Home » Zakaa Hassan
Category Archives: Zakaa Hassan
In my last blog, I wanted to talk about a very touchy subject. I have never been to a bar or a club and don’t think I ever will. From what I have seen in movies however, many a times, women get treated like they are a piece of meat. Many men go there thinking they’re going to “get some” even before they start drinking. What I want to explore is how we can build a society where women are respected and men learn to respect (not that there aren’t many who don’t). Before this can occur, we have to dig deep and find the roots of this problem. Many women state that a woman can wear whatever she wants and not be “asking for it.” For those who believe that, I want to know how that applies when so many women in the media are portrayed getting ready to go to the club or whatever, talking to her girlfriends maybe after a breakup or something with the intentions of going to bars or clubs for the purpose of “getting some.” How can this double standard be resolved? I know of many women who dress sexy because it makes them feel good about themselves yet the message the media is giving is that every woman who dresses this way is doing it for a purpose. Indirectly, society is saying its okay to rape a woman for example if she dresses this way. Being that intoxication, if not drugs, are involved in the bar/club scene, I ask, why would a woman go dressed like that, given the stereotypes that society creates, and not expect to be treated like a piece of meat (she doesn’t have to be raped)? Some very educated men that I know go to bar/club scenes to find women that are easy. I know for sure many women don’t go to these places thinking they are that. But what happens when society creates these stereotypes? I remember a student in our class commenting on how marriage is not seen as something so important nowadays to men because women are so easy. It might be a statement that many people disagree with but the reality is, he is not the first man I have heard say that. Men from all backgrounds, not just conservative men, hold this view. Are we as women just suppose to accept that? Or even present ourselves as that? I think many women want the to have everything these days. They want to act in behaviors that make not just men, but other human beings question their motives yet still be respected like a lady. Truth is, that’s not going to happen. Just like when a teenager acts up or anyone as a matter of fact goes against what normal logic says, is treated differently, why don’t we expect women to be treated that way. Sometimes I feel that we women want to be treated go about life without any consequences (good or bad) just based on something disney movies put in our heads from a young age.
I was just browsing Pinterest today and found this pin in the humor section. I thought I would share since it really allowed me to look at the princesses I loved in childhood through a different lens. I always knew that the princesses waited for someone to save them but I didn’t look at it in such a sexist way. It sort of shaped my ideas of having a prince charming save me, maybe not directly from cruelty but more of a romanticized notion of a man coming to me, as many little girls grew up to think too. As the pictures depict above, princesses weren’t always saved by a prince. They were however depicted as being kind, understanding, all good qualities I know. Mulan however, stands out. She was the only princess to do something a man usually does; she deviated from Ancient China’s norms and served in the army. Cinderella showed deviance as well but she just defied a restriction that most girls want to experience: dancing with a prince at a ball. Mulan showed altruism in registering for the army for her dad’s sake and then even after being exposed as a woman, defeated the Hun army and saved China. So for this I say, thank you Mulan (or Mulan’s creators) for showing little girls that they can be much more than the stereotypical princess. My little sister is 5 years old and not many new princesses have been created since her birth. There are however new Barbie stories that I read to her every now and then and I am glad to say that many of these stories show examples of strong, independent women, who can still be princesses too.
Why do women stay in abusive relationships? It might be easy to say, “Just leave. There is the police, you have friends and family to protect you.” But to women in that position, it is not so easy. You may be able to call the police and get a restraining order or file domestic abuse charges but what is the real punishment for men who abuse and rape their victims? Most likely they have a screwed up mentality either way and won’t abide by the laws. Most likely, they have problems themselves that do not allow them to see the mistakes in their actions and blame it on the girl for doing this to herself. What do we do for women like this? If the man goes to jail, he will get out and might track her down for more abuse. Or if he really is a psycho and wants to get revenge, will get someone from the outside to hurt her or her family. What is a girl suppose to do then? The book and many articles suggest that women in this position may have no place to go or low self-esteem. But I have seen many cases where the women come from good families and have high self esteem and are independent yet still are abused verbally, mentally, and physically by their partners. Why would these women stay in abusive relationships. I have a theory.
I think these women feel like they have no other choice. Relating this post to the “Betrayed by an Angel” reading, I feel like many kind-hearted women fall for the wrong man and constantly think that they can change, that this isn’t the man I fell in love with. Unfortunately, this often is not the case. Ernest Hemmingway says, “The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes, destroyed.” These angelic qualities is what I think puts independent and confident women in the position to be abused. I hope someone out there with authority actually recognizes the flaws with the law system that keeps these women from achieving full potential in life and does something about it. This would definitely decrease suicidal thoughts in women or the ideas of killing the abuser himself. What are your thoughts?
A couple of days ago, I started my free one month trial of Netflix. A documentary that caught my eye was titled, “Whores’ Glory.” I read the description and thought I would see what this was all about. This film is everything but glorifying “whores.” It takes you into a look inside the industry of prostitution around the world and unravels this business in three countries: Thailand, Bangladesh, and Mexico. I see why the director chose these three countries since the methods by which prostitution is practiced is carried out in completely differently.
In Thailand, the “whores” check in electronically just like any other high class job. They get their makeup and hair done by professionals and dress in alluring clothing and high heels. They then sit behind a glass screen (called the “Fish Tank”) where men come and check them out. With the help of their “pimp” who looks like a normal businessman, they pick their prostitute. Firstly, they identify the girls by numbers and separate them into two classes, some with red buttons and some with blue buttons (the red ones being more expensive). I find this so degrading.
When asked why involve yourself in this business, most if not all, say that they need the money. Some who have been in the business for years and are older say that they get paid to do something they like. Some even have families or partners yet still say they have no other choice. Taking advantage of their poverty has exploited women all around the world. This objectification of women has opened the door for violence against women since they are only seen as an entity and nothing with value.
In Bangladesh, a highly populated Muslim country, you would hear the call to prayer in the whore house. Many women take refuge and are sold from young ages and taught how to please a man. The “pimpette” was seen bargaining for a girl and than bought her for 5000 takas (thats $64 US dollars!) Prostitutes here have to lure a man in, not with revealing clothing like in Thailand but with words. They do everything but oral, because, “the words of the Holy Quran are read with these lips.” It seems so contradictory and many girls face trouble with finding out oneself. One girl, when interview was crying, saying that “Why do us women have to have such a hard life? Why can’t I just get married and have my own family?” Unfortunately, many of them end up have children from men in the whore house and their daughters carry on the same profession.
I am pretty sure we’ve all heard the phrase “Keep Calm and Carry on” or variations of that phrase. Its on mugs, shirts, backpacks and stickers nowadays. What I was actually shocked to see was that Amazon.com UK was selling shirts that said things to promote violence against women such as “Keep Calm and Rape Me” or “Keep Calm and Hit her.” I think this has gone too far. To normalize rape and violence against women in such an open way?
Yahoo! wrote an article on this and spoke of how people against this are pushing
them to donate against women’s violence in order to make up for this. Personally, I don’t understand how something like this can go past an Amazon representative.
thing they took them off the website or this would have been a disaster. What are your thoughts on this? Here is the link to the Yahoo! article.
Yesterday in class we watched a documentary on how virginity is subjected in the media and about the rise of the abstinence movement and “traditional” ideas. I understand why this documentary was made. The abstinence campaign is over-exaggerating facts by saying things like birth control is surely to kill women if they take it and promote promiscuity. I also don’t like the idea of the purity balls that take place and how public they are. I am all for the idea of saving virginity until marriage but that should be a personal decision that should not be shared with the world. And if it is for religious reasons, than it should stay between the person and God. However, I don’t feel like the daughters are being turned to look like “wives” of their dads just because they do their hair and makeup like the presenter said. The image looks like that of a daddy-daughter dance so I think she is distorting the image behind what this ball means to the ones who partake in it. I believe that members of the abstinence movement are at least partly doing this in retaliation to the undeniable hypersexualization of women that Hollywood and the media are portraying. In my opinion, both ends are being extremists. The presenter, who is an obvious partaker in the feminist movement does not acknowledge the fact that in a way this movement is occurring as a result of the degradation that women are facing everyday. In her opinion, being a virgin is just a “tradition” as if tradition is a bad thing. People should not impose their personal opinions on others but if this is what they feel protects the girl from degradation. I see no wrong in them practicing it. Women are a lot more than virginity that is 100% true. I agree with some of the things the presenter said and some that the opposing group said. I feel as though both are presenting their beliefs in highly biased and extreme forms.
It was my last day of AP Language Arts. School was out and I was saying goodbye to my teacher, Mrs. Kassem. Just as I was about to leave, she stopped me and told me something that I will never forget; “Zakaa, not many men like women of our type. You just have to remember to be strong in what you stand for and never back down.” “Our type?” What does that really mean? I was the type of student that would not seize to state my opinion on a subject no matter who challenged it. When many girls in my class stayed quiet when a male was firm on an opinion, I spoke up.
My high school was primarily 95% Arab-American both students and faculty. Our generation had taken a step towards equality among men and women but people were still uncomfortable with a woman having the capabilities of competing with a man. I remember a post I was tagged in on Facebook where friends would be labeled as “the funny one, the one with beautiful eyes, the nerd, etc…” I was labeled “the feminist.” Before I took this class, I had the stereotypical view that feminists were angry women who hated men and did not want to be known as this. But now with some clarification on the true meaning of feminism, I am proud to say that I AM A FEMINIST.
As I went on to my senior year of high school and started applying for colleges and scholarships, I noticed the competition was becoming more intense. During that year I realized that as women, we are born unequal to men in the eyes of many cultures in society. Just like minorities, women have to prove themselves especially in traditional settings where men dominate such as the medical field and the sciences so that we can earn the respect of others.
One time I was working in a hospital and made it to work just on time with little minutes to spare due to a family emergency. When I explained it to my trainers I felt like having anything to do with family, which is usually a woman’s role, was looked down upon. Or if I laughed at something, I was not taken seriously as if the staff wanted me, as a woman, to prove my seriousness. This never made sense to me but the more I opened my eyes, the more I saw this reality. What can we do about this and how will the future look for women of my kind, the women who want to excel in academics and in the medical field as well as maintain a family? I will wrap up by sharing a promising experience at the hospital that gave me hope for the future. I was walking towards an ER room with a physician and a tight space was coming up so I let him go first. He stopped in the middle of the hallway and looked at me and said, “I don’t want you walking behind me anymore. Walk in front of me or side by side.” I left work that day with a smile on my face a brighter vision of the future.