.
      Thanks again, Engie. This was evidently a super emotional post, and I’m glad to have such a great reception to (for?) it.

  3. A woman forced to undress at gunpoint? That is horrifying and terrible and sometimes I hate the world we live gah.

    I thought this was a very interesting post!! I don’t feel like I have much intelligent thoughts to add, but I just wanted to comment and say it was a lot of food for thought! Although I don’t believe all white women should be lumped together as a collective, same as I don’t think any race or gender or just anything should ever be lumped because it’s too generalised. 🙂 But the post was so interesting anyway and I love how passionate your posts are.

    1. Once, scrolling through tumblr, this girl complained about The Handmaid’s Tale, saying that “it is such a sexist book frustrated face“. When in fact she completely missed the point. Margaret Atwood did not write a sexist book because she is sexist herself. She wrote a sexist book, a book highlighting how sexist she felt the world to be, in order to make a point.
      And I’m guessing it’s probably because I have very little experience doing the same that you had missed the point entirely, Cait. I apologise. 🙂
      But, you see, the post is titled White Women. And I keep on referencing white women. And the reason I did that was not because I am the sort of person who lumps people together under a sordid name or feeling, but because the point of my post was to express my disappointment in how non-white experiences have been handled in the media so far. I am disappointed, and hurt, because my place as an individual is undermined by certain iconic feminist media outlets. I have been repeating the words “white women” in order to mock and criticise the distinction made between white women and non-white women. It is this distinction that has resulted in my disappointment and hurt. It is the distinction between white people and non-white people that rids me of my value as a non-white person.
      And in order to express how alarmed and hurt I was by this distinction I parodied it by putting this as my title, by referencing white women all the time in the post I wanted to emphasise how ridiculous and hurtful this distinction is (to both sides, as I reckon the generalisation-comment from you came because you were taking the whole white-women thing very literally).
      I’m sorry that I failed to convey that clearly in the post, and I hope that I’ve explained the point of the post better with this comment (but if I haven’t, please let me know! Like I said at the beginning of the post this isn’t an attack on white women, do not take a post like this one – chock a block full of expletives – literally, please! I fear that it will only upset you and suggest things about me that I am heavily against being).
      Thank you so much for your wonderful comment, and for voicing your thoughts because if you hadn’t then you’d have left this post with a view of me that isn’t correct at all! I hope this response has cleared things up a bit. 😀 ❤

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s