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Feminism is not against Islam, and not all feminists are cat ladies, or why “Good Brothers” are “Nice Guys”

A lot of Muslim men recently have gone on feminist-hating binges, and it is starting to get old with me. You’re all invited to my wedding with Pablito.

 

A few brief  thoughts on what “good Muslim brothers” and “nice guys” have in common when it comes to getting married/laid: there is a fundamental problem with how they view women, a pathology normal women pick up subconsciously (e.g. women not being good enough, having fixed ideas on how good women should be, expecting women to be grateful for basic respect and common courtesy). Saying you honor and respect women and walking the walk are two different things, and if you aren’t making that connection, check yourself and check your intention, as being nice and giving us our rights are not “gifts” and all feminists are not man hating cat ladies ignorant of Islam or culture.

i am so very tired of people offering platitudes like how islam gives women rights, when alll you have to do is look at the ummah (prayer spaces in masajid,  men going poly or otherwise “upgrading”, how no good cheating scrubs can go to jummah with their heads held high but a woman who burns the biryani better make two rakah…and so on) to know that actually, we don’t have the place our religion has promised to us.  And the same guys saying this are usually the same ones shitting on feminism.

Yes, i do have a problem with mainstream feminism- the lack of inclusion of women of color, of trans women, of anyone that isn’t Lena Dunham. But that doesn’t mean that Islam as it is practiced today by men gives me my rights as a woman, as a Muslim woman, and it doesn’t mean that Muslim men are walking the walk of the salaf.  And it gets old. Continually.  And that is why i continue to identify as a feminist, and continue to lock out muslim men who try to shit on feminism to my face.

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Pablito, or when you only need one cat to become a crazy cat lady

If you haven’t been living under a rock or something, most of my lovely readers know that I have an unhealthy relationship with m cat Pablito, the star of the internet  (no really he was on tv), and as I prepare for a business trip  (robbers: crazy cat ladies have in-house cat sitters, fyi), it is time for my separation anxiety to hit the roof.

In my defense, Pablito is a pretty awesome cat. He is this big, black, shiny creature, he feels like a fur stole and is rather impressive to look at. He is generally chill and happy, and most people get sat on, plus purrs and headbutts (except for men, he hates men, kind of like me, the world has made me this way). Most people who come to my house agree he is up there on the coolest cats they have ever met scale, even cat haters.  So he isn’t just one of those cats who hides under stuff and poos everywhere (well he does that too). He interacts a lot, he is quite vocal (very deep manly meow) and generally hangs out with whatever human is in the house.

I think I like Pablito more than he likes me.  He’s a cat, he probably has zero effs to give if I am gone for a week as long as he has food and a clean litter box and his Katzenbaum. Pablito also has zero effs to give about anyone, really. The neighbor’s cat keeps trying to make a connection but Pablito has a rigid daily schedule, and if you meow at the Katzenbaum at 8am that just won’t work, because between 7 and 9 Pablito is on the couch in the other room. Every day.  But for me, Pablito is my primary relationship- my favorite thing in the world is to come home from work and listen to him purr (granted he is only purring to make sure I give him food but I will take it) and feel his fat tummy.

I miss him when I am gone way too much. I love to travel, I love to see new things, but for this upcoming trip I actually have angst. I don’t want to not have my nightly couch and tv news time where Pablito sits on me and purrs. (He purrs ALL THE TIME).  It has been like this since I got him a few years ago- leaving him is always a difficult process involving lots of tears. I will probably cry this afternoon. Again, he is a cat and has zero effs to give, but I am the crazy cat lady. Even when I go to work, my heart twinges a little bit. Especially in the snow, I think “do I want to go to work where people are unhappy about keyboards, or do I want to sit on the couch with my big black water bottle?”

One thing I will do differently in the next stage of pet ownership is get two cats when Pablito crosses the rainbow bridge IN FORTY YEARS (keep thinking it). In his case, he was raised as a single cat with his former owners, and I didn’t think it fair for him to have to adjust to a new home and new owner and also have to play cat hierarchy games. Some think the benefits of cat companionship outweigh the stress of the Top Cat process, but knowing Pablito’s personality in his case it would have been bad (It is worth it to note that in Switzerland, shelters will not generally adopt out single cats or cats who will stay inside exclusively. But that cultural difference is another topic for another post). I think having two cats next time (IN FORTY YEARS when Pablito is in the Guinness Book) will help in two ways: First, I will have less travel angst because I will think “hey they have each other.”  Secondly, I think having two will help me not to have this unhealthy, symbiotic relationship with them that I do with Pablito.

 

I am phone-only for the rest of my #back2blog posts and did not have time to pre-write and schedule, so the rest will be written from my phone, with the usual caveats about formatting etc.


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Holding on to those “just in case” clothes

Readers who yo-yo diet, I need advice for my VERY IMPORTANT FIRST-WORLD PROBLEM. I have come to the realization that I am too mobile to have this many clothes. I consider amassing clothes (and washing them all the freaking time) to be a lower-middle-class American thing and it is a trait I have brought with me to Europe. It is just easier to get cheap clothes of a decent quality in the US. Add to that the fact that not many European clothes come in my size (I’m a US 14 which is supposedly a European 44 which is technically a standard size, but, yeah, no… a US 14 is more like a 48 here, which is in Fat Girl store territory) and I have a tendency to hoard because I can’t easily or inexpensively replace items, especially jeans (H&M has my “size” jeans but in my experience their jeans last about three months on me). In the words of my roommate, the Fat Girl stores basically propose tent-like clothing options made of elastic and bright colors that have the added effect of making you look like Carlos. This also means that when I find something that actually fits and is socially acceptable or work appropriate, I buy in bulk. I’m less likely to throw away old or faded clothes because of the fear of not replacing. I have some clothes I brought over from the US five or even ten years ago that I cannot bring myself to throw away. Finally, my weight, in a given year, can vary up to fifty pounds, so I have everything from size 12 to size 18.

I made the first step in February and threw away all my size 20 clothes (we won’t talk about that *represses*). But still my problem is that I have an American-sized closet (aka 48 square feet) worth of clothes that I will need to get into two medium-sized suitcases and a European closet (around 27 square feet). Ideally, I would need to only use half or a third of the closet so that other people may use it in my absence (the closet is in Lausanne). I have thrown all the clothes in my room on the floor in a massive sorting frenzy (I am sure *someone* was shocked and disgusted last night when I made His Royal High-ness pull something off a high shelf in my closet) so that I may have a zen wardrobe before Zug.

In the goal of increased minimalism, I have already steeled myself to give/throw away: anything I haven’t worn frequently in year (and this goes for what is still in my ex’s basement), anything with holes due to wear, anything faded, and anything that just doesn’t fit right. In the same vein, I stopped buying makeup except to replace items a year ago and so I have also *drumroll* thrown away all perishable makeup products I am not using (lipsticks etc). I have kept all my powder products (which if stored and used properly, can last 5 to 10 years) but most will be stored until December. I have started purging my purses and shoes. My goal is between six and ten pairs of shoes (I have around 20 now). Purse-wise, I am getting rid of anything that does not hold all my crap or doesn’t stay on my arm well . I’m doing really good throwing away papers and crap too. I figure my salary statements show up on my e-banking, and paper-wise I am only keeping my original tax returns, pension fund crap and letters of rec, phone contracts, rental contracts, etc (in other words, I am getting five years of stuff down to dropbox and one classeur fédéral). Like all those who aspire to minimalist wardrobes, I need to get rid of my “just in case clothes”- those that I want to wear when I am thinner, those I am afraid to trash in case I get fatter, and those formal clothes I think I might need one day. I think I can pretty much meet my objective of 10 or so square feet of stuff in storage plus my suitcases, but I have four pieces of drama:

1. My wedding dresses. One is an embroidered shalwar kameez, another is a silk Moroccan caftan. I don’t like the negative associations with these items but, especially the caftan, I can’t bear the idea of giving them away. I should mention though that the caftan is white and looks like a wedding dress. I can’t decide if I will truly regret not having them, or if it is just another piece of my ongoing ambivalence about the whole divorce thing (aka hate the ex, but sad about the fact that I have a failed marriage under my belt).

2. I have five pairs of size 12 summer work pants from the US that, in all honesty, are about 15 pounds from being able to pass my thighs and 25 pounds from really looking good on me. Brutal honesty, I have it. They are brand new and tailored to my inseam. Even if I did a crash diet (I can lose 25 pounds rather quickly and will likely lose 10 or 15 during Ramadan), weather-wise I wouldn’t get to wear then for about a year. They fall firmly into the “one day I will fit into them” category like so many other things I have already given away this month. I’m trying to be strong with myself and hold to the “if it doesn’t fit today lose it” rule but I know I will deeply regret not having these items next July if I happen to be thinner. I know for a fact that I can’t get the same quality for the same price in Europe, and I definitely can’t get the same cut, which looks good on me when the pants fit. I find work pants in Europe to be cut like MC Hammer pants: too long in the crotch and too tight on the ankle. The resulting effect makes me look even more Oompa Loompa than usual. These, on the other hand are boot cut and with a short waist to hip ratio. I rationalize that it isn’t like I am holding on to a size 4 or jeans from junior high or something and that being 25 pounds lighter this time next year is highly likely, but I am torn.

3. My (some are vintage) Petit Bateau t-shirts, some of which are too small: These fit both the “don’t technically fit” and the “old and have holes” criteria. I have some bought last year which fit at the time but are tighter than I would like at this weight (I could technically wear them but it wouldn’t be my best look), and I have some old ones which date from WHEN I LIVED IN MONTPELLIER (before some of you were born) that I use as sleep shirts. I already threw away one which had gaping holes in the elbows but I’m honestly at about 20, half old and half new. The new ones I got at the outlet, I couldn’t resist. I just can’t. Not Petit Bateau.

4. I can handle janky towels (to an extent, as long as I don’t find random body hair from other people on them) and janky sheets (I often keep old sheets on the bed if I know I am going away so that Pablito can smell me). I am only taking four towels and two sets of sheets to the new apartment, but one thing I cannot live without are fresh washcloths. The kind that smell like they have been washed in 200 degree water. I use at least one a day and usually two. When I would go to Algeria I would hand wash everything else but bring enough washcloths for the whole trip. I don’t know how to zen out my washcloth stash if I only have washing days in the basement twice a week. Handwashing them not an option because I can’t wash hot enough to de-funk them to my liking and you can’t over bleach towel fabric. Specifically, I don’t know how you want me to use something I used on my feet (or other places) on my face the next day, or for several days. Especially if it can’t dry out. I just can’t. Thinking about it makes me shudder.

My current plan is to store the new Petit Bateau and the work pants in the same bag in storage, together, and keep them until next spring, thereby breaking all rules about zen wardrobes and minimalist living. I figure giving them another year in limbo would add more credence to admitting the fact to myself that I have to part with them eventually. If I magically fit into them, I can take out the bag from storage as is. I have no solution for my decidedly first-world washcloth drama. I am still at a loss for my wedding dresses.