12191632_1649706971968993_6345538296769881739_nDear whoever wrote this meme,

Let me get something straight here:

My friends and I work over 10 hour days and I myself travel a hour to and from work to get home. That is 12 hours of my day accounted for already. Most days I don’t have the energy to go to the gym to look after my body, let alone get in the kitchen and cook.

Cooking, or any lifestyle chores, is not just a woman’s responsibility. The only reason such sexist notions exist is because in prior generations women were expected to be home-makers while men were bread-winners for the family. Now, to keep up with cost of living and societal changes more women are degree qualified, in the professional workforce, supporting their family and investing in building their own financial portfolio. This results in us having less time at home to focus on household duties and requires men to not only contribute to their half of the household duties, but to be held accountable for it too.

And if women are going to cook, you can bet they won’t be sharing their food with some entitled, lazy and privileged male who thinks women exist to be serving him everything on platter.

Not so sincerely,




Good afternoon everyone.

First and foremost, I would like to thank this year’s organisers for giving me the opportunity to speak today, it is an absolute honour to be apart of such an important global movement. I also want to thank each and everyone of you for being here to advocate for the rights of women to have ownership over their bodies and sexuality.

In speaking here today my aim is to start catalyst for change by highlighting the attitudes that a vast majority of society holds towards women and sexual violence. I hope through sharing some of my personal experiences and insights that I am able to cause a shift in those attitudes.

I grew up in a very religious and traditional household. At the age of 18 I was sneaking out of my house to go out because my parents didn’t think it was safe for girls to go out after 10 pm, nor did they think any respectable woman should. They’ve just recently installed cameras outside my house, so looks like I won’t be doing that anymore. At 20 I learnt the art of changing in the back of my car because I was never allowed to leave the house in anything provocative or revealing, which to my parents is anything that showed my figure or my legs. At 24 I was called each and every derogatory term used to describe women because I refused have an arranged marriage. And now at the ripe age of 26 I find myself having to constantly looking over my shoulders as I walk to my car late at night from the gym or work because as a woman I don’t feel safe.

While it may not seem like it on the surface, each of these incidents, or for a better word micro-aggressions and to some degree overt precision attacks, contribute to the endemic of rape culture.  It also sadly highlights the fact that as a society we have a long away to go in shifting the attitudes and beliefs we hold towards sexual violence against women.

Long before I knew I was a feminist I was catching up with a high school friend and she was telling me that she no longer drinks. Curiously, I asked her why. She proceeded to tell me that on a night out she got quite drunk, ended up at a friend’s apartment, found the guy she was crushing on at the time forcing himself on her and being horrified to stand up for herself.  She told her ‘friends’, they judged her.  I firmly believe it’s because of those reactions she received she told me “I was drunk and I put myself in that situation, it is my fault”.  Even more recently an associate of mine disclosed to me she was almost raped. On a date where things were getting hot and heavy physically, she asked her date to stop and pull the breaks. However, he kept going. After repeating “stop” several times and having him dismiss her request, she managed to push him off her. Distraught and upset, she confronted him about his actions, only to have him laugh the entire thing off.  As she told me this story I began to cry. I was devastated by the thought of not only another woman, but someone close to me, being violated in such a way. However, she was quite surprised by my reaction. She told me that other people she had mentioned this incident to had made comments like “What did you expect getting yourself in that situation?” and “It’s like taking a horse to a lake to drink water, but then not letting it”.

These responses to her experience are a part of the everyday cultural practices that excuse and tolerate sexual violence. By calling a woman a “slut” or saying that “girls allow themselves to be raped”, society not only further victimises women and their experience with rape and sexual assault, it also legitimises the entitlement and ownership men have to women and their bodies. Additionally, these myths about sexual violence being provoked by women permeate strongly within our society, operating to police female sexuality and creating barriers to women seeking reproductive healthcare.  It shames. It silences.  It attacks women. Such misogynistic attitudes, beliefs and language are used to socially control women. Even worse, they encourage the public to focus on the actions of women, while ignoring the roles of men and cultural ideology. This detracts from effectively preventing male violence and sexual assault.

In order to put an end to slut-shaming we require some big changes in culture and the value of women in society. It’ll be overwhelming and it exhausting, because it’s not our place to educate everyone about their sexist way’s right? But as feminists and women’s activists we need to challenge society’s ways of thinking, to promote attitudes which encourage better treatment of women, to identify situations of slut-shaming and to be aware of ourselves, the ideas we have and the language we use.

We have a long way to go but this is where it starts.

Start a conversation. 

Create a movement.

Lead the change.12041546_10153265422819492_1365523595_o 12041731_10153265423054492_1007842563_n 12059145_10153265422894492_390464671_o 12059154_10153265423204492_1484120628_o 12059537_10153265423014492_8548082_o 12064063_10153265422749492_337353251_n 12064366_10153265423109492_2111117914_n


Dear Cosmopolitan Magazine,

I am writing this out of complete and utter disdain and frustration for your recent article ‘21 Beauty Trends That Need to Die in 2015’ where nearly a fifth of the “R.I.P.” column features women of colour (WOC).

I am a WOC, my social circle involves WOC and I am an advocate for WOC professionally. That means, when it comes to the discrimination WOC face, my experience and knowledge is valid.

When some Westerners find out I am from Bangladesh, they make comments like “Oh, you’re pretty for a Bangladeshi”, as if to say that I come from a country where the women are inherently ugly. I’ve also experienced someone telling me that I couldn’t be fully Bangladeshi, that I must have white in me, because Bangladeshi women aren’t attractive otherwise. Do you know where those ideologies and perceptions stem from? It stems from magazines like you who print features reaffirming the notion that in order for a woman to be ‘gorgeous’ she must be white.

In a world where white beauty is perceived as the supreme form of beauty, WOC are told by society they are not beautiful, that they are not good enough and that they are not deserving enough. Don’t believe me? They did an experiment where African American children were given two Barbies, one black and one white. They were then asked to choose the Barbie they thought was beautiful. Guess which Barbie they chose? The white one. These children will grow up, and that sense of not being beautiful because of their skin colour will internalise and grow with them. And then magazines like you will print features like the above advocating further self-hate within WOC. Also, like all beauty and fashion enterprises, you will go on to profit from the insecurities of marginalised WOC.

While I considered that this feature might be an oversight on your part, I highly doubt it. I have a suspicion that it is most likely a publicity stunt because you need to create hype around your magazine, I mean who in their right mind would read such filth?!? While public relation specialists will give you a round of applause for your seemingly ‘cleaver’ marketing ploys, I am here to tell you that women of colour are not here to be exploited. We are not puppets to raise media controversy or revenue for an industry built on making WOC feel shit about themselves. We are made up of the exact same genetic chromosomes of white women and we are no less beautiful then them.

Cosmopolitan magazine should be ashamed of this feature and everything it subtly hints about outdated beauty standards. Additionally, a public apology should be made regarding this matter because we women of colour are not here to ‘REST IN PEACE’, we are here to be fearlessly exotic and unique in our beauty. And while you’re at it, why don’t you write something worthy of reading, like, ‘How not to write a racist beauty feature column’.

Not sincerely yours,

Nabila (A woman of colour who is too god darn fabulous to ‘RIP’)