On Angry, “Bitchy” Women – and death to patriarchy!

Angry women

Angry womennn, ooOoOooh angry women!

I’ve met lots and lots of girls and women who are what society would label angry and bitchy. The kind who are really hard to deal with because they’re just so constantly angry — because we are socially programmed to deal ONLY with nice, soft-spoken, soft-minded, and just generally soft girls because that’s how all girls are supposed to be. This post is about calling ourselves and each other out on our incessant need to expect girls to fit into this narrow mold, and when they don’t, then they’re being bitches – and that, society tells us, is unacceptable for a girl to be: a girl’s choice to be “bitchy” means, we are taught to believe, that she’s up for mockery and attack and condemnation and other public commentary from society.

Life is hard, okay? For basically most people. It’s extra hard if you’re a girl. Or an LGBTQ or a gender non-conforming individual. Or otherwise a marginalized, ignored member or community of society. Or if you grew up and/or are poor (whether girl or boy but especially if girl). Or if you don’t have a decently loving family and home and friends. And so on. We need to understand why people behave the way they do. I don’t believe humans are inherently good or evil; we grow up as part and parcel of our environments and communities, and they influence us greatly. So let’s focus now on angry women that society thinks should not be existing. Because they upset patriarchy.

See, na, I don’t believe in and I’d never promote anger and a lack of cooperation among people, especially among girls, but I have finally come to understand that angry girls have a right to be angry. And you and I don’t have a right to know why they’re angry or to hate them for their anger or to condemn them for their anger.

Girls are raised to believe that they’re supposed to be nice. To everyone andinferior qualities especially to men and to society. We’re supposed to be “ladies,” and ladies carry themselves a certain way.  You don’t raise your voice (when you hear someone telling you this, condemn them to hell because this is BS! Raise your voice as loud as you can and need to! No one listens to us, and when we make every effort necessary to make ourselves heard, we’re dismissed as being emotional, crazy, bitchy, loud, etc. to further invalidate our opinion and our demand to be heard and respected!) because ladies don’t do that. Ladies walk a certain way, they speak a certain way, etc. In other words, ladies are obedient, soft, delicate, passive, sensitive, and preferably un-thinking as well. And you know what, people? The same society that tells you that this is how girls should be also tells us, particularly as we grow older, that these qualities are inferior to the qualities men were taught when they were younger. And that’s not all right. That’s not acceptable. Girls and boys and everyone else should be taught to be whoever the hell they want to be. Certain qualities (like compassion, love, strength, boldness) should exist in all people because we’re all people, and most of us live difficult lives and we need to know how to fight our battles. And we do whatever is necessary to fight those battles.

None of this is to tell you not to be a lady if you want to be one. Please be however you want to be. Be nice, be polite, be soft, be gentle, be caring, even be submissive if you are happy being so – be whatever you believe the best way to be is for you. Be whatever makes you comfortable. Just understand that other girls might have a different preference, and their preference is just as right as yours is.

But understand that patriarchy demands and insists that we behave one specific way (be “lady-like”) so we can all fit into its stereotypes that facilitate patriarchy’s efforts to destroy, crush, damage–disempowoer–every shred of our being.

I’m raising this issue not just because I’m tired of being told myself how to talk in public, but more importantly because I’m even more tired of how female (Muslim) scholars are treated and viewed because of the way they choose to (or are compelled to, really) to interact with the public the way they do. You can observe for yourself how Muslim male and female scholars’ interaction with the Muslim community/public is, and note also how the public is engaging with them. It’s been pointed out to me more than once by more than one person that our female scholars who are active on social media often come off as off-putting and unapproachable because they get “very defensive” when responding to malicious comments against them (that include ridicule of their looks, opinions, scholarship, knowledge, background), while our male scholars generally respond more … “calmly.” This isn’t always true, but in some of the  cases where it is somewhat true, we need to recognize that women leaders’ interaction with the public is shaped by how the public approaches them.

I am tempted to give the example of a certain female scholar but I don’t want to use her name in a post the title of which includes the word “bitchy.” This scholar is constantly bashed on social media, mostly by men, and is accused of getting “all defensive” and blocking anyone who doesn’t agree with her (this isn’t true at all). But have we ever paused to wonder why we expect her to be so “gentle” with people who are left and right dismissing her sense of Islam, her scholarship, her brilliance, her voice as “haraam”? I cannot imagine being in her shoes; she has to be one of the bravest humans who ever lived because of what all she has to deal with every day. Brave, besides many other things, also because of too many Muslims’ reactionary attitude towards her– reactions that range from “lolz you don’t know what you talking about; go ask a real scholar” to some serious serious threats. And we expect her to still engage with ignoramuses on social media (and wherever else) who aren’t interested in understanding her, who have no respect for her or for any other woman scholar who deviates from the patriarchal tradition of Islam, whose sole purpose is to attack her and condemn her to hell because their own insecure sense of faith is marred by another individual’s practices and beliefs? This is preposterous, goddamnit!

Imagine living most of your life trying to get your voice to be heard, trying to gain legitimacy from a huge group of people that refuses to acknowledge your scholarship as legitimate and authentic at all, a latent community of believers whom patriarchy has made a little too comfortable in their bubble of patriarchy and misogyny and ignorance. You live so much of your life fighting what patriarchy perceives as petty challenges — because they f’king shouldn’t be so alive the 21st century! — and you’re still expected to be a soft-hearted, kind-hearted, nice, polite woman because that’s what society expects you to be? To hell with this society and its expectations of women. Can you imagine how tiring it must be to wake up to an influx of hate-mail every day (this is the case for MANY women public figures)? How dare we expect women to behave a specific gentle way with their audiences, a depressing majority of whom does not respect and acknowledge their presence, let alone their scholarship and expertise? And how dare we compare their interactions with the public/their audiences with their male counterparts’ interactions with their audiences? There’s also a difference in the way that the audience approaches and interacts with male and female scholars — hint: one’s authority is rarely acknowledged and respected, and the other’s is rarely challenged; I’ll let you guess which is which. But know this: Men scholars rarely get that same treatment as women scholars from the public; the way we engage in debates, conversations with men scholars is intrinsically different from the way we engage in debates, conversations with women scholars. Men scholars’ voices have historically enjoyed far more privilege than a woman scholars’ voice will even in the next some generations.

This is BS. It’s not just any BS – it’s harmful BS. And messages like these need to be stopped asap.

And men? They get away with so much of what women are not allowed to get away with. We let men get away with it all. They can ridicule women, they can make jokes about us, the stereotypical image of us, the problems that are very real to so many of us; they can dismiss our opinions because we’re going through a certain phase of our menstrual cycle; they abuse us; they promote misinformation about us. They also get away with serious crimes like rape, domestic abuse, murder, etc. (And I actually don’t care that it’s #notallmen. If this “but no tall men are like this!” is the thought that just came to your mind as you were reading this, know that you’re a huge part of the problem we’re facing.)

Oh, and you know what else men can get away with? Shouting their lungs out when they are talking or giving a lecture or a sermon. They can get away with being passionate, being angry, being demanding; they can get away with yelling at their audience to make a point. But when a woman makes her point the same way, it’s because she’s a woman, she’s crazy, she’s loud, she’s obnoxious… and yet, she’s not being a “real” woman by doing so because “real” women, or “ladies,” don’t yell, be obnoxious, difficult to deal with, etc., etc. Patriarchy is so flawed, so dumb it can’t even make up its own mind about women.

To expect women to behave a certain way on social media just because they’re scholars, especially “if they want to be heard,” is naive, ridiculous, and unfair. That’s a perfect example of suggesting that we use the master’s tool to dismantle the house–and, as Audrey Lorde famously said:

“For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. Racism and homophobia are real conditions of all our lives in this place and time. I urge each one of us here to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lives here. See whose face it wears. Then the personal as the political can begin to illuminate all our choices.”

Women, whether scholars or not, must not be expected to submit to patriarchy, to embrace and exemplify patriarchal attitudes against and towards women in order to fight patriarchy. That has never worked, as history has shown us repeatedly; there’s no reason it’s suddenly going to start working. So here’s to women scholars’ — and all other women’s — *every right* to do, be, think, say whatever they need to do, be, think, say in order to get a point across. Those condemning them aren’t going to magically start respecting them just because the latter changed their attitude all of a sudden. There’s no reason to strip women of yet another choice – the choice to speak as they deem fit. They know what they’re doing. We’ve always known what we’re doing, and patriarchy is wrong, as it was always wrong, in telling you that women aren’t capable of making right decisions on their own, of assessing their audience and knowing how to respond when.

Be yourselves, ladies, girls, women! Reclaim your OWN definition of “lady-ness” and womanhood or girlhood. Be however you want to be, and be so proudly! And love yourself in the process. And anyone who tells you you’re angry as if that’s a bad thing and tells you that you need to change, tell them to go to hell and to please take their patriarchy with them and never, ever come back. ❤

#DeathToPatriarchyInshaAllah

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About Orbala

I want it to rain on my wedding day, pliss.
This entry was posted in Death to patriarchy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to On Angry, “Bitchy” Women – and death to patriarchy!

  1. angry woman says:

    I am an angry woman who’s constantly told to obey and speak softly when I just don’t want to because I strongly believe what I have to do and say is more important than how I say it (I’m told ‘I’m always ‘critical’ and answer ‘why shouldn’t I be?’). Of course manners count, but not to the extent that i must be silenced. so I totally relate with this. On an every day basis. And what shocks me the most is not men who try to enforce this ‘ideal’ of female behaviour (I could dismiss them as ignorants who need to be told a lesson). What angers me is women who impose this on other women using islam and/or culture and tradition to put you down and expect you to be this ‘ideal super shy, hyper pious looking, quite and mild, nodding, un-opinionated and subservient woman that you are not.

    Liked by 2 people

    • orbala says:

      ❤ Lovez!
      I used to be one of those critics of "angry" women until I met this girl three years ago who was the stereotypical angry, "bitchy," difficult-to-deal-with type. I remember wishing she'd just learn to cooperate and stop hating everything. And then as I got close to her, as we spent more time together and opened up to each other about our private lives, I wanted to hug her so much for teaching me so many things – esp. that there's nothing wrong with "angry" women, that they have their reasons and right to be how they are, that no one's obligated to be not-angry and kind to everyone around. It's not that she wasn't a kind person; she was, and she was just overall great, too, but her personality totally shattered all ideas I had on how people should behave with other people, esp in public. I think so much more differently now, and I owe so much of that change to her.

      Also, yes!!! I, too, have experienced that women have internalized misogyny and patriarchy so much that they are often the strongest proponents of misogyny. It's dreadful. I remember this one time a group of girls from my class were running down the hallway (it was after school, so it's not like they were disrupting classes in session) and laughing and yelling, and our counselor stopped them and said, "Ladies, ladies! That's not how ladies behave! Ladies do not run and shout and laugh like this!" And they all apologized and quieted down. I look back at that, and I'm like what the hell – if ladies don't do that, who does? Who can? And why the heck not?!

      Like

  2. I want to put bright shiny flashing neon lights around this so the whole world can see. Tired of expectations, whether it a woman being angry or a man being docile. And even if a man gets put down by being docile, it is because he has a “female” quality and it is degrading for a man to act “ladylike” according to society. And a woman having a “male” quality is threatening to patriarchy.

    And I like how some men act like they’re totally logical and cool, but wait til you exploit their stupidity somehow and they’ll go BERSERK (the girl mimicking how boys have stupid poses on photos too had threats made by boys, but the boy mimicking how girls do their photos was “complitlee tru xDD”. any hypocrisy spotted??)

    Liked by 2 people

    • orbala says:

      lolz. RIGHT?! Men are just not allowed to be wrong (that’s only what women are allowed to be, given how we’re naturally so stupid and all), and so they’ll do everything – like break things, too – to deny that they’re wrong. They’ll make *us* feel like we’re wrong. Gosh, I know so many men who do this to their wives and girlfriends … they twist their significant other’s words and ideas to make them think that they’re the stupid one when it’s the guy who’s the stupid one.

      And, duuuuude, I never saw this! I’ve got to:

      (the girl mimicking how boys have stupid poses on photos too had threats made by boys, but the boy mimicking how girls do their photos was “complitlee tru xDD”. any hypocrisy spotted??)

      Like

    • I know right! and its a tactic of white MRAs and antifeminists too. They will say as if feminism is a problem when the feminists say something, but when a legitimate men rights issue comes [it usually has to do with racism and queerphobia regarding men] that’s when they act quiet and stay put.

      and trust me, some men are the worst hypocrites. Tonnes and tonnes of video games have been sexualising women and when a woman voices some sexist tropes out she receives death threats from men, but when final fantasy 14 came out and people could customise their male characters to look like this [http://www.incgamers.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Final-Fantasy-XIV-19.jpg] fanboys got so butthurt as if it is a real problem.

      Like

  3. Thank you !
    I have not been following your blog for very long, but up until now, I love everything I read. You represent the sort of islamic feminist I aspire to be 🙂
    All the articles you write are interesting (if not downright necessary), thoughtful and to the point. Voices such as your are greatly needed …
    Good luck with everything !

    Like

    • orbala says:

      Thank you so much for reading, Luisa! ❤ I'm glad you find it useful! 🙂

      Like

    • Luisa says:

      I just read CJ’s comment. At first I laughed out loud, thinking it was a joke … But your answer, Orbala, seems to suggest that it’s serious. Do you get lots of those ? If it’s real it’s a bit worrying, I thought we were civilized and all 😀 !

      Like

    • orbala says:

      Normally, men/boys email me to harass me; only a few times have they attempted to comment on my blog asking me to marry them or sleep with them – or that they’re the solution to all my feminist anger problems so I should say yes to them! In CJ’s case, I told him no I’m not interested and don’t wanna give him my phone number or other contact info, and he wouldn’t stop, so I decided to let that comment of his publish where he insults me on the one hand and then tells me to calm down and just accept his invitation.

      Classic example of Bollywood in practice. The more a girl says no, the more she means yes and the more you have her permission to harass her!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Luisa says:

      Oh my. Is it that bad then ? Thanks for the explanation … And that makes your blog even more useful !
      Wish you all the best 🙂

      Like

    • orbala says:

      I don’t know how bad it is 🙂 I’ve been on social media for quite a while now, starting with Pashtun forums and message boards…. Lots of bad things happened there, and I’m not sure which is worse. I’ve gotten used to it, which is pretty sad, but I’m also becoming stronger and learning from fellow active women how to address it all now, even if by fighting the men who attack or insulting them or calling them out. It’s whatever works!
      Thanks for your well wishes, always! 😀

      Like

  4. orbala says:

    Yo, CJ! You’re the same doode who asked for my number, and I said no to you, and now you hurting? There, there. Anyway, you act like anyone actually cares what you have to say. The above post is also very much intended for men like you who think that the only reason a woman can be angry or “bitter” is that she hasn’t been laid in a while or can’t get a man she wants! #somuchlolz@you I’m *so* grateful to God that you came across this! So glad, so relieved.

    P.S. Wanna guess why your comment was rejected? #beams

    Liked by 1 person

    • CJ says:

      lel I am not ‘hurting’, real men do not get hurt, it’s funny that you feel so empowered about ‘rejecting’ a guy and bragging about it on your twitter, high-fiving your girlfriends like you won some gender war, well I’m a young man with many options, it’s not like you can destroy me with your anti-men attitude

      You keep using that line “you act like people care about what you have to say”, well sweetie it’s getting old and this is the freaking internet not your property and if you don’t like differing views then you can close down your commentbox

      Oh yeah and i shouldn’t have said you should get laid, that was rude of me and very unislamy/unpakistani of me, getting laid before marriage is actually haraam

      Anyhow I still think you’re a good girl who has just gone astray living in America adopting hollywood culture, so methinks you should add me on facebook and make amends with me 😉
      https://www.facebook.com/moe.
      don’t share this with your feminist allies, it’s just for YOU
      If you want I can give you my skype id so we can have facetime, and then i’ll see how you insult a man to his face, maybe i can make you leave this stupid americanized hollywood culture you follow

      peace out

      Like

    • CJ says:

      publicizing my fb account is a violation of my privacy :/ are you trying to slutshame me?

      Like

    • orbala says:

      Applying “slut shaming” to your case here is almost stripping the word of its power and meaning for the women who are deeply affected by it, so don’t dare.

      But it was intended to teach you and other men a message about respecting women’s wishes and choices and preferences, and a reminder that NO MEANS NO no matter how serious the issue is. When a girl says no, she means no, and that’s never an invitation to continue harassing her with your contact info. I’m not interested – end of story.

      Besides, this is a public blog and all comments are subject to either public acceptance or rejection. Whenever you comment, keep in mind that I may choose to publish it, so don’t say anything private in it that you don’t want others to read. The comment box isn’t for men to come and share private things with me. I’d never flatter a man like that.

      Like

    • Nahida says:

      This is hilarious what a loser.

      Liked by 1 person

    • … “I am not ‘hurting’, real men do not get hurt.” ~ CJ

      You have much to learn about what it means to be a REAL man, CJ.

      For starters — REAL men *do* feel hurt . . . that’s what makes them “real”.

      Liked by 1 person

    • orbala says:

      Patrick: That’s what I wanted to say to him, too! What kind of a human calls himself real and doesn’t feel?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. snpeterson says:

    Ugh that terrible joke in the meme; last saw that from a female scholar on Facebook and makes me cringe every time.
    Anger. Perfectly valid reaction and emotion because there are plenty of things to be angry about. Anyone with half a brain and a heart would be angered. Telling me NOT to be angry merely on the basis of my sex is denying me and every other woman the right to participate in society and call out injustice.
    It pisses me off no end when my sisters are using social media to highlight causes important to them and they get rape threats AND then they are EXPECTED to be NICE about. Your post is much needed Orbala; I love your blog xox

    Like

    • orbala says:

      I think I know which female scholar you’re talking about 😦 I saw it on her Twitter last year, and I was so disappointed and disheartened.
      Speaking of Twitter, I saw a tweet once that is relevant here – but especially in regard to “feminine” and “masculine” traits:

      “Next time a man is yelling, tell him you can’t be around him when he’s so emotional.” LOL. It’s hilarious that being emotional is considered so negative but only when women are the ones being so. Patriarchy defines the idea of “emotional” in such a way that it can never apply to a man but always and only to a woman, even when a man is doing the same thing “emotional” women do!

      Liked by 1 person

    • snpeterson says:

      You know what? I have done that in the past; told a man I’m leaving because I can’t handle the yelling and he was so shocked that I did! I caught the bus home. 🙂

      Like

    • orbala says:

      I hope the man learned something from it! I bet he was shocked by your decision! So much love and support to you, SN!

      Like

  6. Ahmad khan says:

    A few random thoughts on your post :
    – For most conservatives the fact that the great scholars of the past were mostly men is irrelevant. For them they were scholars and people of Taqwa which is enough. Progressives and feminists make a great deal of the fact that were men and thus unqualified and unequipped to give judgements on issues related to women.

    – Progressives constantly ask people not to judge ‘others’ and that you should not come in between the individual and his/her religion. Ironically progressives constantly judge people from the past – not even sparing the Prophets and the Sahaba.
    The subtext is that in many ways the progressives feel that they are better and morally superior to the Prophets and the Sahaba. For example Ibrahim is ‘dead beat dad’ in Amina Wadud’s view.

    Like

  7. Ahmad khan says:

    To me when I read articles by feminists
    I get this impression

    a) It’s about ME. Others- Family,society,religion,culture,the government yadda yadda should support me in my choices. If they do not do so they are bad – evil

    The mentality seems to be like this
    “” I find it difficult to get up early in the morning so Fajr timings should be changed to suit people night owls like me . It is biased in favour of early risers because of historical issues :-P””

    b) When scholars talk about the general principle, always bring up special or corner cases.

    c) Don’t be judgemental of your choices or lifestyle. However they will judge you, your culture,Prophet (SAW), the Sahaba and the ulema according to thier views. The Prophets and the sahaba are not the best we are. In many ways we the progressives and feminists are morally superior to those slave owning patriarchal fellows.

    For you the notion of Wahi – Revelation from Allah is useless yes they dont need Wahi to understand morality

    d) Privilege. You are privileged but they dont realize how privileged they themselves are really are.

    e) You can and should have whatever you want and do whatever you wish

    f) Men do this so women should be able to the same. So if men make morally questionable choices like having sex outside of marriage women should do the same ….

    I think most of the progressives/feminists reiterate jargon and junk from Humanities Depts of Western Universities where the whole environment is just anti -religion. The notion that an individual’s life and even the whole society should be built around God is alien to them. For them it just a facade for control and an enabler of injustice.

    I hope the response to my write up than the predictible
    – Bad English, patraichal mansplaining etc

    Like

    • orbala says:

      Your impression is mostly wrong. All based in stereotypes against women who speak out against patriarchy. Then again, you clearly know all feminists more than I ever could, so bravo! My best suggestion would be to actually spend time with feminists, especially Muslim feminists, whether trained in the Western academy that you think is anti-religion or in Muslim institutions (in the west or internationally). They–we–are everywhere, these days. Talk to us. Ask us questions so your apprehensions about us are clarified. Read what we write to better understand us, our objectives, our concerns, our struggles, the things we stand against and the things we’re working for. There’s a whole range of feminists (Muslims or non-Muslims), and I, to be perfectly honest with you, don’t know any personally who fit into your claims above. I’ve heard *of* them, because that’s what the general fear of feminists and feminism is, but shockingly enough … shockingly enough, none of the feminists I know would fit into those ideas. Then again, I also fully support those who DO stand for the things you outlined above as if they’re bad things and as if they have no right to stand for those. I’m all for acceptance, love, and diversity.

      You might also find this of interest, if you’re sincerely looking to actually learn about feminists:

      Why I’m an Islamic Feminist
      and As a Muslim Feminist

      Like

  8. “The more a girl says no, the more she means yes and the more you have her permission to harass her!”

    Yes, Orbala, takbir! And sadly enough, I’ve also seen this scenario in this clip of Hakim, an excellent Egyptian pop singer and dancer. He stalks the girl all around town, and that’s supposed to be “cute” or “fun”.

    Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Dy7guGz7cI

    Like

    • orbala says:

      …. That was saddening. See a woman you find pretty? Sing to her and harass her and stalk her to get her attention. I once saw this Urdu song in which the singer, a Pakistani Pashtun named Irfan Khan, is doing the same thing. He’s literally stalking the girl, a white American model, while singing about her, as she goes about doing her own thing. The song itself is called “Chounay dey mujhe” (“let me touch you”!!!). It’s so creepy and unacceptable. Bollywood does this in so many of its songs, especially from the 90s and early 2000s. So many English songs do it. God, it’s disturbing.

      Like

    • fabrizzo says:

      the poor boy is being fooled into lowering his dignity to tail someone,believing its the right way to woo a mate.

      Like

  9. Even in Dutch, my mother tongue, there is this horrible saying that some men still repeat: “When a girl says no, she means yes.”

    Like

    • orbala says:

      Goodness. Wow. This is a popular thing here (the U.S.), too! Especially among frat boys. I learned from one of my favorite crime show (Law & Order, SVU) that it goes like: “No means yes, and yes means anal.”

      Like

    • fabrizzo says:

      I have never heard of such a thing.Then again,im no smart aleck.I have seen people put pressure on men to have to be “sensitive” and interpret what women say even when they do not say it.Maybe thats where the premise of no means yes derived from?Maybe women should just say what they mean rather than expect the men to get into their heads and know what they think?

      Like

    • orbala says:

      No. The “premise” of no means yes comes from men feeling in control & not respecting what women want or have to say.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. fabrizzo says:

    Women get away with all sorts of inappropriate dressing at work,like tank tops,miniskirts,leggings and slippers,while men cannot even get away with the best of dress shorts without being reinformed that his pants need to be full length.Women get away with not serving the country in any way and still stay bona fide citizens,while men are forcefully drafted into military service just to prove themselves worthy of being called citizens,and those men who do not obey get thrown in jail or revoked of their citizenship.How is any of this equal?Women get away with wearing hotpants in public while men get accused of being gay if they wore the same kind of short tight shorts.

    Like

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