A Muslim Woman

A Muslim Woman

I’m passive, weak, uneducated.
Veiled from head to toe.
One of his four wives.
Work in the kitchen all day.
And spread my legs wide at night.
That’s what you think, right?

Funny how the devil spreads ignorance amongst "civilized people."
The orientalist whispers in so many ears.
To him, I’m the mistress of the harem.
Black-hair, olive skin, eyes that glow, hips that don’t lie.
Hold up.
Sexual exploitation—there’s nothing exotic about that.

I’m poor,
Cracked feet that have never touched soft designer shoes.
Dirty, hungry, cold, alone.
I’m calling out for help.
America, save me from my fathers, my brothers, my backward culture.
America, save me from myself.

Let me tell you something.
You don’t have to be a woman to hear my stories,
But you have to be a woman to understand them.
The blood that boils in my veins is the same as yours.

My story is a testament to my struggle.
My struggle is a testament to my faith.

I am a Muslim woman.
Muslim woman.

I made Prophets weak in the knees,
Fought alongside my man in war.
Then went home to nurture my baby.
Does that surprise you?

You say I need liberation.
What do you call it?
Oh yeah…“Furthering women’s rights in the Middle East.”
I have one thing to say to you:
My liberation won’t come from the one who has oppressed me.
Bringing me democracy.
You think you’re really gonna send Condi,
To tell me how to be free.

But wait, I’m not here to play the blame game.
Let’s make this more real.
Not only do I take this hate from you,
But I take it internally from the close-minded bigots of my own society.
So, my Muslim father tells me how to dress, but so does Gucci.
So my Muslim brothers tell me how to act, but so does MTV.
Yeah… so it’s this double bind I face.
When I realize that if I do what I want,
I won’t make anyone happy.
Too good to be bad,
Too bad to be good.

But wait, why this dichotomy?
Since when has my identity become a zero sum game?
Why do you insist on labeling me?
Putting me in boxes simple and easy only for you to understand?
Countless books and movies dedicated to uncovering me instead of just letting me be.
What’s in free will when my spiritual will isn’t allowed to be free?
Just look at France and Turkey.
“Unveiling the Muslim Woman.”
Why don’t I unveil your sexist, patriarchal ideology?

Remember the golden rule:
Treat others how you’d like to be treated.
If you’re so keen to educate,
Then please be educated.
Enslaving not our bodies now, but our minds.
Eating disorders and depression,
No love and not that much attention.
Equality talk is cheap and the price expensive.
Using my body to sell everything from cigarettes to automotives.
Confusing my flesh for my spirit.
Confusing my humanity as weakness.
When I say something in protest.
Standing against trafficking, hunger, poverty, violence, you know “women’s” issues,
They brush it aside to…oh, she’s just a Femi-NAZI.

So don't confuse my silence for submission.
Nor my covering for oppression.
Don’t confuse my peaceful battle as lack of conviction.
When you ask what sustains me,
I say: not man, not America, But God, our God.

Am I American, Kashmiri, or an American Born Confused Desi?
On applications, I check none of the above, all of the above, some of the above, but ultimately,
I am a Muslim woman.

Warning The stories on our story archive could contain potentially sensitive and/or triggering material. If a story causes you discomfort or pain, please remember to breathe and check in with yourself before continuing or stop reading completely if necessary.