We live in an era where despite the openness to break boundaries and redefine our spaces, society still continues to beat into our psyche what rigid roles we are to sit in, belong to. It feels as though when we push harder for gender equality, body-acceptance, and racial justice the pull becomes equally as strong. The resistance to feminism is evident. And the hatred deeply rooted in a misogynistic culture, not just in America but abroad.
I’m a fat, Black, Muslim feminist who lives check to check in the city of Detroit. I’ve got a lot of intersections. Since I am a writer and a model, I quite often and openly use my work to speak about feminism in the simplest terms. Equality for girls and women. I am not shoving extremist feminist views down people’s throats, I am not painting my bare breast and walking around topless with a sign of man-hate, and I am certainly not advocating for the mistreatment of the opposite sex.
Yet, I still get trolled for speaking up about my experience in a patriarchal society not only within Islam but generally, in America, the land of the free. I get men telling me that I should be a humanist instead and care about the equality of all sexes. I have women telling me that I couldn’t possibly be Muslim and feminist without anything but an explanation as to why that is.
And, I totally understand that a few extremist feminists have created a stereotype that feminists are angry and bitter and just wanting to cause trouble, but a few bad apples can’t speak for an entire people. Just like a few extremist Caucasian men don’t represent their entire race or a few extremist Muslims don’t represent theirs.
If feminism means equality, why are folks so mad? So, against it?
We’ll probably never know the exact answer, but we can do something about it. You can join a march or a local organization. You can protect your sister if you witness an injustice. You can use your voice.
My form of speaking up comes from words and utilizing my body as art to push the feminist agenda. A form of radicalism to shake the status quo. A means to start the dialogue of what an intersectional feminist who happens to be Muslim looks like. To rock the foundations of deep-rooted Eurocentric beauty standards that are causing girls of color to bleach their skin and hate their thick lips. Women who feel the need to hide their acne scars and stretch marks. Inject themselves with fillers and fill their breasts with silicone to become socially acceptable, ‘pretty’. I’m using my body as a vessel for self-love and self-preservation. To visually show you, as well as them, that you deserve to be equal in an unequal world and that you most definitely deserve to take up space.