Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem
Today I wanted to share with you another little something that I wrote quite a long time ago, probably right before I had decided to wear the hijab full-time. I remember feeling fed up with the groups of men that used to circulate around the downtown area of Santa Cruz, with nothing to do but leer at women. I know it sounds like I am referring to all men here, but I promise I’m not one of those, “women need to rule the world and men are nothing better than animals” types!
I was also feeling fed up with some of the negative energy I had been getting from people about the headscarf business, including some family and friends, which is why you can probably sense the tinge of sarcasm at the end, when referring so some sort of “cure” for this kind of issue.
At any rate, just another look into directly-after-shahada Ashley’s thoughts! Hope you enjoy!
You know, you would be really pretty if you smiled more often, he leered at me through his dirty yellow grin. I narrowed my eyes at him and pulled my long cardigan closer around myself as I pushed through the crowd of men towards the bus station. If one more man in this God-forsaken town tells me to smile for him, I am going to knock his front teeth out. It is not my job to walk about bestowing smiles on men who look like they need something to think about in their lonely hours, nor is it my problem to look pretty solely for your enjoyment. I smile when I am happy, when I am with friends, and walking these streets crowded with everyone but friends, I am far from happy.
I’ve never felt safe in this place that is supposedly my home. Say, just last week I was grabbed by a crazy man on the bus, and had to wrench my arm out of his grip. I cannot count how many times I have had to walk home through the dark streets, feeling the men’s gazes upon me and hearing the catcalls, and wondering if this is the time they will act on their baser impulses.
If only there was some way- something I could do to make myself feel safe in my own skin walking down the street. If only there was some way to show to this world, that I am not only a piece of flesh to be ogled at, that I belong to myself and I do not dress so that YOU will have something to look at. Ah, but I am a “free” woman, so I must wear what little society dictates to me.