Beauty Fades, and other Ridiculous Things Men Say

This is a power move.

Expressed by even the best of men, the sentiment likely originated to remind human beings of their own mortality. Typical first encounters with it, after all, are when children are warned to curb a vanity yet to develop. If this is true, it has since evolved to remind only women—and remind us that not only will we die, but even worse, that we will stop being beautiful. And despite the assuring pretenses of the phrase for the woman who agonizes over her appearance, it is commonly cited by men who equate the loss of beauty with the loss of a feminine power—and smugly so.

I was reminded of this yesterday when, leaning back against a wall waiting for my next class to beginning, I held a small mirror in front of me and reapplied my lipstick. I don’t remember what self-depreciating thing I said next, but it prompted a male friend waiting with me to say cheerfully, “Don’t worry too much. After all, beauty fades. We all turn back into clay and return to the earth.” He beamed at me.

I gave him a blank stare. Then, as though having an epiphany, snapped shut my mirror and exclaimed, “Oh my God, you’re right! I never thought of it that way! I guess this really means I should shouldn’t put in any effort, ever. Come to think of it, do you think I should stop reading or completing assignments because aptitude fades? That’s so liberating. Maybe men should stop trying to be funny and failing so hard because senses of humor fade—”

“Okay, okay I get it!” he said.

Then he added, “You know, some people have normal reactions to these things.”

I frowned. What’s a normal reaction? To smile vacuously when men said I was pretty, and laugh orgasmically at sexist jokes?

It was the second time since hearing the phrase as a child that I’d confronted a man about it. The first was a stranger making an effort to have a conversation while I was far too busy daydreaming and had no interest in strangers.

“Sorry, I don’t give people that,” I said to him.

“I asked for your name, not your number.” He grinned. “Yet.”

“I don’t give people that.”

“You don’t give people your name?” His face made it clear this was absurd.

“That’s right.” My name was just as much personal information as anything was;–I had always been, almost inexplicably, reluctant to give it to anyone I felt ought not to be using it.

“You’re just stuck-up,” he snapped. “Women like you are always stuck up. Well, beauty fades so the joke’s on you! You might be beautiful but that’s all you have to offer.”

I repressed elevated laughter. There it was. The joke’s on me. There was the real purpose, the real reminder of the seemingly innocuous statement. The power you had over me will come to an end. “Beauty fades,” is a morbid calm wrapped in a sympathetic guise, a sly affront to the unwavering woman, a desperate lunge to secure a man’s authority—an accusation that feminine power is not everlasting.

I’ve got news for you about the Divine.

Posted in feminism, privilege | 2 Comments

The Sixth Pillar

And what is the matter with you that you fight not
in the cause of God and for the oppressed
among men, women, and children who say,
“Our Lord, take us out of this city of oppressive people
and appoint for us from Yourself a protector
and appoint for us from Yourself a helper”?

Qur’an 4:57

Posted in interpretation, Islam, Quran | Leave a comment

In response to anchor Ana Kasparian

New Jersey Superior Court Judge Sohail Mohammed ruled that a woman has the right to privacy in the delivery room; specifically, that she has the right to the privacy of her medical records, procedures, complications, and/or any other medical information that may be disclosed in a delivery room with the father of the child present. She therefore has the right to disallow the presence of the father in the delivery room if she does not desire it. The Superior Court Judge ruled that the father’s presence may pose an “unwanted strain” on the mother, who is already deeply stressed during childbirth. He also ruled that a woman is not required to inform the father of the child when she is going into labor.

In response to this, news anchor and commentator Ana Kasparian reported that although the ruling makes sense in terms of the privacy of the mother, the father should have the right to know the child has been born and that he should be informed when the mother goes into labor. Kasparian maintained that the father should not be allowed in the delivery room against the desires of the mother. As to support her opinion, the anchor mentions that the father is likely expected to pay child support, and therefore has the right to see his child and experience “precious moments” with the child.

As unsurprising as it is that Kasparian would adopt this view, given her (notoriously misogynistic) audience–and the natural influence of any audience–it’s absurd that this perspective was upheld under her scrutiny. First of all, informing the father that the woman has gone into labor and informing him the child has been born are two different things. The former, pertaining to the medical state of a woman’s body, is still a violation of privacy. Second, child support is not a “token” a father pays for moments with the child. It is the financial support of a life because it exists. To believe there should be any kind of “return” for child support is ridiculous, and ultimately, unenforceable.

After all, who’s to say which moments are “precious,” and yes, while I concede that the birth of the child is hardly comparable to, say, the child’s swim competition, what if in the latter case it is the child who does not desire the presence of his or her father? Should the father be legally allowed to suspend his financial support? I doubt there is any rational man who would argue he should not be required to pay child support for a child who does not desire his/her father’s presence at the school swim competition, as precious a moment it is. He’d be laughed out of court.

And that sheds light on the real issue when it comes to child support and “men’s rights”–the men who are looking for ways to weasel out of it aren’t doing it because they are concerned about principle; what they are concerned about is revenge. They’re more likely to exact that revenge on a woman who doesn’t want to see them than a child who has the same wish. They view child support as something not received by the child, but received by the mother. Otherwise, it would be unthinkable to suspend financial support for a child when a woman refuses to allow the father in the delivery room, an act fully within her medical right. The real objective is to “punish” the mother for practicing this right. Those against the ruling are less interested in the effect this has on the child, the real receiving party, than in themselves as the injured party–but why would they be, when they are assured that the child will be supported regardless, by the woman herself? When a woman aborts her financial support by giving up a child to adoption (a right men have argued should be shared by them when the child is “adopted” by the mother exclusively) she often does so because there is no one else to help her support the child, and no one who will see to it that the child is supported no matter what. A man arguing that he should be able to see the child as long as he pays child support, as though child support is a “token” inserted into a slot of experiences, and not the lifeline of another very small human being, is able to do so when he is accustomed to a sense of entitlement that is sustained by his expectation that the child will be taken care of financially by the mother without his support, even if she struggles. He is assured of this, and takes advantage of the work being done either way, deciding that he’d rather “punish” the woman and make her struggle to accomplish it.

It’s nearly self-evident that these issues with child support in “men’s rights” are deeply personal ones that are championed by men wishing to bring them into the legal sphere where they have no place.

Posted in child rights | 1 Comment

tweet !

In case anyone’s wondering (and for anyone who misses me) I tweet in two places:

@haraammermaids (associated with this website)

and also here (personal, goes in and out of being private)

Any other twitter handle that resembles me–isn’t.

(Also, I made a thing.)

P.S. I am likely to write my MFA thesis on feminist interpretations of the Qu’ran. (If the university is okay with it) I could include it in posts here, and in that case we’d be back to regular again–because drafts of it would very much like this website does. Also, I like giving you awesome information.

Posted in uncategorized | 4 Comments

So have we all just accepted

that I am not coming back, like ever?

Coming back regularly like I used to, I mean. I don’t know if anyone who’s been here since the beginning to see how frequently I used to post about Islamic misconceptions and badass women in Islamic history is sticking around anticipating a return to the regular pattern. It’s not a change of heart, I would assure you. I just have two jobs now and a number of Master’s classes. I wasn’t working as frequently before; I was a (relatively stable) B.A. student. After this strange transitional phase where I’m an adult who’s really a half-adult on account of I haven’t bought a house and am working 2 jobs and studying for my Master’s, I’m hoping to be back like before. I will be settled then.

I’ll see you on the other side?

I’m not sure if I like this very much. I knew the moment I was grown up was when I found myself giving a friend kitchenware instead of books or CDs as a gift. I had an OH MY GOD. I AM A (BORING) GROWN-UP NOW. moment. Kitchenware! Can you believe it? There I was holding a set of DISHES!

A set of dishes, for Chrissake.

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On Women and Materialism (Particularly in Romance)

I am an extraordinarily materialistic woman.

As I have declared myself such, I would like nudge myself out of my nonchalant observance and clear up a few (intriguing) misconceptions about myself and women like myself, whom our society has both pronounced common and hateful. It is, in fact, only suitable that a materialistic woman is measurably brimming with an unrelenting generosity and a sense of the transitory nature of things.

I appreciate small, beautiful things. Contextually, I appreciate small, beautiful things as little gestures of love. And like gestures of love that struggle with consent, a small beautiful thing taken from hesitant hands is a kind of sick perversion; upon sensing the presence of even a flicker of the sheer force of expectation rather than consummation of love, I become so good-naturedly unwanting of the beautiful thing that to take it from the offering man me becomes psychologically distressful.

But I don’t need to tell you.

Ladies and Gentlemen of Our Societal Jury, I have never cared, or will ever care in the foreseeable future, how much a man makes–why, when I can simply make what he does?–but rather the portion of with which he is willing to part. Despite the rumors, I have never wanted to take from him what he, or anyone, did not wish to give. To blossom into something full and swollen and spilling with love takes no coercion. To appreciate the material things that are rendered is to hold close all the depth of a personal history. The thing is transitory, but the giving of it, and the appreciation of its elusive nature–that is buried deep in the shape of our souls.

It does not stop with romance. A close friend of mine, before she had ever seen me, sent me a heart-shaped locket a year or so ago because she had always wanted one herself. Looking at it in my hand, I had remembered, slowly like a dream, longing for it in my early years of childhood, since I would frequently read about things with such intense meaning in books. This is a connection of the heart;

and when, I step out into velvet high heels and a laced skirt you will call me a materialistic woman, and I only flip my hair over my shoulder, that is why. I am far too happy, dear. I will be happy when I have nothing. I am wrapped in love.

Posted in feminism, misconceptions | 2 Comments

No room for exploration

no room for exploration

I mean holy crap.

Posted in uncategorized | 6 Comments