Art is the proper task of life

I was saving this little tit-bit for a future post but Maryam’s recent comments prompted me to post this today. Well Maryam its not all smooth sailing for me either, see what I have to endure every day. :p

Me: Romeo, Romeo, wherefor art thou Romeo …
Mom: He was here ten minutes ago.
Me: Why did he leaveth? Tell me O noble and wise old lady?
Mom (Gives me who are you calling old look): He did not have any choice. He was cornered?
Me: Who would doeth such an ignoble deed? Tell me O noble and fair maiden?
Mom: It was Xena, the warrior princess. Romeo was badly beaten and then cast into the dungeon by the merciless amazonian.
Me (Giggling): Surely O miss, he must haveth doneth some wrongful perfidious deed? Why would haveth a noble amazonian taketh such a drastic step?
Mom: Yeah, he mentioned something about a traditional wife.
Me: Then her acts were justified. Who would this noble, blue-blooded, brave and exalted amazonian be?
Mom: They call her Aliana and she hunts such men.
Me: Haha, die heretic die!
Mom: Aliana! Grow up.
Me (Innocent look): What? What did I say mom?
Mom: One of these day you will have to get married.
Me: Mom, you sound more desi than desis sometimes.


Although this story comes from New Zealand, it is much relevant to our lives in America and increasingly in the rest of the world too. First of all let me say that even though I dress somewhat conservatively but I do not have any problem with women dressing in (almost) any manner that they want however I do have problem with behaving in a certain manner so as to turn themselves into objects. Many of my friends are not exactly prudes and really do dress like stars but they use the special thing about them is their brains and not their looseness. The most damaging thing is that many women themselves do not consider such acts deplorable and objectification of women is being passed as the right of a women to do whatever she wants. The following except about pole dancing is disturbing to say the least.

Young women, far from sternly rising up to form feminist action groups to throw Burger King and the bikini girls off campus, appear to be themselves enthusiastic players in the slapperisation of New Zealand. In bars, managers have found that if they provide poles they don’t even have to hire pole dancers, because female patrons will do it for free.

Advertisement seems to have been reduced to sex, sex and sex.

In an environment such as this, the twin objections of feminism and moralistic concerns have become muted, leaving advertisers with a free hand. Only the most ludicrous or awful displays of women’s bodies arouse complaints, such as a recent Auckland billboard for muesli featuring a pair of giant female breasts. The tagline was “need something real?”

Of course the advertisers use such tactics because they know how to exploit the hard-wired instincts of men and women.

Ads like these, says Starr, capitalise on what is known as the “involuntary attention” phenomenon. Like a train wreck, there are some sights you cannot not look at.

“Pretty much anything involving bodies of either sex is going to have some involuntary attention because it’s hard- wired in,” says Starr.

Ads that grab attention are particularly effective for products that people don’t much care about, called “low- interest” products, says Starr. For a “high-interest” product such as a computer, consumers will research their purchase, carefully weighing up competing products before making a decision.

But no one spends much energy deciding which burger or beer or muesli bar they will buy. For low-interest products such as these, advertisers have to attract attention and create a buzz by using colour, sound or imagery. Or bodies.

The following quote is telling since it says that girls LEARN such behavior. I was in a store the other day and came accross the Bratz dolls that the article mentions, I mean the dolls are ugly. Its not just what you are dress but how you are dressed makes a difference. I mean look at Princess Arial, she looks cute innocent but for Bratz, I hope they burn in hell.

Girls “learn to treat themselves as objects to be looked at and evaluated for their appearance”, said the report.

The cultural influences are everywhere – from highly sexual music videos, to Bratz dolls dressed like hookers, to girl mags with their focus on boys and “crushes”, to sexually exhibitionistic celebrities such as Britney Spears. In school playgrounds, eight-year-old girls can be heard singing The Pussycat Dolls’ “Don’tcha wish your girlfriend was hot like me”.

{February 23, 2007}   Speaking of Divorce

Women in difference communities of the world have different problems and for different reasons. Here is an example of Jewish Orthodox sisters fighting for their rights.

With strident calls for action and threats of “taking to the streets” if the issue is not soon resolved, participants in the 10th anniversary conference of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) ratcheted up the rhetoric around the plight of agunot, “chained women” whose husbands refuse to grant them a religious bill of divorce.

“Let this be the last JOFA conference where we need to ask if there’s a halachic heter [permissive legal ruling] for agunot,” Tova Hartman, founder of an Orthodox feminist synagogue in Jerusalem, told the approximately 1,000 people, mostly women, who attended a conference earlier this month in New York City. “The time has come to stop kvetching.”

For many Muslims the following may sound familiar but as they say, misogyny has no religion.

In the worst cases, husbands have refused to grant religious divorces to their wives for years,

The following was shocking for me as I had never seen something like it before.

…. sometimes issuing the documents only in exchange for sizable ransoms.

{February 19, 2007}   Bachelor Number Two

You know there are some prospects that I do NOT want to meet, especially the ones that I have come across in the real world and I know that we are poles apart in our worldview but this auntie did not take the hint and wanted me to see this really good Muslim guy at least once. My mom being the nicest lady in the world did not want to say no and told me that all that I had to do was to meet this guy once and just say no. Ok fine, whatever but this was not just any other guy, this was the uber-mullah of the neighboring campus so he was not technically in my school but I had seen him. To his credit he was not into partying or the whole girlfriend thing, so he was clean in this respect but he was one of those types who did not even return your salams and thought that women cannot become the president of MSA or that sisters should be segregated for their own good etc. He had even said something to the effect that almost all women are potential temptresses. He had some not so nice words for non-hijabi sisters. I could not let go a good opportunity to get even on the behalf of all the sisters with whom this guy had been mean. The following conversation may seem a bit cruel but believe me I had seen the guy sad thing to good, innocent, hijabi sisters

So I go delibrately go home on Saturday that weekend instead of Friday so that mom can’t cancel the meeting. Dad was in England or something that time so it was perfect. I come home and then mom is like, “What have you done to my daughter? Aliana why have you dyed your hair blue!” I casually replied, “Relax mom, its not like as if its permanent.” She goes, “But what about your prospect?” “Well you know I was going to say no anyway so why not make him say no as well.”
Mom didn’t really like the idea but she let him have my way.

So the guy shows up expecting a modest hijabi gal but meets the Amazonian Matriarch known as Aliana. The first shock is of course the hair and I got blue contacts just for the occasion. 🙂 And I am also dressed in all red. He is skeptical but starts the conversation regarding how Islam takes care of everything and why we must keep our distance from the non-believers. This is a really bad way to start conversation with me. I go on and tell him all about my good relations with ‘non-believer’ friends and how in many ways they are better than many of the so-called Muslims. Then he tells me how he would like to live in a Muslim country in the Middle East away from Western corruption, to which add, “Cool, I have heard Dubai is the most happening place in the world right now.” That was when he came into the defensive mode and started criticizing the West and how Muslim women have been corrupted and why there should be complete segregation and women not driving makes sense and how I was the emblem was what was wrong with the society, to which I replied, “Well Mr. righteous that would not be that bad I was a guy han? If I was a guy and some white girl fell for me and then after a few months I leave her and get on with my life, that’s fine han? And I do this with many women and that is fine right? I know whose suggestion that was by the way. White women are people like us you know.” By this time he seems to be sick of me and says, “But she was not one of the muslimoon anyway.” Before leaving he tells my mom how Western I am. Whatever. Too bad he was not familiar with Simone de bouvier otherwise I would have thrown her in the conversation.

{February 14, 2007}   Bachelor Number One

Just came back from Texas, the land of milk and honey sunshine. I was reading Isheeta’s latest entry and OMG she sounds like one of my friends in my undergrad years. (She is getting married soon, voohoo!) The world is changing rapidly, in fact in the West so rapidly that the generational gap between immigrants and their parents is exacerbated by this change. So let me narrate an example of Aliana not finding the right one. This may turn out to be a weekly or a biweekly segment, a chance to bash desis (don’t worry sisters, its mostly men. Ok all of them are going to be men, not just mostly.)

So I am visiting my parents during summer and one of the aunties get this bright idea of finding a nice desi boy for me. As always I am reluctant but my mom insists so I am like whatever. So the guy and his family visit, nice people, even the guy is kind of cute but seems to be playing shy. It seems to be going fine. His family was like, yeah he is so Islamic this and so Islamic that. So I talk to him over the phone a number of times, there seems to be something fake about his modesty. Well when in doubt use Facebook! Well Mr. Modestly is doing some grinding with some Latino chicks. I love online social networks. The rest is history as they say. 😉

{February 14, 2007}   Message

This message is directed to my Muzlum Muslim brothers on the occassion of Valenine’s day.

The Prophet (peace be upon him)

“The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best disposition and the best of you are those who are best to their wives.”



{February 10, 2007}   She told him

Here is the update, my roomie finally talked to that guy and of course he kind of freaked out, speechless, did not talk for long, kind of hung up but not really, must have been shocked or something. But all is not lost, he called later, again did not talking for long but said that they can still meet. His expressions were a mix of disappointment, amusement and interest.

Lets see, so I go to this restaurant with a couple of my friends. (Its less of a restaurant and more of a shisha hang out place). Right when we are done with food and about to return, I see a brother from the MSA from a distance so I started walking towards where he is sitting so that I can say salam. He seems to be busy so does not notice me. I freeze in my tracks, the brother seems to be making out. (The same brother who criticizes non-hijabi sisters behind their backs.) I look the other way and exit the restaurant without saying anything. One of my other friends also sees this. So we run into the same brother a few days later and he is trying to get all friendly with one of the sisters. We stop by, make an excuse to take her with us but before leaving my friend says, “We would love to stay but we have to pray out. You know praying out is better than making out.” I wish I had a camera and take a picture because his expression was as if he had just seen a ghost. Priceless.

{February 4, 2007}   His Majesty is a Muslim

Alistair Beaton has a new play which explores the possibility of what would happen if the crown prince married a Muslim and there is a real possibility of the next Monarch being a Muslim and how the prime minister would handle this situation. This makes things really complicated because the reigning monarch is also supposed to be the head of the Church of England. This is reminiscent of King Edward VIII abdication but Beaton seems to have taken it step further. I wonder what would happen should such a situation arise?

{February 3, 2007}   How to lose a guy in one day

So you meet this guy (online), who sounds amazing, an educated person in every sense of the word, has similar tastes, has a good sense of humor etc. You find this out in the course of year. You are really curious to know if he is for real and when you happen to be in another city you attend one of the conferences where he is presenting. So now you know that this guy is for real and cute. More time passes, he happens to be coming to your city and wants to meet you. There is only problem – he thinks that you are a guy because you were just looking for someone with similar interests to chat with but now you feel something stronger, plus he is cute. Now the day is coming closer, you can’t give him your cell number since you can’t talk on the phone (unless you have a voice synthesizer) since that will give away your gender. You are so confused. What to do? Did I ever say that he is cute?

So that’s the story of my dear and sweet roomie. I wish I could give her some advice but I am stumpted so I thought I could use the wisdom of the blosphere.

Addition: After reading somethingtobe’s commets I thought that I should clarify he is not gay and has not showed interest in the other person (my roomie). By the way, we know that he is single and looking.


et cetera