Seven hilarious reasons Jon Stewart was the best thing on TV

Let’s face it: mainstream television news has been reduced to shouting matches and fluff. We’ve got Bill Maher, who creates controversy for the sake of it, and his right-wing counterpart Sean Hannity. Thankfully, we had Jon Stewart. Intelligent, funny, fantastic Jon Stewart, a welcome presence among his peers’ bulging eyeballs and forehead veins.

Here are only a few of the reasons we’ll miss him.

1. He managed to intelligently debate notorious foot-in-mouth-er Bill O’Reilly.

Jon Stewart debating Bill O'Reilly

In an AMA on Reddit, Stewart was told that the sexual tension between him and O’Reilly was palpable. His response: “Right? It’s really the height differential that keeps us from consummating.”

I firmly believe that anyone who can make a sex joke regarding themselves and Bill O’Reilly is a national treasure.

2. Once he made this glorious analogy involving Fox News and a gross McDonald’s burger.

Jon Stewart putting his hands up over his face

3. And let’s not forget the time he compared (what CNN believed to be) a hard hitting expose to a “gay speed date gone horribly wrong.”  Californigaytion, indeed.

Jon Stewart and John Oliver

4. My broadcast courses never taught me how to use chyrons and graphics as well as Stewart did. And while discussing Middle Eastern politics, to boot! This man is good at everything.

Jon Stewart chair dancing

5. And who can forget the Crossfire incident???

6. Because he’s hip and with the times.

7. Because he’s never one to shy away from feminist complaints– satirically, of course.

Woman talking


First Colbert, and now Stewart? Why must all the preservers of sanity desert us?

Steven Colbert and Jon Stewart drinking coffee

Peruse this compilation of kickass Stewart wisdom while CNN and FOX sigh in relief, knowing they’ll soon be free to propagate their bullshit without consequence.

We’ll miss you, Jon.

Gender & Identity Life

I grieve because it can never be okay

I grieve.

I tell myself I’m fine, that it’s all okay.

Yet I grieve.

I’m normally one to look the other way;

to categorize these events as tragic,

store them away where they will not affect me,

distract me.

But this time, I can’t.

It’s isolating.

Seeing the Chapel Hill shooting flood my social media, constantly ready to hear what new “update” has been made.

Realizing that only a handful of those on your feed seem to care,

at least enough to share a story,

a sentiment,

a comment.

Knowing that this story will likely not go big.

Because it isn’t what people want to read.

I cry,

because Yusor, Razan, and Deah are a hundred times the person I am –

a hundred times the person I aspire to be.

I am hurt knowing that someone could hate so much that they kill their next door neighbor.

Their next door neighbor.

I am disturbed realizing that the victim could be anyone I know.

That the victim could be me.

For my religion.

For my identity.

#JusticeForMuslims: for the right for all to believe what they believe; for Muslim Americans to be embraced as both; for us all to continue the legacy that Razan, Deah, and Yusor have begun.

Allah yarhamhom.

May they rest in peace.

Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha dancing with her father at her wedding. Photo from


Race Inequality

White tears are not my responsibility.

Every day, I interact with men and women who have the economic privilege of spending an average of $45 on a lipstick.

I work at a chain store that retails luxury cosmetics. Naturally, I don’t walk into my job expecting to discuss social justice issues. I frequently refrain from holding these conversations with my clients. It makes daily life simpler for people like me; women of color who find it difficult to keep from contributing to dialogues surrounding race.

The golden rule? Shut it, and keep moving. Staying out of it means staying out of trouble. Just because the topic you want to talk about involves your own marginalization, doesn’t mean you won’t end up hurting white feelings in the process. And there’s nothing worse than being a person of color with white tears on your hands. Trust me.

It was Black Friday and the mall was packed.

My shift was ending. I couldn’t wait to get out and join some friends at a rally for Michael Brown, the 18-year-old African American male who was fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The day of the rally was set to Black Friday in an effort to disrupt shoppers and divert their attention to the on going reign of police brutality against young black males in this country.


The protest had already reached the mall of the store I worked in. Protesters swarmed the escalators and ground level of the building, thundering in unison. I couldn’t wait to be able to get out there.

All the while, I had been assisting an older white woman. Her basket was full of  gift sets and she was ready to check out. We had been conversing throughout her time in the store in the store. It was small talk, really. She now knew my go-to nude lip and the movie I saw with my friends last week.

I was stunned by the sharp turn our conversation took as the chanting grew louder and louder.

“I don’t – I just don’t know. It’s offensive, really. I – I think these people should just get over it,” she said. “You can’t just decide to make a big deal about one death. You know what I mean? You do know what I mean, right? It’s so offensive.”

At that point she was leaning in and whispering very close to my face. Did she just say offensive? Did she really want to know if I knew what she meant? Really? Really.

It’s moments like these that throw me into one recurring thought that I can never say out loud:

“You’re talking to the wrong freaking person.”

But I obviously didn’t say that.

I’m an Indian American Muslim woman. Race is an interesting theme in my life. I encounter people that carry bizarre assumptions about my values based on how I look. I am a non-black ally with passionate views on racial inequality. Assumptions based on how I look – non-black, brown woman from a ‘model minority’ – these assumptions are almost always wrong.

I still couldn’t believe she said that. I didn’t make eye contact and continued my robotic motions of wrapping her gift sets. I burned beneath my skin, half-shocked she had said what she did, half-angry I couldn’t respond.

Some say there are certain conversations not meant for the workplace. It’s true, talk about religion and politics ruins dinner parties – a particular hobby of mine – and sometimes, the less you know about other people’s politics, the easier it is to work with them.

But in suppressing these conversations, the voices of countless women of color are hushed. These issues are not just close to us, they are undeniably a part of our identity as well as our daily existence. Excluding these conversations from the workplace means excluding how we identify, what we experience, and what we value.

And even if superiors allowed inclusive conversations in the workplace, white privilege people of color to tip-toe around such topics. Listening to white people’s politics while remaining silent about my own out of fear is an absurd reality.

And if the truth about anything is told, suddenly I become responsible for white tears and white feelings. Some magical occurrence undermines my own struggle in the face of someone else’s hypersensitivity. Somehow now the value of a teenage boy’s life is worth little in comparison to the potential hurt feelings I might cause simply by bringing it up.

I am a brown woman tired of apologizing for discussing the marginalization of black and brown people. It’s not my job to handle white feelings after pointing out white privilege. White tears are not my responsibility. 

Love Life Stories

I think that God could be female, even though God is always called He

I’d always assumed everyone believed in God. I grew up in a Christian household — my mom came from a Catholic background, and my dad was Presbyterian — and each Sunday we traipsed downtown to church. People didn’t discuss religion much outside of church, and, though I had friends of other religions, I figured their places of worship were just different looking churches.

When I was in kindergarten, I was confronted for the first time with something different.  My friend — let’s call her Laura — came over for a sleepover. She would be heading to church with us Sunday morning so her mom could pick her up closer to her house.

“We don’t go to church,” she announced on our way there. “We don’t believe in God.”

I was shocked.  At that point, as far as I knew, everyone was on the same page with the whole “God created the earth” thing, and I was very confused by her rejection of this idea.

“If you don’t believe in God, who do you think made earth?” I asked Laura bluntly.

“Mother Earth,” she said. My mom then intervened to moderate a conversation on other discrepancies in our beliefs.

Ultimately, we both were content with holding different beliefs. But I couldn’t stop thinking about the idea of Mother Earth — the idea that God could be female.

[bctt tweet=”Ultimately, we both were content with holding different beliefs.” username=”wearethetempest”]

I pictured God as a wise old man. The Harry Potter movies hadn’t come out yet, but he looked strikingly similar to Dumbledore.  All the Bible passages they read out in church, all the stories we heard in Sunday school, all the Christmas carols depicted God as He, He, He.

And yet, here was this girl seeming to tell me she believed in a feminine Creator.

Since this encounter, I’ve studied and spoken to others about a number of religions and belief systems. Most of my friends from Christian, Jewish, and Muslim backgrounds agree that they grew up thinking of God as male, to some degree. One of my female friends laughed outright when I brought up the possibility of a female God.

[bctt tweet=”And yet, here was this girl seeming to tell me she believed in a feminine Creator.” username=”wearethetempest”]

I wonder why so many of us, men and women alike, are surprised by the notion that God might be somehow feminine. After all, God is supposed to be nurturing and give one strength, characteristics I associate with women. I also question the dichotomy between earth as female and God as male. This seems to suggest that a masculine being is the creator of a feminine being – something with which I simply do not agree.

I don’t know the answers to these questions. And, at least for the first, I suspect the answers might differ from person to person.

Two of my favorite books informed my understanding of issues with gender and religion —The Color Purple by Alice Walker and The Innocence of the Devil by Nawal El Saadawi. Both bring gender in religion to the forefront, and if you haven’t read either, I suggest you pick them up.

Walker suggests that while God might be shared in a place of worship, God isn’t found there. “God is inside you and inside everybody else,” Walker writes. And through the voice of Shug Avery, an outspoken character in the book, she goes on: “God ain’t a he or a she, but a It.”

[bctt tweet=”I don’t know the answers to these questions.” username=”wearethetempest”]

“God,” she says, “is everything.”

I first read The Color Purple in high school, and I remember feeling so empowered by this section.  For the first time, I didn’t feel like religion was unreachable in the distance. Instead, I could look within my own soul.

[bctt tweet=”How can it be a forgone conclusion that God is He?” username=”wearethetempest”]

I read The Innocence of the Devil during my senior year of college—after I had done a great deal more reflecting upon religion and gender. El Saadawi’s story recasts God and Satan as two inmates in an insane asylum. The story depicts the strength of female inmates despite being put in a social structure that meant to limit their power. The strength of the women, thrown into an environment where they structurally had no control, resonated with me, because it was around the time one of my friends was falsely accused of a crime and arrested. The book particularly gave me comfort because it addressed that goodness and God are not always found with the those systemically in power.

Both these stories contributed to me finding power in being female. Religion and spirituality are supposed to give strength; that’s my humble understanding, at least. And I think a feminine figure can offer strength and power, just as a masculine figure can.

How can it be a forgone conclusion that God is He?

Love + Sex Love

Arranged marriage is just as tough as falling in love.

It wasn’t until a Valentine’s Day school assignment in first grade that I learned how my parents really got married. Our project was simple: explain how your parents met. The kids twittered with excitement over the easy assignment since they already knew their parents’ stories.

Meanwhile, I quietly listened to their tales.

I really didn’t know how my parents met. So I asked my mom.

Amma told me that one day her parents told her she was going to marry my dad. And that was that.

I was stunned.

I always assumed they’d dated and fallen in love. “But Amma,” I said, confused. “You never dated Abbu?”

My mom looked me straight in the eye and said, matter-of-factly, “Muslims don’t date. Nana and Nani told me who to marry, and I did.”

I was born and raised in the United States by immigrant Bangladeshi parents. Growing up in New York City in the 80s, I was spoon-fed all those romantic notions of dating and love. Who could forget the New Year’s scene in “When Harry Met Sally?”

But my mom explained that, for her, love came after marriage. Needless to say, my romantic ideas deflated somewhat. I was embarrassed by my parents’ unconventional story.

So I told my classmates that my parents met in the U.S. in an English class and then got married.

I also vowed to myself that I wouldn’t get married without first falling in love.

All through my teens, I carried with me the stigma of arranged marriage. I just couldn’t grasp how you could marry someone you didn’t love or even fully know. So I just kept hoping I’d meet a man through friends or in my school’s MSA.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties – after realizing how busy I am with school, and that I’m not the type to put myself out there – that I relented to my parents’ wishes.

I went through the motions, meeting the boys they deemed suitable, but there was always something missing. Even when friends introduced me to potential “matches,” I was disappointed. When I asked one man about his divorce, he immediately began badmouthing his ex-wife.

What would stop him from badmouthing me? This was nothing like the movies I nursed my hopes on.

My friends tried to introduce me to a revert brother, but he never understood why we always ate curry for dinner, why my parents exerted so much influence over me and why I wanted to keep in touch with them all the time. My time on the marriage market made it increasingly clear how important culture was to me.

Despite being American, my expectations of a wedding and family life were very Bangladeshi. In my culture, parents and grandparents are integral to our lives.

I could never marry a man who doesn’t love my parents as much as I do.

The arranged marriage market is just as tough as falling in love. Critical aunties whisper about your education, your weight, your complexion, and family status. After five years, I began to feel I was on the cusp of becoming an old maid.

Just as I was about to give up, I made a list of things I needed in a husband. I hid the list under my bed and decided to take a break from meeting anyone. I prayed to help me find a partner that would help me be a better person.

It was a difficult period, spanning my entire last year of law school.

But the hardship softened me into a person ready for marriage’s challenges and compromise.

One day, my older sister told me to check my inbox. Since she was already married with kids, she wanted to see me settle down, too. She’d taken it upon herself to email a Bengali American man on my behalf. His uncle had visited my dad’s auto body shop and mentioned his nephew was looking for a wife.

I shot the idea down immediately – I was on a “break” – but my sister ignored me and pursued the connection I was so quick to dismiss. I’m forever grateful to her for being the advocate I didn’t even know I needed.

She forwarded me all the emails they exchanged: how he grew up in a Bangladeshi family in the U.S., his hobbies, his favorite band. I noticed how respectful he was to my sister in the emails.

I unfolded my list and saw the number one item: “He is respectful – not just of me, but of my entire family.”

I noticed his telephone number in one of the emails. My heart was pounding. Could I call him? Did I need to tell my parents or sister first? Always the rebel,  I took a risk and called him without consulting anyone.

I could almost see Amma shaking her head at me as I dialed.

He didn’t pick up – he was screening all strange numbers, he said later – but he called me back a few minutes after I left a message. We spoke for a little while about our mutual love of “Batman: The Animated Series.” It’s a weird topic, I know, and I’m still not sure how we landed on it.

But we connected for a moment, and I felt he understood what it was like to grow up sneaking in comics between family obligations and school in a Bangladeshi household.

When I hung up, I was struck by the thought that I had just spoken to either my future husband or someone who would become a lifelong friend.

Or both.

After a few more phone calls, I told my parents that I really liked him. They excitedly arranged for us to meet. I drove down from Buffalo, and he flew from San Francisco when we met a few months later in my parents’ home. By then, I felt like we were compatible, but I wanted to be sure I felt butterflies when we met in person.

We became engaged the next day.

It takes a while to realize that the initial, little, spark has turned into love. Six years later, I can’t imagine life without my husband. Sure, it may not have been the stuff of romantic comedies, but it is real.

And it is gratifying.

Love is messy, and not always idealistic or romantic. And now I realize how my mother’s love came after marriage.

Sometimes it is practical and comes in the form of putting gas in the tank, paying the bills and caring for each other at the end of a bad day.

Love Humor

How I thought prayer worked as a kid.


Movies Pop Culture

‘Fresh Off the Boat’ is just reverse yellow-face

“Be polite, respectful, don’t make waves,” are the words of advice that little Eddie’s mom gives her kids before their first day of school in the white-majority town of Orlando, but the controversy of being other – of being Asian – is the one thing that derails little Eddie’s ability to follow those instructions.

True to the media buzz, Fresh Off the Boat is revolutionary in terms of its representation and, like Eddie, just can’t stop making waves because of its premise – Asian main characters.

[bctt tweet=”Fresh Off the Boat is revolutionary in terms of representation.” username=”wearethetempest”]

If you’re reading this article, then you probably know that Margaret Cho’s All-American Girl (1994) was the last Asian-led TV show that ABC picked up. Knowing this, I can’t deny what it means to me and other Asian-Americans to finally see faces like ours in mainstream media and regular programming again after 20 years. I can’t begin to explain how it feels to know that the casting of an Asian family provided at least six Asian-Americans with acting jobs, taking into consideration how most of the acting roles available for them outside of this show are either nonexistent or docile and overly militant stereotypes.

But with white producers who refuse to listen to Eddie Huang, and a Persian writer who can only identify with specific and universal aspects of being other in America, I think that my skepticism shouldn’t come as a surprise.

I mean, I was hopeful. I really was. In the face of loud criticism from Eddie himself, I still wanted to believe that maybe the show was redeemable.

[bctt tweet=”I was hopeful. I really was.” username=”wearethetempest”]

I guess the producers aren’t the only ones who need to learn to trust a minority writer.

My biggest complaint, in Eddie’s own words, is that it’s “…A reverse-yellowface show with universal white stories played out by Chinamen.”

I mean, the show touched on all their cultural checkmarks–the boys in Eddie’s school make fun of his lunch, another POC calls him a chink, and his mom complains to the principal that school is too easy when he gets straight A’s. But those are all situations either taken directly from Eddie’s book or keeping in line with it. The show itself tends to deviate from the perfectly decent material in its book counterpart, and when it goes off-script, things don’t work out as well.

The humor of the show is devoted to cheap shots and is ultimately carried by the character of the Mom. In reality, there’s little to no substance to the show.

[bctt tweet=”The humor of the show is devoted to cheap shots.” username=”wearethetempest”]

From how I saw it, Fresh Off the Boat is “radical” enough to pacify weary Asian-Americans and white journalists but not radical enough to actually threaten any change.

Let me reiterate here: representation is ultimately important, and it is what this show comes down to. It comes down to being able to supply Asian actors with non-demeaning jobs and allowing Asian people to see people like themselves on regular programming.

Anything past that, however, seems lost on its producers.

As an Asian-American myself, I could only connect to the show on a superficial level. Racial slurs: I get. The strangeness of white supermarkets: I get. An immigrant family dynamic: I definitely get it.

What I don’t get is why this show is so clearly written for a white demographic. This was just a quirky white family disguised as Asians who sometimes have Asian-specific struggles with their community.

[bctt tweet=”Why is this show written for a white demographic?” username=”wearethetempest”]

I understand, on a fundamental level, that the network probably knows that white viewers are the only thing that will keep the show afloat, and so it refuses to go into any sort of unfamiliar territory. On the other hand, really? For a show that’s supposedly about representation, it seriously fails to do anything but look weak and afraid.

Representation is not the be-all, end-all in terms of social justice.

[bctt tweet=”Representation is not the be-all end-all.” username=”wearethetempest”]

What use is representation if all it does is make white people feel good about “the progress of their society”, while not actually making any progress? POC shouldn’t have to demand that their actual stories be told on TV, and they certainly shouldn’t have to sit through a white-washed version of their experiences in order to catch a glimpse of themselves on TV.

I want to say that we have to “ease into it” but if we put this show up against others of it’s kind – that is to say, shows pioneering for racial diversity – like Orange Is the New Black, I’m just disappointed. The fault most likely lies in the nature of ABC, the Disney-owned channel that the show airs on.

All in all, Fresh Off the Boat offers the sort of temporary and light-hearted entertainment that lies in the realm of mindless late-night TV and offers nothing more radical than beyond minimal representation.

It follows a predictable A and B plot format, tells mediocre jokes, while its characters range from entertaining to blatantly annoying.

Regardless of race, it’s just not that great of a show. If the Huang family was white, I’m inclined to believe that not as many people would like it to the degree that they do.

[bctt tweet=”It’s just not that great of a show.” username=”wearethetempest”]

As Saint Bernard of Clairvaux once said, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

While Fresh Off the Boat was full of good intentions, it ultimately failed to fill the progressive comedy role that the media has assigned it.


10-year-old me, don’t you dare shave your arms.

From what I’ve heard, our 10-year-old selves are typically the most embarrassing versions of us. But fifth and sixth grade were actually highlights for me in terms of academic confidence and family relationships, and even my general happiness level.

 It was the other stuff that was the problem.

The small, social stuff. The why-doesn’t-anyone-invite-me-to-their-birthday-parties stuff. The well-I-couldn’t-go-even-if-I-were-invited stuff. The because-I’m-Muslim stuff. The things I’d change if given half the chance. The things I wish I could have warned my shy, chubby 10-year-old self about.

 1. Please, please fix your hijab.

Woman fixing her hijab

I don’t really subscribe to the idea that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to wear the hijab – your sidebangs are between you and God, and I’m not sure God cares too much – but I’m nonetheless confident my 10-year-old self’s unfashionable hijab fell under the wrong way.

I guess you didn’t know at that point that hijab is meant to cover your hair, not just your head. And you also didn’t know how to tie a bun. But to literally leave a hole for your ponytail to hang out from in the back is just weird. I remember your long hair bouncing all over the place, totally unhindered by the fabric wrapped around your head. Poor thing, you had no clue there was any other way.

 2. You’re so scared of messing up and embarrassing yourself that you don’t do anything.

Daniel Radcliffe saying "I tried, and therefore no one should criticize me."

This is perhaps the biggest mistake you made growing up, and it’s carried into adulthood to cripple my potential. Thanks a lot.

Nip it in the bud. Try on new hobbies. Become good at something besides writing. Keep going with the soccer team – no matter how much you complain to Ammi and Abu about them signing you up, you loved it. Hold off on your fifth re-reading of “Prisoner of Azkaban” and pay attention to those coding books your dad shovels on your shelf. If you pick that up, you’ll be making bank before you graduate college.

Oh, man. If only. Instead, you’ll end up like me: writing depressing diary entries on Tumblr, tagging them with “#spilledink” and watching your student loans multiply.

 3. Stop right there. Don’t you dare shave your legs. Or your arms.

captain obvious saying no

Don’t do it. I beg of you. You’re 10. No one’s looking at your arms. Yeah, that one kid called you a hairy monkey, but unless you want to be that for the rest of your life, stop.

Please, this is serious. I know Abu’s razor is right there, but you’ll only leave behind an impossible mess for me to have to deal with ten years later.

 4. Stop trying to escape your culture.

Indian man dancing through a room

In five years, a little thing called hipsterism will start creeping into America. There will come a time that you’ll want to separate yourself from the crowd, and a can of Arizona Tea and Converse shoes won’t cut it. You’ll wish you learned to appreciate Pakistani chai, to draw henna art, to speak your language. You’ll spend freshman year of college trying to read a book of Urdu poetry, and you’ll suck at it. Yes, your parents were right.

Here’s the thing. No matter how hard you try – however many people call you “Asia,” however much you pretend to understand conversations about boys, however many people hear you say “I’ve never even been to Pakistan!” – you’ll always be different. Run with it.

 5. Don’t lose your competitive edge.

homer simpson on a treadmill being lazy

Right now, you’re vying to be the classroom math star. Great. Keep doing it. And don’t stop.

If you’re not careful – which I happen to know you’re not – you’ll stop caring. It’ll start happening in high school, and by the time you’re a legal adult, you’ll have lost your interest in learning. You’ll lose your motivation to earn the finer things in life. You’ll be satisfied with the B when just a few hours of hard work could convert it to an A. It’s a crap place to be. Avoid it.

 6. Try talking to people every so often.

Two women walking through a bar

Imagine a life where you feel weird ordering pizza, and where talking to the secretary at your doctor’s office makes you nervous. Yeah. Another thing to nip in the bud. Talk to people who aren’t related to you. Stop self-segregating and re-reading Nancy Drew. The only reason people think you’re quiet and weird is because you act quiet and weird in front of them.

People have told you this before, but you never really believed them. So I’ll tell you again. You’re really smart. And funny. You’re a pretty cool kid, and if you talk to people, they’ll talk back.

Unless they’re racist. But that’s a lesson for another day.

Movies Pop Culture

What’s going on with Bill Cosby isn’t Islamophobia.

Growing up, I have had many individuals (mostly men) try to explain the importance of hijab by saying things like: “if two women are walking down the street and one is wearing hijab and the other is wearing a mini-skirt, which one is more likely to get raped?” Luckily, I do think that many people are becoming more educated about the dangers of victim blaming and proper ways to address the problems of rape and sexual violence.

However, I recently saw an article on Facebook that disgusted me and made me realize that we still have a long way to go in eliminating rape culture from our communities. The article attempted to explain away the rape allegations against Bill Cosby—although the word “rape” was never used—by suggesting that they are false accusations cooked up by the Islamophobic media.  In an interview last year with Yusef Estes, Cosby said “The world would be better if all people acted like Muslims,” so according to the article, the allegations of more than 20 women are nothing more than an attempt to punish him for saying some nice things about Muslims.

There is so much that is wrong and dangerous about this line of thinking. First of all, blaming the “Islamaphobic media” in this case is just plain stupid. I mean, if this was a big conspiracy hatched up by Islamaphobes wouldn’t the reporters be saying something like “Bill Cosby, who recently praised the way Muslims treat their women, is accused of raping over 20 women?” I have yet to hear anyone in the mainstream media make any connection between Cosby and Islam.

More disturbing however, is that the more than 20 women who have accused Cosby of rape are not even considered worth mentioning. Their stories don’t matter. The specifics of the allegations don’t matter. Even the words “rape” or “sexual assault” aren’t worth writing. All that matters is that Bill Cosby is a good family man (or at least he plays one on TV), and he’s old, and he likes Muslims. That’s all we need to know to sweep the horrific allegations under the rug.

After reading the article, I looked at the Facebook comments hoping that I was not the only one who found it disturbing. Fortunately, there were many people speaking out against the ridiculous defense of Bill Cosby. However, those comments were met with self-righteous condemnation from individuals who say that we can’t criticize Cosby because we don’t know what really happened, and anyway only God can judge him.  I would have more respect for this view if it was extended to not only Cosby, but also the women who accused him. But many of the same people who say that we that we shouldn’t be quick to judge an alleged rapist are the same people who have no problem with passing judgments against the alleged victims. Why is Bill Cosby innocent until proven guilty, but it is perfectly acceptable to say that the women are guilty of being sluts, liars, or as this article implies, pawns of the Islamophobic media?

The problem with this article goes beyond just the case of Bill Cosby. It helps perpetuate an environment where victims who come forward with allegations are ignored, discredited, and abused. This is especially dangerous because it is coming from an Islamic website and using the very real problem of Islamophobia to hide the very real problem of sexual assault.  It doesn’t matter what Bill Cosby says about Muslims, it wouldn’t even matter if he was Muslim, the allegations against him must be taken seriously.

Politics The World

Bill Maher, it’s time for you to go home.

Bill Maher.

Lately, the mention of his name results in an instant cringe. To be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of him, mostly because his focus on being “real” or “blunt” just comes off as rude and arrogant. However, that one episode of his show that blasted Islam, and the one where Ben Affleck defended Islam, really escalated my apathy to disdain and dislike.

My main issue with Maher is that he is a self-proclaimed liberal.  He believes that he stands for the minorities and helps those who do not have a voice, yet he commits microaggressions against non-white males on his show.  He cuts them off during their arguments, but freaks out when someone else interrupts him.  He arrogantly proclaims his progressive values, that he doesn’t believe in any religions, and that religion itself is a crutch and for the weak minded or uneducated.  But Maher makes a clear distinction.

The usual Islamophobic suspects are generally laughable in how ridiculous their views or “facts” are, but what makes Bill Maher’s Islamophobic tendencies worse is that he believes he is being “progressive” and objective.  It is his proclamation of being liberal that contrasts with those that are willing to state they are being discriminatory.

According to Maher, there are no such things as “moderate Muslims.” He says this not in a way that could actually makes sense, where moderate Muslim is a Western normative term, but instead he suggests the idea that any Muslim is a ticking time bomb ready to unleash their inner terrorist. Unnamed sources of information apparently gives Maher license to declare what “the majority of Muslims think.”  Does he secretly live in South Asia, Indonesia, the Middle East, Africa, or any other areas with large Muslim population?  Did he actually study Islam extensively? We know he isn’t Muslim, because he loves to proclaim how he’s so atheist. The fallacy is all too apparent- one can never truly state what majority of Muslim think. How can you categorize over a billion people?

Another favorite topic is Muslim women, another section of society in which he has zero experience.  During an interview, Maher argues against other liberals, stating that women (mainly discussing Afghanistan) who wear burka or niqab are merely brainwashed into thinking they want to wear it.  He doesn’t acknowledge any difference of opinion in religious or cultural garb, nor does he acknowledge these women having any agency over what they wear. Simply put, his views promote a Western normative view on how women should and shouldn’t dress, despite his so-called “liberal” values.

It is quite unusual for a liberal to sound like something off of a FOX News segment, which should have been a clue to Maher that his prejudices against Islam are not only misplaced but brews hate against a largely marginalized segment of society (especially in the West). For Bill Maher to truly consider himself liberal, as well as be progressive for better recognition of minorities, he needs to listen to others’ opinions and respect their choices.  Personally, I think he would benefit from a social etiquette class.

Gender Love Life Stories Inequality

I don’t want to be quiet when I’m at work – this is why I am

I got my start in corporate America at a very young age.

I wasn’t even 18 years old.

Since then, I’ve held a number of different positions; from the low ranking entry-level employee to management. I’ve been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to grow, learn, and develop skills I would not have had the chance to had I not decided to concentrate on just the field of psychology. However, if I said that being a woman in corporate America is easy I would be lying.

Add the fact I’m both a Muslim and a newly immigrated woman and things start to get really interesting.

The New York Times released an article by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant, titled “Speaking While Female” as part of their four-part series on women in the workplace. Not to my surprise, the article talked about how women are more likely to stay quiet at work due to fear of being perceived as too “aggressive” and how even when they do speak they’re not really being heard.

When I first started working, I noticed the pattern of being shot down for ideas in meetings that were eventually used, without credit to me.

I noticed how the words that came out of my mouth simply sounded better when one of my male colleagues was saying them. Anything I could do, the men could do better, even if the process and the end result were the same. Any idea that came out of my innovative brain was just much more effective if one of my male colleagues took it from me and implemented it.

For a while, I decided to play the meek, quiet Muslim woman at work concentrating on my workload and keeping my ideas to myself. After all, I wasn’t being heard and even when I was, I wasn’t being credited. That changed pretty quickly when I held a managerial position. I was gifted (or cursed) with the ability to make decisions, to implement ideas, and, better yet, to veto those ideas I just simply did not think anything of.

All of a sudden, my colleagues had to listen to me; even if they did not want to. Predictably, this resulted in me being considered far too aggressive and, occasionally (lovingly, I’m sure), a bitch.

It did not matter that my ideas increased efficiency by 23% in one quarter or even that, thanks to my ideas, the department was able to decrease cost by 4% and increase profit by 6%. In the end I was still the cold, aggressive, woman who spoke just a bit too loudly and had just a touch too many ideas.

Working as a woman in a male-dominated field is always a struggle.

I had the chance to spend some time with some of the top female executives within the field of finance and insurance. These intelligent, educated, fierce women who are making waves with their ideas experienced the same issues as I did. For most women, it doesn’t matter if you’re at the bottom or at the top; your ideas are only valuable if they come out of a man’s mouth.

So, it’s no wonder that so many women stay quiet in the workplace.

Sandberg and Grant suggest holding “Obama-style meetings” and offering women the floor whenever possible, so that it may demonstrate to teams just how difficult it can be to speak as a woman.

Maybe it will help.

Maybe if we become aware of the gender bias we hold, we will be able to break it.

The fact most women in the workplace are experiencing not only wage gaps but also gender bias in terms of perception, promotions, and evaluations means that we still have a long way to go. If we want to be the best, we must listen to those who offer us the best ideas for improvement and change, be it men or women.

Right now, we are not listening equally and until we begin, women will continue to struggle with speaking in the workplace.

Gender Love Inequality

I attended the first all-women’s Jummah, and it was amazing.

Edina Lekovic was the first female khateeba on Friday, at The Women’s Mosque of America inaugural Jummah prayer. Her Khutba, or Friday sermon, instilled an empowering search for beauty within Islam by enforcing the need for work in the cause of God.

I come from a Muslim community where women are well-respected and have a strong voice. In my time as a college student in Southern California, however, my experiences with Muslim Student groups have left me disappointed. The thought of female leadership is just an illusion in many of these spaces, disallowing women from feeling any kind of need or motivation to strive to take on these kinds of positions.

One organization has never had a female president in its entire history, and gender segregation resulted in having an environment with a deep level of disregard for its female members. I had a conversation with a female student once, about this particular Muslim group having a female president and her shock was palpable “But Marwa, who would lead prayer? Who would make the Athan (call to prayer)? And Marwa, nobody would listen to her. The male voice is loud and demanding, and a girl would never be able to call a group’s attention.” The fact that there is a fundamental, underlying ideology that women are somehow incapable of being leaders is one that must change. And yesterday’s Jummuah, or Friday prayer, was an incredible beginning.

Now, more than ever, we are witnessing a shift. Muslim American women are leading their communities in an infinite number of ways. They are increasingly taking up board positions at their local mosques, speaking to the media about the perception of Muslims in America, and meeting with government officials to see how much of an impact Muslims can have on policy-making.

Today’s women are leading the way for tomorrow’s daughters to have a major impact on society. In Ramadan of 2014, for the first time ever, the Islamic Center of Southern California created a platform for female scholars of the Qur’an to give commentary before Taraweeh prayers. Friday was another remarkable milestone. Edina Lekovic, a good friend and coworker from Muslim Public Affairs Council, paved a long and beautiful path that Muslim women will now be able to pour their hearts and minds into.

“The way I viewed the Qur’an changed when I read the words of the Qur’an as if they were revealed to me,” said Lekovic. She spoke about the verse in the Qur’an from Surat At-Tawbah that many overlook: “Go forth, whether light or heavy, and strive with your wealth and your lives in the cause of Allah . That is better for you, if you only knew.” The very essence of this verse speaks to us women who live in a society where we are brushed off to the side in so many ways. Lekovic herself felt incapable of giving this Khutba when she was initially invited to speak. But this verse rang in her head louder than ever, telling her that she must take his step. That whether or not she is “light or heavy,” equipped or unequipped, self-sustaining or in need of support, she had to give this khutba “if [she] only knew.”

I left The Women’s Mosque of America on Friday afternoon with goosebumps that till now have not gone away. I was shaken by Lekovic’s words. The sweet sound of her beautiful voice as she recited Qur’an during the prayers left a sense of serenity and hope unlike anything I have ever felt before. The voice of a woman, the voices of the other half of this world, were reflected in her today. And soon, they will be reflected across the globe.