Saturday, May 31, 2014

Friday, May 30, 2014

Kashmala Singing "Let It Go" from the Movie Frozen

In case you don't know Kashmala, she's my now 4-year-old niece. I'm crazy about her in every way and have been writing about her since the seconds she was born (I was there during her birth - that's a funny story I'll share when I'm 52 years old, God willing).

She and I both LOVE the movie "Frozen." Naturally, our favorite character is Olaf, but Kashmala also admires Elsa, especially for her powers. (I won't mention that she also wishes she were Elsa because Elsa is beautiful, and as a feminist, I find that an appalling wish, so I'm currently trying to figure out how the heck to deal with that. But more on little girls wanting to be princesses and all another time.) She's always singing "Let It Go" everywhere we go, and people always find it adorable :) I don't blame them. The thing is, though, that when she's away from the camera, signing to herself and not to the camera, she dramatizes every line so impeccably, even almost faking a tear or so at "And it looks like, I'm the queen." But I'm proud of the following as well. God grant this girl a beautiful, happy, and safe life, aameen!

Enjoy! :)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

"'We Don't Sleep Around Like White Girls Do'": Yen Le Espiritu's article on Filipina Immigrants in the U.S.

Continuing our discussion on migration from last week.

This was part of a response paper, in my migration class last semester, to "'We Don't Sleep Around Like White Girls Do': Family,  Culture, and Gender in Filipina American Lives" (Chapter 13) by Yen Le Espiritu in Gender and U.S. Immigration: Contemporary Trends (ed. Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo).

Espiritu surveys Filipino parents and children about gender and sexuality issues in their construction of the self against the Western white other through conversations with the discussants about identity, migration, gender and sexuality, and gendered expectations from family. 

What “American” Means to Filipina (and Pakistani) Immigrants 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Elliot Rodger Incident: the actual problem (misogyny)

In December 2012, when a female was gang raped in New Delhi, India, the western media immediately declared (gang) rape the tragedy of Indian women. CNN talked about "the perils of being a woman in India", and India earned a reputation of being "the worst country in the world for women."

Yes, women in India get raped - but they also get raped (and killed for being women) elsewhere as well, including and especially in the U.S. But there's something unacceptably arrogant about the U.S. media that completely denies that rape is a problem in the U.S., or that misogyny is a disease and we need to eliminate both from our society (I propose we start with eradicating misogyny, and the end of rape will follow!).  

Another "poor, helpless white man needing mental help" goes on a shooting spree in America

Three days ago, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger of Santa Barbara decided to go kill every girl who would potentially have refused him sex based on his past experiences. These were hot blonde girls. Six girls were killed And, by the way, Fox News tells us that Rodger's possible homosexual inclinations are what caused him to shoot all those women. (Thanks, Fox - I don't know why *I* didn't think of this obvious possibility!)

Instead, what the media prefers to talk about is--and get ready for this--gun control. If only he didn't have access to a gun, he wouldn't have killed all those women, right? And, of course, we're being told he had mental issues. I saw a tweet earlier that so beautifully captures the problem with the way our media talks about all these white male shooters:

Sunday, May 25, 2014

What It's Like Being an Immigrant

-->An excerpt from a "response paper" for my Migration class last semester. (See more here.)

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about what it's like being an immigrant in the U.S., not just for me but for my parents and other immigrants as well. Screwed up immigration policies aside (which I'll write about another time), I want to talk here instead about the sacrifices that the generation that's migrating and their children, if they have any, have to make and what kind of hell that's like. Our folks "back home" don't really get this, and neither do non-migrants around us. So let's hope this helps. Also, please bear in mind that this may not be every immigrant's experience. It certainly is mine and that of the ones I know. In the migration class, a lot of the students were first or second generation immigrants like me, and we often shared our experiences and reflections on immigration, the whole "back home" stuff, our families, and so on; not all could relate to my experience in the same way that I couldn't always relate to everyone's there. (They were also mostly Hispanics.)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

On Gender and Migration - a class response paper

Pre-Post: Sorry about the crazy font below, guys! I'm not sure why Blogger does this. It happens whenever I paste something from MS Word.

Last semester, I took a class on migration, and every other week, we had to submit a response to some segment of the readings to our instructor (God grant him good health, peace, and happiness - he's a great person and teacher! PLUS! When I missed a class after my grandpa's passing and I shared thoughts of the death with him, he told me, "He was lucky to have had you as a granddaughter." This man is a good man.)

Anyway, so here's a response to one of the readings. The books I'm talking about are The Migration Reader: Exploring Politics and Policies edited by Anthony Messina and Gallya Lahav & Gender and U.S. Immigration: Contemporary Trends edited by Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo (specifically, Chapter Two in the book, titled "Engendering Migration Studies: The Case of New Immigrants in the United States" by Patricia Pessar). These response papers are intended to help us understand our own research, and I'm not going to paste the whole thing - just the more general parts. I'll share more in time.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

On the Whole Geo "Blasphemy" and Veena Malik Ordeal

So, apparently, Veena Malik is in trouble again with Pakistan and Pakistanis. (Why does Pakistan keep embarrassing itself? STOP IT! I'm tired of being embarrassed for you, fatherland!)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Dealing with "Our Men Don't Marry Women Who Are 'Too Educated' And Travel."

As some of you might've read on my blog, I'm going to Oman this summer. (I try to go each summer to study Arabic in the Arab world.) I love traveling, and I intend to do it for the rest of my life, inshaAllah. I believe that if you have the means and time to do it, everyone should do it because it's a beautiful thing. It changes you in a good way, makes you a better person, makes you see people differently. Makes you more tolerant of diversity.

I'm lucky, alhamdulillah, that my parents have support my plans and dreams. But they, especially my mother, are sometimes reluctant about it. Their main concerns are: "What will people say?" The last time my mother and I talked about this, she said, "Don't tell other Pukhtuns in the area that you're going abroad again. Bya khalak khabare kai [people talk]." Before that, I was also told: "Our men don't marry women who are 'too educated' and travel. They want women they can control and manipulate, not ones who know who they are and what they want." Wow, what beghairata sarri they must be.

So I've a few comments and questions about this thing about how we tell girls not to be too educated, not to pursue their dreams, not to travel, not to be independent, etc.

1. What good has women's submission to men and completely dependent women in our society done for us? What benefits have we seen of this? NONE! Why do we still teach our daughters this, then?!

2. People will *always* talk shit about your daughters/sisters/mothers/wives and other important female family members of yours. They'll make things up if they have nothing truthful to stand by. Mark my words, Pukhtano. This is true for EVERY family with girls. So if people are going to talk anyway, why do we try so hard to feed their ego, their ignorance, their meanness? You'll get nothing out of satisfying them, anyway, because a) you can't satisfy them, EVER; b) they're always going to backbite you, so why even bother?

3. WHY are people so mean? What is it about our people (not just Pashtuns but in all cultures where this happens) that makes them so cruel to each other? Why can't we be happy for each other when something good happens to someone among us and share in the pain when something bad happens--and do this sincerely, not as "YES! This person is suffering! Thank God, about time!"?

4. WHY is this idea so popular that "Our men don't marry girls/women who are 'too educated' or travel?" If it's true (I know, I know - there are always exceptions... but those are exceptions and nothing more, sadly), why are our men so afraid of women who do this? Because ultimately, this is the main problem! Mothers and fathers freaking out that their daughters will not be able to marry if they get educated or "too educated" (whatever the heck that means) or if they travel, live alone, etc.? Why are our men so insecure, so beghairata, so stupid, so selfish that they cannot respect their wives as complete equals in intellect?

5. I'm lucky that I have some amazing male and female supporters, Pukhtun male blog readers, FB viewers/friends, and Twitter followers who seem to sincerely believe in me, support me, respect me, and encourage me. I am thankful to you all! My only concern, though, is ... how supportive are those same males of their own sisters/mothers/wives/daughters? If you haven't thought about this before and you sincerely support me, I beg you to please, PLEASE start supporting and encouraging your own female family members as well. They're the ones who need you more, especially if they're in Pakistan/Afghanistan, where such support is uncommon. But I want you to know, too, that I appreciate you

This isn't a problem among Pukhtuns only. A Persian friend told me that when she told a potential suitor how much money she makes (more than him), he backed out of the engagement saying, "No, a girl must NEVER make more than her husband!" A Punjabi friend told me that she, like me, meets me on planes when she's traveling who tell her, "You should stop traveling or you'll never be able to find a husband because men don't like independent women." Why do men need to feel like they control women? Screw patriarchy.

We need to change this mentality! Women are humans, too! Women are people, too! Women have dreams, goals, futures, plans, too! It's not just a man's world. And for too much of history, women have been deprived of their rights and privileges to pursue their dreams, to become whatever they want, to become something that'll be empowering and meaningful to them, especially so that they won't have to depend on others (especially men). If you're a female reading this, DO IT! Stand up for yourself! It'll be the hardest thing you'll ever do, but it'll also be the best, most important thing you'll ever do. It'll also make it easier for your daughters and granddaughters to pursue their dreams because they'll be lucky enough to say, "My mother/grandmother did this before me. She walked in these challenging footsteps before, and I'm now following her lead."

Peace!

My Relationship with My Immigrant Pashtun Parents

This piece below is published over at The Thrival Room (which I invite everyone to "like" on FB and follow on Twitter) and is titled "On Immigrating and Parents' Love." I will not paste the whole thing but certain parts of it. 

My Relationship with My Immigrant Pashtun Parents

My family and I immigrated to the U.S. from Swat, Pakistan, some fifteen years ago when I was twelve years old. The reason my mother and father have always given us for our migration was “a better education”—and this is still the reason they remind us of. In a society, like many others around the world, where parents’ priority is not even in the vicinity of their daughters’ education but instead their marriage at an early age and children right within a year of marriage, my parents recognized that they were compromising some of their core beliefs and values by bringing us here, that their identity as Pashtuns and Muslims would be challenged because of their decision to support their daughters’ education. Yet, while they recognized the impossibility of remaining “100% Pashtun,” whatever that may mean, in America, where influence from the community, peers, media on certain beliefs and practices is inevitable, they have made every effort to prevent us from becoming “too Americanized.” During the last decade, whenever my siblings and I have shown signs of adapting to the “American culture,” whether by speaking English with each other or by wearing pants and shirts instead of traditional Pakistani clothes, my parents have wistfully pointed out that we did not come here to become American but to obtain a better education. Till date, I feel uncomfortable and guilty wearing anything but shalwar and kameez  (or kameez partug, as we say in Pashto) in front of my father—but I comfortably do so in front of my mother, who never forgets to point out whether my shirt is too short or my pants are too tight—and it feels awkward speaking anything other than our native language, Pashto, with them. I feel guilty when I do or say anything that I know sounds “American” and “un-Pashtun” to my parents, and I often don’t know what to do about that guilt. [...] As my parents continue to be torn between their decision to support my sisters’ and my education and their nostalgic urge to return to Pakistan with us by their side where they are certain we will all live happily ever after, I often find myself at tears over how much and what all my immigrant Pashtun parents have had to give up only so that their children can have the opportunities they were denied growing up in Pakistan.

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