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Catcalling – It IS An Issue.

27 Nov

Catcalling Example

Originally written for and published on the blog JAN Trust

Earlier last week I read an article titled “25 Totally Acceptable Ways To Respond To Catcallers” which was a very insightful and funny piece on an experience that MANY women face, some on a daily basis.  If you’re unfamiliar with the term ‘Catcalling’ in this context, it is a combination of both sexual and street harassment in which men (or women) yell out comments of a sexual  nature to an individual as they pass by in order to get their attention, sometimes this will also include some sort of touching or groping.

Although the piece itself was quite humorous the situation being spoken about is not, and we as a society are becoming increasingly indifferent to this behaviour, particular when it comes from men.   Because of society’s normalisation of this kind of street harassment, women feel less inclined to openly take offence and be as vocally disapproving as they would like.  The author of the article relayed her experience of being catcalled one early morning and stated that she felt guilty for not responding to a man’s questions and advances.  She said, “I started questioning my own instincts: Maybe I was too rude. Maybe I should have at least smiled or waved or something”.  This is an all too common feeling for many women who have had the experience of being catcalled.  They worry about their own behaviour when in fact they DO NOT have to respond or be nice to strange men who make them feel uncomfortable.  Catcallers lose their right to kindness the moment they violate your personal space and personal boundaries.  Catcalling also causes real feelings of fear among victims.   Many women feel that if they vocally express their disapproval at being catcalled the perpetrator will suddenly become verbally or physically abusive towards them.  In these instances, some women will start engaging with the perpetrator to remove themselves from the situation, sometimes this will involve lying about having a boyfriend or husband in the hope that the perpetrator will respect their decision to leave.  This is not ok, vocally stating that they do not like the situation they are in should be ENOUGH for a man to apologise and leave her alone and should also be ENOUGH for society to realise this shouldn’t be happening in the first place.

The experience of being catcalled is not only extremely upsetting but can also influence the way women view themselves, each other and wider society.  Some women have been led to believe that a man yelling after them in the street is a compliment because they have internalised the idea of women simply being a sexual object and they therefore should be flattered even if it upsets them, while others have been made to think that a man touching them without their permission is perfectly acceptable and is in fact a part of the experience of being a woman.  Other groups of women become so anxious that they begin to hate themselves and their womanhood.  They avoid going out for fear of being degraded and can even develop a deep rooted hatred and fear for the opposite gender.

The sooner we as a society ACCEPT this the faster we can deal with the problem.  This casual acceptance of street harassment can be viewed as an indicator of how wider society views women in general and what it believes their purpose should be.  Throughout recent history women have been fighting for the right to be seen as equals but it is a movement that has been met with much resistance because it does fit in with the traditional gender narratives.  In order for society as a whole to tackle the issue of street harassment we must open up a dialogue about the current position and the role of women in society today.  There needs to be a discussion on the concept and the social construction of gender and we must begin challenging the mind-set by educating individuals within society on street and sexual harassment by going into schools, universities and the workplace and conducting workshops and seminars on what it is and why it is wrong.  Finally, we must combat the constant objectification and sexualisation of women and girls in the media.  The media has been viewed as the driving force behind these sexist and misogynistic attitudes by many women’s organisations because it causes many to become desensitized to the degradation of women and young girls everywhere.

We as women in society need to understand that we are NOT the problem.  We must begin to challenge this behaviour the moment we experience it and say something about how we can tackle the sexualisation and objectification of women at societal level because it is WRONG and it is a form of SEXUAL HARASSMENT whether the victim or the perpetrator believes it to be or not.  If we continue to ignore it, it will continue and will also progressively get worse.

Ladies, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!  You have the RIGHT to walk, run, sit, in a public place without receiving unwanted sexual advancements and you have the right to bloody state your disapproval if and when you receive them.  You were not put on this Earth for the mere pleasure of disrespectful men.  CHECK these FOOLS! Women everywhere salute you!

Sheila N.

To read more about Sheila, click here


Reading…You may not even read this…but I can try.

16 Dec

“What time does it start? Where is it? Are you sure? Can you send me the information again, I lost the email. I can’t find the text. Sorry Bro/Sis, I just didn’t have time to read it.” But is your apology sincere? Could this be prevented? We seem to assume that the person on the receiving end of excuses and then an apology is your Personal Assistant, and their life rotates around keeping you informed.

We seem to have developed a habit- a habit that relies on others, a habit that causes laziness and a habit that is fundamentally disrespectful to a Muslim brother or sister or non-Muslim, who has actually taken the time out to try and inform you in the best way possible about an event, information or reminder regarding Islam or something in general-the least we can do is actively READ and respond where necessary.

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“The Innocence of Muslims” Anti-Islam film: What Muslims can learn from this

5 Oct

I hadn’t heard of this film until US Ambassador- Chris Stevens, was murdered in Libya (Send a message of condolence here– ‘Celebrate Mercy’ initiative). After watching its trailer, I was sickened. Not only by the cheap sets and bad acting, but by the way Islam and Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, were portrayed. As a Muslim, I was insulted and hurt that a man who we hold so dear to our hearts could be so misunderstood, how our beliefs could be ridiculed in such a way. And not only as a Muslim, but as a human, I was appalled at how someone can mock another person’s beliefs. As much as I may disagree with someone, I could never, ever mock them or ridicule them. That is not the way of our Prophet, peace be upon him, or of Islam. Continue reading

The ummah is not in need of fault finders, online shuyukh and keyboard warriors.

28 Sep

I am sure I have probably written about similar topics before. But hey, it seems like some things need saying…over and over again.

There are times when I think that Muslims are sometimes our own worst enemy. Continue reading

The ‘Booty Shakin’ HOEJABI- where we went wrong

19 Apr

Originally written for and published on the blog ZaraEsque

Floating around Facebook and Twitter today was a video and much talk of a Muslim woman in hijaab (Islamic head covering) ‘booty shakin’ in public. I watched the video and saw a sister dancing provocatively in some sort of ‘dance off’ with a guy. After watching it, I skimmed the comments, some of which disgusted me more than anything else, encouraging me to write a piece. However, I was not tempted to share it- a point I will discuss later on.

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Did we leave respect and tolerance behind?

8 Sep

Ok so this one will be really short. I just had to get a couple of things off my chest.

Whilst we think we are moving forward, we seem to have left a couple of things behind: Respect and Tolerance.

Too many times, I have seen Muslim sisters speaking badly about their own Muslim sisters wearing the niqaab. I then hear Muslim sisters insulting those women who are ‘naked’. Now, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but sometimes I feel like we need training in how to voice it. Continue reading

Here we go again…

4 Jun

(Originally written for and published on the blog Yes I Have A Voice)

In the light of a German feminist calling for a headscarf ban in German schools in September 2009, I wrote this post. Although an old(ish) article, I still think it is very relevant today.

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