Saturday, April 26, 2014

Obstacles to Women's Pursuit of Higher Education: a talk on education and gender

I recently attended a symposium to talk about gender and education. Below are parts of my talk. This weekend, I hope to write a little blog post about some of the things I learned (depressing!!) about women in academia, in the workforce, in education, in leadership roles, and so on.

To illustrate my main point of this talk, I’m going to start off with a personal story and experience. And my point will be regarding what I believe is one of the most threatening obstacles to women’s education and success—to their achieving their dreams and doing it while having the love and support of their families and communities. Mostly, I'll try to address the double standards with which we raise our children when they are young but aren't sure what to do when they grow up and enter real life - be it by entering the work market or higher education or otherwise attempting to pursue their dreams.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

On Love, Betrayal, and False Promises of Marriage - a Pukhtun man and a British woman

One of the greatest things about blogging is that you reach people from worlds completely unknown to you, and some of them reach out to you, share their stories with you, and touch and move you in ways you never imagined possible. Below is a story that a reader—let’s call her Melissa—shared with me, and I’m sharing it with her permission. Melissa is a British convert to Islam living in London, and the story she shares is one of her relationship with a Pashtun man who, despite having a child with her, lied to her about his real self and the fact that he was married “back home,” and whose family later denied any ties to Melissa’s daughter. She reflects on that experience and her feelings for the man, and she struggles, as can be seen in the email, to still respect and understand him, to see his situation from his perspective so that she can find peace for herself and her daughter. We exchanged a couple of more emails, going back and forth about our personal thoughts on Pashtunwali, Pashtuns, Pashtun men, love/relationships, and so on. I might share parts of those as well. For now, this should suffice.

I’ve changed her name and the names of those involved per her request and for privacy reasons. I’ve also removed parts of the email that I don’t think the readers need to know (blush, but I feel uneasy publicizing positive comments about myself and my blog J Thank you so much, though, Melissa!)


Before I share the story, though, let me say something else.

This is a very common story I hear - a Pukhtun man dating and having kids with a non-Pukhtun woman, promising marriage and the world to her, and then saying, "Sorry - I'm married back home" or "Sorry, I promised my mother on her death-bed that I'll marry the cousin she wanted me to marry. I can't marry you. But we can continue this relationship!" (This is so common!!! That's what the woman in this story below gets told as well by her Pukhtun lover.) Some Pukhtun men do it to Pukhtun women, too. Oh, for Pukhtun women, it's often: "Well, if you'd date ME, you've obviously dated other men before me and will prolly date more men in the future! So goodbye. Or we can just have a relationship with no promises of marriage." Or something that I, a Pukhtun woman blogger who's considered "public property" (what the hell?) get told: "I want an intellectual wife. My current wife is not educated or doesn't have time to have discussions with me because she's busy with kids and all." My response to them is then, "So educate her, damnit!" And they go, "What? Why? Then who'll cook for me and clean after me and serve me and take care of my kids and have my kids?"

It's wrong whether a Pukhtun woman or a non-Pukhtun is involved. So much for the whole "All Pukhtuns are loyal" crap. (I know, I know - it's never all, and this is generalizing, but I really don't care. I've seen and know of too many cases to believe Pukhtuns are any more loyal or better than other races out there.)


And before anyone else jumps to say, "Oh, please! It's not like only Pukhtun men cheat and sleep around or are unhappy with their wives," or "Stop generalizing!" I know it's not just Pukhtun men, and I know it's just as common among other ethnic groups. But that's not the point, and evading the conversation with "Stop generalizing" and "it's not just Pukhtuns" doesn't help anyone and changes the focus. In other words, what such comments are implying is: Let's ONLY talk about problems and things that only Pukhtuns do. ... why? And if there's no such thing as something that only Pukhtuns do, how do we talk about problems like the one below? That said, Pukhtuns are humans - that means nothing they do is so starkly unique that other humans don't share it with them or don't experience or indulge in as well.
 

Kashmala Videos, Audios, and Pictures!

I promised in a previous post that I've been listening to recordings I made a couple of years ago of Kashmala's. It turns out that I've some of them on Youtube, so here goes. She loves telling stories, she loves attention (I don't think she does anymore, though), and she once upon a time loved having pictures taken of herself. Now she doesn't so much. I'm missing her a LOT these days, and I can't wait to see her, inshaAllah, in about 15 days or so :) She calls me several times a day, asking me to pleeeeease come. Also, she speaks more English now than she did a couple of years ago. When she was little, we tried not to speak English around her and not to let her speak English - Pashto only. But it's becoming harder and harder, so. Also, she was started to lose all sense of confidence in herself because she couldn't speak English when we didn't let her learn or speak any, and it started to make her feel small and little around other people, so we decided to teach her enough to have some confidence around other people.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Why I Don't Go to Halaqas - aka, what's wrong with the way conversion stories are told

And this is *precisely* why I don't go to halaqas and feel extremely uncomfortable there [halaqas are religious gatherings among Muslims. On campus, it's usually a speaker who comes and talks about an Islamic topic. The purpose is to help strengthen the audience's faith]:
 
Yesterday, I decided to go (and I don't often go but thought, meh, let's give it one more chance). The MSA had invited a speaker to talk about her conversion story. She's a neuroscience professor at a university and a former Irish Catholic who converted several decades ago - you know your religion is correct when a white person, especially if a scientist, converts to it; you know the other religion is wrong if it doesn't "make sense" to the white scientist. Thank God for these white converts - what'd we ever do without them, right?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Singing Pashto songs at an ensemble next week, inshaAllah!

I started the last entry to tell you guys about two good news. The first one was that I'm going to Oman this summer and that my parents have given their blessings for me to do so (may God grant them infinite happiness, good health, and peace - aameen!). I'll be going to continue my Arabic study.

The second one, I didn't get to tell y'all, cuz, you know ... I had lots to say on the first one.

I have my parents’ blessings to go to Oman!

Dear y’all,

I’ve two good news! But they’re so good they feel like a million good news! :) Hamdulillah. First news: I’m going to Oman this summer, and I’ve happily received my parents’ blessings to go! I got the scholarship a while ago, and I really didn’t know how to tell my parents without offending/hurting them because they’d really prefer that I just stay home whenever I can—e.g., when I’m off from school—so they don’t understand why I would go away from them even when I have a moment to spend with them. The last few months, I’ve been getting closer and closer to my parents, and even before we were this close, I, too, preferred to be with them to anything else. And I’m working on that—I’m visiting home as often as I can, I talk to both parents daily, and we’re starting to have longer conversations, alhamdulillah. So I would love, love to spend the summer with them. But I also need to get my Arabic to a more perfect level, and my parents have come to terms with my ambitions :) This means so much to me! And I’m so grateful to them – for what all they’ve had to give up and lose (like other people’s respect :S) just so they can respect my future goals and dreams. May God bless them with a healthy, happy, and long life, both of them, and may they never see any pain ever in their lives. Aameen. I don’t shy away from requesting others to pray for them, either. May the reader’s parents be blessed with peace, happiness, and good health, too, if they’re alive; if not, may they rest in peace, and may they be granted the highest level of paradise (if they believe in heaven). 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Waiting, waiting, and more waiting & other updates

Too many of my days recently have been my waiting for a break ... an opportunity ... a moment to just take a breather. And frankly, I'm tired of it. So no more waiting and more doing instead!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Time management. And stuff.

I haven't been blogging lately because this semester, I've stupidly volunteered myself up for more responsibilities than I can actually handle. Note to self: NEVER DO THIS AGAIN, QRRATUGIYA!! So I'm sorry, blog. I still think about you all the time, though. Every night before I sleep, I tell myself to just write a paragraph of what it's been like the last month or so, but then I find myself hopping into bed and sleeping within minutes. Well, not at always, though, beeeeecuzzzz ... I think about all the things that need to get done the next day. And you know what's stupidly funny? I've so much to do I don't know where to begin so I end up sleeping more to avoid having to do them.

But last week, I discovered a trick: I have to stop thinking in numbers and just see each task as one individual separate task that has to be done. I did this with a couple of things this week, and I got them done surprisingly fast. So the change? Here:



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