Musings of a mum: ‘Blokes don’t appreciate it’ – words matter

28th Feb 2020
Musings of a mum: ‘Blokes don’t appreciate it’  – words matter

(Credit: Nick Youngson/Alpha Stock Images)

I love words. They fascinate me, and I find that they are the truest way of capturing the complexity of human experience. Writing is an outlet and the action of piecing together words to reflect one’s thoughts feels like a sacred task.

When words are uttered or written with no thought given to its potential impact, shock me.
In a recent supermarket trip — I love my click and collect service — the man helping me load my groceries into the car was making small talk; recounting his day, his dog whom he talked about very fondly. He asked what my day was like. I said I was busy as I had to finish off the day’s cooking and cleaning, etc., etc.

Nothing too terrifying nor profound. And he says, ‘Yes, mums are always busy, and blokes don’t really appreciate it do they?’

That statement left me flabbergasted. This implication, that my husband doesn’t appreciate me (and he had no right to judge my man.) But it also got me thinking… Do we really need blokes to appreciate us? Why would our work, our contribution to society, be worthy only if a ‘bloke’ chooses to decide to appreciate it? I would like my actions to stand on their own two feet, and for it to be judged alongside other professions and I do not need a bloke’s appreciation.

It is wonderful when given the ability to ‘give unconditional’ increases. But the standards to which we deliver our care should be dependent on the principle that vulnerable human beings need to be given the best care possible. Appreciation — when given — is like the cherry on top. It makes it look lovely, but by no means does it play a role in the shining glory of the dessert beneath it.

Our choice of words shapes a narrative, and that should never be taken lightly. It is like the time David Cameron spoke of Muslim women as ‘traditionally submissive.’

How could all ‘Muslim women’ be imagined as one monolithic entity? Did he really not understand or bother to acknowledge the diversity that lies amongst us? Why has this diversity of experience and opinions, not known? Have we let others tell our stories for us? If so, will we always be known and understood by another person’s misconception?

Our voices count, and we should not rely on others to do this for us. It does us an injustice. For no one can capture the nuances of our experiences better than us.

We cannot be complacent in this endeavour, because people in power are using their stereotypes to shape the way that we are perceived just like the man who helped me load my groceries into the car. Did he understand the words that he said? Did he too — unknowingly — put me in a box where my worth was measured by a ‘bloke’s appreciation’?

The point is that we cannot allow others to voice our thoughts, our complex outlooks which are shaped by our lived experiences as women and as minority communities. It also needs to be understood that the challenges we face are not exclusive to us either.

What we may say can potentially resonate with other women and other minority communities, creating an impact beyond our circles which is a possibility we actively need to lean into.

Aasiya I Versi

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

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