What to Wear: Spring Essentials

Spring is upon us, we can say a hello to warm temperature, beautiful sunrise/sunset and a big goodbye to cold nights and even colder days. Spring brings much fun, warmth and the chance to whip out those skimpier clothing. It is the time when a good pedicure and a skin-kist skin are in. Wondering what to rock or how to celebrate the arrival of the season perfect for weddings and romantic sunset walks?…Continue reading…

Crop Tops

 

Crop Top

Crop tops have been in for a few seasons now and will be in seasons to come, it is a dynamic fun way to mix up your look. Crop tops are versatile and come in a myriad of colors and styles and can be worn to basically anything, be it a party, a visit to the beach or even a formal dinner. Crop tops suits almost all body types and can be paired with tea length skirts, cut off sorts, pencil skirts, jeans, just about everything.

Sun Dresses

 

Sun Dress

Sun dresses (made popular by Lilly Pultiser in the 60s) are spring and summer staples. It is as necessary as the skinny jean. A sun dress brings out a woman’s femininity and makes you look flirty, cool and comfortable. You can never go wrong with a sun dress, as it suits all body types and is available in various colors and styles. It is perfect for evening strolls, an afternoon date, for a visit to the beach or just to hang out with friends.

Rompers

 

Romper

Rompers are in my view, a remix to the classic jumper. A romper is similar to the sun dress as it is easy to wear, fun and flirty. A romper, unlike the sun dress is more versatile in that it can be worn to almost anything. A romper can be worn to a dinner (if done correctly) a party, a day at the beach, a date, to hang out with friends, just about anywhere.

Colored Jeans

 

Colored Jeans

Jeans, be it skinny, boyfriend or baggy, are always in. A jean is that dynamic versatile piece of garment a girl cannot live without. Jeans can be worn to anything anytime. For spring, however, the colored jeans are more suitable as they are fun and vibrant and give an easy breezy feel that is synonymous to and essential for spring.

Maxi Dresses

Maxi Dress

Maxi dress are fast becoming popular, it made its first appearance in 1968 and has become a spring/summer staple. It is a little more formal than a sun dress. It is still categorized as informal/casual, but depending on the design, it can be worn formally. A maxi dress differs from a sun dress because a maxi dress is typically long and a sun dress isn’t. Maxi dresses add a cool easy yet sophisticated air that is essential for those spring escapades we hope to have 😉 . A maxi dress is very versatile as it comes in a myriad of colors and patterns; it looks good on basically anyone.

Regardless of your choice of attire this spring, make sure that you have a warm time – pun intended 🙂

 Hope you Enjoyed 🙂

Women of the East

There are so many things that I have achieved and want to achieve – I want to own my own business, travel the world and earn a PhD etc. My dreams are very possible. If I work hard and make the right financial decisions, I can accomplish them. I know I can because I have seen other women do it; the facilities/wherewithal is in place to help me accomplish my dreams, whatever they may be. This privilege is shared by almost every woman in the ‘west’, we can do whatever we want, we can move mountains if we so desire, albeit difficult, it can be done. For most women in the east, this privilege that ‘western’ women take for granted is only a dream, a dream that will never come through in their live time…

Before I go any further, let me clarify the term ‘east/west’. Historically, the “Western culture/civilization/lifestyle, refers to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, belief systems, political systems that have some origin or association with Europe. The term has come to apply to countries whose history is strongly marked by European immigration or influence. Since the 4th century, Western culture has been heavily influenced and shaped by Christianity”.

The main Values of Western culture have been derived from political thought, widespread employment of rational argument favoring free thought, assimilation of human rights, the need for equality, and democracy. To put it simply, ‘westerners’ believe that each person has a right, a basic human right to do, be or be involved in whatever they want. Christianity teaches love, respect and acceptance for every living thing, a society heavily shaped by this religion would therefore, share the same sentiments. It is obvious that the cultivation/development of social norms and accepted behavior is heavily influenced by religion. The west is influenced by Christianity while some parts of the east is influenced/ shaped by the Islamic religion.

The Islamic religion is a religion that believes that there is only one God, that “God is Exalted and far removed from every imperfection. Muslims believe that God has given human beings freewill.  This means that they can choose right or wrong and that they are responsible for their choices”. “In Islam it is prohibited to drink alcohol, use drugs, and all immoral conducts. It is also prohibited to eat the meat of pork, predators (animals and birds) and all dead animals”. Islam looks at the woman as an equal, mature and capable partner of a man, without whom a family cannot exist and teaches that men and women are all the creation of Allah, existing on a level of equal worth and value. In some societies women are treated according to “ancestral customs” and “tribal tradition”.

The East…Geographically

 

The term ‘eastern world’ is defined by Wikipedia as “cultures of social structures and philosophical systems of Asia” Geographically, The east consists of:

  • Far East (Japan, Hong Kong, Mongolia, China etc)
  • East Asia (Taiwan)
  • South Asia (includes countries from the Indian Subcontinent e.g. Afghanistan, Bhutan, India etc.).
  • South East Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines Brunei etc.)
  • West Asia or Middle East (Includes United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Armenia, Cyprus, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Oman etc.)
  • Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan)
  • North Asia (aka Serbia)

Due to the expansion of the Islamic religion, the southern shores of the Mediterranean i.e. North Africa (Algeria, Egypt, and Sudan) is also regarded as ‘eastern’. Contrastingly, Asian nations with significant historical imprint and influence of European populations and tradition such as Philippines, Israel, Cyprus (EU member since 2004) Armenia and Turkey, may be considered in part, as “western”

 The East…Ideologically

The east, in part is shaped by a religion that sees both men and women being equal, it, based on its tenets and basics beliefs is a religion that reveres God, prayer and self discipline. A religion that prohibits the consumption of drugs, and praise self discipline, is a religion I would want to be a part of. However, the treatment of women in some Islamic countries leaves much to be desired as women are treated according to “ancestral customs” and “tribal tradition”, traditional customs that praise and endorses misogyny – “the hatred or dislike of women and girls”.

Misogyny is a word that was not originated in the east. It is believed that western philosophers were misogynistic. It is manifested as sexual discrimination, denigration of women and violence against women. Misogyny is a term I didn’t know existed before now, I couldn’t fathom the idea that a term of such nature existed, regardless of my previous ignorance, misogyny in its most extreme form is alive and well and is the reality of countless women in the east esp. in Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Somalia.

I get it that men are egotistic creatures esp. Islamic men, who need to feel powerful and important, but what I don’t get is why the exertion of that power and the need to feel important would lead to the mistreatment and degradation of the gender that their own religion defines as being “equal”!

Women in the east have to encounter discrimination on a daily basis. As recent as February 2014, reports surfaced that a nine month pregnant teenager (she is 19 with 3 kids already) was raped by seven men in Sudan. She was charged with adultery and prostitution and accused of having HIV, simply because she didn’t report the crime when it took place. Who could blame her for not reporting it, she knew exactly what would happen if she did, she would be re-victimized and blamed for something I’m sure she wished never happened…Acts similar to this, as heinous as they are, are everyday occurrences for women in the east…here is a breakdown of the countries most afflicted by misogyny…

Women in Sudan

In Sudan (both Arab and African), the suffering of women is not just done socially, but enforced and supported by law. Article 152 of the Sudanese penal code implemented in 1991, states “that any conduct or clothing in violation of public decency be punished with 40 lashes”. The law targets women and is not specific as to what constitutes clothing violations, as such, the Public Order Police, is free to interpret and execute the law as they see fit.

Countless women have been arrested and publicly lashed for violating this code; the most prominent of them is Lubna Hussein. Hussein along with 13 other women were arrested and sentenced to ten lashes in July 2009 for wearing trousers. Hussein fought the sentenced; she was eventually granted a presidential pardon but refused it, pushing for the removal of the article from law instead. Another popular case was that of Safia Ishaq. Safia Ishaq was gang raped by 3 men in February 2012 for participating in a protest on January 2011. She was detained and beaten unconsciously when one of the officers tried removing her skirt and she tried to stop him. Her hands were tied with her scarf and she was raped. After her release she spoke up about her incident, becoming the first Sudanese woman to do so, she was stigmatized and eventually had to leave Sudan.

Hussien and Ishaq are one of the few women who spoke up about being wrongfully treated, many cases similar to this – having to do with harassment, lashing and rape go unreported as women fear for their lives and fear being stigmatized and rejected by their community and families.

Article 152 is a repressive and discriminative law that turns my stomach, and I thought, it couldn’t get worst, but it does…due to female mutilation. Female genital mutilation is defined by WHO as  “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”.  Genital mutilation is done by 90% of women in North Sudan and a small percent in the South. The act of Female mutilation has been done as rituals for thousands of years. There is a lot of pressure from society and older women for young women to undergo the procedure. However, many women who undergo the procedure said it was done to “satisfy their husbands”.

There are three types of female gender mutilation, Type I – the removal of the clitoral hood, Type II (clitoridectomy) – the partial or total removal of the clitoris and the prepuce and Type III (infibulations) – is the removal of all external genitalia and the fusing of the wound, leaving a small hole (2–3 mm) for the passage of urine and menstrual blood.

The act is barbaric, to say the least. The consequence of this practice leaves women with little or no ability to enjoy sex. The medical consequence of this practice is insurmountable, some of which include: fatal bleeding, acute urinary retention, urinary infection, wound infection, septicemia, tetanus, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and the list goes on. Regardless of the consequences, 125 million women worldwide have undergone the procedure.

Women in Saudi Arabia

Customs and practices in Saudi Arabia are governed by the principles of Sunni arm of the Islamic religion. The main tenets see the separation of women and men and include Namus (honor). Saudi Arabia is located in the Arabian Peninsula where patriarchy reigns supreme. Saudi laws are different from most; it is the only country in the world that prevents women from driving and voting (King Abdullah changed the law, making it possible for women to vote in 2015).

Saudi law is one of the most repressive in the world. The law “states that all females must have a male guardian”, be it a brother, husband, father, uncle or even a son. Females are prevented from travelling, conducting official business, get married/divorce, be employed, get an education and undergo medical procedures without the permission of a male guardian. The male guardian has control over the civic and daily lives of the woman.

The idea of male guardianship derives from Namus meaning honor. It is a characteristic of most patriarchal societies, Namus connotates modesty and respect. The Namus of a male includes the protection of females in his family, in turn; the woman’s honor reflects on him, as such, he is expected to control the woman’s behavior, to protect his honor. If the woman’s honor is lost, he has lost control of her. If a man loses his honor because of a woman, he will want to cleanse his honor by punishing her. This punishment may be anything he deem suitable to restore his honor, even death. In 2007, a young woman was murdered by her father for chatting with a man on Facebook. Conservatives believed it was justified and called for the government to ban facebook because it encouraged gender mingling (facebook indeed kills).

The Saudi government declared that there is no law of guardianship. The world, looking in would say that women enjoy the same rights and privileges as men do, but that’s not the case, the repeal of the guardianship clause is just for show. Women are still prohibited from driving and are still the property and subordinate of the man. As late as July 2013, a hospital postponed amputating a critically injured woman’s hand because she had no legal male guardian to authorize the procedure.

Having my right to education, employment and a driver’s license is a privilege and right I enjoy as a western woman and a member of a democratic society. I am very independent and cannot imagine those necessities being left to anyone, man or woman. I have come to know and enjoy civil liberties, of which some Saudi women have not. Some Saudi women believe that having a male guardian is their right, that it is an act of love and protection and their guardians know what is best for them, they frown on the idea of men and women being equals and demand that women activist demanding gender equality be punished….now, I’m no expert, but if you ask me, that belief is taking the submissive woman to a whole new level.

Not all Saudi women believe and are comfortable being “a piece of merchandise” for the man. Many such as Wajeha Al-Huwaider and Manal Al-Sharif are fighting for women to be treated with respect and as equals. The Women’s Right to Drive Campaign is a product of their beliefs.

Having a male guardian to do just about anything can be restrictive, to say the least, but there is more,…Saudi Arabia is a country that enforces gender (sex) segregation. Sexual/gender segregation keeps women from contact with men outside her family; it is originated from extreme concern for female purity and family honor. Social events are segregated, women who are seen socializing with a man, not in her family, can be harassed or even charged with adultery, fornication or prostitution. Most Saudi homes have two entrances, one for the man and the other for the woman. Traditional homes have high walls, and curtains etc., to protect the women from the public. Restaurants are especially segregated as women have to remove their veils to eat, a woman is not supposed to be in public and seen by a man without her hijab (head covering), abaya (full black cloak) a niqab(face-veil). In 2008, a 75 year old woman was sentenced to 40 lashes and imprisoned for allowing a man to deliver bread directly to her in her home.

I can go on and on, about the atrocities that befall women in the east. The evils that women endure makes my heart break, just preparing this post was extremely emotional, I had to take breaks because just reading about some of the things that men to do women bring me to tears. I am just an outsider reading, those women are living it every day, and most people just go on with their lives as if nothing is happening. I cannot do much for those women, I cannot change their customs of which some subject themselves, I cannot, although I wish I could, prevent them from getting hurt. What I can do however, is write about it with the hope that someone somewhere is reading and the life of even one woman is positively impacted.

Slavery lasted for over 400 years, blacks were deemed less than whites, it was the law to treat blacks as animals, but because there were some people who refused to accept this, black people are free and enjoy rights and privileges that all human beings should. If someone somewhere doesn’t do something, this freedom will not come to women in the east. They will forever be victimized and treated as properties for egotistic men and their dehumanizing customs and traditions.

It will take some time to change but we will get there by taking on step at a time. You’re your part by supporting the following:

  1. Donate to or get involved with Women for Women Internationalhttp://www.womenforwomen.org/global-initiatives-helping-women/worldwide-initiatives-helping-women.php
  2. Join the US-Middle East Partnership Initiativehttp://mepi.state.gov/mepi/english-mepi/what-we-do/empowering-wome.html
  3. Support the My Body, My Rights Campaign by Amnesty International – https://campaigns.amnesty.org/campaigns/my-body-my-rights
  4. Support Glowork – http://www.glowork.net/ and help Saudi women find employment
  5. Support Ruwwardhttp://www.ruwwad.jo/en/Default.aspx  and help women in disadvantaged communities
  6. Support How Women Work – http://hwwqatar.com/  and help women in Qatar.
  7. Support women in Beirut at Women in Technology – http://www.wamda.com/2010/06/women-in-information-technology-wit-works-to-empower-women
  8. Support Give A Heart to Africa and help displaced women http://www.giveahearttoafrica.org/
  9. 9.      Support Women for Women in Africa and help Africa’s forgotten people www.womenforwomeninafrica.org.au/
  10. 10.  Support Heal Africa and help women affected by rape and HIV – www.healafrica.org

 

We all can make a change, it only start with one step. 🙂


References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_culture http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misogyny http://www.islamicbulletin.org/newsletters/issue_24/beliefs.aspx
http://www.islam-guide.com/ch3-2.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_world
http://thinkafricapress.com/sudan/violence-against-women-and-sudans-article-152
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_rights_in_Saudi_Arabia
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/
 

Song of the Week: ***Flawless by Beyonce ft. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

If you know me or have been reading my blog, you know that I LOOOVVEEE Beyonce. I love the way she does her thing, she is unapologetic about who she is or how she presents herself. She is a hard worker who believes in giving her everything, no matter what she does. I am a fan, not because she looks good and makes great, relatable, head bumping music, but because of the person she is – the person I see through the media.

She released her album in December, tilted ‘Beyonce’ it is her most explicit and sexually charged work ever. It is mature and represents the point she is in her life. She is a grown married woman who can be as sexy, provocative or revealing as she wants. We the fans enjoy every moment of it, after all, most of us have been with her since day one, and are around the same age and as mature as her. Her album, like most music is not for everyone, I don’t like punk music, so I don’t listen to punk music! So, if you think her music is too sexually charged, simply, don’t listen!…for those who like it, continue reading…

The album has 17 songs, all of which I absolutely LOVE. However, I have some favorites, the first of which is ***Flawless featuring Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. ***Flawless is in a way a feminist chant. It features excerpts from Adiche’s ‘We Should All Be Feminist’ (TEDxEuston in London) speech, which is quite empowering. The song begins with her highly controversial ‘Bow Down’, segues to Adiche, then to Flawless.

Flawless is the song you listen to when you want to feel like a badass, pumped up or just be reminded that there is no one else in the world like you. It is empowering, and reminds women that we can be whatever we want, that we should never to let our gender define how we think, what we do, who we are or what we achieve. It reminds us that no matter how we look, how we wake up…we are flawless!

…‘Ladies tell em’ I woke up like this, I woke up like this’….without further ado, heeerrreeesss ***Flawless!…You are welcome! 🙂

 

Hope You Enjoyed 🙂