"Writing is my passion. It is a way to experience the ecstatic. The root understanding of the word ecstasy—“to stand outside”—comes to me in those moments when I am immersed so deeply in the act of thinking and writing that everything else, even flesh, falls away."
-bell hooks

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Yes we are at the end of one journey, but a beginning of another

This started out as a journey, a journey for young individuals like ourselves to find out what drove us nuts and how we could change that. We did. As the girls said, we started this only a few months ago as part of a voice project assignment for our seminar class in Women Studies. Who knew that establishing a blog would have such impact-and we would like to thank you. You, the readers and posters thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedules to read our opinions and critical analyses. You, gave us the strength to realize that even thought we are individuals, as a collective we can make a difference. It is a real shock on how much success has generated from this. We have opened up a virtual space for women to converse as a collective, and how many university students can say they did that. This was an experience that provided me with a different lens and outlook on others difference. Speaking of the lens, the title of the blog described the essence of our blog. Four Eyed Mouth- allows western women like myself to work in solidarity with non-western women like the others. This blog helped two perspectives realize that one was not more important than the other, rather that both were needed for it to be considered important. My favourite blogs were the ones posted by Teires that expressed groups in the community that assist women in achieving and maintaining a voice of their own. I definitely think these community agencies need to be praised more often for all the work that they do. I just want to thank the girls, and you, for taking the time to visit our blog. Even if it was for a brief second, you showed us that even though we are only 3 university students, we can make change. We wanted to advocate for change, but we didn’t do just that -we made change.

Looking back...

I am sad to say that this is coming to an end but I feel like for this particular blog we should continue it into the future and see what happens and the maybe more people will comment and voice their opinions. Honestly starting this blog I did not think that we would get a positive responses like the way we did but I'm glad we did.

I honestly learned a lot throughout the course about my feminism and the different issues we explored. In the beginning of the course I defined my feminism and this is what I wrote, “My feminism is not afraid of gender or sex or living life to the fullest. My feminism demands respect, love, equality and space. My feminism will not tolerate gender discrimination. My feminism does not dislike men but dislikes power wielded as a force of authority. My feminism is a friendly place where girls and boys can be friends with no judgment. My feminism is all about equality, liberation and living as humans even though society stereotypes people into categorizes. And that is why my feminism is not a product that is distrusted but hopes for change towards what really matters in life and the desire for humans to recognize that we have a lot more in common with one another than we think, despite our differences. My feminism is not afraid and will certainly not be silenced.” To be honest with you I would not change a thing about my definition and I stand by every word I wrote because it is something I came up with and no one else. 

The whole purpose of the blog was to create a place for Chaldean women to vent our their issues and I hope that if we keep the blog running up than maybe people will comment more. The blog is a place to be open with your feminist voice and not be afraid to say what you feel and I believe we have gotten some great posts in the past 3 months. One of my favorite blogs we definitely have to be, “What is sisterhood to you”. Even though all of the other blogs are amazing I feel that the true meaning of sisterhood is that if women stand up together and take control of their own oppression than the rest is history. All we need is each other at the end of the day, because without sisterhood than we have nothing.

A Time to Look Back...

This blog only began a few months ago, and I am so amazed to how far it has come. Sandra, Ashley and I began this blog with the single intention that we wanted to create a space for Chaldean women to discuss issues that were relevant to them. We also began this blog as it was a peice of our Voice Project for our final Women's Studies Seminar class.
Before this blog began, I really felt that I was able to start something new online that can enhance the community around me, and my online community. I feel that because of the issues that we have explored, that we have finally been able to fufill what needed to be done to create an active force of feminism that crosses different spaces, and different times. I can only look at the statistics for this blog to see that in such a short spam of time, we were able to gain so many more readers.
I think that with this blog, we have created something that is so expendable, that can grow into new shapes and forms more differently than before. I feel that because we have expanded this community so much, that there are even more opportunities to share our feminist voices with others.
With this blog, I feel that my feminist voice has taken a new level, where I have learned to develop and apperciate the enxtent of the topics that have been discussed. I truly believe that the development of this blog will continue to thrive and create new areas for feminist activism.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Chaldean women expand culture with first pageant

I was scanning the internet for something exciting that was affecting Chaldean women locally and I came across this article Chaldean women expand culture with first pageant in the Detroit News. The link is posted below. As a western feminist I thought that all women regardless of their background should be granted the choice to view themselves as beautiful. I was aware that women’s showcasing their beauty and confidence was not a choice given to all women, but I never considered Chaldean women to be part of that group. I think a part of Chaldean women not being involved in pageantry is because they have a limited connection to American culture. Which is sad? But maybe that is because cultures want to retain their importance and not be assimilated or reconfigured to fit the norm. I have mixed opinions on why a beauty pageant was chosen as the outlet for Chaldean girls to engage in their own agency by expressing their beauty and confidence publicly. I mean why couldn’t they hold a speech contest or a public advocacy strategy to encourage women’s agency?

I think today women are continuously commodified and objectified because of their bodies and having these young girls engage in activities that perpetuates those ideals. I understand that allowing these young girls to take part in pageants is huge, but I’m still skeptical. I mean is pageantry the only American cultural strategy to showcase woman’s confidence and agency? If so then maybe as feminists we should be challenging what woman’s agency means, so that all women are not being hurt one way or another during the process.

What do you think? Was pageantry a good outlet to showcase these young girls’ agency or was it another tool to reinforce woman as object rather than subject?


Community Agency of the Week (2)

It's that time again where we feature the community agency of the week that promotes the empowerment of women. This week, the agency is The Well-Come Centre for Human Potential . This social service agency provides an emergency homeless shelter for women, while acknowledging that battling patriarchy is a starting point to fighting for their clients. Please visit their website for more details on their programs and the work that they do!

Also, The Well-Come Centre for Human Potential is holding an event on April 15, 2011 to celebrate local female artists and raise awareness on the issue of homeless women in our community. Please contact the agency for more information.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


I started reading an article about abortion and how highly personal decision it maybe too many women.  A lot of women feel that they are sure they'll never have to think about abortion until they're suddenly faced with an unexpected pregnancy. But this can happen to anyone, including women who are strongly anti-choice. So what does an anti-choice woman do when she experiences an unwanted pregnancy herself? Often, she will grin and bear it, so to speak, but frequently, she opts for the solution she would deny to other women.

Abortion raises ethical, legal and religious issues. It's considered, in the West, a free choice if the fetus is less than 8 weeks old. In the Middle East, it's forbidden and banned in all cases because of religious beliefs. I am completely against abortion of all kinds and types. Abortion is very dangerous to the pregnant female. It can be fatal or destructive to the uterus and it can have extreme psychological effects. Most people who have premarital sex seem relieved for the fact that nowadays we have the latest technologies to perform a safe abortion. I think if you're not ready to get pregnant, don't have sex in the first place, or at least try to have safe sex with the many contraceptive ways available.
I think religion and the law in the Middle East are enough reason for people to think twice about abortion. If two people fell in love and the girl got pregnant before marriage, they both should get married and in extreme cases, the girl should undergo abortion because the child will be a bastard child. Yet again I don't think that's enough reason for anyone to perform or have abortion. I believe that no one has the right to take the life off of anyone even if they think they're the "creators". A mother doesn't have the right to deprive the unborn from it's life just because it's her choice. What about the choice of the unborn? I believe that religion is right after all regarding this specific matter because abortion is exactly the same as killing a person, but the person at least had a life, so what about an unborn.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What Was Your "Click" Moment?

After attempting to figure out how to follow different feminist groups on Twitter, I stumbled upon this website (Bitch) and thought that we should also do the same on our blog!

I would have to say that my "click" moment was when I completed a social justice project in my final year of high school. By researching the different ways in which women's rights were progressing in different countries made me think about my own limitations as a young woman living in North America. As I read different academic literature in Women's Studies, I began to see that my oppression lies even deeper than what I thought I saw on the surface. I was racially and ethnically oppressed because my own views were not being acknowledged in the literature I read, and the ways that I could talk about my own oppression were limited. At that moment, I fully realized that my feminism could grow and change in a way that could not only be empowering to me, but to other women who may share similar experiences as me. So how did I go about this? With the help of my friends, I created a blog that could hopefully work through the issues that I found to be so important to me. By creating this online space, I finally realized that there is the full potential to create a new space that seeks to understand the different conceptual forms of my own feminism, and the feminism of others.

So, we would love to hear what your own "click" moment was!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

France: Headscarf Ban Violates Religious Freedom

I was reading this article France: Headscarf Ban Violates Religious Freedom and this discussion arose from the article. Below is the link to the article.

Feminists concerned about human rights emphasize the confluence of issues here. on the one hand is the right to freely express one`s religion in public or private so along as doing so does not threaten the rights of others. A ban on appeal that appears directly at Muslim girls and women does not seem to be upholding the right to freely express one`s religious beliefs. Nor does it seem to treat everyone equally given that its effects are most evident on school girls. but on the other hand is the right to equal protection and security in one`s person and the state`s obligation to carry that out. If France understands religious symbols as posing a potential threat to an individual or to a group, and views a ban on such symbols as the best way to protect those individuals, then it might be argued that the state certainly has a right to enforce the ban even if it appears to target Muslim girls. Moreover, feminists are divided about the whether the head scarf and other forms of veiling are themselves indicative of sexual inequality or are otherwise demeaning of women. Some argue that the head scarf or veil is freely chosen and even empowering insofar as it protects women from at least women of the objectifying gaze of males. Other argue that the veil is a symbol of women`s subordination and lack of autonomy in some cultural and religious traditions.

Regardless, the feminist efforts to secure human rights internationally, in spite of difficulties determining what that would mean, are important extensions of feminist efforts to secure the legal, social, political, and economic rights of women within one`s own nation.

Women have made tremendous gains all around the world but there is still more to accomplish. Women are still more likely to be victims of violence, women still disproportionately care for infants and children, and women are still underpaid compared to their male peers. Some of the changes in legislation now need to be backed up with cultural changes that affect how laws are implemented. In addition, not all of the manifestations of oppression can be remedied through changes in legislation, the structure of the economy, or even social and political transformation. Oppression is often internalized-incorporated into how one thinks of oneself and others.


Vagina Monologues- Eve Ensler

The Vagina Monologues is an episodic play written by Eve Ensler. The Vagina Monologues is made up of a varying number of monologue read by a varying number of women. Every monologue somehow relates to the vagina, be it through sex, love, rape, menstruation, mutilation, masturbation, birth, orgasm, the variety of names for the vagina, or simply as a physical aspect of the body. A recurring theme throughout the piece is the vagina as a tool of female empowerment, and the ultimate embodiment of individuality. Every year a new monologue is added to highlight a current issue affecting women around the world. Every V-Day thousands of local benefit productions are staged to raise funds for local groups, shelters, crisis centers working to end violence against women. In 2003, for example, Ensler wrote a new monologue about the plight of women in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. This Monologue is known as "Under the Burqa."

Some monologues include:
  • I Was Twelve, My Mother Slapped Me: a chorus describing many young women's and girls' first menstrual period.
  • My Angry Vagina, in which a woman humorously rants about injustices wrought against the vagina, such as tampons, douches, and the tools used by OB/GYNs.
  • My Vagina Was My Village, a monologue compiled from the testimonies of Bosnian women subjected to rape camps.
  • The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could, in which a woman recalls memories of traumatic sexual experiences in her childhood and a self-described "positive healing" sexual experience in her adolescent years with an older woman. In the original version, she is 13, but later versions would change her age to 16. This particular skit has sparked numerous controversies and criticisms due to its content (see below).
  • Reclaiming Cunt, a piece narrated by a woman who illustrates that the word "cunt" itself is a lovely word despite its disconcerting connotations.
When I started thinking about the Vagina Monologue and the whole concept and purpose of it, it made me realize how closed I am about the subject. Being Arabic and coming from a very strict background, talking about my vagina experience was not an opinion. Girls in Middle East are not allowed to be open about the subject because a women’s vagina is a sacred thing and it should not be reveal to others. The subject of the vagina is only talked about between the wife and husband because after a woman gets married it is than the husband property. I personally do not agree with this because I find it important for a young woman to be open and have that knowledge about their own bodies and no one is in charge of their own body. 

At the bottom of the page I linked Eve Ensler website and it basically talks about the whole concept of V-Day and it talks about who inspired it, what inspired it, etc... 


A New Addition To This Blog- Community Agency of the Week!

In a previous post, I discussed the ways in which women who are in an abusive relationship can use their community resources to leave an that relationship. Also, a few weeks ago, I posted some links to other agencies in the Windsor area that promote the empowerment of women, that we have decided to blog about one social service agency a week that promotes the involvement and self empowerment of women in the Windsor and greater Essex County community.

This week, the agency that we have chosen is the Hiatus House. This social service agency offers confidential intervention for families who are experiencing domestic violence. It allows for women who have been abused to remain in a safe facility with their children until they can make a clearer decision on their new life. The Hiatus House also looks at these issues through a gendered lens and acknowledges that women can also abuse men, and abusive relationships can also occur within same sex couples.

Although I have never experienced an issue where I have had to take myself or a friend to this shelter, I have heard many great things about this social service agency.

I hope that by promoting their website on our blog, we can show others that there are resources in our community that can help women who have been abused by their partners.

We Know That You've Watched Them...

But, have you ever really thought about them?
Middle Eastern soap operas are what this post is all about. Whether you live in North America or the Middle East, you have seen your family members turn on their Arabic satellite and watch countless dramatic shows that tell the most risque stories. These shows are bold, enticing and brilliantly done to the point where even if you do not understand the Arabic language clearly, you will sit there reading the subtitles or ask your parents what the characters are really saying.

From watching these shows and strengthening my own views of feminism, I cannot ignore the way violence is portrayed against women. Women are portrayed in situations where domestic violence occurs as weak and always in danger. The characters of these women are emotionally and physically abused, however, no one ever stops to think that these women should leave their husbands. From my own personal experience, every time I question why these women do not leave, I am always told that because of their culture, that they do not think that they are abused, and thus, it is normalized to stay within a relationships such as this.

This is problematic for a number of reasons. For instance, if violence against women is normalized in the media, then others are desensitized to it, thus, viewing it as normal. When culture is brought into this, it creates an even more complicated matter. By allowing an excuse for violence because "a culture allows it" you are conforming to the false representation that individuals for that culture need western society to go into their countries to end their oppression. Also, by stating that violence is depicted in these shows then you are forgetting that there are also television shows in North America that depict abuse against women. By forgetting that these issues are also prevalent here, we then choose to forget about our own oppression, therefore, our feminist activism is not being used to help our own selves.We also forget that violence against women is a shared experience that women across different borders face; and therefore, not an invisible one.

So the question remains; what can I do as a Chaldean woman living in a western society where these shows are displayed to my younger siblings. The answer is simple. I would do the same thing that I would do regarding any other show, whether it be a show produced in North America, or the Middle East. I would argue that these women are abused, and that they should look towards themselves and their community resources to help empower their own lives and leave an abusive relationship. I would also still argue that violence and abusive relationships are not healthy, no matter where it is stemming from.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Support Egyptian Women!

There are many different ideologies that I find are oppressing toward women in Canada. I for one have to be thankful for the privileges that I have been given, and worked hard for, but I know that patriarchy is deeply rooted within our society, and thus, I am still fighting for not only my own rights, but I also have to support other women who may live in a society that is more deeply ingrained in patriarchy. I have been researching an important cause to which this blog can be a part of, and one protest that I have recently discovered is the forcing of virginity tests on Egyptian women who were protesting against their government. These women who not only tortured severely, but, virginity tests were performed, and if they 'failed' then they would be charged with prostitution, and further subjected to hate crimes.

The idea that virginity tests are still performed are not only illogical, but they so ingrained with the oppression of women because it tells others that a girl (girls are only called women in the Arab nations after they are married; thus, losing their virginity) is only worthy of respect if her hymen is still intact. By performing a virginity test, you are implying that a female only has one sole responsibility: to remain sexually silent and restrict her sexuality to the rules of patriarchy.

Now, I understand that the whole mantra of this blog is to help support women in third world countries, and not save them, but I still feel that these issues affect Middle Eastern women right now in North America who might feel that their sexuality is restricted because of these patriarchal ideologies. I feel that by proposing this issue on our blog, we could help raise awareness to an issue such as this, and further promote activism and discussion.

I have posted the link to the article on the side bar. Hopefully we can help their cause and stop this abuse!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What is feminism? Who is feminist?

One thing is for sure, there is no membership card or pledge of allegiance to the cause, there is no litmus test or any sort test actually. Perhaps we might answer to be feminist one merely had to claim it as an identity. But identity is itself a troubling word. If I say I am feminist does that mean that everything I do will be as a feminist? Does that mean that I have to dress, act, and speak like others who also that they are feminists? Do I have to follow a feminist dogma? And what about this notion of an individual claiming an identity? What could that mean and do all individuals have the freedom and power to do such claiming? For that matter, why would we want to say being a feminist is merely a choice for an individual? Clearly, there is a lot to think about regarding these terms feminism and feminist.

The most common and perhaps most general understanding of feminism is that feminism is about equal rights for women. Feminism is more about equal rights for women but what that means is much more complicated than it appears at first blush. Moreover, feminism isn’t just about equal rights for women. Feminism is a critical project. It looks at all aspects of life to identify those elements that might be oppressive and suggest alternatives. By critical I do not mean that feminism rejects anything that it does not like. Rather critical means that there is an inquiry into the message and values of something. Criticism is an activity that seeks to analyze and understand something- a practice, a custom, a language and a social role. In seeking to understand, however, criticism also asks what values and presuppositions are being implied by the thing. A critical look at the world would dissect it into various parts- language, laws, social roles, practices, for instance- and seek to uncover what else is being suggested beyond the facts. A feminist reading, as a critical project, would look especially at what is being said about women; what social roles are they expected to take, what are their liberties or privileges in relation to men, and similar sorts of inquiries. In addition, if the feminist has specific interests or concerns, then she or he might emphasize particular aspects of the critical project. Feminist glimpse the world through a different lens and what they see usually requires a response. Feminism in other words follows the critical project with action to bring about to social change.

What is Sisterhood to You?

Sisterhood is a notion of unity among all women, that is, that all women are sisters. But what makes us sisters? One idea of sisterhood is founded on shared experience and oppression. Women might bond over shared anxieties, sufferings, and trials. Perhaps women share a bond or seek to connect with other women because they relate over the difficulty of their experiences of being subordinated, the victims of violence, stereotyped, excluded or otherwise oppressed. Women talking with other women and sharing experiences plays a large role in bringing oppression to public consciousness.

Sisterhood implies moral and epistemological bonds between women regardless of whether individual women actually know one another. The idea is that all women are subject to sexist violence, marginalization, and exclusion and by virtue of this subjection women are united. Sisterhood should mean that sisters should aid their sisters in need. But of course women do not always or even often respond in compassionate ways to other women, sometimes, women even blame one another for the violence they suffer.

Sisterhood is also problematic in a number of ways. We want to share how not all women actually shares the same experience of oppression. If feminist organizing relies on a bond among women and the bond is grounded in a shred experience of the same oppression, and if there is no shared experience of oppression, then no bond will form and feminist organizing will be paralyzed. Moreover, any number of particular circumstances may affect how a woman experiences oppress. Sisterhood also tends to emphasize victimhood. Certain naming and identifying a problem shared by others is important many women find the initial experience of consciousness rising quite empowering. Nevertheless, focusing on the many ways that women are victimized can be all consuming and quite paralyzing. Is sisterhood stops at how women are victims together then they never get to the point of changing the social and political systems that cause victimization. Women have to move beyond being victims in order to identity that many strengths women have and act on those strengths for the good of all.