Editor’s Letter: Mental Health

Beyond The Hijab

by Diana Rahim

It’s hard being a person. Nobody truly tells you this, nor are we really encouraged to look into this fact deeply. As a society, we are uncomfortable with confronting sadness and despair, and would rather concentrate on a superficial, easy-to-understand pursuit of happiness. We are taught to meet our basic material needs, to obsess over our educational and career paths, and to succeed in our society. Far less emphasis is placed on meeting our very important psychological and emotional needs, and in fostering the kind of habits that are emotionally healthy not just for us, but in our reactions to others as well. Very often, even basic emotional responses and sensitivity is stigmatized. Just think of common, dismissive phrases one often hears – “Don’t be so sensitive,” “You’re being oversensitive,” “Why can’t you take a joke?”

In truth, I truly believe that to see someone express emotion…

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I Tried to Warn You About Junot Diaz

alisa valdes productions

JunotDiaz

An old colleague from the Boston Globe sent me a link to today’s article about the flurry of women coming forward about (alleged, I guess) sexual misconduct towards them by Pulitzer-winning novelist Junot Diaz. My friend sent the article out of kindness, the way an old pal might place a comforting hand on your shoulder by way of saying, “I believe you. I always did.”

Author Zinzi Clemmons sparked today’s uproar across social media when she tweeted about Diaz cornering her and forcibly kissing her when she was a graduate student of just 26. After she tweeted this, two other female writers, Carmen Maria Machado and Monica Byrne, both came forward with similar tales of misogynistic abuse at the hands of Diaz. I wasn’t surprised. But anyone who has followed my own literary career knows that.

I publicly said Diaz was a misogynist opportunistic liar more than ten years…

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Bosnia: A linguistic reflection

3 years ago, I travelled to Bosnia by myself.

I took an 8 hour bus ride from Kotor, travelling through the North of Montenegro and the mountains of Eastern Europe to get to Sarajevo. As we got to Bosnia, the linguistic landscape of my surroundings changed. It became multilingual – yet, all these languages looked similar..

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When religion becomes a dealbreaker

The original version of this post was submitted in congruence to Beyond The Hijab‘s blog series on the theme of: marriage. As a Malay Muslim woman, I acknowledge that although my freedom to marry a person of any ethnicity does not come with discrimination, our community has not however been able to accept the idea of an inter-religious marriage. We cannot seem to envision a home filled with love, care and mutual respect in an inter-religious/intra-faith household. So I wrote an essay about this, tapping on my own personal experience(s). 

Sadly, the catalyst for me to write this essay was based on my experience on the opposite side of the coin. Where I was coerced and manipulated to performing rituals in order to maintain and save my relationship with my previous partner. As the relationship drew to a close, it made me reflect on my time as the bully.

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How the role of Malay women has – or hasn’t – evolved

This was originally published in AMP’s bi-annual publication KaryawanI was lucky to have been asked to collaborate with my sister on writing this article, which is a topic that I hold closely to my heart. As we reflected on the massive changes and freedoms that we both enjoy now, versus our foremothers, we realized that there were still some stark similarities that are too often forgotten and easily dismissed. In this article, we question the static gender roles we have been subjected to and what we can do to overcome this.

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