In the absence of the Prophet, you are your best advisor.

In the shower, I nicked myself, on accident. I prefer to wax, so I hadn’t shaved my legs in a long time, since waxing is considerably more convenient. But having decided on laser hair removal for the benefit of silky smooth legs, I was no longer permitted to wax between sessions. I’d decided to handle a razor, and I stared in shower-trance at the soft tiny fuzz gathered between the blades, which the cascading water was not forceful enough to disengage. I swiped the hair off with a finger in a single swift motion–horizontally, in the direction the blades ran, rather than vertically, which would have unlocked them.

Since the blades were sharp, there was no pain to warn me, but my mind bolted alive at once, conscious of hitting the wrong note somewhere, of peculiar activity, of moving in a way I shouldn’t have. I stopped and pulled away before the blades penetrated too deeply. It looked like a neat cat scratch, from a very tiny cat; for a few seconds, I thought I had not broken skin, but I knew this could not be true. I waited. Sure enough, minuscule droplets of blood formed along the edges.

This wasn’t an ordinary shower. I had just finished menstruating: it was farz gusl. In any other circumstance, regardless, drawing blood would have invalidated the state of ritual purity. If I were frantic enough, I would have stopped the water, leapt out of the shower, thrown on a towel–or maybe even clothes–applied bandages in dismay, made sure give it a few minutes until I was certain the bleeding had stopped entirely, and sulked over whether I had destroyed everything before proceeding to redo everything I had undone. I know this woman. I receive emails from her all the time. I love her and wish her well. She even birthed me. And I am always pained by her self-deprecation, her perfectionism of faith… her unjustified guilt.

I used to preform the same prayers over and over, convinced I had done them wrong.

But there, in the shower, watching tiny droplets of blood form, I did not turn off the water, dry myself, and begin again from the first step. I pressed the finger to my lip to stop the bleeding. I thought of God and smiled and kissed it. I performed ablution, gave everything a final rinse, and stepped out of the shower. And then I prayed.

To the woman writing to me, asking whether she should bleach her clothes, her sofa, her bedsheets, everything she ever touched, love, you already know. There is a reason you are writing to me and not a sheikh. You will not allow yourself to hear the truth you have already told yourself. The reasonableness, the practicality, the compassion that you know is Islam–your heart is leading you to where you know it is reflected, and you have the answer already.

It’s the 2nd day of Ramadan and my fast has already been interrupted for the next 7 days.

Since it’s been a while since I’ve written here, I’ll remind everyone asking What is the meaning of this!, that according to mainstream interpretation women should avoid applying nail polish because it acts as a barrier (we’re suddenly against barriers now) between the water during wudu–ritual purification before prayer–and the surface of the nail. However, since–also according to mainstream interpretation–women are exempt from prayer during their menstrual cycles, many take the opportunity to wear nail polish during this time.

Continue reading “It’s the 2nd day of Ramadan and my fast has already been interrupted for the next 7 days.”

happy panties

I can’t go swimming today.

My menstrual cycle is all like, ‘Oh, were you planning on having fun today Nahida? HAHA NOPE.’ Just like how it’s always like, ‘Are these your favorite panties, Nahida? Let’s ruin them!’ and, ‘Were you going to sleep with that guy, Nahida? Not anymore!’ Even when I’m all like, ‘I couldn’t sleep with him anyway!’ my menstrual cycle is all like, ‘Yeah but, we both know what you were thinking.’

Menstruation is a very effective haraam police. (OMG let’s shut up before we give the male ulema any ideas.)

I suppose the bright side is it’s kind of cold, so I couldn’t go swimming anyway (if you can call that a bright side), and also it’s Spring Break and my mother would not approve of my choice of bathing suits probably definitely.

Alas, I do not have nail polish pictures for you this month, because I am going on a very short trip tomorrow, and I like my nails natural. So instead I will post panties that make me happy, because the fatal feminist is apparently not scandalous enough.

happy panties
happy panties

(Thankfully, I will not be posting a photo of myself wearing them.)

I typically dislike animal print but these make me giggle. It’s leopard lace and multi-colored palm leaves.

Do you have panties that make you happy?

showy menstruation

I haven’t done this in forever, but it’s that time of month again. Which means–nail polish! (Here is an explanation. Basically, according to mainstream interpretation nail polish creates a barrier to the nail for the cleansing ritual before prayer, so Muslim women tend to only wear it when they are not obligated to pray–during menstruation, which has developed a reputation of impurity. Sometimes Muslim women are asked why they are wearing it [“Do you want everyone to know you’re menstruating?!”] as though menstruation is shameful, to which I say LOOK AT MY NAILS THEY ARE SO PRETTY!)

I decided to try metallics this week, and began with a rose gold color named “Penny Talk.”

Penny Talk by Essie

I don’t think I much like the foil-y look, but I do like sparkles and (though you can’t tell in the picture) I applied a top of coat of them on the nail of the ring finger, from a little bottle of Essie labeled “A Cut Above.”

A Cut Above by Essie

There you have it. I’m not much a nail polish kind of person (I don’t miss it when I’m not menstruating like I would miss, say, red lipstick–thank God I can wear red lipstick whenever I want) and so far I only have 2 colors that I really actually love seeing on my nails. (Not these.) So I might do a nail polish giveaway some time after the lingerie one, since it is like a thing about this website.

Reproductive Control

I have needed birth control.

My current method of not getting pregnant is abstinence. This is highly convenient. Though it’s always listed as a method along with the cervical cap, vaginal ring, IUD and other preventative measures with an emphasis on efficiency (100%!), as someone who hasn’t much time (and does not enjoy errands) it’s also efficient in other ways. It slides easily, quietly, unnoticed, into my life.

But that also means there are other ramifications. It means I will rarely have motivation to see a doctor—if at all—for problems relating to my cycle. Even if there is pain. It means no one will inform me until I have passed out that I am iron deficient and that accounting for this is critical. It means that when I experience irregularities I will offhandedly dismiss them as an indication of nothing serious. It means I don’t have to listen to the burn in my legs or the searing in my abdomen. It means that I will assume—though I know objectively that it isn’t true—that nothing could possibly go wrong because I am not sexually active. It means that after being condescendingly told by conservatives that the expansive complexity of my reproductive health is reduced to my sexual activity I have begun to believe it. It means that I have accepted that being in pain—even excruciating pain—is simply a part of being a woman.

Losing control of your menstrual cycle is not just mildly unpleasant. When a woman is unable to predict when she is going to start her period, she doesn’t take painkillers until half her day is ruined. The interruption does not only mean you might happen to have been caught unprepared without feminine products. It means you have to stop working, often for more than a few minutes. It means you need urgently to lie down or else you will faint. It means there may not be a place to lie down. It means you could have taken painkillers that morning if you had known this was coming, before the agony overcame you like this, and your schedule has been deferred and if that weren’t enraging enough it involves awkward explanations.

Now you’ve become an excuse for the wage gap. (Women have periods and get pregnant—obviously fair pay is a joke. Vote Scott Walker!) How’s it feel to know that the fate of your entire sex has been determined by the fact that you can’t predict your own damn period?

Okay, okay, try answering me when you’re not PMSing. Geez.

Women don’t take birth control to have sex. They take it to control their lives. Because that is to what our worth has been reduced. And it is infuriating–infuriating–that those who overcome this by dealing with it through seeking better coverage, are the ones accused of causing this reduction. It’s a dangerous and effective game—and it has been played for centuries.

“The bottom line is that before the ACA,” writes Sari Weintraub, “insurers legally discriminated against women who purchased health insurance. Women’s premiums were higher because insurance companies claimed that women use the health care system more often and incur higher total health care costs. It’s called “gender rating,” and it’s used to charge women more than men for the same policy. There are also particular health services specific to uterus-owners, such as Pap smears, pregnancy and prenatal care, and childbirth. For insurance companies, being female is a risk factor in determining coverage costs.”

As a 21-year-old woman, with the ACA I will save at least an estimated $9,108 on birth control in my lifetime, assuming I have one child.

According to the app, that money can fund a shelter for 50 girls surviving sex trafficking for a year.

Half that money can pay for a child’s education in a developing country for 10 years.

And this is what anti-choice Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) had to say about it,

“I know in your mind you can think of times when America was attacked. One is December 7th, that’s Pearl Harbor day. The other is September 11th, and that’s the day of the terrorist attack….I want you to remember August the 1st, 2012, the attack on our religious freedom. That is a day that will live in infamy, along with those other dates.”

Insurance typically covers vasectomies (without a man needing to prove it is absolutely necessary for his health.) And Viagra.

The rest of us, of course, are whores, which is why a bunch of XYs should pass laws regulating our vaginas, the only problem being that if they try to do that you can’t say words like “vagina” without conservative men believing you are casting a spell on them.

If you don’t have that control, someone else does, because you are a thing to be controlled. Make no mistake of it. You have always been. And when they think they can control your uterus, they will believe they are entitled to control your First Amendment rights. Because this is a mentality, and it lives on reducing women to the sex class.

I am menstruating, so nail polish obviously.

If you’re unfamiliar with this little routine (since it’s been a while since I’ve written a post like this) long story short(ened): the majority of Muslims believe that one cannot perform the ablution ritual before prayers with nail polish on her fingernails because the polish creates a barrier between her nails and the water, thus rendering the cleansing ritual incomplete. However, when a woman is menstruating, she is not required to pray, and so there is no need for her to refrain from wearing nail polish. Unfortunately (and unIslamically) menstruating women are culturally viewed as shameful and unclean, and so there is supposedly some kind of element of shame in “advertising” that we are menstruating by wearing nail polish.

Which of course compels me to wear nail polish when I’m menstruating, because LOL I can do it and cis men can’t. I’m pretty proud of the fact that I’m a woman, even when it’s painful. (If you want the longer explanation of the attitudes in the Muslim community toward menstruating women, can read about them here.)

My nails this week are pastel, although I am usually not fond of wearing pastel colors. It’s a varnish called “lilacism” but it should really be called “lavenderism” because the undertone of the blue is lavender, not lilac. (Lavender has a blue base; lilac has a pink base.) It’s actually kind of grown on me; I find it sort of cute in a really grotesque way:

I’ve been thinking a lot about participation in what has been regarded as “feminine culture” and what that means—both in terms of the boundaries established by patriarchy to limit femininity, and in terms of the defense mechanisms emerged to survive those limits. While I’ve written about modesty quite recently, I’d also like to examine why we perform femininity the way we do, and why we comply with certain defining or limiting systems.

In the meantime, I’ve decided that since I’ve already ventured past the dictations of what is acceptable to wear according to how I look (pale colors like this blue are said to be unsuited for the skintones of women like me—more on this later, possibly) I thought I might as well veer off one of my most staple looks and go with a lipstick that is *gasp*! other than red. So I bring you… pink.

I am also wearing bright eyeshadow with bold lips, which supposedly no woman is supposed to do EVER. I hear because it makes us look like whores? If I want to look like a whore then DAMMIT I WILL LOOK LIKE A WHORE. (What exactly is wrong with looking like a whore? I have nothing against sex workers anyway. Just their “clients.”)

In case you’re wondering if I deliberately posed with the fish face, the answer is ‘no.’ This was snapped just as I realized I’d forgotten something. Yes, that is my =O face.

The necklace I am wearing, which you can get just a glimpse of there, is a locket from Khadeeja, a gift that I absolutely love. I’ve always wanted one exactly like it.

The best kind of performance of femininity: the kind that symbolizes a strong friendship.

nail polish as I bleeeed (and gifts)

I am in SO. MUCH. PAIN. Luckily, there are painkillers.

My period commenced yesterday, a day early. So today I randomly grabbed a bottle of nail polish to apply. It’s a sort of coral, an orange with an undercurrent of tender pink I would imagine on a fish. Out of season, obviously, but I never care anyway. I’m not sure I like the color itself, but my skin seems to like it, which is always a relief. I’ve just discovered that I can wear colors on my nails that I can’t wear on my face, strangely. The emerald greens, gunmetal teals, and sultry grays that I love when I wear eye shadows seem harsh as nail polish on my hands, which for some reason prefer softer colors. Other than a clean French manicure my favorite thing to wear on my nails has (surprisingly) been OPI’s Set the Mood. Which is a golden… pink. Who would have thought?

Anyway, here’s the chorally orange fish color I’m wearing on my nails this week, along with a floral ring gifted from a friend, toward which the focus of the camera gravitates.

The ring is from a three-piece set that she selectively put together, along with a bracelet and earrings. I’ve been told that I’m a difficult person to gift, which both amuses and baffles me, because I’m pretty much happy with books and music. Or anything, really. But despite her worries, I think they’re each lovely and she is thoughtful and amazing and all her fretting was unnecessary and I love her. I didn’t even know it was possible for me to adore a massive ring, but apparently it is! She knows me better.