Ugh. This was emotionally draining. Being an outspoken Afghan woman online has brought me my share of misogynistic pigs who will try anything to silence me. Mind you, my social media accounts are fairly typical of someone my age, but the thing that REALLLLLY pisses off men (mostly Afghan men) is the fact that I use my brain to form thoughts that I then share with my followers. Now THAT’S the worst thing you can do as an Afghan woman. Exercise your self-agency.
It is extremely frustrating fighting for the liberation of Afghan lives when countless Afghan men want to erase me and other Afghan activist women.
& it’s so disturbing in every aspect. Some of these men initially hit on me, and when they’ve been rejected, find it SO appalling, SO damaging to their egos – that they go from wanting my attention through bullshit compliments to then DEMANDING my attention by verbally assaulting me. See male privilege is precisely this, resorting to hyper-sexualizing a woman through insults like “slut”, “whore”, etc., when they have absolutely nothing else to say.
& some of these men simply found my accounts and just find a problem with me existing. An Afghan woman, who is proud of her background, who partakes in the beauty of her culture, yet refuses to acknowledge the patriarchal boundaries normalized therein. Yes, I can do both at the same time. This is what angers them.
I am whatever the fuck I want to be. I do not need to acknowledge your existence. My DMs, my phone number, my email, those are avenues for you to contact me. I might have even given you permission to do so at one time. But none of those avenues require a response. I will respond how I please. My existence is not to make your world beautiful. I won’t smile when you tell me I look more beautiful that way. I won’t shutup when you say I’m a whore who brings shame to our culture and religion because I call your bullshit out. I am not your poor mother who perpetuated misogyny and never had a voice in her own home. I am not your sister who you shield so ferociously while you lead doe-eyed non-Afghan women into your bedroom. An Afghan woman must be a fresh dish cooked only for you to devour, but those Mexican girls are disposable right? Your double-standards and treatment of BOTH Afghan & non-Afghan women is what makes you lesser than the “kafirs” you pretend to hate so much.
& I am not the complacent Afghan woman who, in an attempt to please YOU, pretends to hate women like me. Because the most insidious form of patriarchy is that passed on by a woman.
I might message you back one day & not the next because I fucking can. Yes, I’m from Los Angeles and I am American. Yes, my heart is in Afghanistan and I will go to give back. I can wear a hijab while I pray and a skirt while I party, I can act like a bimbo at a club & lecture at a conference the next day. I know it’s frustrating and shocking that I can do all this and still thrive, while you live a double-life because you are so fragile and weak that if you were exposed, you would crumble.
You do not own Afghan women. We are not a commodity, we are not cattle. We’re not better or worse than women from other cultures. When we are in diaspora, we may become “Westernized”, how scary and sad to you that we are losing those “values” that kept you in control. But don’t worry because we will be fetishized in the cultures we assimilate in; men have created the world to work that way, our oppression is universal whether in Kabul or California.
I am tired. It’s not something that’s easy to ignore when it happens. Every time I am verbally attacked by a man hiding behind a phone screen, I am reminded of EVERY OTHER time a man tried to take away my agency. EVERY OTHER time I was NOT given a choice.
So you see it might look like an online “troll” to you, but it is reliving trauma for me, and for my sisters, and for every woman of color who has to sacrifice a little piece of their souls while doing this work.
If my existence is a radical form of protest than so be it. I won’t shrink anymore to give you space. I won’t watch my tongue to make you comfortable. I won’t be complacent while you suffocate my sisters. Misogyny will no longer be normalized in my life.