Category Archives: Critical Thinking

6 Relationship Myths Women Have

1. I have the “Magic V”. What is the “magic V”, you ask? It is the magic vagina. Many women think all they have to contribute to the relationship is their body- more specifically their vagina. They think once they “whip it on” a man he will fall helplessly in love with them and they won’t have to do much more than that. I hate to break it you ladies, you have to bring more than your body to a relationship. (Aside from that, sex is a plummeting stock and the market is over-saturated with it.) The “magic V” will only hold his interest for so long. Eventually some other woman will come along with an even more “magical V” than yours. As my husband said, “The magic V only works for a prostitute trying to get customers.”

2. Mr. Right will sweep me off my feet. We all have had the dream. One day we’ll be walking along and bump into Mr. Right. He will be handsome, financially stable (maybe even rich), intelligent, sexually satisfying, and an all around good guy. It doesn’t matter where we are in our lives. We could be on government assistance, have children by multiple fathers, doing nothing to develop or improve ourselves (intellectually, spiritually or mentally) but feel that this guy should come along and sweep us off of our feet like a Disney prince. This dazzling guy is supposed to choose us over all the other women- including those who are developing, saving, nurturing and ‘growing’ themselves.

3. A “real man” will put up with me. According to some women, a man will accept her bad attitude, dysfunctional, destructive behavior or immaturity because he thinks she is so great. Newsflash! A real man, a mature man will see you comin’ and take off runnin’ (in the words of Erykah Badu). Why would a man want to put up with your drama? Most men want peace and quiet in their home. They don’t want to deal with a woman they have to parent and they CERTAINLY don’t want to manage your drama.

4. Having a baby will save the relationship. *sigh* Really, ladies? I know very few women would admit that they believe this but we all have a girlfriend or relative who did just that- she had a baby thinking it would prevent the man from leaving her. (At minimum he would stay connected to her via the children). The reality is if he doesn’t want to be with you he is not going to be with you. Not only have you created an unhealthy situation for your child but you have unnecessarily added the burden of single parenthood to your plate.

5. The wedding day is all about me. Unfortunately, the wedding day has become about adult women living out a childhood princess fantasy. Since many of us were little girls we have dreamed of the day when we would be the center of a huge, expensive wedding (complete with the princess-like wedding gown.) We no longer view weddings as the joining of two families, as a cornerstone of community building or the celebration of this new relationship. It’s about me, me, me and the fantasy I wish to turn into reality.

6. A man should be faithful to me…no matter what. I know this is a controversial one but hear me out. You can’t mistreat a man, neglect him, and fail to maintain your relationship (yes, that includes sex!) and expect him not to desire something more. You are sending your man out into the world starving for attention, companionship, tenderness, and with the desire to be treated like a man. Eventually, he will meet a woman who can do all things for him and more. She may be his co-worker or a friend of a friend. I hate to break it to you ladies but it’s only a matter of time before he finds himself drawn to her; looking forward to speaking with her in the cafeteria or in the elevator. Meanwhile, he comes home to you and there is nothing. There is nothing stimulating, engaging or empowering about his interaction with you.

No, this is not a pass for men to cheat but let’s not ignore reality or the needs that a human being- in this case a man- has.

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Why I DON’T want to be the most beautiful woman in the room


Image courtesy of Google

Yesterday I had a female client who was waiting for me to come get her from the lobby. She was sitting there with approximately six male clients. As I was preparing her paperwork I could hear laughter and snatches of conversation coming from the group. I could immediately tell that my female client was the center of attention and that she was relishing in the attention she was receiving from the men. The more attention they directed her way, the more delighted she seemed. When I finally called her back, she was lit up like a 100 watt bulb. It was clear that she was anxious to get back to the lobby so that she could resume her position in the limelight.

I witness the aforementioned scenario on a daily basis- several times a day. The female client (or object of attention) doesn’t seem to know or care that the attention being directed her way is temporary and illusory. She happens to be the most attractive woman (or the only woman) in a room full of men- which basically means the men don’t necessarily have a genuine interest in her. (Nor do they think she is the most beautiful sight their eyes have ever beheld). She is the most viable, attractive option at the moment. The same woman will feel slighted when she realizes that her [precarious] position has been usurped once a more attractive woman enters the room. My husband and I call it “situational attraction.”

You may ask why I am writing this. Beyond my knack for writing about the unspoken aspects of human thought and interaction, I felt it was important for other women to be aware of situational attraction. I am afraid women are misreading the attention they receive when situational attraction occurs. Worse yet, we may remain blissfully unaware of it, continuing to live in a fantasy world. We’re thinking we’re that woman in a music video, love song or movie that captures the attention of all the men (or a particular man.) We may not realize that picking up women is a hobby for some men and that we just so happened to be in the right place and at the right time…until the girl in the skin tight jeans walks in and steals the show.

To be fair, women have our own brand of situational attraction. Ours doesn’t necessarily revolve around physical appearance though. We may find ourselves attracted to aspects of a man’s personality- his wit, charm, intelligence or humor- but that doesn’t mean we want to marry him or that we’re even interested in getting to know him. He just so happens to be the cool, funny, intelligent or nice guy at the moment and in a particular situation. I can only pray that you do not marry this guy and find yourself resenting him because he is not man you dreamed of spending the rest of your life with.

But I digress. If there is one piece of advice I could give in relation to situational attraction it’s to know the context. Is a man’s attention temporary or permanent? Better yet, is your interest in a man motivated by situational attraction? Knowing the difference between the two can save women plenty of heartache and many sleepless nights.

Do Women WANT to Understand Men?

Years ago I had a friend, let’s call her Anne. Anne was very impressed with the advice I used to give her about men. In a tirade about her latest failed relationship and how understanding men seemed like an impossible task, I gave her some advice (which I don’t remember now) that turned out to be excellent. Anne wanted to know how I had come to understand men so well. Though I still have a lot to learn about men, during that time she felt as though I possessed astounding insight into male nature. She wanted to know how she could increase her knowledge, improve her relationship and simply understand this foreign species called men. I told her one of the ways I had come to understand men better was by listening to them and being receptive to their views. I also had been privy to the kind of conversations that men have when no women are around; spaces where they can express themselves freely without censoring or editing their thoughts.

You see, before I began practicing Islam, I often had male friends. I would accompany them to the aforementioned gatherings with other men. Eventually when the conversation turned to relationships, women, and their daily lives I sat still and listened. I didn’t interject or call attention to myself- even when they used less than p.c. words- I simply remained quiet. (They usually forgot I was there). Meanwhile, I soaked up all the information I could, feeling fortunate to have the access and insight. Other times I would encourage male friends to express their thoughts and feelings to me without censorship. I tried very hard not to judge them or to discount their experiences. I did not give unsolicited advice. Most importantly, I did not impose my personal beliefs or feelings about men and relationships onto them. What I was essentially doing, without realizing it, was creating a safe space for men to talk- really talk- about what was on their mind and I was actually listening to them!

But back to Anne. She begged to accompany me to one of these male gatherings. I was skeptical. I wasn’t sure if she was quite ready and I was concerned about her ruining my informal male observational opportunity. She agreed to do whatever I said, “just let me come with you!” she pleaded. I reluctantly agreed but warned her: (1) you cannot interrupt them when they’re speaking (2) there will most likely be some offensive language used- look past it (3) do not call attention to yourself (especially when the conversation is getting good), just listen. She agreed. After a hour of “kicking it with the fellas” the conversation started moving in the direction of women, relationships, sex and the latest guy’s baby mama drama. I flashed Anne a warning look and she nodded. No sooner than 20 minutes into the conversation, Anne interrupted one of the guys who referred to his baby’s mama as a “dumb bitch”, reminding him that he shouldn’t speak about his child’s mother in that way. I groaned, slapping myself on the forehead. As you can imagine, the guys suddenly snapped out of their “man reverie” and realized two female interlopers were present. From there they eased back into their p.c. shells and all conversation ceased. Needless to say, Anne nor any other woman ever accompanied me back to these gatherings. (It took weeks for me to lull these guys back into their safe space)!

Fast forward to 2010. As I spend time on Facebook, various message boards and also engaged in conversation with men and women present, I am seeing women like Anne everywhere. Anne is telling men how to speak, how to think, what he “should be doing” and a lot more. Many women are not listening to men. Instead, we are imposing our points-of-view, feelings and experiences onto men, using those who are willing to dialogue with us as emotional dumping grounds. We aren’t creating a safe space where they can express themselves and we don’t seem very interested in hearing what they have to say. Sadly, we are even telling them HOW to be men. Is it any wonder why so many relationships are unhealthy?

I am not suggesting that women allow men to disrespect and mistreat them. Insha’allah I would never knowingly encourage such a thing. However, I am suggesting, if we want to have a healthy marriage with a man, that we try to understand men. We need to understand what male nature is, how the male brain functions, and to be receptive to hearing what men have to say- even if it’s inconsistent with what we believe or want to hear. So many times I hear women complain that a man won’t open up to her. I have to ask, are you really listening to him? Do you create a safe space for him to express himself and to be vulnerable? Or do you interrupt him, rushing to correct his thoughts? Are you trying to force him to think and behave like you, a woman?

The reality is, men are not like us. (Do we want them to be?) We have to appreciate the difference and learn how to work WITH them rather than against them. Just as we’d like for men to try to understand us (in order to better relate to us) we have to do the same for them. May Allah guide us all!

Books on the subject:

Alison Armstrong, Keys to the Kingdom

Alison Armstrong and Roxana Villa, Making Sense of Men: A Woman’s Guide to a Lifetime of Love, Care and Attention from All Men

Louann Brizendine M.D., The Male Brain

Anne Moir, Brain Sex: The Real Difference Between Men and Women

Password Protecting “Imagine”

As salaam alaikum everyone,

I decided to password protect my blog entries entitled “Imagine.” I did this because I realized the post was not achieving its intended purpose. I hoped to have some discussion about community life and how it can go awry. I was also hoping to use a situation that happened to me as a learning tool; as a lesson. I was hoping sisters (and brothers) could see how individual and community bias against a practice that is halal (no matter how people feel about it) could cause a community to descend into chaos and also for individuals to behave in unseemly ways. Again, I thought there were lessons to be learned.

Instead, it seems that people were more interested in handing out indictments, judgments and projecting their personal experiences onto the situation. I started to feel like some people felt they knew my situation and life experience better than I did. There was a lot of minimization of my experience and personal pain. Few people asked questions and assumptions reigned supreme. I was also disheartened to realize that how people felt about polygyny was more important than standing for justice or even trying to understand what happened in this particular situation. AND I feel that we got way off topic…

A blog reader- Margari- asked me if this was the best venue to tell my story. I realize now that it is not. As a community of Muslims, I feel we have a lot of growing to do. May Allah protect and guide us all. Ameen.

Two Lessons I’m Learning

After my crazy week- crying, stressing, phoning, writing, and ripping and running I have finally settled down enough to think. I am have been reflecting on the lesson(s) my ex’s sudden death has taught me. Allah knows best but maybe I will learn more as I sort through my grief and make sense of this whole thing in my head.

The first lesson I’ve learned, which probably will sound cliche to most people, is you never know which day will be your last day. In fact, you never know which day will be someone else’s last day. I need to be mindful of how interact with people; how I speak to them, how I treat them, and what I say. Had I known I wasn’t going to see or talk to Moussa again the tone, content, and wording of our last conversation would’ve been completely different. I would’ve told him how deep within myself I was considering what he meant to me and to my life. Though I was telling him “no” in a clear, empathic manner, my heart was undecided. In all honesty, I was thinking about him and whether I should remarry him. Yes, I had my concerns about entering into another marriage with him but I was also being stubborn. In my own way I was trying to protect his feelings. I’ve always felt a sense of responsibility to him. I didn’t want him to feel lead on and I didn’t want to give him a false sense of hope. I never told him that I have a soft spot in my heart for him. Though we had our share of disagreements he never mistreated me. We had good times too…

The second lesson I learned is that Allah has a plan. I think about meeting Moussa (he was in D.C. and I as in Florida), moving to the Twin Cities, being married, divorcing, remaining friends, keeping in touch, him coming by for family dinners still, asking each other for forgiveness etc. and how it all fits together. I reflect on our conversations. I think about the decisions we made (good and bad). I think about his decision to put off having kids (when we were married) and then later my reluctance to do so. (Imagine if I we had children or imagine if we had remarried…I’d be a single parent, a widow). Everything happens for reason. I may not understand why or even think that it’s fair but it’s all a part of Allah’s divine decree. I know for fact that he was becoming stronger in his deen. We sat down one afternoon and talked about everything. On another day I met him in park and talked further. Now I feel it was as if we were making peace with one another without really knowing he was preparing for death. Subhanallah.

As I said, I am sure there are more lessons to be learned from this experience. I pray Allah allow me to receive them. Ameen.

Lofty ideal?

As salaam alaikum everyone, it’s been a long time. I’ve had a bit of writer’s block but I’m back with a vengeance now. 🙂 I wanted to share some thoughts I had this weekend. It was really an epiphany…

I have been thinking about the Islamic principal of wanting for your brother/sister what you want for yourself. (You could call it self-sacrifice). I am wondering if this concept is really understood by Muslims today. Has it eluded us? Do were merely pay lip service to idea? Is it a lofty ideal?

Lately, because of experiences I’ve been having and my readings about the companions (may Allah bless them), I have been thinking that many of us really don’t want for our brothers/sisters what we want for ourselves. It shows in our actions. It seems like the principal goes out the window if it entails personal discomfort, the sacrifice of something we enjoy/love, or inconvenience on our part. I wonder how we will have a true community, real brotherhood and sisterhood if we aren’t willing to love one another, sacrifice for one another and compromise when necessary.

I am not speaking from a high, authoritative, morally superior position here. I’m calling myself out too. I realize I do not sacrifice my time and effort for the benefit of my brothers and sisters. I have been stingy in that respect. People have called on me to be involved with various projects and I declined because I did not want to sacrifice my time. I had other things I wanted to do. When I think about it I feel ashamed. How can I say I want to build community when I have been unwilling to contribute myself to the very projects that assist in the effort? (May Allah help me!) I realize I have to be more involved.

Sometimes I feel like an idealistic dreamer when I envision Muslims loving, sacrificing and caring for one another. Yes, we will have our share of disagreements, arguments and even fall outs. Can our relationships survive those though? It’s an awful thing to realize, when it comes down to it, a person doesn’t really want for you what they want for themselves.

Unfairness/Inequality/Injustice

Lately I’ve been asking myself a question. I’ve been asking myself why when I see something happen that is wrong (for instance something that is unfair, unjust or inequitable) I can’t just “let it go” as others around me do. Why am I so very disturbed? Why do I become upset? At times I have asked myself, What is wrong with you? Why you can’t just take things in stride? Why you always have to say or do something Shahidah? UGH! Just let it go. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one that has problem with the way an incident was handled or with the way a person was treated.

Then one day it hit me. Allah has placed something in me that does not allow me to witness injustice, unfairness or inequality and remain silent. I don’t like to be treated unfairly or with disrespect and I don’t like to see it happen to other people. I instantly feel compelled to say or do something. I can’t sit still. Obviously not everyone has this quality or if they do they may not vocalize their disagreement. I can’t help myself. Does it get me in trouble? Sometimes. Do I make enemies because of it? Sure. But I don’t care because someone has to tell the emperor that he’s wearing no clothes. I’m not rude about it though. And I think I have a pretty good idea about timing and wording. I know you can’t just say things whenever or however you’d like to. I also know when to fight the battle and when to just let something ride.

It seems like in 2009 I have been setting boundaries. One of the boundaries I’ve set is other people can’t come and impose their feelings onto me. I am no longer willing to let someone else tell me that I shouldn’t have certain feelings about an incident I witnessed (or was involved in) or that their understanding of situation is the only one. I can accept someone’s advice and maybe even their assistance in terms of helping me view a situation differently. But when it comes to the invalidation of my feelings…well, I am not accepting it. I have a right to my feelings. I’m not an irrational or unreasonable person so I don’t think someone has the right to do that to me. But I digress, the activist spirit in me resists complacency in the face of injustice. Alhamdulillah for that.