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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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Quick thoughts on Ramadan Prep

Some ongoing stomach problems made it hard for me to fast last year, and while my issues have gotten worse, I’m more optimistic about having a better Ramadan this year.  Every year I dole out some top food tips. Some of these may be repeats (it is my 14th Ramadan after all), some may not.

  1. Stop caffeine now if you haven’t already. Start tapering ASAP. Ramadan days are long this year and your headache plus the heat will be the absolute suck.
  2. Make sure going into Ramadan you are as hydrated as you can be. Here in Switzerland the days are going to be around 16 hours long. You need to already have a good water situation going to compensate for the fact that some nights you would rather sleep/pray than pee due to chugging liters of water. Also, better hydration=less headaches in the early days.
  3. I’ve said this many years but it always bears repeating: even if you are breaking fast with friends or at the mosque, do not hold someone else responsible for your food because you never know what is going to happen. One Ramadan i was commuting Geneva to Lausanne, and I didn’t break fast in Geneva at maghrib because I was like “oh I’ll be home in an hour, it’s all good.”  Then the train got stuck. I didn’t get home for almost five hours.  Good thing I had a thermos and some dates on me. I always have a travel mug and some tea bags or instant soup and always dates on me.  Also, even if you go to the masjid, have your little thermos of tea and your dates on you. Let people raid the buffet table, get your food when things are calm. Plus, due to the questionable behavior of certain believers when it comes to buffets and masajid, you aren’t even guaranteed food a lot of times because auntie put some biryani in her purse to take home. Be prepared.
  4. If you live alone, there are days you will not be feeling cooking or running the gauntlet at the masjid.  In these cases, some easy staple foods are your friends.  I make sure i have a lot of instant soup (hydration) and some raw veggies I can just chop and eat (cucumbers and celery are also great hydraters). My Forever Alone Ramadan Fridge is full of yogurt, veggies, precooked rice or couscous grains (more on that below), and flavored waters or teas (more also below).  Have a good stash going at home for stuff that doesn’t take a million years to cook.
  5. Sundays generally are my cooking days but in Ramadan i shift that to Saturday, because on Sunday I need to be focused on resting, sleeping and getting my game on for work.  On Saturday, I usually cook whatever i want to do dish wise for the week and freeze it. I also make a big pot of chorba to nurse on until Monday or Tuesday.  I also make and freeze couple of single servings of saffron rice or couscous grains. That way if I actually eat meat (more on that below) I have a quick side, and if I am not feeling like anything that day, I don’t have to wait for rice to cook. I try on Wednesday or Thursday to make beans or lentils to see me through until Friday because they don’t freeze well.
  6. I see so many people who are casual vegetarians (like myself, i’m not denying the permissibility of meat but I don’t digest it well) suddenly go crazy and want meat every day for Ramadan. That’s not exactly how the salaf did it.  Don’t change your habits to much other than trying to eat lighter.  You don’t have to eat like a king just because it is Ramadan. Of course, if you are generally a big carnivore, I’m not saying change your ways, but if you’re like me,don’t drink the kool-aid about how in Ramadan it isn’t iftar if you haven’t eaten the animal products of a small farm.
  7. I sadly know a lot about stomach issues over the past year and so I speak with authority that you need to baby your stomach in Ramadan. This is another reason not to go all out on the meat or pastries. The cool thing about fasting is that it gives your digestive system a break; don’t attack it with a ton of fatty, sugary, greasy food that it will take until the next iftar to process and digest.  Think bland, small portions, and wait a bit between servings. That said, even if you take a quick nap, wake up for iftar. It’s still important. Your sleep brain will tell you “oh it’s only two hours, you got this” and your fasting brain at asr will ask you why you didn’t have breakfast.
  8. 16-hour days. In the summer.  You’ll need a lot of liquid at night.  I find drinking straight water gets boring, so I make a lot of cold-pressed tea, herbal tea and infusions in nalgene bottles. The cool thing about cold-pressed is you just put it in the fridge and forget it until the next day. I’ve got five bottles, so I usually make enough for the first half of the week then just reuse my bottle each night with a new batch. I won’t post a recipe because it really is that simple: throw some tea into a nalgene bottle, add a pinch of sugar if you want, pour water over it, leave it in the fridge until it gets cold, and strain it when you want to drink it. That way, you aren’t drinking soda or processed stuff that can irritate your stomach, and you’re hydrating. When i’m really lazy, I stick a few sprigs of mint into an Evian bottle and leave it. Delicious.
  9. For a lot of us under 40, this will be our first middle-of-summer Ramadan. Don’t overextend yourself with invitations. As in years past, I only “go out” (mosque, friends) one night a week. Spend a few days seeing how your body reacts to fasting. Pencil in time to be introspective and pray.
  10. Finally, clean your house and shop for groceries now like you’re nesting. You will only have the time, energy and desire to do the bare minimum one Ramadan rolls around, and the nighttime should be your time, not “do stupid stuff i don’t want to do like clean” time. I’ve stocked up on cat litter and started some deep cleaning. The week before Ramadan and then on the following Saturdays, I organize my work outfits for the week to minimize thinking before I wake up and maximize my ability to get a few more winks in.


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Early Review of the Blackberry Z10

  • In my company we have a few users, including myself, who have been using Blackberry Z10s for a couple of weeks. I’m sold and I think it is a solid work device, but first a little backstory. And full disclosure: I’m in charge of the cell phone fleet for around 30 people in a BYOD environment where Blackberry is an option as the IT department is willing to run the servers.
I had had Blackberry phones as part of my old job’s fleet around 2006-2007 (I had a 7270, to give you an idea of the last time I actually used a Blackberry).  My first true smartphone was an iPhone 3.  Then I got a 3GS, both iPhones were meh.  I then switched to a Nexus S, which was the one true phone love of my life (another story for another post). Then I got a Galaxy Nexus and it was the most buggy piece of crap I have ever owned- I had problems with the power button, I had problems with it freezing, I had problems with the battery- I don’t understand how my Nexus S could have been so awesome and its successor have been so crap.
On the nexus phones for work I was running Good for Enterprise, probably one of the biggest email clients for BYOD environments.  I had a few problems with Good: sometimes it would randomly decide my account was no longer authorized, it wouldn’t save drafts, and you couldn’t edit forwards or attachments.  That said, Good tech support technicians are about a hundred shades of awesome.

So I was kind of over Good and over Android phones, at least temporarily, and had no real desire to go back to iPhone, and Good isn’t supported on the latest Windows phone anyway. So I decided to give the Z10 a chance by default, and go back to Blackberry, if only to help with my users who were going to be on it.
As I said above, I’m happy with the Z10, but mainly as a WORK device. The way it handles my work email is a big change for me over Good.  I’ve gone back to what I used to do in my Blackberry days- start an email in the train and finish it in the office.  I also like the spellcheck on the Z10 and how it expects either of my languages and provides suggestions for both.  Being able to view and edit office documents, which was impossible/not ergonomic depending on policy in Good, has made a huge difference in how I work, as I don’t have to do heavy word processing in my current position, which having this functionality on the phone is a real plus for just fixing typos and the like. I’ve had other users mention that in certain situations, it means they can bypass their laptop. I also, unlike with Good, have not yet had my work email crash on my phone on me.
That said, I think it is a separate story for a separate post on whether or not people should have work email on their phones, which has been the subject of debate ever since Blackberry devices came out. Suffice it to say my position at work means I need to either have work email on my phone or commit to being logged into VPN for a chunk of my private time in the evenings, so for me, it makes sense for my job, with the only other option being two phones. Others may feel differently. Thus this post is from the point of view of someone who wants and needs work email on a personal phone phone.
The reason that I think the Z10 is more of a work device is because, as a private device, I have some issues with the Z10 which can be tied to the fact that it is a first release. Namely, the app store is somewhat lacking, but in all fairness there are only two programs I use frequently that aren’t there- Instagram and SBB Mobile.  As these can in principle be sideloaded (and anyway, the SBB mobile web site is fine), I didn’t find them dealbreakers, but I can see how it would be annoying to some, especially iPhone users. I plan on sideloading Instagram just to try, and just to say I sideloaded, so expect an update on that.  The Facebook app on the Z10 has less functionality than its Android counterpart (there is no share option, and you can’t manage a page) but the BB app is way less buggy- on my Android it crashed all the time.
Two common complaints with the Z10 -its design and battery life- have not given me any problems. The Z10 is slightly wider and about as long as an iphone 5.  The design is minimalist- and for me, a phone is a phone. I don’t know how much more you can innovate with a touch screen meant to fit in a normal hand, anyway.  The battery life is not completely blowing my mind- on heavy use I get about ten hours, and stretched it to 16 yesterday and today with medium use. Another one of my users, however, reported that he consistently only gets about ten hours on his Z10. Keep in mind as well that my Galaxy Nexus (which probably was a walking hardware problem specific to the device and not to all Galaxy Nexus phones) only had around 9 hours, and this after replacing the battery.  I understand 12-15 hours is normal for iPhone 5 users, and I have hit that once. Furthermore, another blogger hit ten-ish hours on his Z10 as well and his iPhone fared worse. So having said all that, I think 10 hours is on the lower end of normal for smartphones, and it may shock users of “old” Blackberry models the most (which could go days on a charge), but for me, it isn’t shockingly bad or even annoying compared to my previous phones.
A quick surf around the internet shows some people have also complained about the UX of the new 10 series phones.  It took me about two days to get used to my phone, I did not have a steep learning curve with it, nor when I switched from iPhone to Android.  I learn these things quickly and I don’t like how bloggers and forum users make out how the BB UX is so difficult no one will ever understand it. I don’t have any complaints about the phone settings or parameters that a quick surf of my phone or a dig on the internet could not fix.  For me, criticizing the BB10 interface is just free nastiness because it isn’t like some huge failure of ergonomy compared to Android and iPhone, not even close (and I am well-placed to say that). It’s just different.
In closing, I think the Blackberry Z10 is for:
  • people whose companies have a generous BYOD policy and whose IT departments are willing to run the Blackberry 10 Server
  • people whose companies are Blackberry only who could now in principle, depending on the billing policies of company phones, get away with only one smartphone
  • people who are already Blackberry fans
IMO, people who may want to take a pass on the Z10 are:
  • private users not running their email through a BES, as it is really the strongest point of a device whose other qualities put it in the mid range of Android phones
  • heavy users of the apps which are not native to the Blackberry 10s yet, like Instagram, although sideloading remains possible
  • people who just want a smartphone and don’t want work email on their phone- there are cheaper options, like some mid-range Android models


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Quick update

Some good news on the MMW front I will let y’all know about as it happens…

 

As I wrap some of that up, watch this space because I hope to write a few posts in the coming weeks:

 

1. 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;

 

2.  On how I have been toying with vegetarianism and veganism for the past six weeks: I am pretty happy with the outcome and will continue the experiment- I think modern agriculture has its issues and our best weapon in the sustainability of the planet is eating locally and responsibly, and paying attention to our meat sources, which is sunnah anyway.

 

Catch y’all soon!


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Since it is December 6th…

A few weeks back, Carla Bruni was in Vogue magazine talking about how she doesn’t feel the need to be a feminist any more. I think that is cute.  She specifically said that her generation doesn’t need to be feminist, like she is that young or something. I admire her frankness- she also owned up to being a real bourgeois- but what she is selling is quite dangerous.  I agree with her- Carla Bruni doesn’t need to be a feminist.  Why? Because she is a heiress who was born into money, who made a hecka lot more money modeling, then made some more money singing, then married the president of France. She has the capital she needs several hundred times over.  People like Carla Bruni “don’t need” feminism. The waitress trying to pay for her abortion? She needs feminism.  The talented manager who keeps getting passed over for senior management and board positions? She needs feminism. The working mother whose husband expects her to bring home the bacon and be Donna Reed too? She needs feminism. The single mom who can’t afford childcare while her ex-dude is off making more babies with someone else? She needs feminism too.  But a rich lady who can afford to walk away if her dude doesn’t fly right? Ok Carla, you don’t need feminism.  For me it is always about capital.  We don’t all get good husbands. We don’t all get money. Until then, we need feminism. I need the same salary as a man with equal talent. I need access to management positions if I want them. I need to not be judged for being divorced. I need to not be judged for choosing not to have children.  These things aren’t possible without a feminist bent.

Feminism gets a bad rap these days.  I feel like everything my mother ‘s and grandmother’s generations fought for is going down the drain.  Women in their little suburban homes who think death or divorce can’t happen to them. The same women who egg on men when they say that feminists are bitter and hate men and don’t want to do housework.  Which leads me to the title of this post. You know who I think of when some man tries to diss feminism to me? I think of this dude. People want to talk about how he was an isolated, crazy gun toting mental case- but read about some of the stuff he says. Women taking men’s jobs, women wanting their cake and eating it too for crazy things like maternity leave (OMG right), women being opportunists who only want what belongs to men without fighting the hard fights.  That is the undercurrent to what people say when they start going off about how feminists are “bitter” or feminists “hate men.” It has been 23 years since the Polytechnique massacre.  Are women really better off? Listen to the crap men and, scarily, women are saying about gender politics and roles.

And I love it when Muslim men want to go off about how “Islam doesn’t need feminism because blah blah respect women blah blah Islam gave rights to women blah blah.” But I still don’t think Islam as it is practiced these days, aka Hislam, is fair to women and true to what the early Muslims intended. Come back and tell me how great Muslim women have it when:

  • scrubs who sleep around, cheat and beat their wives aren’t allowed to come to jummah and get shunned the way cheating or promiscuous women get slut shamed at the masjid too.
  • women have equal spaces in our masajid and both men and women’s spaces have childcare sections. For these past two points, rip a page out of the Christian playbook. I grew up in churches where EVERYONE was welcome.
  • men stop abusing polygamy and call it sunnah when they don’t have a job and three of their wives are on welfare
  • women stop being judged by their clothing
  • imans stop telling women who are victims of DV to “have some sabr sister” while the yeahbros at the masjid welcome her husband to hang out for coffee and hookah
  • when Muslim men walking the walk and living according to the sunnah when it comes to fair treatment of women becomes a majority situation, not a minority one

I don’t consider myself theologically liberal at all but the place of women in our ummah leaves to be desired. We have bigger problems than women leading prayer or wearing hijab or not. The pathology of the ummah in how it treats women runs deeper than just a few crazies doing “honor killings”, just like how Marc Lepine was a random crazy but still part of a larger pathology of hatred and violence against women.  Islam is a beautiful religion, but we gotta get back to the roots. Don’t betray the peace and grace of MY RELIGION TOO by making flippant, offhand comments about how feminists are man-hating “lesbians.” Our scars run deep.