Campaign to Bring Back Our Girls: Nigeria

From Journalist/Professor Melissa Harris-Perry to the girls of Nigeria:

“276. That is how many Nigerian girls, ages 15 to 18, are still missing after a pre-dawn raid nearly three weeks ago. The raid occurred at the Government Girls Secondary School in the northern town of Chibok by the al Qaeda-linked group Boko Haram–which means “Western education is sinful.”
53 of these girls have escaped on their own. But the focus on their story is new–due to the unrelenting efforts of their relatives and social media to bang the drums and let us know that this story matters, that each one of these girls matters.

That is why my letter this week is to them.

Dear young women of Chibok, Nigeria,

It’s me, Melissa.

I cannot begin to comprehend the terror you are feeling. You, who were already surviving in a country facing terror on a daily basis, as evidenced by the car bomb explosion in Nigeria’s capital on Thursday that killed at least 12 people just days before your nation was set to host a major, international economic forum.

And this attack occurred across the road from the site of a massive explosion less than a month ago that killed at least 75 people, the same day you young women were kidnapped from your school.

But the reality of your country’s woes does not excuse us from being absent in demanding more attention be paid to your story. Because you matter.

Nor does it excuse your president, who took two weeks to make a public vow to bring you back after you were taken at gunpoint, and your school burned down. Now there are reports that you are being sold off for $12 a person to your captors, being taken across the border, and trafficked into slavery. Twelve dollars?

THE REID REPORT, 5/2/14, 3:54 PM ET
US offers to help Nigeria find kidnapped girls

Your lives cannot be equated to a dollar amount. Because your potential is limitless. And now the drumbeat from those in your country and around the world are banging loudly so that you will not be forgotten. From the dozens of protesters that gathered outside Nigeria’s parliament on Wednesday to call on security forces to search for you, to the growing online campaign #BringBackOurGirls, which is forcing the media and the world to pay attention and conveying to you that you are not just Nigeria’s daughters – you are daughters of the world. As evidenced by the group that rallied outside the U.N. to protest the abductions, visibly frustrated by the lack of progress.
You matter to the U.S. State Department, which this week engaged in discussions with the Nigerian government on what we can do to assist efforts to find each and every one of you. And you most certainly matter to your distraught parents. Many dressed in red holding a day of protest on Thursday and marching from the residence of a local chief to the scene of your kidnapping, many carrying signs that simply said, “Find Our Daughters”.

You have not been forgotten. We are sorry it took us so long to pay attention. But we are watching now, we are pounding the drums, because each one of you matter.

Sincerely,
Melissa”

Please hash-tag #bringbackourgirls to raise awareness!

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“Blurred Lines” Revisited: The Robin Thicke Edition of Patriarchy

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Recently, I was at the park having a picnic and I heard the song “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke. Yes, I must admit that this song is old and played-out. However, I was immediately frustrated with the fact that this song is being blared at a party. Well, the song is about being at a party and intending to rape a woman because he knows that she “wants it”. Nevertheless, this woman never gave consent. This is troubling. As long as we recycle these patriarchal songs that promotes rape-culture then men and women will continue to think that it is okay to have ‘blurred-lines’ when the lines are clearly black and white. Rape is rape. We shouldn’t play with semantics here. This is serious. I don’t care what a woman wears, behaves or insinuates…if she doesn’t consent then it is rape. 

Patriarchy is a system of sexist oppression that must be countered by a change in how we think and act. It must be countered by men and women. Men must learn that there is no such thing as having a blurred line at a club, at a party or with a significant other. This is violence. Whenever a man insist on engaging sexually with a woman without her consent then this is rape. Rape is violence and assault. Anytime someone says, “Well, she asked for it” then we are hurting ourselves and women. Patriarchy doesn’t just harm women, but it harms men too. 

“Dominator culture teaches all of us that the core of our identity is defined by the will to dominate and control others. We are taught that this will to dominate is more biologically hardwired in males than in females. In actuality, dominator culture teaches us that we are all natural-born killers but that males are more able to realize the predator role. In the dominator model the pursuit of external power, the ability to manipulate and control others, is what matters most. When culture is based on a dominator model, not only will it be violent but it will frame all relationships as power struggles.” 
― Bell Hooks

In patriarchy, men are taught to dominate because it is told to them that this is intrinsically a part of them biologically. In looking at this quote by bell hooks, it is important to think about this in regards to the song by Robin Thicke. What is it reinforcing? What is it saying about the institution of patriarchy? Why is this dominator culture celebrated? How do we combat this culture of violence and oppression?

So, I believe it would serve us better to view the lyrics. You can easily go on YouTube and watch the video that accompanies the lyrics, but I like focusing on the lyrics. I think people can sometimes get too caught up in the music and not necessarily the lyrics. Hopefully, this song can be a conversation-starter within social-circles, families, organizations and etc. Maybe watch the video too. 

“Blurred Lines” by: Robin Thicke
(feat. T.I. & Pharrell Williams)

[Intro: Pharrell]
Everybody get up
Everybody get up
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey

[Verse 1: Robin Thicke]
If you can’t hear what I’m trying to say
If you can’t read from the same page
Maybe I’m going deaf,
Maybe I’m going blind
Maybe I’m out of my mind
[Pharrell:] Everybody get up

[Pre-chorus: Robin Thicke]
OK now he was close, tried to domesticate you
But you’re an animal, baby, it’s in your nature
Just let me liberate you
Hey, hey, hey
You don’t need no papers
Hey, hey, hey
That man is not your maker

[Chorus: Robin Thicke]
And that’s why I’m gon’ take a good girl
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
You’re a good girl
Can’t let it get past me
You’re far from plastic
Talk about getting blasted
I hate these blurred lines
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
But you’re a good girl
The way you grab me
Must wanna get nasty
Go ahead, get at me
[Pharrell:] Everybody get up

[Verse 2: Robin Thicke]
What do they make dreams for
When you got them jeans on
What do we need steam for
You the hottest bitch in this place
I feel so lucky
Hey, hey, hey
You wanna hug me
Hey, hey, hey
What rhymes with hug me?
Hey, hey, hey

[Pre-chorus: Robin Thicke]
OK now he was close, tried to domesticate you
But you’re an animal, baby it’s in your nature
Just let me liberate you
Hey, hey, hey
You don’t need no papers
Hey, hey, hey
That man is not your maker
Hey, hey, hey

[Chorus: Robin Thicke]
And that’s why I’m gon’ take a good girl
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
You’re a good girl
Can’t let it get past me
You’re far from plastic
Talk about getting blasted
[Pharrell:] Everybody get up
I hate these blurred lines
I know you want it
I hate them lines
I know you want it
I hate them lines
I know you want it
But you’re a good girl
The way you grab me
Must wanna get nasty
Go ahead, get at me

[Verse 3: T.I.]
One thing I ask of you
Let me be the one you back that ass to
Go, from Malibu, to Paris, boo
Yeah, I had a bitch, but she ain’t bad as you
So hit me up when you pass through
I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two
Swag on, even when you dress casual
I mean it’s almost unbearable
In a hundred years not dare, would I
Pull a Pharside let you pass me by
Nothing like your last guy, he too square for you
He don’t smack that ass and pull your hair like that
So I just watch and wait for you to salute
But you didn’t pick
Not many women can refuse this pimpin’
I’m a nice guy, but don’t get it if you get with me

[Bridge: Robin Thicke]
Shake the vibe, get down, get up
Do it like it hurt, like it hurt
What you don’t like work?

[Pre-chorus: Robin Thicke]
Baby can you breathe? I got this from Jamaica
It always works for me, Dakota to Decatur, uh huh
No more pretending
Hey, hey, hey
Cause now you winning
Hey, hey, hey
Here’s our beginning

[Chorus: Robin Thicke]
I always wanted a good girl
(Pharrell: Everybody get up)
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
You’re a good girl
Can’t let it get past me
You’re far from plastic
Talk about getting blasted
I hate these blurred lines
(Pharrell: Everybody get up)
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
But you’re a good girl
The way you grab me
Must wanna get nasty
Go ahead, get at me

[Outro: Pharrell]
Everybody get up
Everybody get up
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey

 

“Posted on September 3, 2011 by Nahida

At the age of 10 I had a way of walking I’m certain had been with me since I first learned to walk. There is nowhere I could have learned it, and I hadn’t given it any thought to have learned it in the first place. But it was called to my attention at 10, because it was “provocative.” And it wasn’t brought to my attention by men, but by women. Girls, in fact.
It was one foot in front of the other, a hip-swinging walk. And it was not okay. And the girls let me know this immediately. “Stop acting so stuck-up!” “She thinks she’s a model.” “Why do you walk like you’re all that?”

Of course, I didn’t think I was “all that.” And at the age of ten, being rather sheltered from all things overtly sexual, I was thoroughly bewildered and confused. This was how I naturally walked, and it wasn’t something I could change because I had no idea what I was doing wrong. It weren’t as though I could see myself walking and compare it to others. Eventually, though, I did learn to “fix” it. What’s interesting is not only the accusation of sexuality that I never implied, but the fact that I was not allowed to be sexual. These were girls who wore lipgloss, tight jeans, and midriff tops. They weren’t stereotypes–they were whole complete people, who cried when I wrote them sad stories and were fiercely loyal to each other–but they played into stereotypes. They gossiped, worried about their weight, talked about boys, copied each other’s homework, and had serious mean streaks. And consequently, they categorized and forced me into a stereotype. I studied and read and wrote and dressed conservatively (thanks mom) and contributed greatly to class discussions and was overall smart (though they were too!) and therefore was not allowed to demonstrate any kind of “grown-up” confidence.

Ten year old girls don’t walk the way they do to be sexual. They walk that way because that’s how they walk. When the girls cornered me for long legs and swinging hips, it was the confidence they attacked. I’m sure they had some idea that it was interpreted in the world as symbolic of some sort of sexual power, but it only just forming in our understanding. As far as they were concerned, this was power play. I was not a part of their clique.

“You can’t walk like that.”

I was a sweet kid. It’s hard to believe now, and it frustrates me when I remember it, but it’s frightening how soft I was. Watching the girls, I forced myself to change the way I walked because I genuinely believed there was something wrong with me. I walked like them instead. I remember the process, asking a friend of mine, “Do I walk weird?”

“You walk so gracefully, like a swan.” she said. “Don’t listen to them; they’re jealous.”

“Swans are clumsy on land.”

Looking back, there is so much about this that disturbs me. It was my first introduction, I can see, to the sexual interpretations of others forced onto me in a dangerously she-was-asking-for-it-like manner, while I have no involvement and no desire of involvement. I didn’t intend for anything–I was just living my life. I couldn’t intend anything; for crying out loud, I was ten. And yet this is so deeply ingrained into the mentality of society that it was pushed onto me by none other than ten-year-old girls, who themselves had no idea what they were doing, but had somehow come to understand the significance and had learned to police “sexuality.” And I “fixed” something that didn’t need to be fixed to appease to the fabrications of patriarchy, unwillingly, tearily, and self-destructively.

Growing up, the prevalence and instillment of the incident became clear. Everyone thought like this. At 12 I had a red dress I loved wearing. Still conservative, mind you, my mother picked out my clothes. But one day I put it on, and she told me to change it.

“Why?”

“It makes you look pretty. I don’t want… you getting the wrong kind of attention.”

Even then, I wanted to scream.

Did I mention this dress covered everything? Everything? Full-length sleeves and full-length skirt? It doesn’t even matter what it covered. I wasn’t wearing it to be sexual: I liked it because it reminded me of the dress one of the characters of an adventure book I was reading wore on the cover. I felt like riding dragons and finding ghosts in my dreary castle. It also doesn’t even matter if I were wearing it to be sexual, had I not been 12: it doesn’t give anyone the right to involve themselves without my permission.

My mother doesn’t tell me I’ll be raped, but she sure as hell implies it. “You could be kidnapped,” she says. “And… used. For business.”

I would say my mother is paranoid about sex trafficking, but she isn’t paranoid. She’s right. What she isn’t right about, however, is suggesting that being “unpretty” would somehow save me. And while she didn’t make me accountable for the possibility of rape (though it disturbed me greatly that she consistently hinted my life would be utterly and entirely over) she did make me liable for others’ interpretations of what “message” I was sending by the way I dressed.

My mother meant well. She was terrified to death of losing me, a defenseless child, to predators. When I hit my late teens and was not so defenseless, she promptly allowed me to “dress pretty” again. Before class, now a young woman of 17, I walked past the mirror in my bedroom and slid into a well-fitted black dress that zipped on one side. I tugged up the zipper and it stopped, leading me to believe I’d zipped it all the way. In actuality, the zipper had stuck at the curve of my breast, exposing the black lace of my bra.

“Nahida, you look gorgeous!” my instructor exclaimed in third period psychology. “Come here.”

“What is it?” I asked, walking up to her desk.

Without warning, she reached out and yanked the zipper upward, closing the dress completely. I stood for a minute in shock.

“You’ve been walking around flashing everyone all morning,” she guessed grimly. And then, I won’t forget the look she gave me–more than just disapproval, it was blatantly, almost hatefully, accusatory.

Whore!

“I–I didn’t know,” I stammered truthfully. “I thought I zipped it.” Please, please, please believe me, please.

She had dismissively returned to grading papers. “Thanks,” I murmured and walked back to my textbooks. My psychology teacher liked me–not only as a good student but as me, personally–and I liked her, which made her reproach all the more scathing.

Of course, that wasn’t the end of it. The forging of a false reality by those who have no business interpreting my behavior and policing me occur even here. Whenever I write a sex-related post, men–men this time, Muslim and non-Muslim alike–submit comments that clearly assume I am attempting to ensnare them with the subject of sex, even if the entry itself has nothing to do with seduction and everything to do with my perspective, experience, and feminism. Just because you don’t see a point, doesn’t mean there isn’t one. There are other commenters who very much see the point–so I take it the problem is you, not my writing. And if there weren’t a point? Well GTFO–that’s what I wanted to do, and that’s for me to decide. You need to see your way out. I’m pretty tired of receiving comments along the lines of, “Modesty, sister!” and “STOP TRYING TO SEDUCE ME!”

I am not, in fact, trying to seduce you.

The Internet is a big place. If you don’t like the discussion, don’t participate. Don’t read. Find something else. Don’t lecture me about modesty when you’ve clearly lost yours, arrogantly believing you have any right to tell me these things or command me to stop or interpret my behavior and involve me in your incorrect interpretation by submitting such comments or that you have any say on how I should live my life or what I should write about.

The whole delusion of she must be attempting to be seductive or she wouldn’t be wearing that / talking about this is at its core egotistical. And, fine, let’s say a woman is trying to be seductive. What the hell makes you think you’re the one she’s trying to seduce? And if you aren’t, what the hell makes you think you have any right to shove yourself into her business? Your thoughts are your own: you are free to notice her, think about her, fantasize, etc.–you are not free to involve her, through actions or words that disclose what’s going on in your pants, unless she specifically consents and makes it clear. And this consent is not infinite. Or “a light switch” as they say. And this goes both ways. Were I to fantasize about a man I knew, I wouldn’t tell him this, thereby involving him, unless I was certain he wouldn’t mind hearing it. Otherwise, yes, it is harassment–I would be involving him against his will and making him feel extraordinarily uncomfortable.

It astonishes me to no end that men have a problem with this. A lot of guys wouldn’t appreciate being hit on by someone they’re not interested in–but they expect women to accept it. Would a straight man put up with being hit on by other men? If it ever happens, tell him to quit bitching. Don’t listen to pathetic excuses like “I don’t want to be hit on by someone I’m not into” or “That’s just really creepy, and I don’t find him attractive.” He’s clearly a vagina.

Like the ten-year-olds previously mentioned who categorized me–and themselves–into stereotypes, the actions and very real personalities of women are often fetishized as though they aren’t whole or they belong in compartments of sexuality, a mentality that enables men to “sample” women of each respective fantasy and ultimately objectify and limit them to these. And there are several. The “innocent girlfriend”–popular among religious men and Nice Guys–whom men protect not out of selfless care and love but for the sake of being the first ones to “corrupt” her, or to fulfill their own fetish through the limitation of her personality. The “experienced whore”–her supposed “opposite”–and then of course the deadly dichotomy, whom few women are–and when they are, they are viewed as deceitful, mind you–and destroy themselves attempting to become. Smart girls are fetishized for their intelligence, not for being whole people from whom we learn and with whom we expand our perspective, but for “Hey I slept with this really smart chick.” And don’t get me started about “beautiful exotic girls.”

We don’t revolve around you. And my personality is not a fetish.

What people don’t realize is that there is a point at which slut-shaming and prude-shaming are pretty much the same damn thing. Literally. When you shame a woman for “dressing like a slut” and therefore supposedly bringing inappropriate advances upon herself, you are also prude-shaming her for not tolerating such behavior.

Seriously, just stfu.

the fatal feminist © Nahida S. N.”

Blog: http://thefatalfeminist.com/2011/09/03/the-nonconsensual-sexualization-of-unintending-young-women/

Their War-Cries Have Sung for Too Long

Her wounds bleed thoughts of freedom

Mentally imprisoned to the confines of personal thoughts

Her war-cries have been sung for too long

Seeking an exit from a war that will never end

Engulfed in solitary confinement

watching day and night merging together as one

inventing a paradise that will never be

she sulks in her state of emergency

walking amidst the crowded markets

seeing others like herself

not really living

simply existing

a pebble among diamonds

a canary among vultures

Unrelenting servitude to him

never asking for pen and paper

to engage her thoughts

never reaching forth for a book

because she understands that

learning yields consequences

never to question authority

for men carry an iron fist

ready to take charge

ready for bashing and beating a woman

into submission

into her womanly place

understanding that servitude is apart of life

where women and girls serve up men

caressing their egos

lying limp upon beds

crying streams of pain internally

no dissenting here

dissenters need not apply

young girls being sold to the highest bidder

tears gushing forth from her big and beautiful eyes

simply yielding to cultural norms

women being told to know their place

that women must not speak unless spoken to

a young pup frighten among a sea of wolves

her tears are there

their tears are there

covered up by the bruises that clad their bodies

the guillotine that awaits their head if they seek to stray away

these are not the fictional characters one may read

in stories

or watch in movies

but these are the girls and women of the world

fighting to have a voice that can’t be lifted

fighting to have a life that can’t be lived

fighting to have justice that will never come their way

these girls are our sisters in humanity

when will you stand up to help fight their fight

to help fight our fight