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Category Archives: Dating While Feminist: A Heteronormative Experience

On being American & considering marriage to a Kuwaiti National Guardsman: I’m not mad at him; I just know we can’t be together.

I’m not mad at him; I just know we can’t be together.

I know he wants forever, connection with me. I know he dreams; but he also knows his reality.

We could kiss forever, admire one another eternally. We could bring forth children that were clever, critical thinkers and free.

We could encourage the health of one another with the meals that we’ve cooked, making sure to never overlook the sweet pleasures in life. I could have been his wife.

He could have been my man, my helping hand, my lover’s rock. Too bad it didn’t happen though.

Too bad money became his captain, his guiding seas. Too bad he loved his money more than he loved me.

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It’s too bad he lives in a country that suppresses his liberty, a place where his employer controls his matrimony. Beginning a marriage with an American is a felony… unless you start all over again.

And Again was something he couldn’t do. Couldn’t throw away 5 years of hard work just to be with his boo. Couldn’t stand not being a bread winning man, not even just for a few. He needed to take care of me, protect me, guide me, whatever he needed to do.

When a man needs help, it’s hard to come to, because he has to allow his woman to be strong, to take care of him too.

All easier said than done. I’ve come to a place where I know what I want. Or should I say, what I need, because I can’t stay with a man that won’t commit to me.

More than a pretty ring or a wedding invitation, I need someone that’s going to assist in the creation of a unit: 1 family, 1 home, 1 lifetime.  I need him to bank on our time spent together.  I need him to adore me even through stormy weather.

But I’m a traveling woman and a traveling woman must find doors to walk through, always seeking the next level, unless… he came along, or I was willing to stay. Either way, we had some serious decisions to make.

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So he chose is money, his security and his 5 years of hard work. He chose to base our future on his potential income instead of basing it on my worth.

What’s a risk taken without a commitment to see it through? A bluff to give time, time to enjoy the woman who’s willing put in effort, effort to support you, with or without your ability to financially contribute. But you’re only in this as long as your money plans work out for you, because if they don’t, we’re over and this just wont continue.

And for that reason honey, I’m not mad at you. I just know that our time is up, and we can’t be together.

On being an American feminist living in Kuwait

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I have not blogged in a while and it is because experiencing life takes up a lot of your time.  Since I’ve moved here, I’ve learned so much about Kuwaiti life, Islam and cultural norms.  I’ve also started a new relationship with a native black Kuwaiti so needless to say, I’m fully engrossed in the day to day culture of what it is to live in Kuwait.

As a woman and feminist, I find it hard to deal with the daily expectations of having to cover, even more so because of my vuluptuous body type and my ethnicity.  Black women here are assumed to Ethiopian, which is synonymous for prostitute.  I was never the type to have many clothes in my wardrobe, so to come here and face the fact that most of my clothing is inappropriate even for grocery shopping, is challenging.

Let me just begin by saying that I’m a women that does not wear jeans because I simply have an awful hard time finding a pair that fits me well.  So I tend to opt for cotton-based materials (stretch) that allow me to breathe and not force my body to conform into any shape.  What I’m finding is that it’s not my clothing that’s offensive in this society, it’s my body.

I have seen Arab women wearing hijab, with pants that hugged their butts so tightly that it creased under their butt cheeks.  I have seen women wearing abaya that had a belted waistline, accentuating their hour glass figure.  I have also heard stories from various witnesses of women who spread their legs when wearing abaya to show a man that they are interested, or who attend Kuwaiti parties where Western men are invited and remove their covering to show their skimpy outfits underneath, all to wear abaya again the next day.

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I want to be clear that this behavior is not seen as respectable under Islamic law and that all cultures stratify holiness regardless of the religion.

My Syrian friend is Muslim and she chooses not to cover.  She says that Islam is in her heart and not on her body.  She despises the covered women because so often in her life, she’s seen these women do the most sexual acts while demonizing women like herself who choose not to cover.  My boyfriend even, has told me stories about how some Kuwaitis go to bed with a man so fast, that the expectation for immediate sex exist here in this country as well.  Not to mention, anal sex isn’t seen as loosing virginity, so many women opt for this instead.

At work, I have been admonished for wearing clothes that were tailored to my body, while my less curvacious coworkers show cleavage, wear jeans and accentuate their figures freely.  It hurts me to see others being overlooked because of their thinness while I’m being scrutinized because I’m not.  This occurs in America as well, though.

I have also had a hard time dealing with the lack of wellness centers for women here in Kuwait.  Most of the gyms are for men only and women-only gyms are much more expensive with less spectacular facilities.  My boyfriend goes to a beautiful gym down the street from my house while I run in the construction site behind my home or run the stairs in my apartment building.  I subject myself to street harassment and traffic danger when I do so, but I have resorted to it out of sheer desperation for exercise.  I have almost been hit by a cement truck while running, but what can I do?

Kuwait spends a lot of time shielding it’s large homosexual population, particularly males, from the world’s eye.  The amount of homosexual men and transgendered people living in secrecy here will blow your mind, and you can find them in large numbers within the online community.  It’s sad, but my boyfriend tells me that the saying in Kuwait is that if you see a very attractive woman with a nice face and body, she was probably born male because the Kuwaiti women are typically overweight and/or ugly.

This obesity problem that he’s speaking of comes from the lack of wellness facilities for women and the childhood obesity rates, which is amongst the highest in the world.  There is no nightlife here, so people often spend their leisure time eating out.  Even the schools serve Dominoes Pizza as the main course everyday, with the majority of the lunches coming in a vacuum sealed package.

One of the things that brings my boyfriend and I together is our desire to be healthy and fit. We love each other and this is honestly the best relationship I’ve ever been in.  His priorities in his manhood are defined a bit differently than American men.  He is big on paying for things and will not allow me to pay for anything when I am with him.  If I do, it’s because he honestly doesn’t have it at the moment, which kills him on the inside.

His concept of “gayness” is different and the culture around the “No Homo” phrase doesn’t exist here in Kuwait.  For example, he was less uncomfortable telling me about his experience talking with a transgendered women online, only to discover her original sex upon meeting her, which he then ended the relationship.  But a black American man, in my experience, would not have even had the courage to tell me these things in fear of being called gay.  My boyfriend is extremely heterosexual, but he does not have the same dimensions for gayness as black American men do.  He also keeps pictures of topless men on his screen savers to remind him of his fitness goals.  Most men I know back at home wouldn’t be caught dead with such images.

The reason why I am speaking of black American males and not males in general is because of my own limited experience with males from other races.  So I want to be clear on the cultural dynamic.  Anyway…

Men here hold hands together while walking in the malls and it is seen as a gesture of friendship.  The first time I saw this, I wanted to stare.  It’s amazing how the constructs of “gayness” transform according to the cultural lens.

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With all of this being said, holiness is something that looks different all over the world.  This is a very conservative country, but once you see how these people live, it’s not much different than how we live in America.  You have your “holier than thou” people who wear dishdasha and abaya, some who even wear gloves and socks.  You even have some women who will not allow their husbands to see their faces during sex.  You have some Muslims who don’t listen to music due to their faith, just as we have orthodox Christians and Jews.  And within the same land, we have Muslims who drink alcohol, eat pork, have premarital sex and don’t cover.

What I have learned about holiness is that it resides in your actions.  My boyfriend swears that I will convert to Islam one day, and says that all great thinkers do eventually.  I know this is not true, but we agree to respect each others beliefs and allow God to deal with us.  What I do like about Islam is its willingness to deal with science and seeing science as the creation of God.  But as I have told him, I can never be in a place where I wont allow myself to question any holy book, especially if God has given me the brain and will I need to think.  I am finally comfortable saying that I do not accept Jesus as my Lord and savior.  It was a lot for me to say that the Bible is not my final answer and I explained to him that the Holy Quran will not be either.  God did not write a book for man; God speaks to our hearts.  He will have to go through this process for himself as a Muslim.  It’s a lot to rethink everything you’ve been taught since you were a child.  Who knows where we will end up in our spiritual journeys.  All I know is that I want my children to experience God on their own without having religion forced down their throats.

There is also much to learn from this society.  Yes, they have a “constitutional monarchy” but citizens here are very well taken care of.  They do not pay taxes and do not pay for any schooling, whether domestic or abroad.  I honestly can’t see the difference between their dictatorship and our own.  We aren’t any better.

College debt does not exist. I also like how the government prioritizes its citizens in business, forcing foreigners to have a Kuwaiti partner in order to open business.  I think America should adopt this policy.  Both societies have much to learn from one another.

So, back to living.  I will continue to keep you posted on this new Kuwaiti life I’m living.  Ttyl!

Feminist Movies: She’s Gotta Have It

Feminist Movies: She's Gotta Have It.

#AbuseIsNotCute: Comments on the Chris Brown and Rihanna Relationship Propaganda

#AbuseIsNotCute: Comments on the Chris Brown and Rihanna Relationship Propaganda

To begin, let me inform you that I am a high school teacher in the South Bronx.  I have no children, but feel sorrowful for those who do.

Recently, Rihanna has released a new song featuring Chris Brown entitled, Birthday Cake.  Take a look.  She’s making him her bitch now…

After an entire explanation on the cause behind the Man Down video, I can honestly say that I am perplexed at her actions.

After the airing of this video, Rihanna justified her music by saying that this is for all women who have been sexually assaulted.  I suppose assault is only problematic if it’s vaginal.

I want to state that I am not denying that Rihanna may have hit Chris Brown first.  I do not condone those actions.  To hit a man because you know that he is hesitant to hit you back is abusive and shameful.

When you work with teenagers everyday, you quickly realize the realities of urban/pop culture.  Whether celebrities want to be responsible or not, they set the standard for many cultural aspects that children aspire to.  It is this reason that legends like Bob Marley was tracked by the FBI.  He was THAT POWERFUL.  High paying jobs always come with large responsibility.  I’m sure the CEO of Goldman Sachs had the same complaint as most rappers; “This is just business [entertainment].”

If it’s one message I would like Chris Brown and Rihanna to state is that #AbuseIsNotCute.  It is ok to formulate a friendship and even further, it is ok to forgive.  But nobody said a damn thing about forgetting.  Rihanna is human, and if she goes back to him, she is troubled with same challenges that women around the world face: How do we as women, set the standard for true love?

The romanticizing of both Chris Brown and Rihanna’s shortcomings is truly an attack on our children.  The #TeamBreezy’s and record labels that are seeing dollar signs in Rihanna swollen eye, do not care about the behaviors kids are absorbing through their environment.  Rihanna is a world-recognized superstar.  She does not need a song with Chris Brown for publicity.  She also does a fine job, by herself, drawing attention to her talent.  Man Down is just one example.

It’s amazing what the world will turn the other cheek to for the sake of an R&B song.  R Kelly can sing at Whitney Houston’s funeral, Chris Brown can win a Grammy and Amber Rose can have an opportunity to join the music scene.

I’m disappointed.  It’s a falsehood to say that people are ready to “forgive” Chris Brown.  I am not asking for his apology.  What I am demanding is some social responsibility, the same way parents demanded parental controls on cable along with TV show ratings and age requirements for purchasing cigarettes.  While no parent gives their child permission to engage in harmful acts, they fall vulnerable to other stakeholders that have access to their children’s lexicon, influencing their thoughts and decision making at such an impressionable stage in their development.

If artists can’t make songs that are antisemetic, why can Rihanna make a song about “bitching” Chris Brown?

I’ll wait…

The sexism, and more specifically, the romanticizing of sexism, has got to stop.  It’s time for our girls and boys, whom many may be without fathers, to have a healthy vision of true love.  Love, little sister, does not slam your head against the passenger window of a car.

Ho Tales: Living a Double Life In Spite of the “Sexual Revolution”

Ho Tales: Living a Double Life In Spite of the “Sexual Revolution”

Lately, there has been a lot of attention on the “sexual revolution” and the rise in STDs.  As I read my timeline full of feminist activists and scope the blogosphere, I can’t help but to ask, “Where is this revolution taking place?” And is anybody accounting for the amount of unprotected sex being had by people of all ages?

I can’t help but to feel blotted out of this “revolution” that’s supposedly going on.  Every woman I know is revolutionary in her own right, but not in front of men necessarily.  The conversations had by women in the absence of men are the most telling about the nature of this “revolution” and what it means for women of color.  I know so many women who are forced to lead double lives because they want to be human and have a chance to get married on day.

When a woman chooses to have sex before marriage, she is still expected to not be sexually active (or too sexually active) outside of the confounds of a committed relationship.  To be single is to be waiting.  When you don’t wait, you’re desperate and/or a ho, which in this context means black and having more than one too many sexual partners than your love interest can stand.

So many women live double lives – having sex with a team of men, rotating them throughout the week.  I myself have some ho tails to share – sexing more than one guy in a week and/or sleeping with a guy for the sole purpose of getting good dick and some decent company.  Once I slept with this guy on Day 2 and the only reason why I didn’t go after what I wanted on Day 1 was because of the cardinal rule: NEVER sleep with a guy on the first date if you want to be treated with any level of respect or potentially be in a relationship with him.

Or how about my homegirl who met a Jamaican guy on the street and sexed him in the nearby corner, outside?  She loved every minute of it and never saw him again.  But she doesn’t tell just anybody about that marvelous experience because she knows that she would be judged horrendously.  One friend of mine particularly enjoys threesomes, and double penetration is something she swears by.  But this was only told to me in secrecy.

There are plenty of women who have stories that they would never mention in the presence of men; and despite our inner milestones of sexual revelation, I can speak for myself and say that I am still struggling with being all of me in front of a man, hoisms and all. Not to mention, the amount of policing that takes place by other women…  As a professional that works with teenagers, the word ho gets tossed around a lot; and despite the bombardment of our youth with sexual images, there is still a very heavy policing of “appropriate sexual behavior” as determined by the standards of their peers.  Homosexuals are still bullied everyday.

In adulthood, women are called hoes by the most insecure of women in my opinion, when they merely display sexual human characteristics; and the need to appear as closely to the Virgin Mary as possible is still widespread.  There are women who still pride themselves on how long they’ve “held out” from sex despite the fact that they’re already committing fornication by biblical standards.

With the amount of women experiencing sexual disfunction, I can’t push a claim so grandiose as a “sexual revolution”.  Yes, I can pursue a guy for sex without being stoned, but I can’t without being placed in the “ho” category.  We have now progressed to terms such as “cut buddy” and “trick”.  But a woman will curb her number of buddies  and tricks based on the men present in the room, in fear of being labeled a jump off.  There is no need to get into the double standards that we all know exist.  We all experience it everyday.  So how then can we call this revolutionary?

While I know more men and women who have dabbled in same – sex pleasures, it doesn’t speak to the rise in anti-gay legislation world wide.  It is legal to kill homosexuals in many countries, yet we claim revolutionary status.  Resolved, that this sexual revolution is about rich and middle class, heterosexual, white women. While I stand in solidarity with them, I wish the discourse were more inclusive of the diversity of people’s daily lives, realities and set backs.

Yes, I can make my own choices about my sexuality but I must be prepared to live with the consequences of my honesty or live in secrecy, which so many of us do.

So if this revolution is really going on, it’s not going on in my community; and certainly not with any of my friends.  I would like to know who named it as such and why they chose the word revolution.  Was it to incite such a thing?  I certainly hope not because the revolutionaries have always been here, feminist living since the beginning of time.  The question is, will others revolutionize themselves to be tolerant of difference?

I don’t think so.  Human beings have not arrived at that place yet.

Traveling Woman: a poem by FeministLiving

Walking through life one heal click at a time

allowing my mind to travel ahead of me,

hunting for lessons of wisdom.

I keep my head down sometimes to keep from tripping over the uneven pavement,

bumping into the stop sign at the corner.

And yes it’s true, I do still love her.

But I’m new now! Embracing my body and feeling my worth

with just enough love to give birth to serenity

despite all the shit I got to do.

Consciously uplifting psyche to get through the days news.

Jogging just a bit to pick up the pace

and I still can’t get there fast enough.

My heart knows my mind all to well and it’s calling my bluff

so I take 2 puffs and watch my troubles pillow float away.

With nothing left behind but Me

Wrapped up in Divinity and feeling the closeness of omnipotence.

I put God first and She revealed to me what love truly meant.

Not romance or slow jams to hum to.

Only the wind quest-steady around me,

aware of the realities that I succumb to.

I live my life inside of my shoes.

And while some call me near and others crazy,

I remain in the middle with some serious decisions to make.

I breathe deeply and take 2 more,

just to make sure that I transcend higher than this;

higher than wanting to be kissed by those who don’t matter.

Avoiding the noise of a heart once again, shattered.

But honestly, the clicking that I hear from the pump to the pavement

sounds much more promising than a rushed engagement to you,

or anyone else for that matter.

And if I had to choose between the 2,

I would choose the latter because Victory is closer here.

And no longer will I allow life to drive me into a brick wall.

Although sometimes my voice resonates with moans of fatigue,

nothing is greater than preserving myself for longevity

and I know this.

A lot to do with friends telling you to take one day at a time,

just to look up and see that I’ve fallen behind?

No, I refuse.  Move, that’s what I do.

Traveling in haste

I’m in a rush to make it to a new space.

A change of scenery.

A place where the sun can’t tell time

and the milk of my bosom feeds the minds of those who have thirst.

Where green really does grow on trees legally

and I can carry this earth in my purse.

My eyes are big in this place of awesomeness

Indulging in sweet sexual bliss and a kiss on the cheek

with dream catchers hanging above my bed so the past won’t bother me.

Money is nonexistent because wealth is always inside of me.

And this is a space where my favorite song plays.

Where my father establishes our history

and my mother decides to bless me no matter who I choose to fuck.

Girl, boy, mythical creature, whomever fills my cup.

But for right now I drive with caution through stormy weather

or at least the aftermath.

Because whoever said

a heart’s wisdom was a few short miles away?

Whomever promised a laugh?

“You’d be a beautiful girl if you’d just loose some weight.”

Last night, a friend invited me out to BBQs with herself and two of her buddies.  It was fun!  Great conversation, and I even bought a nice pair of slacks afterwards with our Times Square, walk the food off impromtu shopping.

While we were out, men kept gawking at them and making group-comments like, “Look at those big beautiful chocolate drops.” and “Big sexy women.”  Even before I joined them, my homegirl told me about some of the lewd, pseudo-complimentary comments.  They are all very pretty, stylish women with a lot to offer and there is nothing wrong with giving them a compliment.  But why did it have to be so animated?  If men like what they see, then why make a big spectacle of three women walking together who happen to be similar in size?  Why not just say, “You ladies look nice”?

The only time a man has ever addressed me by my physical attributes was when he was blatantly not concerned with respect or when he was making reference to my skin color by calling me Morena, which is Spanish for black girl.  I have never been called a medium girl, a pretty plump lady or a small beautiful woman.

As a woman who used to be quite overweight herself, I can feel my homegirl when she expresses her annoyance with the matter.  Nothing is worse than the, “You’re face is so pretty.” or the “You’d be a beautiful girl if you’d just loose some weight.”  My mother used to make me miserable about my weight and she still bothers me until this day, let me gain a pound.  But these women are in their own skin and know what they want for their own bodies like we all do.  There is so much judgment sometimes about people who are overweight.  Laziness, eating all the time, low self-esteem… the list goes on.  My homegirl is a bigger woman and her confidence is very apparent.  She knows who she is.  🙂  The assumptions are prejudice.

So s/o to all the women out there who are what us Americans would call big.  If a guy gives you and your friends a fat “compliment”, give him the stank face.