Interview: Taz & Zahra from #GoodMuslimBadMuslim

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Challenging Islamophobia on Campus - Wen-Do PosterWe’re getting excited for our Self Defense Workshop for Muslim Women this weekend so we interviewed sheroes Taz and Zahra who make the fabulous #GoodMuslimBadMuslim podcast.

Tanzila “Taz” Ahmed is an activist, storyteller, and politico based in Los Angeles and Zahra Noorbakhsh is a writer, actor and comedian based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

About their #GoodMuslimBadMuslim podcast:

As Muslim American women, we are walking this fine line between what it means to be good and bad. So really, what does it mean to be a good Muslim, when we as American women are getting mixed messages from all different angles? We’ve decided to say – fuck it. We’ll define what it means to be a good American Muslim ourselves and through our #GoodMuslimBadMuslim podcast. And poke fun at both sides of this margin. We’ll create our own narrative how we see fit, and with lots of satire and laughs.

Why is it important/empowering/essential for Muslim women to have space to talk about Islamophobia and safety strategies?

Taz: We are living in a time where fear mongering is being used as a political tactic and Muslims are the latest victims. Because of this, anyone perceived as Muslim – from wearing a hijab to having brown skin, is a potential victim of fear mongering when out in public. To have space to feel empowered is essential for Muslim women so that when they are in public and when they have to deal with patriarchy, white supremacy, or islamophobia – that they will also have bravery. That’s what we can do in the conversations, the power to be brave. And strategies how to show it.

Zahra:  Just knowing that this space exists to discuss real safety strategies takes the conversation out of the realm of paranoia into something real, a real threat, a real danger.  As women, we feel attacked all the time and it’s scary for me to acknowledge that these threats are real.  And, as with all self defense strategies for women, it’s not enough to know how to mace an attacker, for example.  We have to know the steps that come next.  That learning happens in these professionally structured environments.  Continue reading

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Self Defense for Muslim Women

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Challenging Islamophobia on Campus - Wen-Do PosterWen-Do teaches ways to deescalate situations, draw in bystanders in the face of hateful attacks, and help build a safer community. This series of self defense workshops is for Muslim-identified women who feel threatened by Islamophobia.

Muslim women have the right to feel safe in our communities. Public attacks of Muslim women in Canada have made many of us fearful. We know it’s never our fault when we are attacked. Some of us want to strengthen our options to stay safer; this is one way to do it. Join us for a workshop by Muslim women for Muslim women facilitated by Wen-Do instructor Arij Elmi that focus on self-defense, sisterhood, and resistance!

We are offering two different FREE workshops:

On Campus 3 Hour Introductory Course

When: Wednesday, April 13, 2016 – 6-9pm
Where: CIBC Hall Student Centre, Room 319 at McMaster University

Light refreshment will be served.

Off Campus 2 Day Course

When: Saturday, April 2 and Sunday, April 3, 2016 – 9:30am-5:30pm
Where: YWCA Senior’s Centre Auditorium, 75 MacNab Street South – Hamilton ON

Vegetarian lunch will be provided.

How to Register:

Space is limited for both events. Please register early at hres@mcmaster.ca.

For more information about accessibility, dietary restrictions, and child-minding, contact 905.525.9140 x27581 or hres@mcmaster.ca.
Continue reading

SACHA Broadcast — Feminist Links & Hijinks No. 23

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Wow.  So much feminist internets to share!

It’s hard to unlearn all of the ‘don’t get raped’ messages that we send young women.  Jen Zoratti confronts the idea that rape is caused by women choosing to drink in the Winnipeg Free Press article Rapists, Not Drinking, Cause Rape:

Anti-rape efforts continue to target women instead of rapists — the leading cause of rape, so I’m told. High-profile cases, such as Steubenville and Maryville, continue to be mishandled by media. The victim’s choices are still made the focus, with TV pundits asking, “Well, what did she expect?” (I think it a very reasonable expectation to go out and even — gasp! — have some drinks and not to get raped). Commenters on news stories liken sexual assault to stolen property (sorry, I can’t leave my vagina at home). People wring their hands over the “promising futures” of rapists who happen to be star football players.

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Wish that sexual assault was covered better in mainstream media?  The femifesto collective is doing something about it.  Anyone who cares about the issue of sexual assault should read Reporting on Sexual Assault: A Toolkit for Canadian Media.

reporting on sexual assault

(also there’s otters…)

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At the end of December, Statistics Canada released a study about gender differences in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and computer science (STEM) programs at university:

52% of boys who had mathematics marks in the 80% to 89% range in high school chose a STEM program, compared with 22% of girls in the same category and 41% of girls who had marks in the 90% to 100% range.

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The Guelph Resource Centre for Gender Empowerment and Diversity is offering a Wen Do course on January 25th.  From Wen Do’s website:

We recognize that women and girls already have a wealth of experience in protecting their own safety. We believe that women can use their bodies effectively, as they are — older or younger, athletic or not, disabled or non-disabled — to resist or defuse violent situations. We aim to build on participants’ prior knowledge and increase their self-confidence by teaching a variety of awareness, avoidance and verbal self-defence strategies, and simple, practical physical techniques that are designed to be effective even against a larger and stronger attacker.

We aim to increase the choices available to women, and to provide suggestions and ideas, not a list of do’s and don’ts. We emphatically reject any approach that tries to blame women and girls for having “provoked” or “failed to prevent” violent attempts to dominate and control them. We believe that ultimately each woman must make her own decision about how to respond to a particular situation.

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A shelter in Spokane, Washington considers how survivors’ privacy and needs while healing from trauma in how we design women’s shelters (via Can You Relate).

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Volunteers and staff continue to be busy busy busy getting ready for SACHA’s 10th Anniversary Chocolate Fest on Thursday, February 6th.  Tickets are available online or by calling 905.525.4573.

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— compiled by erin