Friday, March 25, 2011

Woman in this World

As salaam alaikum,

Is there more trying a role than being a woman in this world? I don't think so.

And I'm not talking about me. No. For all of the pain of heartbreak, disillusion and dysmenorrhea, no, I count myself among the most blessed, like the top 0.1% of the world, if not a percentage less than that. Because not only do I have all of the comforts of the world wherever I go, not only am I pursuing a career that I know will please God, but I believe in God. I'm working on believing Him, but I believe in Him, and He told me that as long as I continue on this path, of believing, of striving, of doing good deeds, that I'll be all right.

And I have a comfortable bed, constant water to drink and in which to bathe, and comfortable and clean sanitary products. I have clothes on my back and food to eat, and no where that I go do I want of these things.

I can't say so much for my sisters, though. My sisters in what? Not just my sisters in Islam, but my sisters in this world.

Women. Women in this world.

Since I'm in public health school, I hear more about the horrors that women and girls face in this word than I ever did before, although many of them I knew about. My sisters are in danger from the moment their sex becomes apparent in conception to the time of their deaths. I'm talking female infanticide, genital mutilation, rape, rape in the time of war, rape anywhere, rape just because, physical violence, psychological abuse, sterilization, intimate partner abuse...the list goes on.

And all I have is a little heartbreak. I'm sitting here on my soft bed, looking out of an apartment with a view of the river and I've been crying all day because a man who said with so many words that he loved me suddenly had no more feelings for me, and told me so. I was ready to change my life to fit his in so many ways, and though it was a blessing that things went no farther, it still hurts.

Will I deny my pain because there is obviously greater hurt than this? No, I will not deny my pain. It still hurts.

And even privileged women suffer in this world. In this country, and not just the poorer among us. Like all humankind, we have Satan in front and behind us, to the right and the left of us. We are relegated by our partner gender (and each other) from in front and behind, from the right and to the left. Our mode of dress is the easy example. Are we naked and sexy to show the world our beauty or are we in all black to guard our modesty from those voracious men?

But even in what we expect in the men in our lives...we are relegated. I've lived and sometimes I live both sides, sometimes simultaneously, so I can say it to be so. On the secular side of things, men expect to be able to have sex with me in short time. On the religious side of things, I'm not considered good enough for Muslim after Muslim man. I don't have a Muslim name, I don't wear hijab, I'm black, whatever, I'm not good enough.

I wouldn't care, and people tell me I should just go on with my life and not worry about men, but unfortunately, it's through men that I may be able to achieve what I want most in life, and always have...partnership in Islam and life, family, motherhood, children.

But because I'm relegated, I'm never enough. Never good enough. Not the pious wife one wants. Frigid, a prude, doesn't give it up.

Who lives a life like the women in this world?

God is God, but I can't help feeling in this life that so much is at the mercy and whims of a man, or more than one man. And I don't understand God's will enough to rest assured that I won't hurt again, for the mistakes I made and the trust I put in a man. I don't understand God's will enough to rest assured that I'm going to marry, that I'll be with someone who actually loves me for His sake, who appreciates me, who will be a great husband and father to my children.

So as I spend the day crying, more disillusion than heartbreak this time, I think of my sisters around the world with hurts worse than mine, who called on the name of God and don't understand why they had to suffer as they did. My pains are small in comparison. I am blessed, nor am I using their pain in vain, to whip myself into a frenzy, to try to count my plight with theirs. That is not my aim.

But to be a woman in this world...I don't know.

God knows what I don't.

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