There was a time when I would wear layers of heavy makeup, hiding behind a gothic, sexy demure because I thought my value as a woman lay only in receiving attention for my sexuality.
Media and technology are delivering content that is shaping our society… they’re shaping our children’s brains and lives and emotions.
There was a time when I would abuse stimulant diet teas and spend two hours daily at the gym just to give myself the permission to eat.
The fact that Media are so limiting and so derogatory to the most powerful women in the country — then what does it say about Media’s ability to take any woman in America seriously.
There as a time when I thought my value as a woman was tied up in my hijab and in the natural, inherent, biological sex roles originally determined by patriarchy and phrased with obedience to the Divine as the ideal way to live as a Muslim.
If people knew that Cuba, China, Iraq and Afghanistan have more women in government than the United States of America… that would get some people upset.
I have no doubt that the Media will effect the way Eryn lives her life. I want her to grow up loving and devouring books, but fear she’ll be part of a generation of babies who believe every LCD screen is touch-enabled to provide hours of educational and mindless entertainment.
She has never watched television outside of a football game or the 6 o’clock news (okay, maybe one or two Bollywood Soaps and one episode of Doctor Who). Eryn knows who Thomas the Tank Engine, Dora and Caillou are only because she sees their pictures on the library wall. But she knows the Babies documentary off by heart and has watched the new Winnie the Pooh movie about 18 times. Last week we introduced to her to a 1980s Anime production of Heidi — dubbed and subtitled in Arabic. We don’t have cable — and we’re generally conscious about they types of media entertainment she’s being exposed to. But the consumption of Media is ubiquitous.
My heart falls when I grab her navy blue t-shirt and she says, “No mama, boy!” I have no idea how she picked that up, since I have never made gender distinctions about her clothes.
We take turns grabbing and loving our tummy rolls and I’ve taught her that a jiggly bum is fun and wonderful. But I’m just waiting for the day when she comes home from school to tell me that so-and-so can throw-up on demand. Or when she weighs herself with a sigh.
As a parent, I’m trying to shield and guide Eryn the best I can. For discussions on the Media portrayal of women versus a woman’s real worth, I know Islamic principles valuing mind over body, education over ego, and humility over flamboyancy will help. But it’s not only the Media I worry about.
I also worry about popular stories and myths, “innocent” comments from family and friends and most certainly, what she will hear and experience as a woman in the mosque. Until now, I’ve never really felt the enormity of what it means to raise a little Muslim feminist.
These thoughts came pouring out after watching this brilliant clip from the documentary Miss Representation. I don’t often do PSAs, but if you haven’t already seen this — it’s a must watch.
Hat tip to the always fabulous Fatemeh Fakhraie.