Let me guess. You hate feminism.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you A BULLET LIST OF REALLY TERRIBLE/STUPID THINGS STILL HAPPENING IN THE WORLD TODAY

DOES IT SOUND LIKE I’M SHOUTING IN YOUR HEAD? I assure you I’m not. It’s just really fun to type in all caps sometimes.

  • In the 1780s, around 80,000 people were trafficked during the transatlantic slave trade. Today, 600,000 – 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year. 80% of those people are women. Read more about it in Half the Sky.
  • Men AND women hating on the word “feminism” because they think feminists or feminazis (because obviously there’s a correlation between feminism and nazism) are crazy women who have no sense of humor and hate all men.
  • People in denial about climate change.
  • 1 in every 3 women will be sexually abused or assaulted at some point in her life. That statistic is from the United Nations.
  • Discrimination. That shit sucks.
  • Approximately 60 million children around the world not being able to go to school.
  • Last week, some creep strutting down the street thinking it would be fun to snicker and say in a low voice, “Get home safe,” to me and my friends (who were all girls) as we waited at a bus stop.
  • Homophobia. That really sucks too.
  • There are people who think racial equality and gender equality are mutually exclusive goals and one takes priority over the other. That kinda sucks for us non-white females. I’m just sayin.
  • Bullying. (I’ll be devoting a whole post to that soon)
This is really all you need to know. via Men and Feminism

This is really all you need to know.
via Men and Feminism

Being a feminist is in everybody’s best interests. Being a feminist is not the polar opposite of being feminine. Men can be and are feminists too. Here’s what it all comes down to: If you believe men and women should have equal rights and opportunities, then you can safely assume that you are a feminist. (Take that as good news or bad news). Someone calling you a feminist isn’t an insult. Be who you are and say what you feel. Take Tyrion Lannister’s advice and wear what you are like armor.

Tyrion Lannister

Adding on to the point I’m trying to make: If there are still women who are victims of acid attacks, who are gang-raped and beaten to death on a bus in India, who are denied the right to an education, who are mocked and called “bitches” at work when they show leadership skills, who are harassed on the street everyday simply because of the clothes they are wearing…then there is something fundamentally wrong with the way things are running. Sheryl Sandberg might be on to something –> More women in leadership positions means a better future for women everywhere. And considering women make up half the global population, that makes the entire world a better place. For everyone.

You may not like feminism, but…

Feminism is for everybody

There is much work to be done. Don’t you agree?

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Update on #GIRLWITHABOOK: Haters Don’t Stand a Chance

I think I’ve been in shock this whole week. I am simply blown away by the support that we have received at #GIRLWITHABOOK. When I wrote my last post, the whole thing still felt like an idea for a high school project. And now it feels like a real movement.

I had promised that I would update everyone on our progress with this movement so here goes. Since we started (which was about 10 days ago), three major things have happened.

1. Organizations have supported us. Some major ones to report are the National Women’s History Museum and Half the Sky Movement. Within the first couple of days, they had posted about us, tweeted about us and sent us pictures. After one particular Facebook post last Saturday from Half the Sky Movement, we got 400 likes on Facebook. All on that same Saturday. And just today, they tweeted a poster that lists 5 ways you can help girls like Malala. Submitting a picture to us is listed as one of the 5 ways.

2. I received an email from a WordPress editor congratulating me on having been picked to be “Freshly Pressed.” I was completely shocked. As you can tell, I have barely written/posted anything on my blog (it’s been a slow start). The editor wrote in the email, “We really enjoyed [your post], and we know the rest of the WordPress.com community will too – this movement is a wonderful idea, and I’m glad we can help spread the word!” I was amazed and frankly, just touched by the support we received from WordPress. Not only was it cool to finally get some comments on my blog, but their promotion of #GIRLWITHABOOK increased our momentum by tenfold.

We reached 1000 likes on Facebook! Of course, now we’re past that 🙂

3. Two days ago, we got an email from the UN. That’s right. The United Nations. I’m pretty sure I had to read that email 3 times before it all sunk in. They congratulated us on our initiative and stated that they would like to join us on our call to action. Since then, they have tweeted about us, sent in pictures, and even blogged about us. In return, we are spreading the word about Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Education First initiative that he launched on September 26, 2012, as well as the work being done by Education Envoy Gordon Brown, especially about this petition.

Just a little over a week ago, neither Olivia nor I would have been able to predict any of this happening. I don’t think I, personally, even had expectations about this getting popular let alone becoming a movement. We started this because Malala inspired us to act, to do something for her and girls like her. For a while though, I started thinking to myself, “This is all gonna die out. People are going to move on and forget about Malala and girls everywhere fighting to learn.” But everything that’s happened this past week proved me wrong. People do care. They’re not afraid to stand up for what’s right and best of all, they’re willing to help each other up and stand together. We’re going to win this fight. Against the Taliban, against extremists, against bullies, against haters. No matter how long it takes, we’re going to win in the end.

On a lighter note, Eid Mubarak everyone! May all my fellow Muslims out there have a lovely and blessed Eid ul-Adha. I’ll be getting some of my little cousins together and taking photos of them holding/reading books. Keep an eye out for the pictures on our Pinterest, Facebook, and tumblr! And all of YOU can do the same! I think Malala and girls all over Pakistan would love to see other families showing their support for them on Eid.

****If you want to join the #GIRLWITHABOOK movement, please submit a picture of yourself with a book to girlwithabookmovement@gmail.com. Make sure to include the title of the book and the city, state, country that you took your picture****

Feel free to post on our Facebook page or tweet at us @_girlwithabook as well. We invite submissions from girls, boys, men and women, because a cause like this needs support from everyone.

#GIRLWITHABOOK

Last Monday, my friend Olivia and I decided to launch this idea called #GIRLWITHABOOK. At the time we were venting to each other about how horrified and utterly disgusted we were by the Taliban’s sick attempt at killing Malala Yousafzai on her school bus, and we wanted to do something about it. We wanted to do something for Malala, and at the same time stick it to the Taliban. So Olivia says to me “Let’s get people to post pictures of themselves with books! A favorite book, a random book, a school book, you name it. And we’ll post it on facebook, twitter, etc. to show Malala our support.” My reaction: THIS IS AWESOME.

The Taliban showed what they are most afraid: A GIRL WITH A BOOK.

So that’s exactly what we did. We created a Facebook page, Pinterest board, Twitter account and a tumblr. It sounds excessive, but can you blame us? We wanted the whole world to show their support for Malala. And as they say…a picture is worth a thousand words.

The first thing we did was message and email our own friends. Anyone we knew, we told them about our idea. Slowly but surely we started receiving submissions from our friends and family. They took pictures of themselves holding books, reading to people, reading with their pets, or reading together with someone else. They sent them in and we posted them. The number of likes on Facebook increased from 10 to 40 to 120 to 200. We were getting supporters from all over the world, and including other organizations like the National Women’s History Museum. And then something even more amazing happened.

Half the Sky, a book written by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, tweeted and posted on their Facebook wall about us. As a result, we got over 400 likes on our Facebook page in a single day. Half the Sky is now also a film, a game, and a movement. All of which are about “raising awareness and inspiring action to turn oppression to opportunity for women worldwide.” The outpouring of support after their post was incredible.

Within a single week, we managed to launch a movement of sorts. It all began with a 15 year old girl named Malala Yousafzai, but now she has come to symbolize the hope that education can bring to both girls and boys. She is the one who inspired and touched everyone’s hearts with her courage. My friend and I simply wanted to find a way to thank her and show her that we stand with her. We stand with Malala, we stand with all boys and girls who are fighting for a chance to learn. Education is everybody’s right, and I truly believe it is our duty to do whatever we can to make sure that everyone gets their chance.

As of today, on Sunday, October 21, 2012 at 9:44 PM, we have 811 supporters on Facebook, about 51 followers on Twitter, 72 followers on Pinterest, and 17 followers on tumblr (our tumblr is fairly new compared to the others). With the help of other people who believe in Malala and what she fights for, we can achieve this. We can stop extremists from taking away our education, our freedom, our rights. In the end, they won’t win. We will.

Here’s some more exciting news. After we receive a significant number of pictures, Olivia and I plan on compiling all of them into a book and sending it to Malala. All of us are praying and wishing for her full recovery, and we thought this would be a great way for us to show just how much she has come to mean to us.

If you want to join the #GIRLWITHABOOK movement, please submit a picture of yourself with a book to girlwithabookmovement@gmail.com. Make sure to include the title of the book and the city, state, country that you took your picture

Feel free to post on our Facebook page or tweet at us @_girlwithabook as well. We invite submissions from girls, boys, men and women, because a cause like this needs support from everyone.

Here are some of my favorite pictures.

Malala Yousafzai: A Girl Worth Fighting For

I haven’t been this angry in a long time. Maybe I’ve never been this angry. On October 9, 2012, Taliban militants stopped a school bus filled with girls returning home from school and asked for a girl named Malala Yousafzai. Malala is a 14 year old girl from the Swat Valley in Pakistan. From the age of 11 years old, she has been an activist demanding for her right to have an education. She was forced to do that because the Taliban had been taking over Swat and blowing up girls schools and committing other atrocities. Whoever resisted, they beat them, humiliated them, shot them, beheaded them, and then left their corpses out in the streets for everyone to see. Despite all of this, Malala had the strength and courage to fight back by learning wherever she could whether it was at school or at home. Last year she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize and awarded Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize by Yousaf Raza Gilani, the prime minister of Pakistan at that time.

So you can understand my horror and my fury when it was reported that these Taliban monsters hunted down a 14 year old girl and shot her simply because she wanted to go to school. Thankfully she is still alive and the bullet was retrieved when she underwent surgery, but she’s still fighting for her life. I’m amazed by her bravery and shocked that there are girls who are literally risking their lives just so they can read books and learn math. I doubt that many Americans think twice about how precious an education really is while riding their bus to school. I know I never did. I never had to fight for the right to learn because it was always a given in my life.

A Taliban spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, justified their actions by saying, “She has become a symbol of Western culture in the area; she was openly propagating it,” Mr. Ehsan said, adding that if she survived, the militants would certainly try to kill her again. “Let this be a lesson.”

All day I’ve been cursing in my head at these disgusting creatures who dare to call themselves men. No, they’re not even human. I hate them. I actually hate them. Who does shit like this, let alone justifies it? And I’m even more frustrated at the fact that I feel completely helpless. For everything that the Taliban has done, for all the lives they have destroyed…I hope they get what’s coming to them. Something far worse than death. I thought I would only read about such brutality in history books, not the news.

Please read and watch this video by Adam B. Ellick and Irfan Ashraf about Malala and her father Ziauddin, who is a schoolteacher and a huge advocate for girls’ education. My ‘Small Video Star’ Fights for Her Life

For anyone who wants to help Malala through her recovery and her family, please donate here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/250706

R-A-M-A-D-A-N, Ramadan

Just had to throw this one in

This year it felt like Ramadan really crept up on me. I mean I’ve known for months that it was starting in mid-July and it’s going to be ridiculously hard with the long days, crazy heat and all, but something about it just didn’t quite register. I guess it’s because I didn’t really take the time to stop and think about the impact of Ramadan. There’s more to it than just not eating or drinking from sunrise to sunset. Ramadan is supposed to be the time where we can start over. It’s supposed to be a chance to change ourselves and hopefully for the better. It’s a big motivation too because this is the month when Muslims realize how much power they have. Think about it.
We willingly abstain from eating or drinking for about 18 hours (this year at least), we don’t swear, we try not to get angry or start fights with others, some choose not to listen to music, etc. Not only that we consciously force ourselves to start good habits and to keep track of what our bad habits are so that we can change them. And all of a sudden we realize that there is nobody actually forcing us to do any of this. There’s no one there to keep you in check or stop you from eating. It’s all you.

What’s that line from Akeelah and the Bee? “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”

I’ve never seen the movie, but that line sums up how I feel about Ramadan. And the whole idea of Ramadan and fasting for a month gives me the strength to strive to be a better person for the rest of the year. Because I can be.

Ramadan Mubarak to all my fellow Muslims!

Palestinians breaking their fast or having Iftar outside of Al-Aqsa Mosque

An Emotional Investment in The Hunger Games

Some good friends of mine highly encouraged me to read The Hunger Games trilogy, and I trust their taste so I did it. I literally read all three books in one week. I couldn’t put them down. I became so anti-social, it was ridiculous. People at work would comment “Hey! I haven’t seen you around the office lately.” That’s because I’m sitting in a park bench during my lunch break trying to finish the books as fast as I can on my kindle while somehow also stuffing a sandwich in my mouth. Additionally, I told my friends (the ones who aren’t Hunger Games fans) last Friday that I couldn’t hang out because I needed to finish the last book. They called me a nerd. It’s ok they’re just jealous.

What’s not to like? The books have got a great story, a kick-ass heroine, and it makes you think about the world we live in today. War, violence, reality TV, soldiers coming back from war, dealing with PTSD and how we’ve been dealing with all of this in the decade that the US has been at war. It’s a lot to take in, but it’s worth thinking about.

So now that I’m done reading, naturally I became way too emotionally invested in everything related to the books. Here’s what I’ve done so far:

  1. Bought my tickets for the movie coming out on Friday (yay!)
  2. Watched pretty much every stupid Youtube video related to the movie (mostly interviews with the cast where I laughed along with their jokes as if I know them personally)
  3. Read random people’s reviews/debates of the books on the Internet
  4. Watched more Youtube videos (this time of interviews with author, Suzanne Collins),
  5. Analyzed the story and characters with my friends who are fans for hours over the phone
  6. Watched the movie trailer a dozen more times
  7. Daydreamed about being able climb trees efficiently and then…
  8. Went back to watching more Youtube videos

I can honestly say that I know more about the lives of Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson (who play Katniss and Peeta respectively) than is socially acceptable. But just to let you know, we would be such good friends. No joke.

However, it wasn’t until today that I noticed something: Katniss Everdeen, the kick-ass heroine, is described in the books as being a 16-year old girl who’s olive-skinned and scrawny with dark hair. As much as I truly adore and have a creepy friend crush on Jennifer Lawrence, she definitely does not fit this description. Of course when it comes to acting talent, she is hands down the perfect girl for this role. I’ve always been a strong supporter of casting someone with talent rather than the exact looks for a part. It’s just common sense. If the actor can convince the audience of the role he or she is playing, then that’s it. They should get the job. Take Memoirs of A Geisha for example. The roles played by Ziyi Zhang, Gong Li and Michelle Yeoh caused quite a stir since these actresses are Chinese and Malaysian and yet they starred in a movie as Japanese characters. Critics wrote articles about how ridiculous that is and blah blah blah. Yet we have Australian actors playing Americans and Americans playing Brits and Brits playing Irish characters all the time, and the list goes on. When it came down to it, the director, Rob Marshall, felt that these actresses were best suited for the roles.

I suppose people have stronger feelings about this subject when there are minorities involved. I guess it just makes me a little sad when I read back and see what Katniss is supposed to look like. Even in my head I kept imagining Jennifer Lawrence’s face as Katniss because I had seen the movie trailer before reading the books. That was actually kind of irritating. It was as if my imagination went into lockdown mode and said, “Who cares what she looks like?! Just finish the story!”

The main reason I feel blue about this is because I TOTALLY could have played Katniss! Dark hair, olive skin, scrawny? Check, check and check. Never mind that I have no acting skills whatsoever, it still would have been awesome. But really, deep down I know it would have been pretty amazing to to see thousands of fans cheering for a brown girl, especially at a time when the media only shows us footage of people and events that make us think we should either feel hate or pity towards anyone who’s got brown/olive skin. Because you know. That’s the developing world.

Besides that, I am genuinely very excited to see the movie. Jennifer Lawrence is an incredible actress. I mean she already has an Oscar nomination. I have no doubts that she will be amazing as Katniss. And next time an “olive-skinned” girl needs to be cast, I’ll audition. Problem solved.

By the way, if you want to read a hilarious blog post about The Hunger Games, read this: The Embarrassing Side Effects of Having Recently Read “The Hunger Games” by Holley Maher