What does Feminism Mean to You?
In today’s day and time — feminism is a term that means something different to everyone, isn’t it? And contrary to [a somewhat] popular belief, the words “feminist”, “muslim woman”, and “Islam” and are used in conjunction more often than not.
Recently, I had the opportunity to chat about feminism (and a lot more) with Nasihah Pervin, an author, speaker, and co-founder of a mobile gaming company known as Kadalic.
“To be very transparent, I’m not really sure what feminism means in current times,” Pervin said. “I know initially it was founded on the principles of equal opportunities for women. To create spaces for women, to give voices to women, to empower women in a patriarchal society. And that’s kind of the definition I’ve stuck to.”
Nashiha practices the art of expression through creative writing, along with running a YouTube channel where she shows vulnerability by discussing several topics, including ones that might be considered taboo.
She says that what has helped her in these pursuits/passions has been eliminating the need to be perfect.
“I used to think I wasn’t the best at writing, simply because my style was different,” she said. “I didn’t use big words or have a seamless sentence structure, and I started to realize that in the world of writing, the words and how they’re displayed or used is in the hands of the writer. We don’t need to follow traditional guidelines imposed on us from academia.”
Although she doesn’t realize it, Nashiha’s writing has enabled her to help empower other women. She makes a conscious effort to write about topics others can relate to, and when she sees comments from other women going through similar situations or crises, she is given a sense of relief knowing that she is not alone, hoping the women reading are reminded of the same thing.
By subconsciously finding this idea of freedom within eliminating the need to be perfect, she is encouraging others to be fearless, provoke change, and find a positive way to cope with negative feelings.
Pervin humbly shared that she doesn’t know for sure if her writing empowers women. However, her writing goals consist of helping validate other women‘s feelings of grief, love, pain, shame and “everything else in-between”.
“Islam elevated women from the pits of soil to placing Jannah under the soles of her feet,” she said. “Women have directly approached the Prophet (PBUH) to speak of issues that concerned them, women participated in battle and combat, women held positions of leadership, women conducted business, women were protected and honored, women were key members of a thriving and evolving community. At the heart of Islam, was a woman who embraced the Prophet (PBUH)’s message first, when everyone else thought he was losing his mind.”
Pervin shared that the course of current-day feminism seems to be more about domination versus equality. She believes that women need to extend the olive branch and make men allies, referencing The Qur’an, 9:17: “For verily believing men and believing women are allies of each other.”
“Women of color and women of faith do not experience the same feminism as liberal, white, or white-passing females,” Pervin said. “Our experiences are so different and many times, the issues we’re fighting for are different. I believe labels bring more divide and complications. And if we stick to the fundamentals of protecting women, giving rights to women, and creating more spaces and opportunities for women, every woman regardless of race or religion can be included in this endeavor.”
Women can empower both themselves and others simply by trusting in their story, being fearless when sharing it, and letting the vulnerability seep through when it comes to creative outlets, or any form of expression.
“Listen to your thoughts,” Pervin said. “Get in touch with how you feel. And let the words pour out, naturally. Those who vibe with it, will effortlessly gravitate towards it. And those who don’t, will be exposed to a totally different writing style. And that’s ok.”