Travel, Parenting, Lifestyle.

#Metoo

Have you heard? The #metoo movement is over-done. At least according to some fancy female makeup artist here in Pakistan. She was asked this question out of the blue during questions about what is her favorite makeup product, and which actor she loves dolling up. The interviewer quickly went from “which celeb needs a better makeup artist” to “what do you think about the #metoo movement?” The switch was abrupt, and I’m pretty sure, not unintentional.

So, here I am completely damaged by my own thoughts right now. I’m not sure what is happening to our world that we have to stab each other in the back so brutally. There’s absolutely no room for doubt as to what happens at that moment. The decisions made during that interview, before that interview rather, we’re criminal. That being said I’m more concerned about the bigger questions that this raises in our country. How easy it is to dismiss a hurting soul. How easy it is to quiet a wave of pain, and suffering by calling the struggle overrated.

I grew up pretty independent, that was pretty much thanks to my big brother’s laziness. He was too spoiled to do anything so I just ended up taking care of stuff. I joke, but it’s true. It taught me a lot because he never treating me like I was not capable because of my gender. Anything he could do, it was just kind of understood that I could do it too. Love you, bro.

However, the world was not so easily accepting of a girl who liked to live life on her own terms. You’ve all heard the stories, mine isn’t unique or new. I’m sure you’ve also heard that when a female goes out in the world asking for her place there’s no way in hell she doesn’t experience a brush of a hand in places she doesn’t want. A touch here, a sentence there. An invitation shes not to keen on. I didn’t face anything more than that but how many did and didn’t say anything, I can’t even begin to imagine. My struggle began at a very young age. Every time someone touched me the wrong way I spoke up. I screamed, yelled and told anyone who would even look in my way because no one was really ready to listen. I always got in trouble for that.

I know I said I wasn’t going to go in detail but here we are. What I’m trying to say is that after nearly 30 years of, “just stop, that’s how things are. You screaming it all the time isn’t going to do any good.” Finally, someone made it okay to say something. It’s still not as okay as it should be but better than nothing. Here, where it’s hard. Women have to work hard. No. Harder. Women go through mansplaining of their own jobs by men who are a few levels below them because, what else? That’s the world right now and fighting it takes too much effort. Sometimes the only way to get my driver to actually follow my direction is to call my husband and tell him to call the driver and explain because he just doesn’t want to take directions from a woman, keeps telling me, “no ma’am, this is the way”, while we are completely lost. Moments like these I don’t have time to lecture him because I’m late. I just need to get where I need to go. So, we find ways. Oh, and if I did lecture him or get angry it would be me making a big deal about something tiny and “overreacting”. Again, most of us have been there.

Not all men but a lot of them are assholes. It turns out a lot of women are assholes too. Yes, I’m in that kind of mood right now.

In this extremely fragile country, where speaking the truth about sexual harassment for women is always met with doubt and blame the victim vibes, there are women who are sabotaging the cause.

My mind is blown. I can give you a rundown on why we do this to each other. I can try and understand the politics behind it and try to understand the psyche of these women. I can even present the case for how it benefits these big businesses and these women’s magazines are run by men so they gotta keep the status quo. But I don’t want to do any of that today.

I just want to say that if you are the kind of person who minimizes another person’s experience. If you’re the kind of person who chips away at someone’s truth for whatever reason; you’re a shit person.

I hope no one ever does that to you.

Travel, Parenting, Lifestyle.

Name

I got to talking about names the other day. I’m very particular about my name, spellings and all. I have my father’s last name. People are surprised to hear that. I had a chance to change it, but I didn’t. I know my husband thinks it’s some feminist agenda to prove something to the world. It really isn’t. The issue is much simpler and much more complicated than that.

Photo Credit: Jayson Hinrichsen

For the first 14 years of my life, I didn’t have a last name. Literally, none. Whenever I was asked to put down my last name, I would simply say I don’t have one. Questions like, “what’s your dad’s name?” or “what’s your mom’s name?” Would follow and I don’t know what they ended up writing most times because I really didn’t want to concern myself with it.

Why I didn’t have a last name? My mom didn’t want me to have my dad’s name. She didn’t give me hers either. I was just kind of left nameless in their struggle to gain control and power over each other.

Finally, at the age of 18, I added my paternal last name. Nobody understood why I would do that either. At that point, I had not seen my father in years, and it seemed like that’s how it was going to be for a long time to come. I couldn’t explain to people that having a name you probably are not completely comfortable with is better than not having one at all. It’s better than no one recognizing you or knowing where you come from. There are a lot of people on my father’s side I deeply care for and love. However, this was the most important reason. Everyone wants to belong, right? Where did I belong if not with my parents? My mom had a chance to share her name with me and she didn’t so obviously I only had one option. Maybe it’s not that deep, or just maybe for a child growing up without being able to proudly say I belong to one family or the other, it is that deep.

Back to today; my kids ask why they are all Mustafas but I’m not. You are our family too why isn’t your last name the same? I give them the simple answer, which is also true.

I tell them, even though they don’t share my last name there is no stronger bond.

The complicated answer? My Parents may not have been the one to give me the name, or maybe they were. I don’t know what my birth certificate says honestly. I understand though that this is where my identity and my legacy is found, and my kids will know that they have a family in my family.

So yeah, we are a family. We are the Mustafas, we’re also the Akhtars.

Photo Credit: Jake Thacker

My boys need to know that. They need to create relationships and loyalties to that family and that name too. It will not happen if one of their parents doesn’t say it all the time. So maybe, that’s why I kept the name? Or maybe I’m just lazy?