Updated: Mar 25
[00:00:00] Section: Podcast introduction
[00:00:00] Overdub: Hello, welcome to The Story of Woman, the podcast exploring what a man-made world looks like when we see it through her eyes. Woman's perspective is missing from our understanding of the world. This podcast is on a mission to change that. I’m your host, Anna Stoecklein Lau and each episode I'll be speaking with an author about the implications of her absence - how we got here, what still needs to be changed, and how telling her story will improve everyone's next chapter.
[00:00:34] Section: Episode level introduction
[00:00:35] Anna: Hello friends. Thank you for being here. We've got an incredible conversation for you today. Not because of anything I say, but because my guest is a phenomenal individual whose wisdom and insights I could listen to for days. And she shares a perspective that is way too often ignored, spoken over and silenced.
I am speaking with, for Farida D., an Arab gender researcher and poet who has been studying Arab women's everday oppressions for over a decade. Out of safety concern, she writes under a pen name and doesn't disclose where she is based, which makes her writing even more brave and necessary. But for this reason, we weren't able to use the software I usually record with. So you'll notice the sound quality is a little. But you'll soon forget it when you hear all the wonderful things she has to say.
Farida has pushed back against a world that has continuously tried to silence her. And she has gone on to write 10 books, you know, as you do. She writes about quote "what we're afraid to feel." And she does so in a very engaging way that makes these complex and nuanced topics easy to understand. And she does it all with a lot of humor along the way.
In our conversation today, we talk about the illusion of free choice. We talk about what people get wrong about Arab feminists and how women in the West can be better allies. We talk about hijabs, the censorship of women and Arab media and the implications of making relationships illegal, as is the case in many Arab countries, we talk about the great myth of women being able to have it all and what is more realistic. We talk about bras and periods, and we talk about the fact that no matter our differences in culture and in life, we are all connected under the one, ever-present patriarchy.
And last thing, the three quotes you will hear read during the interview are taken directly from the book Rants of a Rebel Arab Feminist. Please grab some popcorn, or more realistically, keep doing that laundry, and get inspired from my conversation with the wonderful Farida D. I hope you enjoy.
[00:03:04] Section: Episode interview
[00:03:05] Anna: Hi for Farida, thank you so much for being here today. I'm so excited to speak with you.
[00:03:10] Farida: Hi, Anna. It's so lovely to be here. Thank you for having me.
[00:03:13] Anna: Yeah. So I came across your story in a book that you were featured in, which is also a book featured in this podcast called Today's Wonder Women: Everyday Superheroes Who are Changing the World.
And you started that feature with the sentence you wrote. "I hate silence. You would too. If you were forced to wear it over your voice and your body, every single day. Silence is not just an absence of sound. It's a lifestyle for Arab women." And you went on to write about how you moved from that place of silence, to refusing to be silenced and writing how many books now, how many books have you written?
[00:03:52] Farida: We have 10 now
[00:03:54] Anna: 10, you must be quite motivated.
[00:03:59] Farida: No more silence.
[00:04:00] Anna: No more silence. So can you tell us that story, how you came into feminism and moved from silence to a published author?
[00:04:09] Farida: Well, as I mentioned in the book chapter, it started off as silence. Anything I wanted to talk about or criticize or things that were kind of like questioning the status quo or the norms that we're used to in our culture or society, I was silenced not just by men, but also by women. And I was like, in my early twenties, I was much younger. And I started to notice that there are things we are not expected to be talking about or questioning, even if we know that they're wrong, we should just accept and live there the way things are.
So basically I got tired of being silenced. I started writing these thoughts instead of not speaking them out loud, instead of not having a space to speak them and just burying them, I decided to write. So I took a little journal with me and I used to write every time something happened, I was in an incident or any situation, or even just a feeling about a certain thing, doesn't necessarily have to be something that happened to me personally. It could be to somebody else that I witnessed or observed, and I'll write down my feelings. I write down these stories and then this turned seven years later into a book. Rants of a Rebel Arab feminist that was recording all these thoughts for a full seven-year period before I published the book.
And when I wanted to publish the book, I was approaching Western publishers, and I was surprised to know that nobody's interested in what's happening with Arab women because it's not relevant to the West. Or I was told as well that I am too aggressive and I need to be more polite in the way I talk about the culture and traditions and things like that, which is again, another form of silencing.
The final publisher I was speaking with was like, I'm going to take this if you tone down your language, like the way you address topics, the way you talk about things, if it's more respective of the culture, I'll take this book. So I was thinking about how can I edit like the entire thing and make it reflect something that would be more acceptable for the publisher. And then I struggled with that because I felt this was a different type of silencing. Now I'm going to have to like sugar coat, the things I want to say or say them in a way that is more acceptable for the world to hear them.
But more acceptable does not reflect what is actually happening or what I'm thinking and what I'm feeling. So based on that, my husband actually encouraged me. He was like, why don't you try self-publishing this, keep your voice the way it is and go self publish this. And I took his advice and I wasn't even thinking like this was going to go anywhere.
I was just going to try to self publish this, put it out there. And I wasn't thinking because I had in the back of my mind, still the voices of those publishers that nobody's interested in the life of an Arab woman in the Middle East, nobody wants to know, why nobody really cares. How can you make this relevant for the West? How can you make this relevant for Western women? So all these things we're still kind of in the back of my mind when I was self publishing. So I didn't expect any... any form of success or sales coming out of it.
[00:07:12] Anna: And how has it turned out now? Now you're on book number 10.
[00:07:19] Farida: I totally did not expect that, I started off on social media. I started sharing small bits of thoughts here and there, and the account started to get picked up. I wrote for Asha and her blog Girl Talk. She was actually one of the first people who noticed me and gave me a space and said, Hey, why don't you write for the blog?
And I was so excited. Then I wrote in the blog and then I started to focus on my social media. That account got picked up and started to be shared by bigger accounts. One of the first people who shared me was the Janne Robinson. I was taking some coaching classes with her.
I really look up to her cause I read her book and it just fascinated me. And I saw that she had a call for a one-to-one coaching and I was like, I want to talk to this woman. She's amazing. Her book literally changed my life. I want to...
[00:08:02] Anna: What's her book?
[00:08:03] Farida: Her book is, This is for the Women who Don't Give a Fuck. It's a poetry book. And when I read the first poem, I started crying because it was so intense. It was like, speaking to me, it had been such a long time since I read that book that I felt was speaking some deep truth within me, that resonated within me. She shared it on her platform. And when she shared it, my account grew from like 127 followers to two K and like overnight.
[00:08:30] Anna: Wow.
[00:08:31] Farida: It was that quick. Then it started to get picked up by bigger and bigger and bigger pages and ever since then celebrity pages and things like that, the page has been shared. So this was like, Wow. That's amazing. The power of social media and community.
[00:08:45] Anna: And that is the words and the book that was attempted to be silenced and it flourished into what it is now. That was one thing that really just blew my mind a little bit. When I read that in an Asha's book, you know, you said that Western publishers said, although your topic is important, the way you write about it is disrespectful to Arab culture. And I mean, you're speaking out about discrimination and oppression and suffering of women in your culture. And that is labeled too disrespectful to the culture itself. That in of itself exemplifies the weight of the problem and whose voices matter most and you know, but also good for you for refusing to be silenced. And just as it says, a lot about the system we are up against, it says a lot about you. So I'm so happy that, that you were able to break through and, and refuse to be silenced. And we're all going to be better off because of it.
[00:09:40] Farida: Thank you.
[00:09:42] Anna: So there was a really great Ted Talk by Nadine Naber which I recommend everyone watch and I'll put it in the show notes, but it was called "Arab feminism is Not an Oxymoron". And she talks about how the stereotypical understandings of both Arab culture and feminism, um, at least in the West, leads people to believe that Arab feminism is an oxymoron and her whole talk debunks this misconception. But I want to put that question to you. How would you describe Arab feminism to people who might think this way or maybe just don't know what it is?
[00:10:20] Farida: Okay. So I would say the patriarchy is one. Regardless of our culture, our religion, our language, our upbringing. The patriarchy is one. But how it manifests in different cultures and countries is different. The stereotype is that like we are more oppressed or women in the West are better off than women in the East. It's not a matter of who is more or less oppressed, but more of how does this patriarchy manifest itself in different ways. And Arab Feminism would treat, let's say, or try to deal with the patriarchy that is the way it's manifested in Arab countries. This is how I see it. Like, I don't see like where we have different things, but I see it more like a spectrum more like oppression is a spectrum and we're all fighting the same thing.
[00:11:13] Anna: Yeah.
[00:11:14] Farida: I struggle with terms like this is just White feminism or Arab feminism or intersectional feminism. Yes. It's trying to deal with different manifestations of patriarchy, but at the end of the day, we're all dealing with the same patriarchy. The patriarchy is one.
[00:11:32] Anna: That rang very true to me in reading your book, you know, I'm a white American living in the UK and my life experiences are undoubtedly quite different in a lot of ways from yours and other Arab women, but in reading your book, you know, I was continuously struck by how similar our problems were and how they have been shaped by, as you say, the same forces, the same power structures. But unfortunately, I think it can be easy for women in the West or just women from different cultures to separate themselves from one another.
They may, you know, feel sad or angry when reading about something in the news, perhaps that happened elsewhere, but then they might think, well, that's just a totally different world or that's just their culture. But as you say, it's the same culture. It's just...
[00:12:29] Farida: Exactly, it's extremely harmful when we try to think like, oh, this doesn't happen in our world.
This is just something in Muslim cultures or Arab cultures, this is their problem, but it's actually a spectrum. The problems that we face in Arab countries are the oppressions that women experience are, are the same. They just manifest themselves in different ways. If in Western culture, women were forced, for example, to reveal their bodies and women in the Middle East were forced to cover their bodies. In both of those situations, there is force, there is a pressure. There might be a pressure in the Western movement where cool or fashionable clothing is defined as more like revealing, sexy clothing, but the pressure in the East is more like cover yourself up, cover your body. At the end of the day it's pressure.
This is the, the root to the patriarchy is one. It is the pressure that women face that they have to express or dress themselves in certain ways to fit in, like a flip side of the same coin as my mom says, same shit, different packages.
[00:13:33] Anna: Yeah. I think you're, you're spot on with calling it a spectrum. And I think that that's a really important point too, because that was another theme throughout the book that on this spectrum, you know, on one side, there can be seemingly benign issues that have a much bigger impact, even if that bigger impact isn't on us personally. For example, you talk about periods and period shame in your book and for us in the U S in the UK and the West, combating period, shame may not feel like the biggest priority, but by not taking it seriously, we're perpetuating a much bigger problem for people on perhaps the other side of that spectrum. And unfortunately, the people with the most privilege on the one side are the people who have the most power to do something about it, but they can't always see how it manifests and how it plays out on the other side of that continuum.
You've kind of touched on this already, but what do people get wrong about Arab women and what would you like to communicate? Or how can Western specifically, but I guess all people be better allies to Arab women?
[00:14:55] Farida: So how to be better allies, I think to give space instead of to speak over, like for example, you will see a lot of Western or white feminism, whatever you want to call it, being like so supportive of hijab, for example. Women supporting women's right to wear hijab and things like that. When I see posts like that, for example, on social media, I'm surprised at how there is a lack of information or, or I misinformation about how it is portrayed like it's a personal choice.
I'm trying to find the right words here, because this is something that frustrates me when I see it. Yes I want to support women in their choice of wearing a hijab, but I don't want to see Western feminism that has no idea what it's like to be an Arab woman or a Muslim woman. And to be brought up in a culture where you are told that this is the right way, and this is what you should do.
And to be told that as Western feminism, yes, we're supporting women's rights as if women, as if the women just have the right to choose that. We also have situations where women are forced to wear it. Girls, as young, as nine years old are being put into hijab while they're too young to even decide whether this is something they want to do or not.
And when you wear your hijab, it is a commitment. You're supposed to wear it for the rest of your life. It's not something that you wear to take it off, wearing it and taking it off is worse than not wearing it. And I've experienced that personally. I talked about that in the book, so I would prefer Western feminism to give a space for Arab women to just to let's have these two conversations there. Let's not just have the conversation where yes, we support hijab and hijab as women's rights. Let's also, if we want to do that, let's also acknowledge that there are so many women who are forced, and this is a tool used by patriarchy to cover women to shame women..
I mean, let's acknowledge both of those things if we want to talk about hijab. So this is just one example of how I feel like it's so complex when somebody is speaking over you and seeing that they're giving you your rights, but they're speaking over you instead of giving you the space to express yourself.
Yes, I do support women who want to wear hijab. I'm not against women who are making a choice to want to wear it. But I also acknowledge, I acknowledge deeply that we are often forced into making that choice. As I talk in the book about the illusion of choice. There are countries where it is required by law for Muslim women to wear that hijab. But there are countries where it is a choice, but I'm using that word very loosely because what is choice when you are brought up that this is the thing you should do, this is the right way. This is how you serve God. This is how you protect your family's honor. When you are taught all those things. And then you say, I choose to wear a hijab, how much choice did you actually have?
So, I mean, I respect women who would, because I was once there. So I understand it so much because I've lived in the two sides. You know, I've lived in the side where I made the choice. Nobody forced me. I'm going to talk about myself and tell you, nobody came to me and said, you have to wear a hijab. Nobody did. But the entire teaching of the culture and where I grew up, it was kind of pushing me into that direction, into that choice. So when I wore my hijab and I was 16 years old at the time when people ask me, especially when my Western friends asked me, I would, I would say I made the choice because that's what I felt.
I chose it. Nobody forced me. But then as I got older and realized how much of that choice was actually free? How much of it was actually indoctrination from the culture and society and all these little unspoken messages that were seeping into my conscious and my subconscious, without me realizing?
[00:18:55] Anna: And probably fear of the reaction or the backlash, if you chose not to wear it, perhaps?
[00:19:01] Farida: Fear of hell, fear of I think I write about that in the book, about when I was younger, I read a book which has, uh, it was not the books towards more like a pamphlet that was like advising young girls to wear hijab. And it had things like the girls who didn't wear a job would be hanged in hell, upside down from her hair or whatever.
And then I, at that time, I used to think if I cut my hair really short, I wouldn't be able to be hanged and held from my hair because I wasn't wearing a hijab, cause my hair would be too short. And I wouldn't be able to, to be punished that way. I mean, this is to me as an adult now as a 34 year old woman looking back, at that, when I was 10 or 11 having this material, this is child abuse.
Like this is reading that and having that information like the nightmares I used to have thinking about, oh my God, I'm going to go to hell because I'm not wearing a hijab. At the end of the day, my mom and dad, nobody came and told me you have to wear it. But when I have all this information in society, when I'm feeding on all of this information, of course, I'm going to choose to wear it.
And of course, I'm going to tell you it's my free choice. It's never really a free choice. We never have free choices. In the patriarchy women never have free choices. We have illusions of free choices. When we are shamed, when we choose otherwise, then we never had a free choice to begin with.
And women are shamed, whether we do A or B or C or D, there's always a reason to shame women or whatever. They're doing, whatever they're choosing. So it's best to be like educated, to be knowledgeable, to be aware of what's happening. And then, I'm going to use the term so loosely, like making a choice between all those different, uh, between all the education you have, then you can say I made the choice and I'm aware, I'm aware where this choice comes from, but I still want to choose this or that or this or that. I don't know if it makes sense.
[00:21:03] Anna: It makes complete sense. And you know, I was thinking about, you talk about the book you read and not just the book, but all of the analogies that you have? I was blown away. I've written some down here. If you leave a hot steak on your plate without covering it, the meat will get cold. If a piece of candy is left without a wrapper ants will eat it. A diamond hidden inside a safe box, keeps the burglars away. I mean, it just goes on. And how many analogies are there for men's clothing choices?
[00:21:36] Farida: None whatsoever.
[00:21:38] Anna: But as you pointed out, the men are in those analogies. They're just the hungry meat eaters, the insects and the burglars. They're these dangerous creatures with uncontrollable urges
[00:21:50] Farida: Yes. And I think when we portray him in that way, we also excuse them when they behave like that. It's not just like insulting them, but it's also excusing them. So that's when a man acts upon these things- oh, it's just his natural urge. He just has these natural urges. It's not his fault. That's the way men are. Boys will be boys, you know? So it doesn't help anybody.
[00:22:16] Anna: Which not to mention is quite dehumanizing for men to portray them as these wild creatures who can't control themselves. I mean, you said the book, this is a great point you said, you know, we are taught that men are leaders and protectors of the household. They are breadwinners. They run businesses and rule countries. And yet when it comes to sex, suddenly men are so weak and women are stronger essentially saying that sexual control for a man is more difficult than running a country.
[00:22:46] Farida: Yes. Yes. I mean, it doesn't make sense. It is victim blaming. The only logic I can use to explain this is to have a way to victim blame women for what men do to them. That's the only explanation because men are capable to be in control to rule the world, to rule all these countries and governments and to be leading all these religions, if men have the control to do all that, but they have no control when they see the body of a woman. The only explanation for this as victim blaming.
[00:23:17] Anna: The only person left that they can blame. Yeah.
[00:23:20] Farida: Yeah.
[00:23:21] Anna: You mentioned Nawal El Saadawi. I hope I said that right? Leading Egyptian feminist, who asked why should women cover their bodies instead of men blindfolding their eyes. And people laughed at that idea, but it's so true. I mean, how is that any more ridiculous than expecting a woman to cover her entire body for the rest of her life?
[00:23:47] Farida: And the fact that people laugh at that question just shows you how much we've internalized and normalized that women should take the blame, women should be covered. It's like so normal. We don't even question it. It's not even funny. It's not, if we ask that of a man, it's suddenly, are you kidding? You know, because we're not used to seeing men being held accountable. We're not used to that.
[00:24:12] Anna: And how do you see this play out in your advertisements, you mentioned that in, um some Western magazines that they're modified to abide by the laws of modesty. So there'll be someone who takes a black sharpie and covers over. And then you gave one specific example of an ad showing a family, having fun in a pool and a mother wearing a swimsuit and she was...
[00:24:36] Farida: ... replaced by a beach ball...
[00:24:38] Anna: ...exactly. Swapped out for a beach ball.
[00:24:41] Farida: Yeah. We have a lot of censorship in the advertising in middle Eastern countries. I think I talked in the book about the logo of Starbucks as well in Saudi Arabia being turned into a boat instead of the mermaid that's the globally used.
[00:24:53] Anna: Because the Starbucks mermaid was too much...
[00:24:58] Farida: Too much, showing too much, you know, men, are going to just lose control. They're not going to be able to handle that.
[00:25:04] Anna: They're not even going to drink their coffee. They're going to get too excited.
[00:25:09] Farida: It's, it's, it's too much like there's a lot of censorship from the whatever Western media, like we have the same magazines that are in the West, but they're censored, you would see like some pages would be ripped out or if a celebrity you see, I don't know, Brittany Spears or whatever it was in a really, really short mini skirts or really revealing crop top, you'd see a sharpie colored over her body. I grew up reading those magazines. Like I would wait for the magazines, you know, teen pop, whatever cosmopolitan, all these Western magazines, we have them, but they're all like, edited and if things are too much, they are ripped out.
[00:25:47] Anna: And you even have advertisements that go along with those analogies, like the sucker with flies on it, and women are supposed to be the sucker in that advertisement.
[00:26:00] Farida: Yes. This was a popular campaign. It went viral online, and it just showed a lollipop that is covered and nothing was around it. And then at the next image, the lollipop was uncovered unwrapped. And then there were so many flies. Like they want to come to the sweet, sticky candy. And this was used as a metaphor for a hijab, that if a woman is wearing her hijab, then nobody's going to come and harass her or bother her. And if a women is not wearing it, she can expect that all this unwanted attention is going to be following her.
[00:26:34] Anna: And all she has to do is cover herself.
[00:26:38] Farida: All she has to do is get over herself. So funny because as I write in the booklet, even when I did wear a hijab for a period of seven years, it did not stop the male gaze. It did not magically erase the male gaze. It did not stop men from harassing me. It did not stop men from trying to, you know, throw their number at me or whatever, all these things that they do when you're out and about. It did not stop it. It was still there, which was so confusing because I kept thinking like, maybe if I was not wearing this color, or maybe if I was wearing something a little bit baggier, or maybe, or maybe it's like, it's a never ending cycle of conditions and you can never reach a resolution because the problem is not the clothes of the women. It is the way men treat women. It's not what the woman is wearing. It is the fact that this is a woman and a woman's body, no matter what it is wearing you, even if it is wearing a tent on top of it. If a man can identify that this is a woman's body, he's going to be entitled and act upon his entitlement, because that's the way he's, he, he thinks it's okay for him to do that. There's no consequences. This is fine. This is normal. These are his urges. He is the ant, and he is the, uh, the, whatever, all those, the metaphors we were talking about the burglar...
[00:27:59] Anna: ...and the fly...
[00:28:00] Farida: he excuses himself. Yeah....
[00:28:03] Anna: And you talk about marriage. You know, speaking of how all of these issues are interlinked and how seemingly small grievances are part of a bigger problem. In another episode, I speak with an author who writes about wedding traditions, mostly through a Western lens. And we talk about how traditions we see in the West, and you mentioned this in your book, a dad walking his daughter down the aisle and giving her away, for example, that these are rooted in these deeper, problematic practices that exist elsewhere in the world. And in your, in your book, you talk about how in the Arab world, this is much more literal. You compare marriage to a property transfer in a business deal. What was the process of marriage like for you? And is that a typical experience for women getting married in your community?
[00:28:55] Farida: Yes. This is a typical experience where the, let's say the Mullah or the religious person who's marrying the couple would, read out some statements that the woman is supposed to repeat, or either say I agree in the end that she agrees to them.
And then the contract is signed. I call it a contract. I'm not sure what you would call it. Like the marriage contract to sign between the father, usually, and the husband. And I was made to, to repeat statements that this is common practice, and this is normal, but I never really listened to them before.
So I was shocked when he asked me to say, "I am marrying you based on the bride price paid". I paused there. I was like, shit, no, I'm not going to say that. I paused and my mom was like, looking at me, come on, come on. You know? And I'm like, no, I I'm. I'm hearing this for the first time. Literally, how come I never noticed this before?
Is this so like normalized that we don't notice this? Only, when I'm put in the hot seat that I actually realized what the hell am I being made to say? So I still feel like this was a big betrayal to myself, but I went ahead and said it because if I had refused to say it, I wouldn't have been allowed to get married, I had to say these things.
[00:30:21] Anna: And was there a actual bride price that went along with that?
[00:30:26] Farida: Yes, there was but I thought when I had that, that this was a gift because this is how we portray the tradition that the groom gives the bride monetary sum as a gift before their marriage, so that she can prepare for the wedding and all that. This is the way it's presented. All our life and in our upbringing, we see this as it's just a gesture, a gift, nothing else but then when you're made to say that I am marrying you based on the bride price, it didn't feel like a gift anymore. It felt like a price tag.
[00:30:57] Anna: And then after you got married, you had a marriage license, this was new to me, learning about...
[00:31:06] Farida: ...I call it a marriage licence as a metaphor. I use, it's not actually a license, but I use this as a metaphor because I mentioned in the book that I don't believe in marriage. I never wanted to get married in the first place, but to live in the Middle Eastern in an Arab and Muslim country, to live with another man without being married is illegal. So I saw this as like, okay, just like when I want to travel, I need to get a visa. If I need to drive a car, I need a driving license. If I want to live with this man that I love, I need to get married. So this is a marriage license. I saw it that's way, you know, it's like, I'm just applying to get this piece of paper so that we can live together and it's not illegal...
[00:31:42] Anna: ...or stay in hotels or...
[00:31:47] Farida: ...stay in hotels, yes.
[00:31:49] Anna: You kind of talk about how that requirement not only impacts the love lives of women, but also can create very dangerous situations for them.
[00:32:00] Farida: Yes, I see this as if we say like having a relationship without being married is something that is illegal...
[00:32:11] Anna: ... any kind of relationship or romantic relationship
[00:32:14] Farida: ...any kind of romantic relationship, that's what I'm talking about. Specifically, any kind of romantic at heterosexual relationships, because getting into even talking about like non heterosexual relationships, this is an even worse punishment, considered even worse crime, unfortunately in Arab countries and societies.
So having any form of romantic relationship without being married is considered illegal, but this is not going to stop those relationships from happening because we're human and we have feelings. I'm going to have a crush on this cute boy, and he's going to have a crush on me and we're going to want to do something and we're going to, you know, we're humans. We have feelings at the end of the day, no matter how much the culture and society tries to pull those things and shame us and to rip them out of us, we still have them. So when we make those things illegal, what we do is we push young people, especially young teenagers when they're in the middle of discovering about their sexualities and all that, we push them underground because they don't want to be caught doing something illegal.
So what they ended up doing is doing these things, dating and whatever, and meeting up with their boyfriends or girlfriends in secret places where they're not going to get caught. And what happens when a woman wants to date, but the only way she can date is in secret places? It creates a space where abuse is not even something that is spoken about.
It's not even something she can go and report. Should she be dating someone that decides to violate her, to rape her, to do whatever? How can she go and report this when in the first place, what she was doing is considered illegal? What they were doing was considered illegal. She would be too scared to go report this. How can I go to report and say, my boyfriend raped me? How can I go to the police and say that cause their first question will be, why do you have a boyfriend? Now you are the criminal. So what this is doing, making those relationships illegal is actually helping violence against women. It's aiding violence against women.
It's aiding those things happening undercover, secretly. There are so many stories, horror stories of women having to going through all those things silently, because they're scared. They're scared of reporting it. They didn't get lucky. And I'm using this loosely. Like they didn't get lucky. The boy they met was not good. He said he was good, but he's not good. And now look, what's happened. You know? There are so many stories of rape, abuse, underground abortions, and things like that, which even puts women at further risk, further harm. So the point is when we make those relationships illegal, at the end of the day, the harm is on women. Women are paying the price for this law.
[00:34:57] Book excerpt: “It is not easy to exist in a body that is constantly scrutinized, monitored, regulated, objectified and sexualized. To have laws created by men, that govern your limbs, and then have those same men violate them. To have the burden of an entire family’s honour between the folds of your skin; summed up as nothing more than your hymen. To be seen as nothing more and nothing less, than the nobody you live in. To become a prisoner, inside a body that is yours, but one that you will ultimately, never own.”
[00:35:34] Anna: The issues that you focus on are everyday inequalities and you call them "every day oppressions"- the cultural and traditional framework that women are expected to abide by. Can you tell us what is an "everyday oppression" and why is that your focus?
[00:35:53] Farida: The "every day oppressions" are the things we barely even notice, things like the way we dress, for example, having curfews or when we feel safe going out, when we feel we should be back home, any beauty standards, diet, culture, makeup, all these things that we kind of do every day without realizing the, uh, the machines or the engines behind them that drive them. I call these the "everyday oppressions", the things we barely talk about, the things we've normalized. Like we don't see anything wrong with them.
I like to talk about these things because I feel when we're aware of these things, we can understand even deeper structures. Like we can link our everyday practices to deeper structures and everything is linked, I see everything as linked. Unequal pay is linked to abortion bans is linked to sexualization of women. They're all linked to each other when you're viewing women as, as objects, that is why you give them unequal pay. Too many, you don't see that the work they provide, the labor they provide is as valuable or worthy as men. They get to an equal pay. When women are treated as objects the abortion bans are enforced on them because they're objects, they're just machines, they're to produce whatever sperm is put inside them, they should produce the outcome of it. They have no choice in deciding. So everything it's like, it's all connected. The day-to-day things are linked to the deeper structures.
[00:37:17] Anna: It's linked and I feel like it helps you identify how far we still have to go, because I think it can be easy for some people, particularly people who might not personally experience injustices, or they might not see them or think about them, to think that, you know, feminism isn't for them or that we are in a post-feminist society, because it's all shaped by their own perspective. And, you know, you talk about how legal rights have been gained, but mindsets have not shifted. And if you step outside that cultural and traditional framework, those every day oppressions that you mentioned or you, if you demand more than that, you're labeled a feminist and not in a good way. In your book, you say, you know, women choose to stay home, even though they aren't legally required because childcare is still constructed as primarily the duty of the woman. And I would also add to that, you know, the gender pay gap. Exactly. It just, it's a lot more economical for her to be the one when she