Those words seemed to elicit some response on both W and M's faces.\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"That's good to hear"@@ said M\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Yeah, but we will be going in the General compartment of course" said W@@\n\nThey shared an awkward laugh in the moments they followed.\n\nIt was W who finally broke the ice:\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"So, you really think we should go in the Ladies compartment?"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"I don't see why we cannot. It's a compartment specially allotted to us and I think if such a facility is provided then I see no reason why we should not use it"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"You don't think that making a "special" Ladies' compartment is a way to discriminate women and to compartmentalize them //''literally''// in this case based on their gender"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"I don't see how that's the case. Does the women compartment have any "special" facilities that highlight our apparent "inferiority" in a patriarchal context? I don't believe so"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"It doesn't matter whether it has anything special or not. The very act of creating a specially marked "Ladies" compartment is a sign of an act driven by patriarchal mindset. You see such trains largely in nations where such a mindset is dominant -- India, Iran, Malaysia, Dubai and the like"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"By that rationale, we should not even have Ladies restrooms. Because by creating such specially marked "Ladies" restrooms, they are discriminating us"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"You're confusing the context. Restrooms are meant to be private places, this is a public transport -- a sign where we are supposed to travel together"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"It is commonplace in countries with patriarchal cultures where eve-teasing and violence against women has a significantly higher rate and such a special compartment for women can atleast provide a sense of safety to them whenever they travel.@@\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;We all seek comfort in a sense of security and I don't think you can disagree with me on the issue that women security is an issue regardless of which part of the world we come from. As for a choice, I think women are allowed to travel in General as well as Ladies compartment in most of these countries. The choice is upto them"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"But why give that choice when we are perfectly capable of travelling in a general compartment. We don't want to be treated "specially". If we can protect ourselves on the streets, where everyone walks side-by-side, why should they introduce such a concept for trains? We want to be treated equally -- on a stature equal to men"@@\n\n[["I think this is among the most bitter arguments I have seen between both of you. I believe this does emphasize a fundamental difference between both branches of feminism"|CoreDifference]]\n\n
You reply.\n\nThey nod a little acknowledging it and then turn around and start walking.\n\nThe snow has begun melting as the sun shines brightly from over your head. The hardest layer on the surface has already begun melting. \nThere lay many layers beneath, but they were little match for sun's persistence.\n\nYou look at W and M -- two women from contrasting cultures who have had numerous conflicts in the past, yet seeing them talk like this in a world not of their making, gets you thinking -- if only differences can be resolved as easily. \nIf only everyone were as understanding of each others' viewpoint as W and M were.\n\nBut you knew that wasn't a reality. Not an //''accepted reality''// atleast.\n\nYou began walking in the opposite direction. You looked at the ground and noted with amusement how your feet made no impact on the snow.\n\nThe city around you starts to fade away slowly.\n\nPurpose slowly seeps into your body fuelling your steps forward with a definite resolve.\n\nYou look ahead.\nYou could see the entrance just a few metres ahead of you. \nYou look at your steps in the snow and give a knowing smile.\n\nYou may have @@text-decoration:line-through; not made @@ //not been able to make// a lot of changes in this world but once you enter the @@text-decoration:line-through;exit@@// entrance // things will be different.\n\nYou will not be leaving this world empty. W and M's discussions have given you a lot to think. The question that lingers is //Will you think about them or choose to ignore it?//\n\nIt's a conscious decision relegated to the unconscious.\n\nThe weight of your nightmare hangs heavy on you as you step through to the @@text-decoration:line-through;exit@@ //entrance's// threshold.\n\nYou give the world behind you a final look. \nIt has entirely faded.\nYou search for W and M. \nThey look like increasingly distant figures.\nYou expect to see @@text-decoration:line-through;M@@ and @@text-decoration:line-through;W@@, but their black @@text-decoration:line-through;figures@@ figure seems to be disappearing over a fading street far away.\n\nYou could only see a single black figure on the horizon. \nIt was not W.\nIt was not M.\nBut it was someone you knew. \nSomeone you had //''always''// known. In numerous forms at different points of time. \n\nYou step in through the out door with a definite resolve.\nYour //''real test''// begins now...
\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"No"@@\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"No"@@\n\nBoth of them said in unison.\n\nThey looked at each other before bursting into a moment of laughter.\n\nM spoke\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"It isn't a "No" in a derogatory sense but more of that I'm perfectly happy with being who I am, where I am and fighting the battle that I am"@@\n\n\nW nodded in unison\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"I think asking someone to step into other's shoes is a fantasy but we do not believe in fantasies anymore. The entire picture the world has painted for us from the moment we were born to when we became a woman was a patriarchal fantasy and we believe the world has lived far too long in that.@@\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;Too many centuries spent living in a world painted to cater to a specific gender's notions. I think this fantasy needs to end and the world needs to fucking wake up"@@\n\n\n[["Do you think that there is a fundamental incompatibility between both streams of feminist movement which arises from their inability to understand each other's culture?"|Incompatible]]
You give in and place your knees on the seat and take a peek through the grill separating your compartment with that in which the three women were seated in.\nYou first noticed that W and M were just a seat across the separation, sitting beside one another but with their backs facing you. \nThe young woman was sitting opposite them and was facing you but however she seemed too occupied in her woes to notice you peeking from the other compartment. \nShe wore a bright @@font-color:red;red@@ fur coat and stockings of similar colour. \nHer face had streaks of eyeshadow lining down her cheeks -- dried rivers of sorrow that were long forsaken by the world she thought she had known.\n\nShe spoke something, still sobbing:\n"I don't know why I'm even bothering you with this but I really need to tell this to someone.....You know to take this weight off my mind. To make me feel less guilty about what I'm doing....Please, can I ask you for a favour?"\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"What is it, please tell us"@@\n\n"I...I want you to be...please be kind to me, do not judge me harshly when I tell you my problems. Where I wanted help, I got judged. I've had enough of that -- from my peers, my family, everyone I could turn to"\nA hint of desperation had creeped into her voice.\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Listen, we will not judge you. You may not know us, but we aren't the kind who judge others, less so do that to a woman who seems to be be in need of help. You can trust us with your burden, we will not make it worse"@@\n\n"I'm going to have a child..one born out of the filth I do"\n\nInstead of congratulating her as someone's instinct may have forced, W and M remained silent.\nAs you shifted your angle, you could notice M's hands quietly comforting those of the young lady, a calming expression on her face.\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Look, many women have been standing at the crossroads where you find yourself. There's no reason to feel guilty, irrespective of the decision you have chosen"@@\n\n"How can I? Brought up in a religious home, I sacrificed all my values doing what I am. How can I not look at myself in a shameful light as a creature worthy of pity?"\n\nEven if to a stranger, W's words may have seemed like fluff to others, her tone was comforting and the young woman seemed to take solace in that.\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Stop that. You do not deserve any pity because you are doing what it takes to survive in the world. Only bigots who are buried deeply in their own ideologies shall judge you for that. No sane human who can see how harsh this world will ever judge you for earning your daily bread, regardless of the means you have chosen"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"And if they do judge. It's not your concern to be affected by them. As women, society has taken upon itself as its rightful duty to judge us. Always assuming we represent the degrading elements of the society, always a sign of how rotten the times have become.@@@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;We are the default parameter for them to gauge a culture, never turning the mirror on itself to see who is //actually// influential in making us who we are.@@\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;No man gets judged as harshly as we do by the society, even if our professions might be similar because apparently as a society, we must maintain double standards for each gender. The rose goes to the men and the thorny stem to us."@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"She is right. No matter what you choose to do in your life, you will be judged by those around you because you are woman. You cannot do anything but continue to live unperturbed and unaffected. It's what we have done and it's what you must do. Continue living and loving those who aim thorny criticisms at you. Because, as women that is what we are capable of. Love //despite// everything"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Indeed. You have the power to give life, and if you do decide to bring life into this world, there is nothing to be ashamed of. On the contrary, you should be proud"@@\n\n"But, how can I be a mother....with what I do?"\nW and M paused for a few moments.\nW spoke first, gently patting her shoulder:\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"This is your decision. Give birth or let it be. You will not be killing the child. At this stage, it doesn't count as life. Nor is it going to render you childless for the rest of your life. What matters the most -- to you and to your child -- is that he or she comes out when you are //''ready''//.@@ @@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;In an environment that is ideal for him to grow up. One where you have adequate financial stability to be comfortable bringing up a child. But what's most important is that you are '''happy''' bringing the child into this world. Nothing matters more to a newborn child than being held by a mother who //''wants''// him or her in this world and they will know it"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Bringing life into this world is one of the greatest gifts you can have as a woman. Instead of being sad over it, you should be happy about it. So first, let me see you smile,OK?"@@\n\nYou could see M wiping her tears off the face marked by the streaks of black eyeshadow.\n\nA small smile did appear on her face but it seemed to be more of a consequence of the rather surprising kindness she was being showered with.\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"That's better. You look beautiful, has anyone ever told you that?"@@\n\n"Yes,they have" she said letting out a little chuckle.\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"I assume you were headed for the clinic?"@@\n"Not right now, but I had an appointment for the evening"\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Whether you choose to go or not, why do you continue with the profession you have chosen?"@@\n\n"For me, it's the easiest way to earn money. Probably, the only thing I am good at. However, I am learning violin in my spare time, using the money to go to classes. Maybe, few years down the line when I am good enough, I plan on quitting to become part of an orchestra"\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Ah, that's good to hear"@@\n\nThe young lady couldn't tell but M's tone had slightly changed when she said that, perhaps slightly betraying her feeling that the young woman may fall into a trap of easy money and may never choose to follow with her escape route and ambition in the future.\n\nYet, she continued:\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"If you have no problems with your work nor with raising a child, I don't see why you should do any different. People around you may want something different, but this doesn't concern them"@@\n\n"You don't understand. If I don't abort this child, I will lose my chance to earn daily for the next nine months. I do not have enough savings to last myself"\n\nM seemed to ponder for a few seconds before digging into her handbag and producing out what looked like a bunch of visiting cards.It took her a few moments before she finally found what she wanted:\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Take this. This belongs to an non-profit organization not far away from this place which takes care of pregnant mothers, free of expense. You will be provided with a place to stay and will be fed nutritious food, so the child can stay healthy.@@\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;In the latter months, you will be attended to by a nurse for any needs you may have. What's better is that you will be surrounded by mothers like you who will provide an emotional support you may not get elsewhere"@@\n\nThe young woman accepted the card from M flicking her eyes pensievely from one woman to the other who were sitting in front of her, not believing a word of what had just been said.\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Like M said,it's upto you. Just because we have given you that doesn't mean you need to go there. But if you decide to have a child, do consider that. It'll be best for both of you"@@\n\nThe young woman tried saying something but instead only a grateful look appeared on her face.\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"If you choose to, then do utilize those nine months properly. Thinking not just about your future but about the collective future of you and your child. It is a responsibility, whose capability none of us can be the judge of.You will have to take a deep, long look in the mirror and decide whether the person you are right now can be a mother"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Yes. Such decisions require a great amount of thinking. Regardless of what you choose, never consider yourself talentless. If you are not happy with what you do, then leave that job. If you don't want your child to live with what you do, then leave that job. Do something else, something which in addition to making your ends meet also reinforces your pride in yourself"@@\n\n"I was not sure before. I am not sure even now. But I have hope to cling to now"\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Remember, you should bring a child only if you are ready for it. Without an acceptance and a self-gauged maturity to be a mother, you are doing injustice not just to yourself but to the life you are bringing in this world. Understand what's best for you right now, because that's what matters. That's //all// that matters"@@\n\nM gave a brief pause before saying:@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"However,if you do choose to, then take pride in the fact that you are doing something only a woman can. There is no shame in bringing a child to this world. Women have shown themselves perfectly capable of raising a child alone for centuries and you won't be any different. Do not shy away from responsibility.@@\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;Tackle the questions and decisions you face head-on like the brave woman you are. The answers are not with us, nor with others. They are with you. You will find them, trust me, eventually"@@\n\nThe young woman, for the first time, gave a genuinely warm smile:\n"I must have done something good to receive such honest help and advice from two absolute strangers"\nYou couldn't see W and M's response but you could imagine a big smile on each of their faces.\n\n"I...I still do not know what I'm going to do. But I'm atleast not lost. I have direction and I believe I have enough will to make decision without feeling guilty about it. I think a part of me will always feel guilty about what I do, about what I might do. That part will always remain with me, as a reminder of who I used to be. But maybe, I can learn to see past that. Grow beyond it and truly live on my own terms"\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"What is it?"@@ queried M\n\nShe gave a small laugh.\n"It's funny. All the time I was living like this, I was thinking I was living on my own terms -- y'know the modern, independent woman, just like both of you. But I realize now that I was chained to my past. I have never made peace with it and was only running from it"\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"We all have a past we run from. From its shadows, we run hoping there will be light ahead in the future, that being the only means we can tell if we're living the right way. Do not think you're alone in that way"@@\n\nThe train slowed to a halt.A station was announced on the speaker.\nThe young woman got up.\n\n"What I know is that first and foremost I need to make peace with my past -- to accept who I am and what I do first. If I manage that,//KINDLY WAIT FOR THE TRAIN TO STOP AND THE DOORS TO OPEN. IN THE MEANTIME, A SAFETY MESSAGE TO ALL OUR PASSENGERS: DO NOT CROSS THE RAILWAY LINE BETWEEN PLATFORMS NO MATTER WHAT. A DELAY IS BETTER THAN A LIFETIME FULL OF REGRETS. TO AVOID SUCH SITUATIONS, PLEASE STAY AHEAD OF YOUR SCHEDULE//"The announcement drowned what she said to W & M.\n\nShe gave a quick hug to both W and M before rushing to the door.\nYou felt you should say something encouraging to her.\nDo you...\n\n[[shout words of encouragement at her|ShoutOut]]\n[[remain quiet as W and M have already done all that could be done for her|RemainQuiet]]
\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"I don't think we have it easy, but I can see why it may seem so to others. Do you think the same way too,M?"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Personally,yes I'm a little envious of how accepting your culture is to your demands. Although, I realize that might only seem to me from where I am standing, the truth may of course be different"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"It is. Things are not so easy for us. We have to fight religion and conservatives borne out of such thoughts who believe women have a defined status in the society which is distinctly lower than that of men. On top of that, the masses are easily influenced by popular culture which heavily objectify women which makes our struggle even worse.@@\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;Moreover, men continue to exclude women from industries which they are an integral part of now. They continue to remain in their rotten mindset where women are supposed grow up playing with dolls & then live out the rest of the lives dancing to their whims. We have to fight against a popular perception of characteristics that define a man and a woman which we are taught right from our young age.@@ \n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;So, fighting against all that is certainly not a walk in the park, but I can see when compared side-by-side, our culture is definitely more accepting of our notion of equality than it is for you"@@\n\n [["So, which aspect of each other's cultural movements do you like the most?"|Aspect]]
\nTheir footprints left a distinct impression on the snow. Both were wrapped in black, yet the manner in which they walked was different\n\nOne walked with every step confident of its direction. Each step was sure of the distance it was covering, never hesitating, its boldness a sigil that it wore with pride which showed the fierce will and resolve its goal inspired in it.\n\nIn contrast, the Other walked in calmness. Each step sure of its purpose and place in the world, yet firm in its will to reach its task of altering the very threads with which the matter around them was formed.\n \n\nTogether, divided they walked.\n\nOn the horizon emerged an [[intersection|Intersection]] lying in wait for the two figures to approach it and fulfill its purpose.
A Feminist Tale of Cultural Differences
\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"I think unlike, W, religion is an inseparable part of our culture and from where we stand, we are not disdainful for it. I think my fellow feminists have realized that in order to demand gender equality, we need to play by the rules and not criticize religion in the process. Our culture isn't exactly a secular one and we have realized that we cannot make our point by divorcing or disengaging religion from the conversation as you have"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"How can you do that? Isn't it religion which has enforced all the patriarchal and oppressive traditions onto you? I think feminism as a movement needs to steer clear of religion. Because when it comes to progressive thinking, religion happens to lag behind by leagues"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"I do not entirely disagree with you on the last part, but the important thing to realize is that our lives are rooted in religion and in order to argue in favour of equality, we need to use our holy texts to convince the world. We cannot and do not want to antagonize religion like it's possible for you.\n@@@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive; Because if we do that, we will be fighting an even bigger war which most of us do not really wish to fight. Being a devout Muslim woman does not mean you cannot demand gender equality"@@\n\n[["So does the Holy Koran have anything to support your cause?"|KoranSupport]]
\nW nods:\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Yes, let us not overstay our welcome here"@@\n\nBoth of them get up, wave to the owner with M saying:\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Thank you for the lovely coffee!"@@\n\nFrom behind the counter, the owner gave a little smile:\n"You're welcome. Both of you have a good day!"\n\n>You get up and move towards the door, pushing it open.\n\n@@text-decoration: line-through;//It opens .... //@@\n//Nothing Happens//\n\n[["It won't budge"|DoorOpen]]\n\n\n
\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Has it? I'm not surprised though. Even we are not away from the fallacy of underlining the differences between us several times by mentioning "//we//", "//us//" and "//you//" or "//them//""@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"I agree. But is it a bad thing? I mean, I think we went over have there are fundamental incompatibility in the way we think. Sure, we may have a common goal -- to empower women worldwide and put them on the same pedestal men have for centuries but if you recall what I said before, we treat the notion of //''equality''// in a distinctly different manner.@@\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;Those who want to see women empowered on a level pedestal with men should know that the word //''equality''// doesn't mean the same thing for all women worldwide. It's influenced by the culture we have been raised in too. Enforcing one version of //''equality''// over other as a superior choice makes you no better than those still holding onto their patriarchal beliefs"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Did you mean that this "Us vs Them" showcases a fundamental difference -- a gap too far to be bridged -- for the two branches of the same movement to ever be united?"@@\n\nYou nod.\nBoth give the question some thought.\n\nM replies first:\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"At the risk of sounding cliched, I think education is again the only possible solution to this. Educating people on the //other// culture and that //difference is good// is the only way. It is definitely a slow process but one that can definitely erase this prejudice"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"That is a good way of seeing it. It's not the difference which creates the "Us versus Them" but it's the prejudice which creates the //''versus''// word between "us" and "them". If you remove that prejudice, then maybe we can have "Us //''and''// "them" "@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Cheesy but true"@@, M chuckled\n\n[["But,when in the future women do achieve equality, exactly which "equality" will this be"?|EqualityWin]]
\nYou.\n\nThe genderless, faceless entity who mirrors one and all among you.\n\nThe one whose feet make no impression in the snow.\n\nA voice among millions that constantly fights to be heard. It //''is''// a daunting task. \nThere is a megaphone, someone speaks into it. \nBut it isn't you.\nThe megaphone isn't passed around in turns in any fair manner.\n\nBut, You don't give up. You have your voice and you feel it needs to be heard. Not just for its opinion and the weight you think it bears, but also because it reaffirms your purpose in this world.\n\nSo, You speak. Without a megaphone, you speak, you shout, you scream, you hiss -- until your voice is out in the world filled with noise.\n\nThat is all you can do. Send out your voice out into the world and hope it is heard. Hope that it alters some aspect of this world.\n\nBecause at the end of the day, You are just a lone voice among a million others. And that still counts for something.\n\n ... \n\n>You notice both the women wearing clothes they would have worn in their respective countries.\nSo you cannot help but ask...\n[["It's good to see both of you being yourselves and following your traditions even in this strange land"|Hijab]]
There was no other way.\n\nNot after you had stepped into this dark alley with the intention you had held.\n\nNot after you had grabbed her from behind and been forceful with her.\n\nThere was //''no''// other way out of this. \nNot out of this metaphysical nightmare. \nNot after you realized this was a nightmare of your //own making//. One which you were going to doom your victim to live in. \nThe pain you felt from within -- not just the physical and mental one, but a metaphysical one-- one which threatened your very existence and reduced it to a binary one....10101010, something you would have sentenced your victim to. \nIn this twisted nightmare, the mirror had been turned in every aspect possible. You were feeling the pain she //''would''// have. You were feeling the helplessness she //''would''// have.\n\nWhat was worse was that the realization alone was worse than the pain. Having experienced the pain, the realization swept you in a wave of guilt you had buried deep beneath your primal urges.\n\nBut now it had resurfaced and was choking you.\n\nSo, there was only one way out of this.\n\nYou aimed the knife at your own throat and thrust it in. \nA single flash of @@color:white;background:white;white@@was all it resulted in as you felt all the energy drain out of you. \nAs if your skin was just a balloon inflated with blood, your consciousness began to slip away.\n\nYour consciousness @@text-decoration:line-through;returned@@.\n\nThe last fleeting memory you had was of the faceless woman,no longer smiling but still looking down at you. \nShe just said:\n"Now you know..."\n\nYou only see @@color:white;background:white;white@@\n[[Walk through the all encompassing white veil|WakeUp]]
You reach your pocket and produce a knife which you flick open with a sinister smile. \n\n"Now, you are //''mine''//"\n\nHowever, the pain ceased to retreat back from whatever hollow void it had come from. This wasn't exactly a physical pain, nor a mental one. \nIt extended beyond the metaphysical boundaries yet whose effects persisted physically.\n\nAs the pain started to escalate, your mind began to race, blinded in rage.\n\nShe aimed her handbag at you, but you dodged the attack and grabbed it, easily pulling it out of her grasp. \n\nYou chucked it aside as you shot a sinister smile at her which then suddenly broke into a wince as another shot of unbearable @@font-size:2.5em;pain@@ shot through you making you drop the knife.\n\nYou saw her wearing the same smile you had just a few moments ago. Like a twisted mirror had just appeared in front of you //creating// a smile on where there should have been a face. \nA smile that seemed to radiate of the very intentions you had had a moment ago. \nTo cause harm.\n\nIn rage, you aimed a hand at her.\nYou were the one who got hurt by the ''pain''.\n\nThis wasn't supposed to pan out like this. It was supposed to be simple -- you would get your way with this lonely woman in this dark alley and you can leave guilt-free. \nBut taken aback by the unusually twisted rules of this nightmare you...\n\n\n[[...aim a blow at her head|AimHead]]\n@@text-decoration:line-through;color:red;opacity:0.5;...run away into the darkness@@\n@@text-decoration:line-through;color:red;opacity:0.5;...let the woman run away@@
You remain where you are, content with your ears being your eyes.\n\nShe spoke something, still sobbing:\n"I don't know why I'm even bothering you with this but I really need to tell this to someone.....you know to take this weight off my mind. To make me feel less guilty about what I'm doing. Please, can I ask you for a favour?"\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"What is it, please tell us"@@\n\n"I...I want you to be...please be kind to me, do not judge me harshly when I tell you my problems. I've had enough of that -- from my peers, my family, everyone I could turn to"\nA hint of desperation had creeped into her voice.\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Listen, we will not judge you. You may not know us, but we aren't the kind of women who judge others, less so a woman who seems to be be in need of help. You can trust us with your burden, we will not make it worse"@@\nEven if to a stranger, W's words may have seemed like fluff, her tone was comforting and the young woman seemed to take solace in that.\n\n"I'm going to have a child..borne out of the filth I do"\nInstead of congratulating her as someone's instinct may have forced, W and M remained silent.\nYou strained your ears to hear. \n\nW seemed to be speaking in a soft voice:\n"@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;font-size:1em;...have been standing at the crossroads where you find yourself. There's no reason to feel guilty, irrespective of the decision you have chosen"@@\n\n"How can I? Brought up in a religious home, I sacrificed all my values doing what I am. How can I not look at myself in a shameful light as a creature worthy of pity?"\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Stop that. You do not deserve any pity because you are doing what it takes to survive in the world. Only bigots who are buried deeply in their own ideologies shall judge you for that. No sane human who can see how harsh this world will ever judge you for earning your daily bread, regardless of the means you have chosen"@@\n\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"And if they do judge. It's not your concern to be affected by them. As women, society has taken upon itself as its rightful duty to judge us. Always assuming we represent the degrading standards of the society, always a sign of how rotten the times have become. As if, we are the default parameter for them to gauge how a culture is declining, never turning the mirror on itself to see who is //''actually''// influential in making us who we are.@@ @@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;No man gets judged as harshly as we do by a supposedly "degrading" society, even if our professions might be similar because apparently as a society, we must maintain double standards for each gender. The rose goes to the men and the thorny stem to us"@@\n\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"She is right. No matter what you choose to do in your life, you will be judged by those around you because you are woman. You cannot do anything but continue to live unperturbed and unaffected. It's what we have done and it's what you must do. Continue living and loving those who aim thorny criticisms at you. Because, as women that is what we are capable of. Loving.//Despite// everything."@@\n\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Indeed. You have the power to give life, and if you do decide to bring life into this world, there is nothing to be ashamed of. On the contrary, you should be proud"@@\n"But, how can I be a mother....with what I do? It's...it's shameful"\n\nW and M paused for a few moments.\nW spoke first, quietly patting her shoulder:\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"This is your decision. Give birth or let it be. You will not be killing the child. At this stage, it doesn't count as life. Nor is it going to render you childless for the rest of your life. What matters the most -- to you and to your child -- is that he or she comes out when you are ''ready''. In an environment that is ideal for him to grow up. One where you have adequate financial stability to be comfortable bringing up a child.@@@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;But what's most important is that you are '''happy''' bringing the child into this world. Nothing matters more to a newborn child than being held by a mother who ''wants'' him or her in this world and they will know it"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Bringing life into this world is one of the greatest gifts you can have as a woman. Instead of being sad over it, you should be happy about it. So first, let me see you smile,OK?"@@\n\nYou couldn't tell if the young woman smiled or not, but W's subsequent words answered that question:\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"That's better. You look beautiful, has anyone ever told you that?"@@\n\n"Yes,they have" she said letting out a little chuckle.\nW and M let out a short laugh too.\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"I assume you were headed for the clinic?"@@\n\n"Not right now, but I had an appointment for the evening"\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Whether you choose to go or not, why do you continue with the profession you have chosen?"@@\n\n"For me, it's the easiest way to earn money. Probably, the only thing I am good at. However, I am learning violin in my spare time, using the money to go to classes. Maybe, few years down the line when I am good enough, I plan on quitting to become part of an orchestra"\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Ah, that's good to hear"@@\n\nThe young lady couldn't tell but M's tone had slightly changed when she said that, perhaps slightly betraying her feeling that the young woman may fall into a trap of easy money and may never choose to follow with her escape route and ambition in the future.\n\nYet, she continued:\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"If you have no problems with your work nor with raising a child, I don't see why you should do any different. People around you may want something different, but this doesn't concern them"@@\n\n\n"You don't understand. If I don't abort this child, I will lose my chance to earn daily for the next nine months. I do not have enough savings to last myself"\n\nThere was silence.\nThe harder you tried to strained your ears, the deeper the silence penetrated through the air surrounding you.\nThere was a faint sound of something indescribable, but that could merely be the air currents playing a trick on you.\n\nSuddenly, M broke the silence:\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Take this. This belongs to an non-profit organization not far away from this place which takes care of pregnant mothers, free of expense. You will be provided with a place to stay and will be fed nutritious food, so the child can stay healthy. In the latter months, you will be attended to by a nurse for any needs you may have. What's better is that you will be surrounded by mothers like you who will provide an emotional support you may not get elsewhere"@@\n\nThere was another silence but this was different than before. Something hung in the air, almost as if one could almost //sense// the young woman's surprise in it after what had just been said.\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Like W said,it's upto you. Just because we have given you that doesn't mean you need to go there. But if you decide to have a child, do consider that. It'll be best for both of you"@@\n\nThe young woman tried saying something but it only came out as an incomplete word.\n\nInstead,W continued:\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"If you choose to, then do utilize those nine months properly. Thinking not just about your future but about the collective future of you and your child. It is a responsibility, whose capability none of us can be the judge of.You will have to take a deep, long look in the mirror and decide that the person you are right now can be a mother"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Yes. Such decisions require a great amount of thinking. Regardless of what you choose, never consider yourself talentless. If you are not happy with what you do, then leave that job. If you don't want your child to live with what you do, then leave that job. Do something else, something which in addition to making your ends meet also reinforces your pride in yourself"@@\n\n"I was not sure before. I am not sure even now. But I can atleast cling to hope for now"\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Remember, you should bring a child only if you are ready for it. Without an acceptance and a self-gauged maturity to be a mother, you are doing injustice not just to yourself but to the life you are bringing in this world. Understand what's best for you right now, because that's what matters. That's //''all''// that matters"@@\n\nM gave a brief pause before saying:\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"However,if you do choose to, then take pride in the fact that you are doing something only a woman can. There is no shame in bringing a child to this world. Women have shown themselves perfectly capable of raising a child alone for centuries and you won't be any different. Do not succumb under responsibility.@@ @@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;Tackle the questions and decisions you face head-on. Like the brave woman you are. The answers are not with us, nor with others. They are with you. You will find them, trust me, eventually"@@\n\nYou could only hear a soft sob from the young woman, before she cleared her voice to say:\n"I must have done something good to receive such honest help and advice from two absolute strangers"\n\nYou couldn't see W and M's faces nor their actual response but you could imagine a big smile on each of their faces.\n\n"I...I still do not know what I'm going to do. But I'm atleast not lost. I have direction and I believe I have enough will to make decision without feeling guilty about it. I think a part of me will always feel guilty about what I do, about what I might do. That part will always remain with me, as a reminder of who I used to be. But maybe, I can learn to see past that. Grow beyond it and truly live on my own terms"\n\nShe gave a small laugh.\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"What is it?"@@ queried M\n\n"It's funny. All the time I was living like this, I was thinking I was living on my own terms -- y'know the modern, independent woman, just like both of you. But I realize now that I was chained to my past. I have never made peace with it and was only running from it"\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"We all have a past we run from. From its shadows, we run hoping there will be light ahead in the future, that being the only means we can tell if we're living the right way. Do not think you're alone in that"@@\n\nThe train slowed to a halt.\nA station was announced on the speaker.\nYou could hear someone getting up -- you assumed it was the young woman.\n\n"What I know is that first and foremost I need to make peace with my past -- to accept who I am and what I do first. If I manage that,//KINDLY WAIT FOR THE TRAIN TO STOP AND THE DOORS TO OPEN. IN THE MEANTIME, A SAFETY MESSAGE TO ALL OUR PASSENGERS: DO NOT CROSS THE RAILWAY LINE BETWEEN PLATFORMS NO MATTER WHAT. A DELAY IS BETTER THAN A LIFETIME FULL OF REGRETS. TO AVOID SUCH SITUATIONS, PLEASE STAY AHEAD OF YOUR SCHEDULE//"\n\n\nOut of curiosity, you looked above the separation hurriedly and caught a fleeting glance of the young woman with a bright red coat give a quick hug to both W and M before rushing to the door. \nYou feel you should say something encouraging to her.\n\nDo you...\n[[shout words of encouragement at her|ShoutOut]]\n[[remain quiet as W and M have already done all that could be done for her|RemainQuiet]]
\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"It does actually.Fortunately for us, the holy texts have many passages in support of such equality and by general rule doesn't distinguish between men and women a lot. But, the negative elements which have seeped in partly due to the interpretation of those passages have put women in the inferior strata they have lived in for centuries"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"So, you plan on arguing on the interpretation of the holy texts?"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"We merely argue that certain elements of the holy text have been interpreted in a manner different from how they were originally stated. Interpretation is a delicate process. It reflects as much of the original idea as it reflects the interpretor's own beliefs.@@ \n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;We believe that such interpretation that bore from a medieval mindset does not apply in a modern context and needs to be looked over again by scholars -- both male and female"@@\n\n[["It sounds like a process built on foundations of religious education. Any particular examples you can provide?"|Example]]\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Indeed. I have to say, it sounds like you have a plan charted out on how you are going to make your case to your society and that is a good thing to see"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"It is but I must admit it is a slow and arduous process. We have to be patient because we are not only changing the perception of the masses but are also wanting them to reconsider the interpretation which has influenced their thinking"@@\n\n[["When the odds against you seem so large,is it possible to feel envious when you see women in West get embraced comparatively easily?"|Ease]]
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\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Oh definitely! I think the masses in our country were blissfully ignorant about the developments in the hinterlands of Afghanistan before 9/11 happened. After that, blind paranoia swept us and I emphasize on the word ''blind'' because that was what it was. "War of Terror" made the "us vs them" divide even bigger until ironically Bush had to step in and announce that "not all Muslims are bad"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"The irony"@@ sighed M\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"I know,right? I don't blame the people though. Fear can do a lot of things and their unawareness about the history of the Jihadi terror cells and Islamic culture made it worse. I even recall some Sikhs getting tagged as Muslims on the sole evidence that they wore their religious turbans like Osama. It was ridiculous"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"But it hasn't gotten better"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"It hasn't. In fact, it's become a silent truth in most of the countries. If you have a Muslim name on your passport, chances are you'll be taken aside for questioning. The act of segregating based on religion has become a norm and sadly even Muslims have quietly accepted that, irrespective of the fact many of them are born and brought up in the West"@@ \n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"While hoping that each country minds its own matters and doesn't get into any war"@@\n\nYou were out on the streets now. Even at this time of the day, they were fairly empty.\nW and M led the way walking towards a clock tower at the end of the street. \nYou quietly followed them.\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"I think the only way to mend the burnt bridge between these two cultures is through careful education on both the sides. One that provides facts and doesn't paint any prejudiced portrait of the //''other''// culture"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"It's a historical incompatibility between both religions and their consequent cultures. 9/11 and the "War on Terror" just brought the things to a fore. The only good thing from it was that women in Afghanistan no longer have to live under Talibani rule"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"That is true but they still have a long battle to fight. Longer than most of us. It's just a little easier when you aren't living in hell anymore"@@\n\n[[This "Us versus Them" has come up a number of times even when you talk to each other about your respective feminist movements|UsversusThem]]\n
You grab her wrist and try to wrench it behind her.\nThe ''pain'' ceases to retreat back from whatever hollow void it came. This wasn't exactly a physical pain, nor a mental one. \nIt extended beyond the metaphysical boundaries yet whose effects persisted physically.\n ''pain''\n ''pain''\nAs the ''pain'' started to escalate, your mind began to race, blinded in rage.\n\nShe aimed her handbag at you, but you dodged the attack and grabbed it, easily pulling it out of her grasp.\n\nYou chucked it aside as you shot a sinister smile at her which then suddenly broke into a wince as another shot of unbearable pain shot through you.@@font-size:2.5em;pain@@\n\nIn rage, you aimed a hand at her.\nYou were the one who got hurt by the@@font-size:2.5em;pain@@.\n\nThis wasn't supposed to pan out like this. It was supposed to be simple -- you would get your way with the woman. But taken aback by the unusually twisted rules of this nightmare you...\n\n\n[[...take out your knife|Knife]]\n[[...aim a blow at her head|AimHead]]\n@@text-decoration:line-through;color:red;opacity:0.5;...run away into the darkness@@\n@@text-decoration:line-through;color:red;opacity:0.5;..let the woman run away@@
\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Quite rightly said. I think both of us fail to understand the other's viewpoint and in turn believe the way //''we''// think is the only right way"@@\n\nW hesitated for a few moments before replying:\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"I admit that is one of our chief fallacies. The primary reason why feminists -- especially those like me from the so-called West haven't been able to embrace women from all classes -- cultural, economic and racial. There is an inherent belief within Western feminism that women need to equal men in all forms.@@\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;Such an ideology tends to work largely in the context of a working woman. We do not think a lot about women who wish to be mothers and remain mothers. I know some of my colleagues who look down at them in a condescending manner. I think we must embrace them and their needs. Likewise, we must embrace women who have contrasting religious beliefs such as you,M"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Indeed. I think close-mindedness isn't just an issue that plagues you,W. It is a general human mindset and it affects you as much as it does us. I think you should try overcoming it and realize that ultimate goal of feminism isn't to equal men. It is to embrace the needs of every women on this planet -- mother, working woman, woman of color and put them on an equal pedestal as men. I may not be the right person to do so, but if I had to critique Western feminism, that would be my sole point"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Point taken. I have tried discussing some of these points occasionally, but sadly even I'm not above falling into that mindset as it just happened"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"It's alright. Only by falling, do we gain motivation to learn. What's important is you realize that this is a shortcoming of your side of the movement and are keen to improve upon it"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Indeed. I guess as Americans we tend to be fairly ignorant about other cultures. How do you suggest we tackle that issue?"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Through education, no doubt. Something like a mandatory one-year course during high-school which focuses on foreign cultures. Knowledge and understanding is the only way you can remove baseless prejudices. I don't know, but it might even help create a more unified and less prejudiced society in a nation like America which is as culturally and racially diverse as it can get"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"You have a point there. Our basic education focuses far too much on our own literature and history. While it does succeed in creating a sense of pride and patriotism, it also results in many thinking "Ours is the //''only''// culture that matters, which obviously is not right. You've given me something to think about there"@@\n\nM nodded.\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Tell me though, is it better in your part of the world?"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Education? Not really. While some of the modern schools do teach about foreign cultures considerably, it is negated by the inherent prejudice the religious leaders preach us of the West. Again, it is for the purpose of instilling pride for our culture and religion but I don't agree that it's the right way to do it. You create pride by showing the merits of your own culture, not by denouncing and making the other look inferior.@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"No disagreeing there,sister" W said with a nod.\n\n[[Let us take a breather. That cafe seems a good spot to sit down and talk for a while. Shall we?|ToCafe]]\n
At the height of desperation, a sane man is said to do acts which would otherwise seem insane to him. In the realm of a dream where belief is relegated to a vestigeal status, such acts suddenly seem more real.\n\nThe knife was always going to be your last resort.\nBut not in the manner you had anticipated.\n\nYou flicked the knife open but not with the confidence of a crazed stalker. \nYour hands were quivering as you brought the knife between you shaking body and her -- hoping it would discourage her. \n\nBut she continued to walk towards you -- stone in hand dripping with blood that belonged to you, her eyes burnt in the vengeful fire of the million crimes that you were responsible for.\n\nThen there was the @@font-size:2.5em;pain@@ which was part of your very //existence//.\n\nThere seemed like just one solution to this...\n\n[[...bury the knife in your throat|BuryKnife]]\n@@text-decoration:line-through;color:red;opacity:0.5;...thrust the knife into her leg@@\n@@text-decoration:line-through;color:red;opacity:0.5;...drop the knife and run away@@
\nM gave a sheepish smile,\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"That is unfortunately true. Our cultures contrast in the most critical manner and our cultural heads paint a very distorted view of your culture. By choosing to focus only on the negative aspects, they believe that you have a decadent culture. For instance, some of us believe your women to be caged as well"@@\n\nW's brows furrowed as she queried the reason behind such a belief.\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"They think the women from the West are prisoners of their own vanity. In their attempt to compete with one another to meet a fixed model of beauty, they trap themselves in a cage of their own making"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Wow,seriously? And do you believe in that?"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"I'm told to believe in that. Obviously I don't. I can think for myself and I believe that cage exists for all of us. Men or women, with or without a Hijab, we are not exempt from looking at the inherent model of beauty without our self-consciousness pricking us from within fuelling our insecurities about our appearance"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Exactly. Sure, women may be subject to the word "vanity wars" more but aren't men as insecure about their looks too? I think this is a universal rule and applying it exclusively for Western women would be a little unfair"@@\n\nM nodded,\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Indeed. Unfortunately, that is what happens when you are too involved in the task of painting every aspect of the other culture black. You cease to see anything besides that colour"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"I think it is that ignorance which prevents us from understanding each other. A major obstacle to the feminist movement worldwide. If we believe we have to include all women, we need to embrace their cultures first"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"But is that even possible? Both of us may admit we share a common goal -- to empower women so that they are treated as equals, but can we say that we are fighting on the same battleground? You seek to change the patriarchal mindset by rattling its very foundation while disregarding religion almost entirely, whereas religion is an integral part of our feminist movement because it is the only way we believe we can convince our entire society"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Same battle, but different rules?"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Eloquently put"@@\n\n[["So, exactly how does religion manifest into your battle?"|Religion]]
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The owner couldn't hear you.\n\nW instead spoke:\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Do you know these are the very men who abuse and throw rape jokes and threats at us? How do you think we can convince them by a mere argument when we are shaking the very foundation of their beliefs? It is like telling someone that the very foundation of their religion is a lie. It's not going to be that easy"@@\n\n"So, what do you suppose? Move forward without caring to convince these young men who are confused about their purpose in the society. About what they are supposed to do in a society where man is no longer the provider and a woman can do what a man can. It would seem easy for you, as via feminism, women's importance is escalated to a stature equal to men, but also in the process ours is declined"\n\n[["Since when has sharing an equal status been equal to declining your status. It's not a compromise, it's an adjustment which has been due for generations"|Nothing2]]\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"How is that so? Elevating women to an equal status in the society wouldn't decrease men's status? Do not confuse the role of "provider" as a status. It was a role because men were the traditional bread-earners. Now, you may just have to share it with a woman if your wife happens to be working too"@@\n\n[["What are you thinking about?"|Daughter]]\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Listen, we are not men's enemies. We are primarily concerned with women and seeing they never get discriminated for their gender ever again -- in any field or section of the society. It's a long struggle and honestly we are going to need men's support here. You are whom we have to convince along with women who are still trapped in a patriarchal mindset.@@ \n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;To put it simply, you are either with us or against us. There's no middle ground here where you don't like aspects of our movement. If you want women to be treated equally, you shall support our fight. //That is all//"\n@@\n\nW gave a soft applause after M's fierce monologue.\n\nThe owner nodded. He was already tired of this argument. Too old in his ways of thinking to change now, he thought.\nHe gave a tired smile saying:\n"I hope you enjoy your coffee. And my apologies for getting into an argument I had little knowledge of. Sorry, if I appeared unnecessarily prejudiced. It's who I am"\nAnd with that he disappeared behind the counter.\n\n\nYou were about to suggest you leave the cafe when you noticed the female patron approaching your table from the corner of your eye\n\nYou could tell she didn't always used to be a woman but that didn't matter much in your mind. @@text-decoration:line-through; //Did it?//@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Iceland', cursive;font-size:1.3em;"I hope I'm not interrupting but I found your discussion with the owner quite interesting. May I sit?"@@ she said to W and M.\n\n[["Of course!"|Transfeminism]]
Woman
You are //a// man.\n//Someone.//\nWalking in a dark alleyway, you moved forwards with a singular purpose.\nYour prey stood there alone at its end -- the only source of light being a dim streetlamp from the adjacent street.\n\nYou walked quietly, making sure your feet made no sound, guaranteeing you a chance to spring up a surprise on her.\n\nYou could feel something burning within you and you mistake it as your //hunger// by hastening your steps as you notice a silhoutte in the dark, her back facing your direction.\n\nYou grabbed her from behind, one of your hands tightening around her neck.\n\nShe jumped in surprise and immediately tried fighting your attack.\nYou kept your grasp on her firm as you turned her around to face you.\nShe had @@text-decoration:line-through;M's@@ @@text-decoration:line-through; W's@@ no face.Where there should have been a face, there was just a blank.\n\nShe tried struggling to break your grasp, flailing around and aiming her elbows at you.\n\n"There's nowhere you can go. You are all //mine//"\n\nEven without @@font-weight:bolder;pain@@the elbows touching you, a @@font-weight:bolder;pain@@pain starts to develop, @@font-weight:bolder;pain@@rising from your core @@font-weight:bolder;pain@@and spreading@@font-weight:bolder;pain@@ like a@@font-weight:bolder;pain@@ wildfire.@@font-weight:bolder;pain@@@@font-weight:bolder;pain@@@@font-weight:bolder;pain@@@@font-weight:bolder;pain@@@@font-weight:bolder;pain@@\n\nIt first appeared like a lightning@@font-size:2.5em;pain@@flash.Blinding you for the smallest instant but long enough for you to make a move in your //defense//\n \n[[You wrench her arm behind her|WrenchArm]]\n[[You remove your Swiss knife|Knife]]\n@@text-decoration:line-through;color:red;opacity:0.5;Release her@@\n@@text-decoration:line-through;color:red;opacity:0.5;Hit *your* head on the wall behind her@@
\nBeyond that intersection lay an entire city -- nameless in existence and similar in form to every other of its kind, it continued functioning blissfully ignorant of its own significance.\n\nIt was going to be the confluence of two spirits, a collision of two forces -- formed from the same thread, fuelled by a common purpose, yet holding viewpoints that happened to be polar opposites of one another.\n\n[[One of the figures|W]] reached the intersection and continued walking a little, only stopping in front of a cafe's window to have a look at herself.\n
You shouted whatever came to your mind first. Something that would encourage her.\nAt first, it seemed as if she didn't hear you. \n\nHowever, you noticed that the young woman stopped for a moment at the door, covering her face with her palms for the smallest moments. \nAs she exited the train, facing the world outside, you thought you caught a glimpse of her smiling.\n\nYou keep staring at the space where she had been standing just a few moments ago.\n \nWhat you had just witnessed may very well be the turning point for the young woman. All her peers had pushed her into a corner, pasting labels onto her to define the person she was and here she was being selflessly helped by two strangers, adviced on most fundamental aspects about womanhood. \nA conversation she should have had with her mother or an elder sister, she had with W and M. \n\nA<--|--thought--|--train--|--was--|--beginning--|--to--|--develop--|--in--|--your--|--mind.\n\nYou could see W looking back at you with a knowing look on her face. Beside her, M had a soft smile on her face.\nMomentarily lifting yourself from above the surface of your consciousness, you wave back at them and then settle down on your seat feeling tired.\n\nYour destination was still a few stations away, so you decided to take a short nap.\n\nYou look at the fleeting scenery outside -- buildings and trees flitting past one another, like the pages of a book, telling a story whose meaning seemed too impenetrable to your mind. \nA pattern seemed to form in front of your eyes and then like that, disintegrated into the chaos it was born from. As your consciousness drifted away, it couldn't help but focus on a specific image.\n\nThat image was of...\n\n[[...a dark shadow on a woman|DarkShadow]]\n[[...a crying man sleeping in a fetal position|FetalMan]]
\nW, a little apologetic spoke,\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"I realize that we tend to be ignorant of other cultures, but you must understand that is what most of us think when they see a woman of Islamic faith in a hijab. They don't see a woman wearing it due to her own beliefs and mental comfort but we see a woman caged by the overbearing patriarchal rules of the religion"@@\n\nM nodded acknowledging W's honest viewpoint and gave a few moments pause before choosing to reply,\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"I don't blame you. Cultural prejudice seems to be a trait common to all of us. We all consider our way of life to be better than the other and in our ignorance we hold aloft our superiority. Never for once caring to learn and understand the other's point of view"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"I think the ignorance of each other's culture both results from and burns in the fire of negativity, in whose light we see each other"@@\n\n[["Couldn't agree more with you. However, if I am not mistaken, I believe sisters of your faith do not see the Western women in a positive light either"|Otherside]]\n\n
\nIn silence, they continued forward towards the cafe.\nThe door opened with a ring and they found the cafe was empty except an old man who judging from the striped overalls seemed to be its owner, was talking to a female patron.\n"Welcome" he shouted from behind the counter\nBoth M & W gave him a smile as they sat down at a small table for three.\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"This is a good place you have here"@@ W commented as the owner approached their table\n\n"Thank you. Been running it for almost 20 years now. Good place made better by kind patrons such as you!"\n\nThey placed their orders and the old man disappeared behind the counter to prepare it.\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Do you think that without religion your fight would be easier?"@@\n\nM pondered on that question for the slightest of moments before replying:\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Without religion, I doubt it would be the same fight. It would be a fight similar to yours"@@\n\n\nW nodded:\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"But isn't it possible to isolate the religion in any manner? I can understand it's the only way to convince the masses but doesn't it seem like an archaic manner to convince everyone?"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Recall what I had just told you about how any interpretation is a mixture of the original meaning and its' interpretor's beliefs or mindset. I think religion is like that. It's based on an archaic idea -- millenia old but it's interpretation has repeatedly refined itself. Some would say, too slow, but some would argue it has only refined when it has seen the need to. To see, it doesn't alienate anyone"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"I get what you're saying, but what is your point here?"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"What I mean to say is that the holy texts have not distinguished between men and women on fundamental matters explicity. The interpretation may reflect the beliefs of that time, but now those beliefs have evolved and so we believe should the interpretation. We have to convince people that this is how it was meant to be"@@ \n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;Our argument rests on a more defined grounds -- it might seem more restrictive to you but to us it seems like a justified manner to make our statements. We are not introducing a new "concept" or an "ideology" so much as making people realize that it has always been there in the holy texts and the difference was borne merely out of its intepretation"@@\n\n\n[[That is an interesting way to look at things. But do you think your cause is affected by its Western counterpart? And W, would you say the same?|Influence]]
\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"What are you thinking?"@@ repeated W since the old man had apparently not heard you.\n\n"About my daughter"\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Do you miss her?"@@\n\n"Is that even a question for a father? Every day I think about her but I'm too afraid to call her. Fearing I'll catch her in a foul mood. Look at who's scared of whom. When she was young, she used to be scared of my furry brows when I frowned. Funny how time changes that all. How it changes everything..."\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"What does she do?"@@\n\nWith a strange smile on his face, he said:\n"She's one of you. A feminist"\n\nW and M did not know how to take in that piece of information but they gave a receptive nod\n\n"She used to be married once. But then she read some manifesto on gender equality and I don't know what came into her but she started going into these weekly gatherings. The more involved she got, the worse her relationship with her husband became. He didn't approve of it. Soon enough, they had divorced"\nIt was almost as if he happened to be that part of his daughter who was hurt the most by the divorce.\n"She had a life but she destroyed it in fighting for a social cause. Tell me, what good is fighting when your own personal life is in disarray?"\n\nThis time it was W who chose to reply:\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Fighting is what she believes in. Maybe even more than her personal life, it means more to her. Surely you as her father can see that?"@@\n\n"But I want her to be happy!"\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"I'm sure you do. But not living the life you had envisioned for her. Are you sure she isn't happy fighting for what she believes in?"@@\n\nThe owner opened his mouth to reply but words had deserted him.\nHe already appeared resigned. With a tired smile, he said:\n"I hope you enjoy your coffee. And my apologies for getting into an argument I had little knowledge of. Sorry, if I appeared unnecessarily prejudiced. It's who I am"\nAnd with that he disappeared behind the counter.\n\nYou were about to suggest you leave the cafe when you noticed the female patron approaching your table from the corner of your eye\n\nYou could tell she didn't always used to be a woman but that didn't matter much in your mind. //Did it?//\n\n@@font-family: 'Iceland', cursive;font-size:1.3em;"I hope I'm not interrupting but I found your discussion with the owner quite interesting. May I sit?"@@ she said to W and M.\n\n[["Of course!"|Transfeminism]]
\nThe owner didn't hear you.\nInstead, W continued:\n"How is that so? Elevating women to an equal status in the society wouldn't decrease men's status? Do not confuse the role of "provider" as a status. It was a role because men were the traditional bread-earners. Now, you may just have to share it with a woman if your wife happens to be working too"\n"Listen, we are not men's enemies. We are primarily concerned with women and seeing they never get discriminated for their gender ever again -- in any field or section of the society. It's a long struggle and honestly we are going to need men's support here. You are whom we have to convince along with women who are still trapped in a patriarchal mindset.\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;To put it simply, you are either with us or against us. There's no middle ground here where you don't like aspects of our movement. If you want women to be treated equally, you shall support our fight. //That is all//"@@\n\nW gave a soft applause after M's fierce monologue.\n\n\nThe owner nodded. He was already tired of this argument. Too old in his ways of thinking to change now, he thought.\nHe gave a tired smile saying:\n"I hope you enjoy your coffee. And my apologies for getting into an argument I had little knowledge of. Sorry, if I appeared unnecessarily prejudiced. \nIt is who I am"\n\nAnd with that he disappeared behind the counter.\n\n[["What are you thinking?"|Daughter]]\nYou were about to suggest you leave the cafe when you noticed the female patron approaching your table from the corner of your eye\n\nYou could tell she didn't always used to be a woman but that didn't matter much in your mind. @@text-decoration:line-through; //Did it?//@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Iceland', cursive;font-size:1.3em;"I hope I'm not interrupting but I found your discussion with the owner quite interesting. May I sit?"@@ she said to W and M.\n\n[["Of course!"|Transfeminism]]
\nEqual in likeness and contrast -- a @@direction: rtl;unicode-bidi:bidi-override;reflection@@ and a @@text-shadow:3px 3px 3px #0ff;shadow@@ to one another, a few feet behind W stood M -- a woman she had come to respect despite their differences.\n\nM was among the few beacons of hope for millions of women from where she came from. \nA region that had once been the flagbearer of progressive outlook at gender roles, things had gone from bad to worse for many of them. \nIn the society, they still had some semblance of respect. Particularly, if they belonged to the higher economic strata, but in their homes, they rarely did. And was there ever any difference -- not according to W atleast. \n\nThe two tiny windows that cut through their veil -- the only way they could see beyond the darkness.\n\nThat was what W thought of M and her kind. \n\nThat was where the cracks began widening into a rift until they lived literally worlds apart.\nWhat had once been a fork were now two [[different worlds.|Intro]]
As time passed and your search grew vain, slowly realizing that every figure you touched, you felt the same way. And what you felt was no substitute for the warmth you craved.\n\nThe void within you grew larger. \nWhat used to be a hollow, grew into a raging vacuum fuelled by the loss of the one feeling it had always wanted.\n\nYou could feel immense pain and loss. \nThe figures around you were smiling. \nIn their eyes, you could see //your smiling face// but that didn't do anything to fill the vacuum within you.\n\nThe smile was merely a facade you put up for those faceless figures in the dark -- a lie which concealed the hollow void that was raging within yourself.\n\nYou stare at all the figures. Their faceless expressions eerily piercing through your own consciousness, quietly pulling you towards them. \nBut you had realized it was a lie.\nYou had realized that the life you were living was a disappointment. \nA life that had peaked too early and will be always be littered with regrets of //what was// and //what could have been//.\n\nYour stamina gets constantly drained -- not by the figures, but by ''time''. The very essence which governs the universe is draining away your stamina.\n\nFatigued you lie down on the ground. Pulling your arms close to your body and curling your body, you lie down waiting for the darkness to envelope you entirely.\n\nThe darkness will come eventually, but what mattered to you then was that while you were lying on the ground there, in your final moments, you began feeling the warmth again. The feeling from your distant memories, which was the silent driving force in your life had returned.\n\n\nLying in that fetal position, you give a small smile.\n\n[[Wake up|WakeUp]]
\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Let me try"@@\n\nM pushed the door open with the slighest of touches. Shooting a look of puzzlement at you, both W and M passed through the door.\nYou followed them.\n\nOutside, the snowfall had stopped and the faintest sign of sunlight appeared through the thickening clouds.\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"That was a good cafe -- the owner's prejudices not withstanding"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"I think he's entitled to his prejudices if he has been brought up in a patriarchal culture. Not that he's justified for maintaining it, but often people never bother changing"@@ M replied, ending her words with a small sigh.\n\n[["His family sure meant a lot to him"|Family]]
\n\nThe shadow reached a fork but didn't stop. Cleanly splicing into t/--w--/o,the shadows -- a plural now continued on their new paths, never looking back from where they came.\n\nThey cast brief glances towards each other but never for long. Their paths had been defined and a collective force gently pushed them ahead. This [[force|Force]] -- gentle yet persistent grew the more they opposed. \n\nSo they continued walking, hoping someday they will meet at an intersection and find out just how their paths have [[altered them permanently|Two]]
@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"I cannot deny there's a fundamental difference here. I sensed it back when we were discussing the importance of family. I noticed you mentioned how within a family all of us have a "sense of place". What exactly did you mean when you said that?"@@\n\nM pondered over the question for a few moments before replying:\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"I meant that women in our culture consciously recognize the difference in our genders and the roles allocated to us -- both in the context of the family and society. Which is why when it comes to a specialized "Ladies" compartment in trains, I wasn't as appalled by that concept as perhaps you were"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"So, you accept the concept of "roles" based on gender? You are not appalled by the fact that it might be just another aspect of patriarchal culture telling you what you're supposed to do"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"I don't see why such a concept should seem so alien to you. Women have been assigned roles, some of which are rightfully theirs -- that of a wife, of a mother, of a daughter. The ones which only they could play. Sure, there are limitations put by such roles but isn't there an inherent pride and responsibility that comes along with playing it as well?"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"I don't see this as a role-playing game -- neither in the context of family or society, I don't see why women cannot play the same "role" which men assign for themselves and should do what men ask you to"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"I don't think men should define the "role". It should be a "role" marked by what we as women can do exclusively which men cannot. Being mothers is probably the most common example of that where we are expected to fulfill certain responsibilities that the "role" assigns to us. It is not a "role" defined by the society or those with a patriarchal mindset, but one defined by our own strengths and limitations"@@\n\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"But often when we're playing these "roles", we fail to see the compromise we make for the sake of others, while men are perfectly free to act on their own -- without any chains of responsibility binding them"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"That is untrue. I think men are obliged to honor their "role" -- that of a dutiful husband, father or son as much as a woman is expected to play her "role". This is something which any religious man in our society would do and I believe any self-respecting man in your culture would do the same"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Possibly. But the very definition of "roles" stems from a restriction. Why fall into that rabbit-hole when you can erase such traditionally defined "roles" and just live on equal terms. One where two people in a marriage decide their roles based on their own set of values and beliefs. Some of us perform such nuptials before our marriage and the ones who honor it live a happy, married life. Roles defined by society make generalizations and do not regard for individual exceptions"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"In what sense?"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Where a conversation would happen between a newlywed couple on how they plan on dividing their "roles" in the family they're starting, a pre-defined "role" by the society simply ends such a conversation or prevents it from ever happening"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"I can see your point in that particular context but I do not agree with it, generally speaking. I think "roles" are an honorable aspect of our society which regard differences between men and women and assign them responsibilities they are expected to fulfill. What we would like as feminists is for men to take their responsibilities as seriously as we do, and also not to discriminate us on the basis of this roles outside the context where they should be applied.If I am to speak frankly, roles have no place in a work environment or anywhere outside your own house"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Cannot agree with you here"When you put it as that, it does seem a bit more palatable to me, even if I cannot support the concept of "roles" within any context. I think in a world without predefined roles, we are free to do exactly what men can do and in the context of family make "roles" on our own mutually agreed terms"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"I see. I think that is where our differences lie. In our arguments on family, the existence of a special Ladies compartment in trains and now the concept of gender "roles" that difference has come out"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"That we see the concept of equality in different ways?"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Yes. You seek to equal men in absolutely every aspect by destroying the boundaries which divide you so that you can be defined and judged on your own terms and not by your gender. To put it crudely, Western feminists' vision of an ideal society would be an androgynous society where gender ceases to matter outside a biological context. Did I get that right?"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Quite right. Not androgynous in a true sense, but one where gender ceases to matter and a human being is judged on their own merits"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"On the other hand, we seek to achieve equality keeping our societal and family roles in regard. While acknowledging that women and men are born different and there will be aspects like motherhood and child-rearing which will set our roles different. That doesn't mean those roles can solely define us but we also cannot ignore them."@@\nM gave a smile.\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"In a way, you summarized both our views quite succintly"@@\n\nThere was a rumble as the train arrived and screeched to a halt.\n\nFrom where all of you were standing, the entry to the "Ladies" compartment and the "General" compartment were at the same distance.\n\nYou exchanged looks with W & M.\n\nBoth were pondering where to go. After such a lengthy discussion where they had spelt out their own opinions on the compartmentalizing passenger bogeys of a train on basis of gender, they were at a loss of what to choose without offending each other.\n\nOr without sepa<---->rating as they were very much interested in continuing their conversation.\n\nYou decided to take charge of things for a change.\n\nYou decide to...\n\n[[step into the "Ladies" compartment|Ladies]]\n\n[[step into the "General" compartment|General]]
\nGazing at her own reflection, brown curls neatly tucked behind her ears, she adjusted her glasses to have a better look at herself.\n\nLight had dispersed the darkness from around her.\nShe was now a woman. \nDressed in a brown overcoat with light blue mittens adorning her palms, she rubbed them while standing -- patiently waiting for someone.\n\nShe went by the name of W. \nA fiercely independent woman who was one of the strong voices for gender equality in her culture, she now stood gazing at [[another of her kind|M]]
Ansh
\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Of course. The Holy Koran contains many passages which refer to men and women in a neutral form using the word "nafs" thus never drawing a line or any difference between them when it comes to the word of Allah. It does not advocate gender inequality by any means"@@\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;font-weight:lighter;"//O mankind! Be conscious of your sustainer, who has created you out of one living entity (nafs), and out of it created its mate, and out of two spread abroad a multitude of men and women.//"@@\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"The holy texts also do not discriminate on the spirituality of a man and woman. In Allah's eyes, we are all equal, be it in judgment for our virtues or sins"@@\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"//I shall not lose sight of the labor of any of you who labors in My way, be it man or women; each of you is equal to the other.//"@@\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Both of these passages form a key part of our argument on how the interpretation of Holy Koran needs to be looked over again"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"M, I can understand how important religion is for you and the method you have chosen for fighting for your cause but relying on the interpretation of a religious book written millenia ago isn't a sensible way of fighting for a concept which is clearly modernist in definition. People back in those days didn't even understand the concept of gender equality, so how could you expect to use those very words in order to explain everyone?"@@\n\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Because it is the only way we have. We believe in our religion to be the spiritual guiding force and we are not ashamed of it. It is the only language people understand and believe in -- me included. And we believe that Allah would never distinguish between a person for being born who they are. He would judge us from our deeds"@@\n\n[["I think this is the fundamental incompatibility between both streams of feminist movement which arises from their inability to understand each other's culture"|Incompatible]]
At the beginning, for the smallest of moments,you feel ''warmth''nothing. \n\nWarmth of the highest magnitude. Not one that would form blisters on your skin, but the kind which is perfectly suited for your body. Whose soft touch gently caresses you -- a //''motherly''// touch -- trying to bring something out from deep within yourself.\n\nThis is warmth brought on from the outside.\nBut it is also //within// you. \nYour mind is too young to grasp such contradictions especially when the warmth surrounds you such affectionately.\n\nYou felt warmth for the entirety of that one moment. \n\nBut then that moment was gone.\nThere was nothing after that.\nYou couldn't feel the warmth any longer. \nYou actually ceased to feel //anything//. \n\nA slow void began expanding from your core, gently coalescing your interior which was yearning for the warmth and connection.\n\nAt first, you got up and searched for the warmth.\nThe memory that @@text-shadow: -10px 10px 0px #00e6e6,-20px 20px 0px #01cccc,-30px 30px 0px#00bdbd;lingered@@ of that feeling burnt like fire in your mind razing any known reason or logic within it and centering its purpose only on one thing -- to find that warmth and connection again.\n\nYou saw faceless figures in the darkness.\nOne of them, the one closest to you called out to you, their arm reaching out to you.\n\n[[You rush to hold its arm|TouchArm]]\n\nThere are more figures in the shadows, standing as if frozen in stasis.\nInitially, you stay aloof of them,but eventually you try reaching out to one of them.\nBut when you touch them it just doesn't feel the same. \nYou may feel //something// but it is never the warmth you yearned for -- never what your mind hungered for.\n\nA strand of thread forms between you---and---the---figure, the moment you touch it. It grows thinner the farther you get, but it never breaks.\nMaybe, the threads will provide you with the warmth you //crave//.\n\n[[Touch as many figures as you can|TouchAll]]\n\nYou stare at all the figures. Their faceless expressions eerily piercing through your own consciousness, quietly pulling you towards them. \nBut you had realized it was a lie.\nYou had realized that the life you were living was a disappointment. \nA life that had peaked too early and will be always be littered with regrets of //what was// and //what could have been//.\n\nYour stamina gets constantly drained -- not by the figures, but by ''time''. The very essence which governs the universe is draining away your stamina.\n\nFatigued you lie down on the ground. Pulling your arms close to your body and curling your body, you lie down waiting for the darkness to envelope you entirely.\n\nThe darkness will come eventually, but what mattered to you then was that while you were lying on the ground there, in your final moments, you began feeling the warmth again. The feeling from your distant memories, which was the silent driving force in your life had returned.\n\nLying in that fetal position, you give a small smile.\n\n[[Wake up|WakeUp]]\n\n\n\n\n
\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Please have a seat"@@ W said with a welcoming gesture. \nShe dragged a chair from the adjacent table and sat down. \n@@font-family: 'Iceland', cursive;font-size:1.3em;"So, both of you are feminists?"@@ \n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Yes, we are"@@ \n\n@@font-family: 'Iceland', cursive;font-size:1.3em;"Surprise! I'm one too. Although I suspect I'm not the kind of support you are looking for"@@\n \nBoth W and M were lost for words by that statement.\n\nW regained her wits and replied:\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Not necessarily. I, for one find the exclusion of transwomen from feminism to be a shameful and quite frankly a conservative way of thinking that insults the purpose of this movement than enhances it"@@\n \nThe transwoman seemed surprised.\n@@font-family: 'Iceland', cursive;font-size:1.3em;"Is that so? I'm surprised you are not among the "female by destiny, not biology" school of thought as many of your American counterparts are. Honestly, I'm glad you think that way"@@ \n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"I personally think anyone who identifies as a woman should be rightfully included in the feminist movement. The very notion of "womyn-born-womyn" as some call it is a derogatory term which divides us rather than uniting us"@@ \n\n@@font-family: 'Iceland', cursive;font-size:1.3em;"I think there are enough problem trans people have to deal with regarding their identity and internal turmoil that we could do without society's judgmental scrutiny. We feel the same as any other women, whether it's our //destiny// or not, they're nobody to judge"@@ \n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"I've not met many transfeminists before honestly. So,pardon my curiosity but what do you think of the numerous //mainstream// feminists who have disregarded transfeminism vehemently by calling it a "violation of human rights where a guy suddenly speaks as a woman and decided to take the mantle of feminism"?"@@ \n\n@@font-family: 'Iceland', cursive;font-size:1.3em;"I say that people who think that way can thrust their own ego up their asses. Human rights violation? Pfft. Not allowing people to live on their own terms is a violation. Not having the proper medical facilities after every hospital turns you out is a violation. Being treated as a //second-class// woman despite the fact we //feel// like a woman in every true sense of word is a violation"@@\n@@font-family: 'Iceland', cursive;font-size:1.3em;"Actually, you know what. They are right. We //are// abominations. Ones born from the rigidity of gender definitions. Ones that do not disregard the fluidity of gender identity and brave the world to be who they //are//. Ones who try to fit the narrow perception of what a man or a woman should look and behave like because all we want at the end of the day is acceptance"@@ \nThere was a silence. \nW surfaced above it:\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"You make a very interesting point about the fluidity of gender and the narrow perception of the society on exactly how //any// gender looks and behave like?"@@ \n\nShe nodded:\n@@font-family: 'Iceland', cursive;font-size:1.3em;"I think it all comes down to having defined gender characteristics. Man and woman. You know what I'd do? I would take a ''giant'' sledgehammer and fucking tear down the entire foundation of that. Gender is fluid. Biological and psychological identification of gender has little correlation with one another.@@ \n@@font-family: 'Iceland', cursive;font-size:1.3em;The moment we gain self-awareness though we are trying to fit into one gender role or another. At first, we are //pushed// to. Dress like a girl, behave like one, talk to them, play with dolls. We aren't programmed to think that way but the world rewires us"@@ \n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"So, where does it branch out?"@@ \n@@font-family: 'Iceland', cursive;font-size:1.3em;"The fucking teenage. The age when you slowly realize that the entire world isn't the glorious candyland you were made to believe. The age when you realize your parents are highly flawed people and possible serial-liars and you learn to question everything you knew about yourself and the world. That's when the turmoil rises and builds up. Mix that with whatever hormones your body's pumping you with and you're a glorious trainwreck"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Iceland', cursive;font-size:1.3em;"I guess the worst part is there's nobody you can talk to about it either. Some parents understand but most are either appalled or disappointed by how their child turned out. It's people's inability to think outside the gender definitions which makes the confusion all the more worse for us"@@ \n\nIt seemed like every time she spoke, the silence deepened. \n\n@@font-family: 'Iceland', cursive;font-size:1.3em;"Anything that you cannot define is a sin, as they say. Tell you what. If we lived in a society that didn't have any perception of a //man// and a //woman// and embraced the fluidity of gender, then I think transpeople would cease to exist -- or rather we would be everywhere and nobody would even blink"@@\n\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"That's something I've never heard before. Why would you believe that?"@@ \n\n@@font-family: 'Iceland', cursive;font-size:1.3em;"It's just my opinion, but the reason why many but ''not all'' of us go through sexual reassignment surgeries is to fit into the society's perception of the gender we identify with. We take regular doses of hormones //because// we can move about with a sense of comfort without having every person stare down at us. We try to fit into //your// perception which we wouldn't have to //if// such a perception never existed in the first place"@@ \n\n@@font-family: 'Iceland', cursive;font-size:1.3em;"There are exceptions -- but if someone had asked me what would happen in a gender-free society, I'd have said that. We would have a man behave like a woman and it wouldn't matter because both the words //man// and //woman// are not in our dictionaries"@@ \n\nSilence took over, for a few moments.\n\nW broke it once again:\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Do you think that if we lived in a society that doesn't have a defined perception of man or woman, trans people would not have worry anymore?"@@ \n\n@@font-family: 'Iceland', cursive;font-size:1.3em;"If there are no definitions, then we will not be forced into fitting into them either. We can be whoever we feel comfortable being"@@ \nShe looked at her watch and said:\n@@font-family: 'Iceland', cursive;font-size:1.3em;"Right. I'm getting late for a meeting. Sorry for bringing in so much fire to your table. Hope I didn't burn anyone" she said with a grin.@@ \n\n\nShe got up and waved to the old man who waved back at her. \n\nWith that, she walked out of the door. \n\nThere was silence in the cafe for a few moments after she left.\n\nYou decided to break it by saying:\n[["Let's leave as well. We can continue talking outside"|GoOutside]] \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n \n\n \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n
As you jump into the //"Ladies"// compartment, you catch the sight of W and M climbing into the neighbouring //"General"// compartment from the corner of your eye.\n\nBefore you realize what has happened, the doors of the train shut close and you stand bewildered separated from W and M.\n\nAs they look for a place to settle down, you wave at them from across the tiny cage-like grills which made up the separation between the two compartments.\n\nThey realize what has happened when they see you standing a few metres away but in another compartment and they aim a short chuckle and wave back at you.\n\nAs both W and M place themselves next to a young lady on the seats adjacent to the separation, you take a seat on its other side yourself.\n\nMoments of silence pass by.\n\nIt's M's soft voice which first rises above the veil of silence:\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"You appear distressed? Is anything troubling you?"@@\nShe seemed to be speaking to the third woman who was sitting there when they had first arrived. \n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Do speak up if something's the problem. We will do our best to help"@@\n\nYou could hear soft sobs from across the separation. You tried resisting the urge of looking over the other side.\n\nDo you....\n\n[[give in and take a peek|GiveIn]]\n\n[[resist the urge lest you scare the young woman|Resist]]
You aim a blow at her head, wrapping fingers around your palm and forming a stone-hard fist.\n\nThe blow landed but as you had feared you got the air knocked out of you.\nYour brain was beating as rapidly as your heart, like an unhinged animal rattling at its cage. \n\nYou saw the woman grab a medium-sized stone from the corner and approach you -- a fire in her eyes.\n\n"You wish to hurt me, don't you?"\n\nYou were speechless.\n\n"You wish to //claim// me as your property,don't you?\n\nShe hit the stone on your shoulders. You saw @@color:red;red@@ but even if you aimed a punch at her in retaliation, you couldn't do anything.\n\nYour evil, dirty intentions were a distant memory, separated by an opaque wall of pain and confusion. \nThe situation was unlike anything you had anticipated when you had followed her into this dark alley.\n\n"You think we belong to you. For satisfying your whims and pleasure, don't you?"\n\nThe stone hit the side of your cheek.\nYou tasted your own blood -- as bitter as your former intentions.\n\n"You think you can move around guilt-free even if you defile our bodies and minds forever?"\n\nThe stone hit you square in your chest. \nFor a moment, you could only see @@color:white;background:white;white@@, but then the darkness appeared and your hope that the nightmare had ended disappeared.\n\nPanic rose within you. She looked relentless in her vengeful fury and you were trapped in this nightmare.\n\nYou...\n\n@@text-decoration:line-through;color:red;opacity:0.5;...try to make a run for it@@\n@@text-decoration:line-through;color:red;opacity:0.5;...apologize to her@@\n[[...take out your knife as your last resort|KnifeLast]]
\n\nA force built on a millenia worth of collated experiences that had as much influenced the people that fell within its sphere as it had been shaped by them.\n\nThis force was permanent and omnipresent. You couldn't escape from it, no matter how hard you tried to. Even if you tried resisting it by forming a shell around you, it would still leave its indelible mark upon you.\n\nThe mark that would define you wherever you go, like a scar from a battle you never participated in.\n\nThe force was natural. Resisting it would be against the norm.\n\nYet, there were times when a significant [[resistance|Two]] to these forces emerged out of a pattern of normalcy. The resistance showed that what seemed like a natural force was merely something that had persisted for so long that people began *believing* it to be natural.\n\nLike a river, people never questioned its existence or age. Never questioning that where there flowed a river, there had once been a sprawling city.\n
@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Indeed. It doesn't surprise me. Family is an important part of all our lives and for some it is of paramount importance.@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Yet, I feel this is another place where our opinions differ a little,M. Don't you believe so?"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Yes, I believe the difference stems from how we see ourselves in the context of a society. There's a philosophical disparity between our cultures which is the key reason behind the difference in opinion especially on this topic"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"A philosophical difference between our cultures? Do you mean a more self-centric versus an altruistic belief?"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Yes. I might be generalizing here but it's hard to not do that when speaking about cultures. Generally speaking, the Western culture promotes a sense of "individual" and how //''your''// goals are of paramount importance. This strong sense of individualism does permeate into all aspects of your life, partly responsible for creating such an independent spirit within an average individual -- irrespective of their gender"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"I'm inclined to agree with you on that. Many modern philosophies from the West do promote the importance of an "individual" over the society. That doesn't mean they are discouraged from serving others in the society. But, I think it's common for them to hold their goals and values at a higher self-esteem and priority than others. Something which Ayn Rand's Objectivism preached and even if she was criticized for being a woman '''AND''' a Russian back in the 60s, many aspects of her philosophy have become commonplace among my people"@@\n\nW nodded, choosing to mull over M's words for a momentary thought than replying instantly.\n\nWe were moving towards the local train station. Being a holiday, it was mostly empty save for the occasional hawker and ticket officer, sitting with a bored expression behind the window.\n\nAs you approached the ticket window, the ticket officer seemed to take notice of W & M.\n\n"Good afternoon, ladies. How can I help you?"\n\nW stared for a little while at the rail map before choosing to reply:\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"A ticket to the //''Loren Ipsum''// station please"@@\n\n"Of course", the officer replied.\n\nWith tickets purchased, the three of you move to the platform.\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"I know you share a different point of view. What I would like to know is just //how// different is it?"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"For instance, our religion -- which is the prime code of values for all of us, tells us that a family is the most personal and most important institution -- the very foundation of the society and to disregard or undermine it's importance would be to undermine your own purpose. None of us -- men or women can ignore or even shun family. We believe family ties -- bound by blood are for the entire life, and we respect that"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"I see. That's quite a different way to look at it. While we respect family and its' importance, the manner in which we are brought up -- by being encouraged to fund our own college education is an early example to promote the sense of individualism among us so that we can survive in the world outside. As for relations, we believe they are made by emotions and not solely by blood"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"There are certain benefits to that way of thinking but I also believe that in our society, we are encouraged to think of our goals and mold them in accordance with that of family. We do not see that as a hinderance, but merely an alteration we must do in order to fulfill both our purposes -- individual ambition and family responsibility. It's not a burden but a pride. Each of us feel proud of the sense of place and belonging we feel"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"There are women in the West -- some of whom I know personally, who believe in that too -- in not sacrificing their family's needs for the sake of their own goals, so I'm sure there's something more to that belief than just the religion enforcing it"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"There must be. It's just a manner of thinking. But the philosophy that promotes "individualism" versus "family/society" plays a key role in it regardless of the exceptions"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"True, in a broad context that philosophy does seem responsible for a lot of differences between us, which we would generally attribute to religion or something else"@@\n\nThere was a brief silence between them, as both W and M delved into their consciousness thinking about what they had just conversed.\n\n[["Ah!I didn't know they had trains with a special Ladies compartment here"|OnPlatform]]\n
\nSilence receded to give way to footsteps. Leaving behind a soft impression on the snow, a shadow approached a fork.\n\nMonolithic in its definition it walked with a singular determination. Its' gait never wavering, never questioning its own faith in its purpose. The darkness that defined the shadow was only a facade for the beauty that it held within.\n\nSo much of what it had and so much of what the world failed to see.\n\n An ocean lay within it which people seldom seeked to understand. Some did, others didn't care. For millennia, it hid in this facade hoping one day, the world shall cast enough light to disintegrate all the darkness that wrapped itself like a cocoon around it. It wandered the world -- in different forms, in different places during different eras -- waiting for the day when it would finally emerge out of that cocoon and the world would accept what lay within.\n\nWaiting for the day when the world would accept for [[what it was.|Figures]]
\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Of course. I doubt that any of us live in a vaccum. This world is a place of great flux and change in any part affects everything else. I certainly believe that Western feminism has had a great impact on our cause and on feminism in general. Their boldness and outright will to move to "action" has inspired many women I know -- myself included. It has also introduced this concept of "gender equality" to my countrymen and how it is not as modern as they might think it is"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Sadly, I think there's a difference in my answer. Personally, I would hope there was an influence but frankly there isn't. The core reason is that many of my fellow feminists from the West fail to acknowledge the legitimacy of Islamic feminism. This again can be traced back to the inability to understand each other's culture and how one's superiority exists in their own ignorance. I wish I could convince them to see the numerous ways they can be influenced, but sadly it is a herculean task even for me"@@\n\n[[So you do think there can be ways Western feminists could be influenced by their Islamic counterparts, if only they accepted its legitamacy?"|Legitamacy]]\n\n
\nW and M heard you. The old man //''couldn't''//.\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"You do not seem to approve of our fight"@@ M spoke slowly.\n\nThe owner burst into a small smile but that eventually receded to reveal his grim face. \n"Perhaps. I'm not necessarily prejudiced against women demanding equality, but I was bought up in a strongly patriarchal culture and we were taught that everyone has a defined place in the society" \n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"But, why should there be a defined place? Who were the clerics and priests of the past who could dictate such a fundamental aspect of the society for centuries based on their mere whims driven by their own prejudices"@@ \n\n"I am not capable of arguing in that regard. Both of you are far more knowledgable than me on this topic and I would only sound like a bumbling fool if I were to even attempt to argue. What I merely want to say is that while all of you fight for your equality, do not forget to guide all the confused young men who have lost one of their chief purpose which the society had traditionally provided for them. That a man must be the provider for his family. If women equal him, then where does he stand?" \n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Isn't that for him to decide? Just like every other human being? Why should gender give you a default role? So you can nicely sit in the tent specially made for you and abandon your quest for purpose in your life?"@@ \n\n"Possibly. But there's a method to create a social revolution. It isn't just about including women, but also converting those who don't believe you to your cause. From what I can see, some of you are incessantly hating men --a penis hatred of sorts -- for holding thoughts which they were brought up on. Thoughts rooted in the patriarchal culture we still live in. They have no choice to *not* think that way because that's how the society has brought them up that way. Hating them for that instead of trying to convince them on why you think gender equality is the *right* way to think" \n\n[["Trying to make men appear as victims here when women have suffered discimimination for almost the entirety of human history isn't going to help"|Nothing]]\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Do you know these are the very men who abuse and throw rape jokes and threats at us? How do you think we can convince them by a mere argument when we are shaking the very foundation of their beliefs? It is like telling someone that the very foundation of their religion is a lie. It's not going to be that easy"@@ \n\n"So, what do you suppose? Move forward without caring to convince these young men who are confused about their purpose in the society. About what they are supposed to do in a society where man is no longer the provider and a woman can do what a man can. It would seem easy for you, as via feminism, women's importance is escalated to a stature equal to men, but also in the process ours is declined" \n[["Since when has sharing an equal status been equal to declining your status. It's not a compromise, it's an adjustment which has been due for generations"|Nothing2]]\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"How is that so? Elevating women to an equal status in the society wouldn't decrease men's status? Do not confuse the role of "provider" as a status. It was a role because men were the traditional bread-earners. Now, you may just have to share it with a woman if your wife happens to be working too"@@ \n\nThe owner nodded. He was already tired of this argument. Too old in his ways of thinking to change now, he thought.\n\n[["What are you thinking?"|Daughter]]\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Listen, we are not men's enemies. We are primarily concerned with women and seeing they never get discriminated for their gender ever again -- in any field or section of the society. It's a long struggle and honestly we are going to need men's support here. You are whom we have to convince along with women who are still trapped in a patriarchal mindset.@@ @@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;To put it in simpler words, you are either with us or against us. There's no middle ground here where you don't like aspects of our movement. If you want women to be treated equally, you shall support our fight. //That is all//"@@\n\nW gave a soft applause after M's fierce monologue.\n\nThe old man had already resigned. He made a bitter facegave a tired smile saying:\n"I hope you enjoy your coffee. And my apologies for getting into an argument I had little knowledge of. Sorry, if I appeared unnecessarily prejudiced. It's who I am"\nAnd with that he disappeared behind the counter.\n\nYou were about to suggest you leave the cafe when you noticed the female patron approaching your table from the corner of your eye\n\nYou could tell she didn't always used to be a woman but that didn't matter much in your mind. //Did it?//\n\n@@font-family: 'Sofia', cursive;"I hope I'm not interrupting but I found your discussion with the owner quite interesting. May I sit?"@@ she said to W and M.\n\n[["Of course!"|Transfeminism]]
As you jump into the //"General"// compartment, you catch the sight of W and M climbing into the neighbouring //"Ladies"// compartment from the corner of your eye.\n\nBefore you realize what has happened, the doors of the train shut close and you stand bewildered separated from W and M.\n\nAs they look for a place to settle down, you wave at them from across the tiny cage-like grills which made up the separation between the two compartments.\n\nThey realize what has happened when they see you standing a few metres away but in another compartment and they aim a short chuckle and wave back at you.\n\nAs both W and M place themselves next to a young lady on the seats adjacent to the separation, you take a seat on its other side yourself.\n\nMoments of silence pass by.\n\nIt's M's soft voice which first rises above the veil of silence:\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"You appear distressed? Is anything troubling you?"@@\nShe seemed to be speaking to the third woman who was sitting there when they had first arrived. \n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Do speak up if something's the problem. We will do our best to help"@@\n\nYou could hear soft sobs from across the separation. You tried resisting the urge of looking over the other side.\n\nDo you....\n\n[[give in and take a peek|GiveIn]]\n[[resist the urge lest you scare the young woman|Resist]]
\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Definitely. Like I said before, there are aspects of M's movement which I greatly respect and which I definitely think we can learn from. Particularly how religion is their binding force and makes them inclusive of women from all sections of society -- irrespective of their status. We could definitely use that, because in our current form I think our inability to include all women in our cause is our biggest shortcoming"@@\n\n M cited a few points about how women in her part of the world were powerful than what their Western counterparts gave them credit for:\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"I tend to point this to every Western feminist I come across and I'm surprised when some of them are unaware of it. Barring some countries, women have voting power in Islamic countries and are often powerful voices in political campaigns. Most of us have the same legal rights as you have -- in both terms of financial independence as well as inheritance"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"I knew about that but yeah I'm surprised that some of my fellow feminists from the West weren't aware of that"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"In fact, four countries -- Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Turkey have had women Prime Ministers before. I think that is a significant stature for women to hold"@@\n\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Really? I knew about Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan and Tansu Ciller in Turkey but not about the other two countries. That is pretty impressive. It does seem ironic that people would continue to think of your treatment of women as regressive when those are actual facts."@@\n \n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Ironic indeed"@@ M said with a hint of a smile appearing on both their faces.\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Especially when we in America have never even had a female presidential candidate"@@\n\n"Here are your two cups of coffee" chipped in the owner as he placed M & W's order on the table.\nBoth W and M say @@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Thank@@ @@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive; you"@@ as they take a little sip of their coffee.\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"It's really good!"@@ W said with a smile\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Indeed. Coffee-making is an age-old tradition of my country, so I can add to her compliments too"@@ M chimed in.\n\n"You are kind,ladies. You must forgive me but I couldn't help but overhear your conversation and I was a little intrigued when you mentioned "your fight". If you don't mind me asking, what is this fight you were talking about?"\n\nBoth M and W looked at each other with a knowing smile.\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Gender equality"@@\n\nA shadow passed over the owner's wrinkled face despite his best effort to churn out a smile:\n"Ah, I see"\n\n[["He does not seem to agree with us apparently"|Argument]]\n
\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Asalam valaykum, Madame W"@@, courtesied M with a slight bow, a small indicator of the respect she had for her cross-cultural contemporary.\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Greetings! I have to say, I did not expect this meeting to actually happen, but I'm glad I finally got a chance to meet you! I have heard so much about you and your achievements"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Your words honour me. I have heard similar things about you. Needless to say, respect is something that will not dry up in the sea between us"@@\n\n W nodded and then both women [[looked at you|You]]. They gave you a short smile before looking ahead at the rest of the city.\n\nBoth began walking down the street together -- a parallel circumstance of a disparate reality they shared.\n\n[["It's good to see both of you being yourself and following your traditions even in this strange land"|Hijab]]
@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"I think it will be the equality that they //want// for themselves. If we are to achieve what we have set out for, then this centuries of struggle shouldn't result in a version of //equality// not fit for a woman"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"There will be fringe cases however. A woman may feel trapped by the definition of //equality// in the society in which she lives while the majority are satisfied with the same equality they have achieved"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"In a world as diverse as ours, I think such different interpretations might be a //good// thing. Rather than discriminate each other based on our differences, they might turn out to be a boon in disguise"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"I can see that happening. No two women have the same exact desires. Expand that to billions of women worldwide and a single definition of //''equality''// would seem very narrow.@@ \n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;Having two intepretations of it might be beneficial. Sure, some may feel //trapped// by one culture's definition but then they can always adopt a variant of the other culture, or move to a country which does"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Even if it sounds unrealistic, one of the chief reasons behind immigration has often been a better standard of living and a cultural outlook which fits yours is chief among them"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Wow, look at us. Embracing our differences for a change. What would everyone say if they saw us like this?"@@\nW laughed.\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"I don't know. I think human diversity is one of the beautiful things about this world. That we as the same species can want drastically different things based purely on our cultural background and the environment we have been raised in. Enforcers of the "one opinion over all" school of thought fail to see that and I pity them"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"There is definitely something we can learn in retrospect from what we have talked today. I think you can be a better judge of that though"@@\n\n\nBoth W and M stopped for a moment, looking at you, waiting for your reply. A knowing look on their faces...\n\n\n[["Definitely.I have had a lot to think about today"|Finale]]\n\n[["I did learn a lot but I doubt it's going to change my perception of "equality"|Finale]]\n\n[["I don't care much for what I heard today. My mind is a stone that has been engraved over my progressive outlook forever.R.I.P!"|Finale]]\n
\nBoth M and W pondered on that question for a few moments.\n\nM was the first to reply\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"I immensely respect the fierce individualism your culture instills in everyone. You are not expected to follow any norms when it comes to making your life decisions because your culture doesn't lay down any.@@\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;I know I'm rolling over a few exceptions, but as a general rule, I really respect that aspect of the Western culture which naturally seeps into their feminist movement"@@\n\nW nodded in acknowledgment, giving a little smile before replying:\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"I think I respect how religion is the binding factor in their feminist movement. I realize that I have some reservations when it comes to combining religion and feminism, but in that aspect, I can respect how it has cut through classes and economic strata and erased all differences among women fighting for a common cause.@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;I often wish we could be that inclusive of everyone in our movement -- mothers,women of color and especially women of faith, so that no woman feels alienated by this movement. Because they shouldn't. This is as much //their// movement as it is mine and yours"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Well put. Couldn't have said it better myself"@@\n\n[["Indeed. However, since you share such a level of deep respect, if given a chance would you step into each other's shoes?"|No]]
You chose to remain quiet. \n\nW and M had already said everything that needed to be said and you felt there wasn't anything that could be added.\n\nHowever, you noticed that the young woman stopped for a moment at the door, covering her face with her palms for the smallest moments. \nAs she exited the train, facing the world outside, you thought you caught a glimpse of her smiling.\n\nYou keep staring at the space where she had been standing just a few moments ago.\n \nWhat you had just witnessed may very well be the turning point for the young woman. All her peers had pushed her into a corner, pasting labels onto her to define the person she was and here she was being selflessly helped by two strangers, advised on most fundamental aspects about womanhood. \nA conversation she should have had with her mother or an elder sister, she had with W and M. \n\nA--|--thought--|--train--|--was--|--beginning--|--to--|--develop--|--in--|--your--|--mind.\n\nYou could see W looking back at you with a knowing look on her face. Beside her, M had a soft smile on her face.\nMomentarily lifting yourself from above the surface of your consciousness, you wave back at them and then settle down on your seat feeling tired.\n\nYour destination was still a few stations away, so you decided to take a short nap.\n\nYou look at the fleeting scenery outside -- buildings and trees flitting past one another, like the pages of a book, telling a story whose meaning seemed too impenetrable to your mind. \nA pattern seemed to form in front of your eyes and then like that, disintegrated into the chaos it was born from. As your consciousness drifted away, it couldn't help but focus on a specific image.\n\nThat image was of...\n\n[[...a dark shadow on a woman|DarkShadow]]\n[[...a crying man sleeping in a fetal position|FetalMan]]
\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"If I must be frank, I was honestly surprised to see you turn up in a hijab, sister"@@\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Why would you be surprised?"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Considering we are meeting in a neutral country that doesn't follow Islamic tradition, I couldn't imagine why you would follow *their* rules by wearing a hijab?"@@\n\nM gave the slightest hint of a smile before replying\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Madame W, I have the greatest respect for you but I must tell you that it's as much *my* rules as it is *their* rules. I do not feel oppressed or caged because I wear a hijab. In most of the Islamic countries, wearing a hijab is optional and those of us who wear it do so by our own free will because we respect our tradition and on top of that, we feel comfortable wearing it"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"Wouldn't respecting that tradition mean conforming to the patriarchal rules?"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Not if you feel comfortable wearing it. I cannot speak for all my sisters, but I know many of us feel it as our second skin similar in a sense to when you wear tee & jeans. Please break the misconception that the hijab is a sign of patriarchal oppression and is our cage. If we don't think of it that way, then why should you?"@@ \n @@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;I fear this is the initial barrier that prevents women from our cultures from understanding each other. This is a barrier which you have to break because all we are doing is following our tradition -- something we take great pride in. It's our traditional form of clothing and most of us choose to wear it with free-will in a society which doesn't always enforce it upon us. If it makes it easier for you, think of it as avant-garde fashion"@@\n\n W gave a slight chuckle upon M hinting that, as smiles were restored on both their faces.\n\n[["I agree, let us not be so quick to judge each other"|Vanity]]
\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Wake up..."@@ M's voice came from across the veil\nYou stepped through the veil.\nHer face appeared in front of you.\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Come on, our station has arrived"@@\nYou jumped into action and quickly got down. \n\nW was waiting for both of you.\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"You had us worried there for a moment. We thought you had gotten down at the wrong station"@@\nYou gave both the women an apologetic look.\n\nIt took you some time to regain your bearings after the surreal nightmare you just had. You could feel its lingering memories slowly fading into oblivion, as your consciousness fully returned into the //real//. \nAs you walked towards the exit, you could see W and M engaged in a conversation and you increased your pace to catch up with them -- figuratively and literally.\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"M and I were talking about the need of a Sojourner Truth-esque woman in America who can enlighten the masses about where a woman of Islamic faith stands and the problems she //''actually''// faces and not the problems we cook up based on our prejudices"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Indeed. In case you didn't know, Sojourner Truth was this great woman who had brought out the spirit of feminism among black women during the Civil Rights Movement back in the 60s in America. I think we need something similar -- atleast in America to dispel the notion that gets unfairly associated with our religion or our clothing"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Della Respira', serif;"I think M made a valid point every culture or religion have their positive and negative elements. And this isn't just an apologist take on things, but it's actually a fact. Just as Islam has its' extremists in Taliban, we have the same in Westboro Baptist Church. I think if in the event where WBC ever took over United States, we would have a situation very similar to what the Afghans had back in the 80s and 90s under Taliban"@@\n\n@@font-family: 'Merienda', cursive;"Yet, the world doesn't judge Christianity by WBC. Then why judge us by Taliban or cultural policies similar to theirs? There are liberal variations of Islamic culture which get conveniently ignored in the process, just so the skeptics can get their point about our "regressive" attitude across"@@\n\n[["Do you think the post-9/11 paranoia has fuelled the hasty and incorrect judgement on the Islamic culture?"|Nine-Eleven]]
There are more figures in the shadows, standing as if frozen in stasis. \nInitially, you stay aloof of them,but eventually you try reaching out to one of them.\nBut when you touch them it just doesn't feel the same. \nYou may feel //something// but it is never the warmth you yearned for -- never what your mind hungered for.\n\nA strand of thread forms between you---and---the---figure, the moment you touch it. It grows thinner the farther you get, but it never breaks.\nMaybe, the threads will provide you with the warmth you //crave//.\n\n[[Touch as many figures as you can|TouchAll]]\n