Tuesday, November 25, 2014

No Booze for Sharia hotel in London, will Pre-marital sex be Forbidden next?


You know what's great? Hotel sex (depending on how germophobic you are). People visiting/planning to have sex in London's Bermondsy Square Hotel, please make sure you're married . Premarital sex is forbidden in Islam.

What does Islam have to do with a London hotel, you ask?

Well...while I might be exaggerating about the no-premarital sex rule, I have been seeing news about some 'Sharia Hotel' floating about. I always passed it off as spoof news or a joke. Finally decided to look it up. It is real. Very real and fucking terrifying.

What is wrong with you Britain? What strain of multiculturalism have you been smoking?

While I respect that Muslim owned establishments should be able to provide halal meat to their clientele around the world, because I don't see how blessing meat one way or another would really infringe upon anyone's rights (Yes the animal rights issues are a separate conversation as is the 'terrorism-funding'). But as far as personal offence, I really don't think it matters what sky person your meat is blessed in the name of. I personally would prefer it if my meat was sacrificed to the dark lord, always. But when I can't find certifiable satan-worship meat at my local store, I'm fine with other kinds too. I don't eat a lot of meat anyway, and make sure to sacrifice my asparagus to whomever I please...in my own home.

I always think to myself that the people who make a big deal about halal meat are focusing on the wrong things (when it comes to problems with Islam, there are perhaps larger ones to look at), and that there is no actual threat that sharia law could possibly take over any part of any western nation, but when I see that Muslim ownership can cause a trendy London boutique hotel to impose a sudden alcohol ban and an eventual pork ban...I am taken aback, and I question whether the halal-haters actually *do* have reason to be as defensive as they are.

I don't even eat pork...and I am offended that a hotel with an already established clientele, would take it away due to religious reasons. If it was always built as a muslim hotel, for a niche market, I would understand. But to drive out and discriminate against an existing client base...this is fucked up.

This selective privilege and pretend-diversity is oppressive. Diversity is ok when it teaches tolerance and acceptance towards muslims. But diversity is NOT ok if it calls for muslims to learn how to tolerate others, and other ways of life. Everyone else must adapt to accommodate, muslims cannot be asked to accommodate anything. Not even having alcohol present in a hotel? I mean surely no one force feeds alcohol and pork to anyone.... that would be awful. But to not be able to sit in the same establishment as others who might want a drink? The height of intolerance. Is there fear of getting drunk by absorbing it through the air...?

I cannot tell you how many extended family get-togethers and weddings we have gone to where a bunch of us gather to have warm beer in someone's car in the parking lot (classy, I know). And we are not teenagers, but we sure have to act like teenagers because of how taboo alcohol can be. But at least those are private gatherings, and those footing the bill, should feel free to throw a 'party' however they like.

To allow sharia-type laws in establishments open to the public is a very slippery slope. Where does this religiosity end? Will they eventually really be imposing a no premarital-sex rule? Will there be mandatory virginity tests before check-in? Will they have a friday afternoon 'lets stone the adulteress' event in the lobby? Will they turn away gay couples? (luckily, for now they have said they will accept sinful same-sex couples - how very kind of them), will they add a modest clothing clause? An anti-blasphemy law? I mean...where does one draw the line....and if these other questions sound ridiculous to you, then removing alcohol/pork from the premises should too. If you don't like it, you should of course not be forced into it. But you shouldn't get to decide what other people are eating or drinking.

Again, this hotel is not in Lahore, Pakistan..it is in London, England. So bizarre.

 from http://www.tripadvisor.ca/

 from http://www.tripadvisor.ca/

And seriously, what is the point of this rule
if you're allowing alcohol in anyway?
Just to be an ass and make guests bring
their own booze? FFS.
Lol @ 'bring something nice from your cellar'


Sigh. I am sorry this is happening to your city Londoners.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Rosetta Mission: Highlights the Asshole brand of Feminism

On November 12th 2014, ESA's Rosetta mission made history by landing on a comet.  Just to convey the magnitude of this achievement, here are some quotes from the article on the European Space Agency's page: 

“Our ambitious Rosetta mission has secured a place in the history books: not only is it the first to rendezvous with and orbit a comet, but it is now also the first to deliver a lander to a comet’s surface,” noted Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA’s Director General.

“With Rosetta we are opening a door to the origin of planet Earth and fostering a better understanding of our future. ESA and its Rosetta mission partners have achieved something extraordinary today.”
“After more than 10 years travelling through space, we’re now making the best ever scientific analysis of one of the oldest remnants of our Solar System,” said Alvaro Giménez, ESA’s Director of Science and Robotic Exploration.
“Decades of preparation have paved the way for today’s success, ensuring that Rosetta continues to be a game-changer in cometary science and space exploration.”
*******
A real game-changer indeed. Both in realms of science and feminism. Claudia Alexander, an amazing research scientist and woman of colour (yay!) was a part of this incredible mission.
Time for feminists to celebrate? We have come a long, long way... wait...hold up...
Instead of celebrating a total win for humankind, the puritanical bowels of the feminist movement were given a couple of seconds in the spotlight during this historical event. 
In a strange dimension, where an unholy alliance between feminists and fatwa-ists occurs...Matt Taylor, leading Rosetta scientist, made the grave mistake of wearing a shirt covered in scantily dressed pin-up type women. Not a shirt that said "science is for boys, knitting is for girls" or one that said "titties" - because that would piss me right off, and rightfully so. 
He dared to wear something with illustrations of women in immodest clothing, heaven forbid. 
I consider myself a feminist, but its moments like these where I cringe at being associated with the word. While I would never let a few extremists define the movement for me, I do not like what it is turning into. The more we scream 'sexist' at benign things, the less likely the word is, to be taken seriously. 
I have come across many a Social Justice Warrior type on the internet, and all kinds make me uncomfortable. I consider myself very much a person who cares for all causes of equality and justice, but I do not want to be mistaken for these angry warrior people. 
I am a sex-positive feminist. I enjoy wearing corsets (satan's own device for the specific purpose of crushing a woman's spirit...), lipstick, and I have worn my share of bondage collars, attended several fetish events. I know there are feminists who find the entire BDSM lifestyle misogynistic. I would firmly disagree...because well... consent. Though outright violent misogynists sometimes hide under the guise of consensual BDSM, as we have seen recently with Jian Ghomeshi - I cannot say enough about the dishonesty, anti-kink and horrific nature of the Jian case, which is perhaps why I haven't attempted to put my feelings about this into a neat little blogpost.
I have heard of fem-warriors claiming that all penis-in-vagina sex is rape. Yeah....seriously...
----
I am a feminist and I am also an artist. I draw a lot of nude women, a lot of breasts - and some might say I am objectifying women, or that I am self-hating (that has been used to describe me in more instances than one :D). I have tattoos, I love tattoos and I *love* me a good-looking pin-up girl or guy. If I want to wear a shirt with a sexy man or woman on it, I fucking will. 
I will not cry wolf...and deteriorate the cause. I will not assume that every man is out to objectify, oppress or use me. 
These are murky waters to navigate, between the real sexists/misogynists, and the word police, thought police...shirt police. 
Women can be scientists, astronauts, doctors, teachers.....they can be different sizes, shapes...they can also be fetish models, pinup models, sex workers, or any profession they choose, and dress in as much or as little clothing as they like. And all of us feminists know that shaming women about their bodies is shitty, no matter what amount of clothing is involved. Coming from the part of the world I am from (Pakistan) and the part of the world I grew up in (Saudi Arabia) - I really value the ability to express myself freely. Because I did not have that growing up...thankfully, Canada provides me with this freedom in my adult life. 
In Saudi, all images of women are blacked out with a marker, they are told to cover up, stay inside and not be sexy, even their eyes are told not to be sexy.. Perhaps that is the reason why I celebrate sexy. I will not take kindly to anyone shaming anyone for the female form. The fact that you, western feminists, would impose this shirt-fatwa upon Matt Taylor is not ok with me. Had those images been of battered women or oppressed women I would have taken serious offence to his shirt. There was no trace of misogyny, there were illustrations. If scantily clad women are offensive to you, I suggest you stop engaging with the media, stop going to the beach....and get your ass in a burqa. 
One thing that has been made apparent through this is - how awful it is to focus on someone's clothing, to judge them for what they are wearing. We, as women go through that every day. Both in the East and in the West. 
As a tattooed and pierced non-conformist who has always been told by society what to wear I take this quite personally.
It perhaps wasn't the most professional choice of clothing, nor the best decision. (Something that could easily be said to me for a skirt too short, or a neckline too low) ....But is this really the focus when someone has just made history? Is it really worth making a very valuable contributor to society cry over?  He actually cried....because *you* didn't like his shirt. It's sad...because *you* are the assholes of feminism. What a shame.
How upset upsetting others has made him shows what kind of a person he is.... Matt Taylor, this is something you did not need to apologize for. But the fact that you did, shows you are bigger and better than this shit.
----
He is a quirky scientist, and he likes wearing sexy women on his shirt. Big. fucking. deal. 
You have to be careful how you use the label sexist, unless you want it to lose all meaning. 
I have opened the floodgates of feminist wrath, now what would your western, privileged feminism like to tell *me* ? - I still can't go to my home country and wear what I want (even jeans and a t-shirt are controversial in some areas)...so yes, please tell me how semi-naked women are bad and shameful...how people shouldn't have the freedom to see beauty in the female form.. I have heard it all before from the religious fundies. 

Have you been hanging out with these guys? 

Image from www.dailymail.co.uk




Thursday, November 6, 2014

"We have been silenced whenever we attempted to criticize..."

Something amazing showed up in my inbox last night, and I wanted to share this bit of very honest, and wonderful correspondence with you. There are some Muslims that want change, that want to push for change - Muslims that are willing to acknowledge the issues....

*Some* of my anti-theist friends hold the view that all religion should be abolished, in an ideal world perhaps we would have no divide such as religion.  But its not very realistic to hope for billions of people to miraculously de-convert in our lifetime.... When I see people like 'M', who wrote to me last night....my heart is filled with hope. Some might see it as naive, ah well. 

But when people come together, despite some fundamental differences, like religion (or lack of)...then wonderful things happen. This is what an actual willingness for conversation looks like. Can we please hear from more people like her? 

****

Dear Eiynah, 

I recently came across your blog, though I heard about your book on buzzfeed (which I loved) a while ago. But anyway I came across your blog and I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for speaking about sex, sexuality, sexism, etc. in Pakistani/(Muslim?) culture. 

I am often told I don't have the right to speak or critique Pakistani culture since I am American-born and raised, but I still feel the sexual repression that comes with Pakistani culture as I grew up in a Pakistani household. 

Hear hear! I cannot tell you how much I relate to this. As someone who was raised outside of Pakistan, I too am often disregarded as an invalid voice... my experiences and interpretations of the things I see in our culture are not taken seriously. So I get you. But the culture carries across the ocean, we in North America are plagued with the same issues, but perhaps in a less obvious manner. The strict gender roles, the segregation, the misogyny and homophobia, the lack of freedom of religion... these things are with us. Our experiences of these aspects might be different in some ways, but they are definitely real. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Shutting you down because you are 'not Pakistani enough' is just another tactic to avoid hearing critique. I'm sure no one would tell you you are not Pakistani enough if you were praising aspects of the culture. 

I will not deny that I have the better end of it all. I have been taught to be empowered, strong, intelligent, and sexually aware. My mother being a doctor taught me about menstruation at a young age (and told me there was nothing shameful about it, simply science), and taught me about birth control (though that came mostly from my high school). Our home is loving and accepting as could be, but still in our "progressive" social circles I have always felt the repression that you so boldly speak of in your blog. 

This is precisely what I want to draw attention to. People often assume my atheism is some sort of 'reactionary response' ...they assume I must have had very strict parents and an awful childhood. The truth is, my parents are perfectly lovely, progressive, liberal people. And yet, I can't avoid seeing certain issues. The inequality, the lack of freedom..it's everywhere. I did not need to be severely oppressed by religion in order to see that it wasn't for me. 

I suppose in an attempt to preserve our culture, my mother taught us to be proud of Pakistan and the culture. But in the process we have been silenced whenever we attempted to criticize or discuss any negative aspect of Pakistan. Being a feminist I try to discuss the misogyny in the country, and my sister being an atheist tries to argue against Islam, But we are always silenced. If a progressive family like ourselves cannot discuss then what change will ever come? I don't know.

Exactly! Even my wonderfully supportive, open-minded parents refuse to listen to critique about the religion. They just politely ask that I refrain from it because it upsets them. But I have had a lot of questions, especially when I was younger...ones they couldn't answer, because even discussing the topic was too 'offensive'. If not in our 'progressive' homes... then where? 

Reading your blog made me realize how much I would like to discuss but how I am always silenced from doing so. The accusation against it? "Tum log bus gorey hojao" (why don't you kids just become white) or "It's always anti-Pakistan" or "America is not perfect either". 

I never understand the defensive finger-pointing...yes - no place is perfect, but our Muslim countries have serious issues with tolerance...issues that don't exist anywhere else in this century. To try to avoid acknowledging those by pointing things out in other places just seems juvenile and Reza-like dishonest. 

Since reading your blog I have picked up more and more on little moments within our modern, progressive muslim/Pakistani social circles that irk me. The sexism is rampant, there is so little talk about sex, we are at a young age segregated by sex, taught how to be "good muslim girls" etc. Before reading your blog I just laughed it off, but now I pick up on it, and it makes me... angry. Why do we feel we are above the criticism? Why are we so afraid to discuss topics like sex, sexuality, and equal rights even in progressive circles? 

I am so glad. Thank you. It really makes it worthwhile for me when I hear someone say that my writing/drawing has made them notice something and take the issues more seriously. I am glad you are more aware, but sorry you will continue to be irked by those instances now. Its hard to unsee that kind of stuff. But if we can get enough people to be a powerful collective voice... imagine the possibilities. And if people from within the culture don't want to discuss it, then there is no harm in appealing to the rest of the world to hold us to the same moral standards. 

Again I say that my family and situation is at the better end of it all, so perhaps I don't have the right to complain. I have it good compared to the sad sad stories I read on your blog. And yet the sexism and the repression is still there. I can't pinpoint it, but it is. 

I suppose we are the "progressive" muslims who have failed you by silencing discourse in one of the few places it could happen. 

So again, thank you for pointing all of this out. I love it. I love that someone is talking about it. You are doing amazing things. More people need to read your blog :) I hope to write a blog as well one day, just waiting for the right time. 

I love that you are talking about it! 

Your blog has been circulating among our feminist friends. Hopefully it'll be Thanksgiving dinner table conversation! Now I'm excited. 

I certainly hope so too! Keep challenging! 

I LOVE YOUR BLOG. Keep writing!!

-M

Feeling so much love for this girl right now. Where are the others? Rise up, speak up! I hope for nothing more than for you, the progressive Muslims to prove me wrong when I say there isn't an actual call for reform... that no one is willing to admit to major flaws within the doctrine.