This woman is my hero.
I’m not saying this just because a newspaper is showcasing her fabulous strength and intelligence — or because I love amplifying stories of amazingly fierce women.
This woman is my hero because we’ve laughed together, shared incredible experiences, seen each other at our most vulnerable, and have given each other support in countless ways.
This woman is my AMAZING sister-in-law and I am incredibly proud of her and all her achievements.
Eye is determined, resilient, totally bad-ass and one of the most courageous people I know. She was recently interviewed by the Ottawa Sun about her return to boxing after a brief hiatus to finish writing her PhD dissertation.
Yeah, no biggie.
When I first heard about the interview, I cautioned her to watch out for being positioned as a “token” Muslim, or as the “ideal” representation of Canadian Islam. This is the Sun — Canada’s conservative news network in love with tabloid-worthy headline news and sensationalizing or demonizing issues relating to Muslims.
Now my filters are 100% biased. I’ve watched this video a hundred times and can only feel intense love and excitement for her words. Because that is how this story is framed. According to her words.
When I’m in a fight, I’m thinking of how much I need to protect myself — and how worthy I am of being protected. It’s almost as if you’re like a mother who wants to protect her child — and that self love is something that is beautiful to be able to get from a sport. Honestly, the satisfaction at the end of a fight is worth it. Regardless of the outcome… The outcome is truly something that is from God.
Eye was interviewed to share her experiences as a female boxer. The article and video showcase her skills, abilities and the sense of empowerment she gains from boxing. There’s no suggestion that she’s the only hijab-wearing amateur woman boxer in Ontario. There’s no subtext hinting that she’s somehow liberated or free when she gets in the ring. There’s absolutely ZERO mention of her hijab or the support she receives from her opponents, coaches, club, and Boxing Ontario regarding her uniform. In fact, outside of a juicy headline, the only person to mention her religious identity is Eye herself.
This is how you write stories about Muslim women.
But the question remains: Why? So she made a return to boxing. What’s the story? What makes her special outside all of the wonderful traits and abilities that allow any one of us to be “special”?