Fetishization, Revenge Porn, And Habo Ifka’s Talk to the Ladies

Any ajnabi who talks about how much they love Somali women should send alarm bells ringing in anyone’s head. That’s not love – that’s fetishization. Somali women are not a monolith.
 
This reminds me of a video I watched about Asian women talking about white men pursuing Asian women because they think they are,”docile and submissive.”
That’s my same suspicions about ajnabi who talk about their love of Somali women. I don’t know what you heard, but GTFOH all the way with your myopic view of us.
 
I’ve been hearing of one in particular who is preying on Somali women on social media, seducing them, and sharing intimate conversations and images with none other than Somali men . Btw, those Somali men are the weakest link in Somalinimo.
 
Part of me knows why those men gleefully revel in those images/videos. They believe any Somali women who has been with an ajnabi is tarnished goods i.e no longer valuable etc… They basically dehumanize us, so anything that happens to us is whatever to them.
I hope something terrible befalls on them, and I don’t care if that’s unkind of me. Your warped thinking is wrong and hurts women in many ways.
 
You know, I never thought I would be the one to say this; me who likes to see the best in people, and give everyone the benefit of doubt, but I’ve grown out of the naivete, and stupidity. I didn’t have a mother or a mother figure in my life so I had to learn everything the hard way, but basically, ladies, YOU CAN’T TRUST THESE MEN.
 
Let me tell you something.
 
Ladies, it’s a hard world out there for a woman. We’re sexualized and desexualized at the same time. You’re supposed to act like you’re not a sexual being, but apparently put out seriously behind a closed door (how f* sway?!) Our bodies are not even our own in this world. They’re constantly micromanaged, trespassed upon, and violated. Sometimes, I wonder what women really own in this world. It’s psychologically traumatizing to be on edge all the time. You can’t trust these men but, if you’re straight, at the same time you’re supposed to have romantic partnerships with them, marry them, have children with them, but still watch your back even when you’re married to them, coz marriage is not even enough for them to see us as human beings.
 
That’s enough to drive a person mad.
 
I have no answers, but just a suggestion. Take care of your mind, body, and spirit. Own your body, and continuously challenge anyone who even *tries* to trespass. Challenge everyone, even your loved ones. This warped thinking starts at home. At home, you’re taught what a,”good woman,” is supposed to be, and that a, “bad woman,” deserves all the bad things that happen to her. But we’re not taught the hierarchies in the world that devalue and dehumanize a person. We’re not taught about the ways women are continuously disrespected and dehumanized in society. They tell you the “qualities” of a good woman, but they don’t tell you that their love and respect for you is conditional, and you’re always one step away from being considered worthless, after all the basis for all of it is that,”you are but a woman.”
 
Remember that,”good girls,” the next time you want to slut-shame another girl. They don’t love you either. You’re only in their good graces (for now), because you follow the rules set by patriarchy to keep you in your place. You can stay there, forever at their whims, or you can fight along with us for ALL women to be free, and have autonomy over own bodies and destiny.
 
Also, DON’T TRUST THESE MEN and go out and flourish in this world!

Our Fault

 

What happened to the sweet nothings 

We graciously showered each other with? 

When did we lose all hope 

And decide to give up so easily? 

 

The hallways are empty 

There’s no laughter here anymore 

What did they say? 

Love don’t live here no mo’ 

 

The kids are gone 

Our distraction 

Now we must face each other 

Shed the fake smiles 

And façade of busy-ness  

It’s just us, babe 

 

Now what? 

 

It’s our fault 

No one is blameless 

We’ve avoided each other  

For years 

Hiding behind rearing children 

And raising a family  

That we forgot to love each other  

 

And now we’re here 

Face to face 

Middle age  

Fleeting youth  

Secure finances 

Time galore 

But empty hearts 

 

It’s our fault 

We didn’t nurture our love 

The way we nurtured our children 

Now we’re two strangers 

Bunking together 

Sleeping back to back 

Wishing we were anywhere 

But here  

Together  

Yet so far apart  

 

Can we cross this ocean? 

Will you swim towards me? 

Even a little? 

I’m willing to try 

Are you? 

 

English is my preferred language

Sometimes dadkayga have a hard time accepting that for some of us Somali is no longer our first language.
At this point in the game, I’m 31 years old, and have been out of Somalia for 25+ years, and have been forced to learn other languages to survive and live. I think in English, and I dream in English. English is, at this point, my language. The way I can express myself in English, I am not able to in Somali. The different words I know in English to convey something, I probably only know one word in Somali that can convey or come close to conveying that same meaning.
 
So what do we do when we, as Somali Diasporans, want to discuss social issues in our immigrant community? We typically express ourselves in the language that we excel in, especially when many of us know that language, and we know that they will understand what we are saying, and where we are coming from. Many of us who were either born or bred in the West speak the language of our adopted countries more than our native tongue. For those who are born and bred in the West, is Somali even their native tongue?
 
I, too, am sad about the fact that our language isn’t being retained by us, but every day we are overwhelmed with the business of LIVING. The language that we do our work in, speak to our neighbors with, speak to our teachers (and students in my case) with, the language that we do our groceries in, pay our bills in, get directions in….do all our business of living in, is the language that our tongue is going to prefer. Does that make one a traitor? Does that make me,”mid dhaqankeeda iyo luuqadeeda tuurtay?” I think that’s an unfair statement considering that what I’m doing is natural. It’s adaptation. It’s a survival mechanism. It’s evolutionary.
 
Many times, a well-meaning brother or sister will tell me,” walaal waxaan ka sii fiicnaan lahayd inaad luuqadeena dhibkeena ku sheegtay siday gaalada noo ogaan.” “It would be better if you talked about our issues in our language so that these other peple don’t know about our problems. ” Excuse me? First of all, they have issues too, and every day they talk about those issues in English, a language that you and I understand. They don’t stop and think,”What if those immigrants judge us for the problems in our society?” They don’t. So why are you preventing me from speaking about issues near and dear to my heart in a language that I speak well and can express the issues with clarity to other Diasporans because THEY are my preferred audience? If I’m speaking about Somali issues, I’m speaking to Somalis. That’s it.
 
I have gone to several Somali events and it is evident that the preferred language of communication is English. We’ve reached a consensus that this is a language that many of us speak, and have adopted as our preferred language. It is okay. There is no shame in that.
I was just thinking about this as time and again someone shamed me about my preference for speaking in English about a particular issue in our community. However circumstances I may have acquired this language, this is my preferred language of communication now. Yes, I work with Somalis, and I do make an honest attempt to learn and speak Somali, but unless I’m in a country where the majority of people speak Somali, my tongue is not going to prefer Somali. It will resort to English even when I’m speaking Somali especially markuu hadalka iga dhumo. (when I lose my words )
 
Ah, I already hear some of you saying,”waaba lazy inantu?” (She is so lazy) LOOOL. I very well may be (Cue Gucci Mane in court ). However, there’s a limited amount of time in the day, and survival is more of a priority than relearning a language that is not a prerequisite for my survival right now. I personally try because I am interested in studying and learning about my heritage.
 
Sometimes, I can’t help but also think that people are purposely trying to derail the conversation because the topics at hand are uncomfortable and put us, as Somali people, in a very negative light. The thing is, though, that communities all over the world have issues that they’re actively working on. If you’ve been paying attention, and reading the news, blog sites, social media, you know the whole world is going to hell in a handbasket, so let people save themselves in the language they know best!
 
Anyway, drop me a note, if you have comments and/or questions.

I’ve done a good thing for ME

I have done something good for myself that’s alleviating some stress off of me, and making me feel as though I’m working towards something.
 
Usually, I’m old school when it comes to writing. Think composition notebooks, and pencil kind of girl, you know, hand to brain connection and all that good stuff.
 
But then I would have notebooks upon notebooks, if I was lucky, or loose papers upon loose papers, if I was unlucky, everywhere full of writings, and thoughts, that I’m simply too lazy to type out on the computer. I fully admit. (Stop judging me! I got a lot going on!)
 
So I’ve just been writing on word documents, and saving it (this is KEY! Also, saving as I go to avoid despair from the computer crashing, and losing all my work!).
 
In two weeks, I have 14 documents saved averaging 600-1500 words per each document.
 
Ok, granted, some are just free flowing thoughts, but imagine all those in notebooks/loose papers that I would never type out!
 
Phew.
 
You know what that is?
 
GROWTH, BISHES!

Be an Artist or Be an Activist – Pick One

I was speaking to my cousin yesterday about the kind of art that I tend to make: morbid, sad, melancholic, etc., and how I didn’t know how to reconcile that with the kind of activism I’m passionate about.

Is it a self-fulfilling prophesy to say,”I’m actually a sad person, and thus I like to make art for the sad, broken soul?”  I write about some pretty morbid stuff, and I don’t shy away from uncomfortable topics, or from writing in detail about traumatic events.

Some people may call it trauma porn. I call it catharsis. We each have our own ways of healing.

When I started this sexual assault awareness campaign, I didn’t think about my own personal work. I only thought,”I’m sure there are people who are struggling in our community, which loves to sweep everything under the rug and pretend that nothing bad happens,  and maybe I could provide an outlet for people to share their stories, so others can KNOW this actually does happen in our community.” Before a problem can be solved, we must first acknowledge that it exists. We’re struggling with that part, and this was an attempt to bring that to light. Sexual misconduct/abuse does occur in our community, and its often goes unnoticed because the victims, often female, are shamed into silence.

Whilst doing that, I also get back to the business of writing, because that’s my spirit. I write to get everything out. I write especially when I’m sad, but I realize now that I lied when I said I do my best work when emotionally distraught. I haven’t been able to produce any work that I’m proud of this week, because there has been a dark cloud over me, and all my demons are home. Especially one big Shaytaan who has a way of throwing me off and making me crumble, no matter how much time passes, and no matter how much I think I’ve built myself up.

So since I’ve been unable to write anything new, I looked at some old work to share, and they’re all morbid, sad, taking the worst way out, etc., and I thought, “I can’t share this! I don’t want people to be sad, or think of suicide as a way out, and especially if they’re already there, I don’t want anything that I write pushing them over the edge!”

How much are we responsible as artists for what other people take from our work?

Do I have to make a choice? Do I have to choose between artistry which keeps me alive, and activism which also ignites my soul? If so, how do I make that choice?

Do I choose art, because without it I cannot live, and step back from the arena of activism?

How do I as a loudly outspoken person step back from activism that is personal to me as a woman, and as a global citizen?

Somali Americans, is July 4th our true holiday?  

 

July 4th  – America’s independence from Britain. Damn those Brits, btw, they’ve literally colonized half of the world. How many countries are celebrating their, “independence from Britain?”

Somali Americans, is this our true holiday?

Wait. Hear me out.

Many of us have been in this country for a long time. Some of us were born here. The Somali state collapsed in 1991. We’ve spent our most formative years here. We went to school here, and some of us have moved on to have children here. Our lives here are cemented, our connection to Somalia minimal. Many of us are citizens and have promised to renounce any other citizenry. Did we lie?

I am also one of those people who are nostalgic for Somalia, but most times reality sets in. What is there for me in Somalia? Myself, a self-proclaimed loud mouth heathen who has so much to say about culture, religion, and society? What would I do there? What would I do in a country whose President and officials have to be guarded by AMISOM, soldiers sent from other African nations, and life is cheap? You could say the wrong thing, or look defiantly at a police officer, and there goes your precious life. Gone in a flash. Where many of the things we take for granted here, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association to name a few, are nonexistent.

A land where your only protection is your clan, and your genitals; if you have the right ones.

But America is testing my patience and love for it right now. This is supposed to be the greatest country in the world. Many flock to this country from all over the world. The land of the free. But how free am I when I’m worried about my black son being gunned down by those who have sworn an oath to protect and serve? How free am I when Donald Trump is the POTUS making us officially the laughing stock of the world? How free am I when I’m worried about my visibly Muslim sisters and cousins? How free am I when immigrant children are separated from their parents and locked up in cages?

Both seem pretty bleak, right?

Personally, I don’t know MY connection to July 4th. None of my ancestors were here then, and people who looked like me, black people, were enslaved. There was no independence for them. However, my experience as an immigrant is different from African Americans whose history in this country goes back generations, and it’s not a good history. But I do know that it can be worse.

As I ruminate on these things, I think of how do we move forward?

Can I recognize that yes this country has a sordid history when it comes to minorities, and even currently with Trump’s immigration policy, AND still love this country as it has given me, an immigrant, a chance at life? Is it tone deaf to say,”I love this flawed nation. It has given a chance at life. God bless these United States?” I cannot just flatly say this is a terrible country. Period. It isn’t for me,  because I wouldn’t trade America for my homeland, and neither would many other Somali Americans, if they’re 100% honest. Even those deported to Somalia say they feel they are in a foreign country in Somalia than when they were in America.