When I’ll Stop Talking About Feminism

images
I will stop talking about feminism

when women get paid as much as men

when women don’t get fired for being pregnant

when female politicians get asked real interview questions

instead of what clothing designers they like

 

I will stop complaining

when women’s bodies are not public property

to be sold, packaged, consumed, and thrown away

when there are no separate aisles for girl toys and boy toys

marketing superheroes and science kits to boys

and makeup and Barbies to girls

 

I will stop talking about feminism

when people realize

a girl who plays football is not a dyke

a boy who plays with dolls is not a faggot

a woman who speaks her mind is not hysterical

a man who treats women right is not whipped

 

I’ll shut my whore mouth and get back to the kitchen

when more than 3% of rapists spend a day in jail

when nobody asks what the victim was wearing

when no woman in any part of the world is forced to marry the man

or is publicly executed for dishonoring her family

 

I will stop talking about feminism

when child marriage and female circumcision are things of the past

when young girls are not shot for going to school

or fined, harassed, or beaten for not dressing modestly

when women in all four corners of the world

can safely leave an abusive environment

and have support and safe havens waiting for them

 

So yes, I’ll hop off my soapbox

when gender is not an obstacle,

an adversary, a pre-existing condition,

or an incentive to harm or oppress,

and not before

 

– Särah Nour


5 Myths About Depression

 

depression

I’m not a psychologist. I took one psychology class in high school, and that’s the extent of my formal education on the subject (though I did get an A). However, I have had depression for much of my life, and I believe that my experiences have granted me some level of authority on this issue.

 

There are many myths surrounding depression, and misconceptions lead to ignorance and stigmatization, which in turn leaves those with depression to suffer in silence. It’s through raising awareness that I wish to ease the burden on those who, like me, have struggled with this much misunderstood illness.

 

Myth #1: Depression is no different than getting “the blues.”

 

Depression is a much bigger deal than the blues. We all have bad days and experience sadness and disappointment on occasion, usually in reaction to an upsetting event or a personal loss. But depression is caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals, and while the blues can last a day or two, depression can last a lifetime.

 

Symptoms of depression include difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions, constant feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness, loss of interest in things you once loved, and thoughts of suicide. Physical symptoms include fatigue, restlessness, insomnia or excessive sleeping, persistent aches and pains, headaches or stomach problems, and weight gain or loss due to altered eating habits.

 

Myth #2: You’re able to just “snap out of it.”

 

An illness of any kind is not something you can snap out of. You wouldn’t tell someone with arthritis or fibromyalgia to just snap out of it, would you? If it was that simple, no one would choose to suffer.

 

No one can control those chemical changes in their brain, and it is certainly not a sign of weakness to ask for help. Many don’t seek help because they feel guilt or shame at not being able to snap out of it. I was pretty scared of asking for help, and making that first appointment with a therapist remains one of the most daunting tasks I have ever undertaken. But it was worth it in the end, of course.

 

Myth #3: It will go away on its own.                    

 

That’s what I thought. I went without help for seven years, hoping it would go away eventually, but instead it became steadily worse. I quit my cutting habit for years at a time and then relapsed twice before I got better. If you take the chance that it will go away on its own, there’s no telling how low it will drag you down. That’s not a chance worth taking.

 

Myth #4: It only happens to weak/poor/disadvantaged/etc. people.

 

Like other illnesses, depression does not discriminate. While external factors such as financial issues and socioeconomic status can contribute to depression, it can strike the well off and the privileged as well. Doctors have also found that some families may have a genetic predisposition to it.

 

Myth #5: Depression is limited to a certain age group (teenagers, the elderly).

 

Depression is never normal for any particular category of people. It’s true that hormones can sometimes make certain teenagers more vulnerable to depression; I was thirteen when I began having suicidal thoughts. But it’s not to be dismissed as a phase or as part of growing up, because depression can persist into adulthood if not treated, and it’s certainly not worth the risk of upping the statistics of teen suicides.

 

There have been studies claiming that depression is getting more common in the elderly. In some cases, that can be attributed to biological changes in the brain that comes with aging. In other cases, elders may experience certain events that can trigger depression: for example, the loss of loved ones or declining health. Also, many elders grew up in a time when mental illness was a taboo subject, and they learned not to speak of it. It’s not something to dismiss as a part of aging. Anyone who has depression needs help, even if they don’t realize it.

suicide_speak_reach
https://www.afsp.org/

Depression can be hard to understand if you have never had it. But don’t be quick to judge something you don’t understand. It pays to be educated on this issue, because you never know if someone is going to need your help someday. A little information can go a long way in saving lives.

 

I think if you care enough to take a CPR class to be able to help a friend in need, learning to recognize depression symptoms is not much of a stretch.

 

– Särah Nour


Living in Fear: The Life of an Arab-American

DSC_0464

For those of you who won’t know, my name is Särah Nour and I am the new admin of this blog. In light of the tragedy in Boston, I assembled a collaborative poem in order to send a positive message to those suffering the aftermath of the bombings: not only physical injuries but the psychological trauma as well.

 

Yet there is another category of people who suffer indirectly from such acts of violence; a category that is stigmatized due to the actions of a bunch of radicals. Those people are Arab and Muslim Americans (and no, they are not one and the same).

 

Before the real culprits were identified, one of the suspects was 17-year-old Salah Barhoun. He was a Moroccan-American high school student who found out he was a “person of interest” when he saw Facebook pictures of alleged suspects. To my knowledge, there was no reason given in any news source as to why the FBI would suspect him. So I’m left to surmise that it was solely due to his race.

 

 

I’m the American-born daughter of Lebanese immigrants, and I grew up in a small Midwestern town, which unfortunately was small-minded as well. Being the lone Arab girl in a sea of Scandinavians made me the target of bullies from grades K through 12. And of course, 9/11 only made it worse. I was only 11 years old when it happened, and I remember my classmates starting to shun me even more than they did before. When they did speak to me, they’d asked me invasive questions about my heritage and my parents.

 

Never mind that my family wasn’t even Muslim. Never mind that they were hard-working, respected members of their community. Never mind that I was born and raised in Minnesota and had only been to Lebanon once in my life at that point (and it was just for a summer). I was the black-haired, brown-eyed girl who had parents with funny accents. I was the outsider.

 

As an adult, I’m still struggling to overcome the bullying and stigmatization I faced in school. I’ve since moved to a more diverse, open-minded town, and as far as the lives of Arab women go, I’m pretty damn lucky. I have a father who sent me to school, helped me with my homework, and expected me to have a good career and support myself. I know not every girl/woman in the Arab world is given the opportunities.

 

 

But taking stock of my privilege does not help the long-term psychological damage that discrimination has caused. When I was 13, I became a cutter. By the time I was 18, I had attempted suicide twice. When I was 20, I finally sought the psychiatric help I needed, and admittedly, it hasn’t been easy. While other Arab people are dealing with PTSD from living in war zones, I’m dealing with PTSD symptoms from being bullied.

 

Also, every time I hear anything about a bomb plot in the news, I hope and pray that the people responsible are not Arab or Muslim. (And if they are, my thoughts are among the lines of “Stop making us look bad, asshole.”) Although I’ve never faced job discrimination or been singled out at an airport, those things remain cause for anxiety for me.

 

 

When I read about Salah Barhoun’s horrified mother defending her son against these accusations, I thought, “That could be me someday.” It could be me defending my teenage son against baseless accusations made on account of his race. It could be me worrying constantly about my son being the target of bullies or hate crimes. It’s also crossed my mind that if my hypothetical child was ever kidnapped, chances are law enforcement may not lift a finger, because (let’s be honest) an Arab kid is not exactly Natalee Holloway.

 

So this is what racism does: it creates lonely children, suicidal teenagers, struggling-to-be-sane adults, and neurotic mothers. Or at least it does in my case.

 

I won’t deny that there’s plenty wrong with Arab culture. In fact, I know that better than anyone. Yes, we have our terrorists, our misogynists, our dirty politics, etc. But we are also mothers and fathers, doctors and lawyers, artists and activists. We are mostly Muslim, but there are also Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, and atheists among us.

 

It took two decades to amass a truckload of psychological trauma, and sometimes I fear it may take two more decades to fully recover. But in the meantime, I will stand up against bullying and racism, and I will declare that I’m not a terrorist, nor am I an oppressed woman, nor will I be silenced by anyone’s imperialistic ideology. I will not live in fear, and nor should anyone else.


Collaborative poem: To Boston

Praying-for-Boston

 

To Boston

– a collaborative poem by varied WfR writers

 

If I could say one thing to the people of Boston,

I’d tell them we send love and healing.

Human kindness will overcome badness.

 

If I could say one thing to the people of Boston, 

I’d tell them to reach out to each other,

To find comfort and understanding.

There is more kindness in the world than there is evil.

You just have to ask.

 

If I could say one thing to the people of Boston, 

I’d tell them, “Be patient with yourselves and your reactions.

It may take time and it may take some help,

but you will recover.”

 

Human kindness will overcome badness.

 There is more kindness in the world than there is evil.

 

You just have to ask,

Be patient with yourselves,

Reach out to each other

To find comfort, understanding,

Love and healing.

Given time and some help,

You will recover.


“Walk a Moment with Me” with cmottenwess625


I self-harmed because…

This is a collaborative poem with contributions from various “Writing for Recovery” writers, collected and assembled by Särah Nour. I’d like to give thanks to everyone who shared their story and lent their voice.

tattoos

I self-harmed because

I was raped at the age of 14.

I stopped because

I am a survivor.

 

I self-harmed because

I needed a way to communicate how much pain I was in,

how deep my secrets ran.

I stopped because

I found my voice.

 

I self-harmed because

I wanted to do it to myself, before they did it to me;

I stopped because

I was no longer angry,

my rage had been expressed.

 

I self-harmed because

physical pain was easier than emotional pain;

I stopped because

it simply added to the total pain.

 

I self-harmed because

I wanted to let the anxiety out.

I stopped because

the pain became too much.

 

I self harmed because…

just because.

I stopped

just because.

 

I self-harmed.

I stopped.

It simply added to the total pain.

The pain became too much.

I was no longer angry.

I found my voice.

I am a survivor.


A poem from your new admin: “#blamingthevictim”

Good day, readers,

 

My name is Särah Nour and I have the honor of being the new manager of “Writing for Recovery.” I intend to continue furthering Sarah Ann Henderson’s cause of spreading awareness and providing a safe, open forum for those recovering from mental illness, abuse, sexual violence, and eating disorders.

 

I’d like to start off with a poem I wrote a while back, when I was repulsed by the victim-blaming, slut-shaming reactions to the Steubenville rape case. All my anger, revulsion, and horror had to be channeled in a healthy manner, so I choose to copy and paste the appalling quotes found on Twitter and use them to my advantage.

child-rapist1

#blamingthevictim

 

Twitter deems her a cautionary tale:

“Remember kids, if you’re drink/slutty at a party,

and embarrassed later, just say you got raped!”

#Steubenville

Who would ask for it?

 

Twitter has a firm grasp on her situation:

“So you got drunk at a party

and two people take advantage of you,

that’s not rape that’s just a loose drunk slut”

#BiasedResults

Who would ask for it?

 

Underage drinking is the bigger crime here:

“These guys that are in this rape case

should be charged if guilty.

But it’s the girl’s fault too.

She is 16 and got drunk until she passed out.”

#dontdrink

Who would ask for it?

 

Who would ask to be blamed

For not following the dress code,

For drinking too much,

For being taken against her will?

 

“I’m not saying what they did isn’t wrong

but it’s not rape… It’s the girl’s fault.”

#justice

“I’m not blaming the victim here

but how do you get that drunk in the first place?”

#Steubenville

 

Who would ask to be judged nationwide

For a night that will haunt her dreams

For years to come?

 

No one would ask to be

Violated, dehumanized, objectified;

No one would ask to be

Raped.

 

To be the prey

First of two young men

Then of the media

Then of strangers on the Internet

Who know nothing about her

Yet hold her responsible—

Who would ask for it?