"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

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Suits vs. the Sluts

I came across this article called, “The Queer/Gay Assimilationist Split: The Suits vs. the Sluts” and it got me thinking about gay and lesbians and how society views them. The most crucial point of the reading is that the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) movement is now split into two halves; the queer activists and the gay assimilationists. The split was due to the interests of each subgroup within the movement. For example, The Gay Liberation Front (GLF), namely gay liberationists, aimed towards tackling an “oppressive social structure” (Shepard, 2001). The Gay Activists Alliance’s (gay assimilationists) focus was more political and aimed for legislative reform, and social acceptance (Shepard, 2001). This divide has created a ‘right wing/left wing’ political spectrum within the movement, and has contextualized identity politics. The queer activists force themselves away from mainstream society and do not care about societal acceptance, whereas the assimilationists are trying to incorporate the gay movement into social acceptance, instead of tackling societal inequalities. The gay movement in general is seeking rights and freedoms regular citizens enjoy, however the approach to gain these rights has been split into tackling society, and tackling the government.
The author quotes in the conclusion that “class division within the gay movement” (Shepard, 2001). It is ironic to think a social movement that fights for equality and aims toward social change can experience similar turmoil within itself. Identity plays an evident role within the movement and in social issues overall, however it seems impractical to allow an identity crisis and division in status among a population, fighting for the same rights. I found the alliance of labour and queer activists very refreshing and a clever tactic to pursue the gay movement’s interests. Labour and money are an ongoing issue within society, therefore having the gay movement enter into that realm; it will gain great support and attention for their cause. The queer/gay assimilationist split is an unfortunate development within the gay movement; however it has also created opportunities to allow gay activists to coincide with other social movements. Therefore it raises social activism for two separate causes simultaneously, and creates a support system for both movements.

Although homosexuality is decriminalized in Iraq, it is still frowned upon by the majority of the people who reside there. It is evident that many gay men choose to be queer activists and not gay assimilates because there is still an increasing fear that they will not be accepted by the rest of society. Therefore, for now, merging into their own queer communities is ideally safer. In conclusion, I find interesting that Chaldean and Middle Eastern cultures choose to negatively criticize homosexuality while ignoring important issues such as rape and honor killings. It is clear that in Iraq, homosexuality is negatively viewed because it is looked as destroying patriarchy and what men symbolize-power, masculinity and strength. When this is destroyed, then it will appear as though society is being harmed.

What is Your Feminism?

Feminism can mean a variety of ideas, concepts, beliefs and practices to each individual person. In my opinion, feminism can work the best when a person fully understands their own feminism first and then applies it to the greater society as a whole. I have written a feminist manifesto which publicly declares my feminist intentions and beliefs.

I was first introduced to feminism in my senior year of high school, which in turn assisted me in shaping my path to major in Women’s Studies in University. Through my current life in academia, I reflect back on feminist activists such as Uzma Shakir who found oppression within her own community. By using her own knowledge and tying it within her culture, she is able to move forward to fight with her western sisters. I am inspired by Judith Butler who deconstructs gender ideologies every day. To me, Butler exemplifies that our gender and sexuality is not fixed upon, it is ever changing and growing. Finally, a feminist that speaks to me is Nawaal el Saadawi, whose work every day tells me that third world women do have an agenda to fight for their own feminism. She inspires me to think outside of the box to create another world of feminism. Her strength and endurance gives me the inspiration to be free to fight my own oppressions every day.

Now, my feminism calls upon embracing all of the things that I once ignored, that shaped me into the woman who I am today. My feminism calls for me to not back down when things are tough. My feminism challenges me every day to work hard and help others.

My manifesto calls for me creating my own self through the use of language, culture and ideas. My manifesto calls on my feminism to create world where I see out of a cultured lens, to view things from another view that has not been discussed in academia. My feminism is a construction of everything I have ever learned, through my religion, relationships and power. My feminism also reflects on my own power, the power that I have lost, the power that I have gained, and the power that I hope to instill in others.

Manifesto Goals

  • I will life my life fully, expressing all of the different forms of confidence that I have instilled within myself. I will not jeopardize my own physical health by any form of eating disorder cosmetic surgery or use harsh chemicals for the purpose of attempting to better myself on the outside. I will create my own image of beauty through language, knowledge and culture. For any person out there who does not believe that they are beautiful, I will help create their own image of beauty, specifically designed to suit their own self. I will love myself, my body, my spirit.
  • I will not be afraid to love, to look for love or to romantically dream. I will fall in love, and my own mind will come first. I will give a piece of myself to love, but not let go of everything I know-my strength, because of love.
  • I will dream wonderful things for myself. Health, happiness and prosperity. I will work hard to achieve all of this without forgetting the privilege I have. I will remember the sacrifices that I have made for myself. I will not forget those who are not as financially stable and privileged as I am. I will donate, and continue to donate my time to help others in need.
  • I will remember my privilege. My ableism, my knowledge my power. I will use it to advocate for others who may not have similar strengths as I do. I will not forget that my privilege is only here to help others find their own stepping stones to power.
  • I will remember those who have sacrificed and fought to keep this country safe. I will be forever grateful that my freedom came from the expense of others. I will also be thankful for everything I was given because my family and I were able to come to Canada. I understand that my life would have been different if I never immigrated here. I will use this new freedom to support other women in third world nations who are battling their own feminism.
  • I will express my feminist voice for women and men who were harmed in doing so. I will suffer and fight for those who cannot; not by fighting for them, but empowering them to fight on their own.
  • I will be independent. I will accept my own responsibilities for my own self. I will work, learn, grow and share all that I have learned into my own life goals. I will breathe the injustices that were brought upon me by others and I will analyze them on my own. I will not depend on others to fight my own battles. I in the end, I will win this war.
  • I will not back away from my culture. I understand that it is a gift, given to me to work with. My culture gives me a stepping stone against all others who may fail to acknowledge oppression and power. I will embrace every aspect of my culture, the food, the language, the stories passed onto me from previous generations. I will keep my culture and share it with others.
  • I will not construct my own self based on the assumptions of others. I will wear whatever fashion accessories I see fit; glitter, dresses and makeup when I want to. I will embrace my feminity. I will not feel guilty if I change my appearance for my own self. I will choose when I want to be sexual and beautiful. I will wear loose clothing when I am lazy. I will abolish all gender constructed norms of fashion. I will create my own fashion, for myself.
  • I will create myself. I will use my privilege of receiving a great education to create my own self as a person. I will grow, change, and use the resources that I have been given to create the best version of myself. I will share my confidence, my feminism with others, end find a way to empower myself every day.
  • Finally, I will be an activist. I will work hard to fight for the things that matter the most to me. I will not only fight collectively with others for a common goal, but I will use my individualism for myself to reach my own creation of a feminist world
So I ask you, the readers, to comment and tell us what you feel your feminism is and whether you have reached some of your feminist goals in your own personal life.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


This blog began with the idea that Sandra, Ashley and I wanted to discuss the importance of how cultural perceptions are made about Middle Eastern women, especially Chaldean women, who have not be represented properly in academia and global politics. We wanted to write this blog from our own hearts, in hopes of finding our own feminist voices along the way. We recognize that although we may have a lot in common, our differences are embraced on a wide spectrum of culture, attitudes, knowledge and experiences that we hope to share with you within this blog. Also, within this blog, we will discuss meaningful articles and news topics that we feel are relevant to how our own culture is displayed, and the reasons why we can sometimes feel so empowered as women, yet so dis-empowered as well.

Furthermore, we hope to share with you, the readers, how we find our own empowerment through our feminist voices that have been changed throughout the past four years of our undergraduate university experience in Women’s Studies.