How I Ramadan

Hello friends! It’s Angel here and it’s been quite a bit since I’ve talked to you guys on here! Why I am here right now is because Ramadan started 12 days ago (wow has it been that long?!) and I’ve gotten quite a few questions about it on Twitter. So I thought I’d answer the questions on here and explain how I Ramadan. Hope you enjoy and learn a little something! Before we start though, I’d like to remind you guys that I am only one person and can’t represent the entirety of Islam….hence the “I”. Ok now let’s go:

  • What is Ramadan? What do you do in Ramadan?
    • Well in the simplest of terms, Ramadan is basically the holy, obligatory month of fasting for all Muslims around the world. The specific timing of it changes every year if you’re looking at the Gregorian calendar (aka the January – December calendar). In actuality though, it’s always the same month in the Islamic year and that month is called Ramadan (I wonder why….lol).
  • So, uh, how long do you fast? What is fasting?
    • The length of hours of when a Muslim fasts depends on where you are in the world but you also fast in between sunrise and sunset. For me, right now, I fast about 16 hours and 25 mins. During the time of the fasting, you are not allowed to have any food or water and yes, that even means no water.  You’re also not allowed to have sexual intercourse which, considering I’m nowhere near married, means nothing to me….
  • Is there anything else?
    • Yup! There are levels to fasting actually. Not eating, drinking and having sex is the first bar. The second bar is abstaining from saying, hearing, seeing, touching or doing anything bad. Some examples are: dressing modestly, not saying curse words, not watching anything bad *cough like Game of Thrones cough* ……That’s the level I’m at right now. I already dress pretty modestly, I don’t swear, don’t touch anything I shouldn’t (like wine or pork). The only thing I had to change was not listening or watching anything that included things that included excessive swearing/steamy scenes. That’s half why I rushed to finish my binge-watching of How To Get Away With Murder before Ramadan started. Now the third level is the like ultimate level and it’s that you pretty much think of nothing except God. I’m not totally sure how far that goes but it’s typically scholars who get to that level so I say ask the internet AND the Imam in a nearby mosque what that third level means…

Okay that’s it I believe. If y’all have any more questions, feel free to tweet/DM me! If I don’t know the answer, I’ll send you to someone or something who can hopefully help you. I also suggest you discuss any questions you may have about Islam with someone in a mosque or look it up in the Quran. Thank you guys, have a great day/night and tata for now!

~ Angel, Avid Reader

If you want to see/hear more from me, check out my Find Us page and follow me on the social media listed there! See you!

Scouting vs. Periods

Hey! Today the lovely Em has written a brilliant guest post for us inspired by a topic that we’ve been discussing a lot as a group – the stigma around periods and how boys often just don’t get it. As a scout myself for several years, I really enjoyed Em’s post and hope you enjoy it too! – An Overthinking Teenager


Hello! I’m Em from Adventure’s of a Lost Teen and the lovely Feminista’s are kindly allowing me to guest post on their awesome blog!

Today I’d like to talk about the epic war between Scouting and periods.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’ll give you a brief bit of background information: for the past 8 years I have been a member of the Scout Association and have loved every second of the adventure. However, as well as being a Scout, I am also a teenage girl. So, as you will know, I am also subjected to rather unwanted and inconvenient visit from good ol’ Aunty Flow once a month which, when you are an adventure-addict like me and absolutely love being outdoors and taking part in the adventurous activities that Scouting has to offer, can be very irritating.

So, as you can imagine, there are a lot of instances where I have to miss out on doing the thing I love most (aside from blogging of course) because of being a teenage girl and all of the joys that brings with it.

The great thing about Scouts is that we take every opportunity to be outdoors and enjoying the beauty of the world around us, so many of our activities are planned to incorporate and harness the great outdoors and all that it offers. This could be as simple as going out to the local woods or beach (as my Explorer Scout group often does) to do activities such as fire lighting, cooking and shelter building to name a few. The first thing that crosses my mind when I think about these types of activities is: no toilets. Generally, to get the best experience of being outdoors, you have to go quite far away from civilisation (and therefore toilets) which is something we do quite a lot in Scouting. The fact is, if I am on my period, I simply cannot be away from toilets for a whole two hours (which is how long my Scout meetings last for) – I mean, anything could happen in those two hours and without access to toilets it could get very messy to say the least! So, sadly, most outdoor activities where I don’t have access to toilets are a definite no-no whilst I am on my period.

Next up: physical activities. So that means any type of sport that involves lots of movement, especially hiking as this is a key part of Scouting and in my Explorer Scout group, it is guaranteed that there will be at least 5 or 6 hikes per year, sometimes more. As my fellow females will know, doing physical activities whilst on your period isn’t exactly the best idea as it usually results in pain and high amounts of stress due to worrying about the state and quality of your sanitary products. The thing about Scouting, however, is that you’re expected to jump right into every activity and put in all of your effort. Unfortunately, due to 75% of Scouts (and leaders) in the UK being male, saying ‘I need to take a break’ or ‘I can’t do this right now’ earns you nothing but a few odd looks and sometimes even accusations of you being a ‘wimp’ and ‘giving up too easily’. Alright, the motto of Scouting is to ‘be prepared’ so perhaps us girls should just struggle through our periods and get on with it, however – and every girl will understand this – sometimes we have ‘code red emergencies’ where we need to be excused to run to the nearest toilet as quickly as possible, which, in my experience of Scouting, isn’t something that is easy to do as generally men do not understand this. Although doing physical activities would generally not be a good idea during my period, I did once decide to go mountain biking with Explorer Scouts during that time of the month, purely because I was fed up at having to miss out on things just because my period decided to show up at the worst possible time. Let’s just say…I’m never doing that again! The mountain biking was fun, yes, but it was soooo uncomfortable and there was no time for us to stop and have a break, let alone any toilets nearby! Therefore this is an experience I would definitely not like to repeat, so unfortunately strenuous physical activities such as this will have to be avoided whilst on my period in the future.

Along similar lines to physical activities, the next candidate for ‘Scouting’s No.1 anti-period-friendly activity’,  is watersports. Living on the coast, my Scout group has always had considerable access to beaches and rivers –  and just water in general – which has always been taken advantage of when planning our meetings. As you will know, periods and water generally do not mix which means that during my period, I can’t comfortably take part in activities such as canoeing, surfing, kayaking, raft building – you get the point. These are the types of ‘more adventurous’ activities that we do in Scouts and are often the ‘treats’ we are given at the end of each term. Also, as per tradition, we hold an annual water fight on our last meeting before summer which often ends up with Scouts being dunked headfirst into barrels full of icy water which, as you can imagine, is unpleasant at the best of times, let alone when you are on your period. So, for me, all of these events have to be missed during my period as I am certainly not comfortable with going in water at that time of the month.

Finally (as this post is getting rather long now) we have Scout camps. Scout camps are notorious for their rigorous itinerary, packed full of adventure with hardly any time for breaks, their culmination of outdoor, physical and water activities – which, if you have read the rest of this post, you’ll know can be a nightmare whilst on your period – and their poor toilet facilities (which usually consists of nothing more than a dozen portiloos which are not exactly practical for a girl on her period and tend to get blocked up after the first day at camp, which is rather grim). So, as you can imagine, Scout camps certainly aren’t the best place to be whilst on your period – they are a culmination of the three other problematic instances within Scouting for girls on their periods but even worse as they lack the promise of a nice warm shower and comfy bed that evenings outdoors or doing physical activities can at least offer.

Throughout my Scouting journey, I have been on countless Scout camps, but have luckily (or rather not so luckily) had to experience the struggles of being on my period at a camp only once. And guess what? My activity schedule for said camp included both a kayaking trek along a river (water – ugh) and a days hiking through the countryside (countryside = NO TOILETS). Fortunately, as my mum is a Scout leader and was also on the camp, she was able to cut a few strings and swap my rota around a bit with another Scout who sadly had to go home. Therefore I ended up doing shooting and backwards cooking instead of kayaking – which meant I had a full day of shooting and cooking as I was supposed to be doing that in the morning anyway, so by the end of the day, I was practically an expert shooter (not really, I can’t shoot to save my life plus I managed to shoot myself twice as the pellet ricocheted off of the target and hit me…oops) – and snowboarding instead of hiking (which I guess was slightly better as at least I would be near toilet facilities). In the end, everything worked out fine, although I am definitely not signing up for any more camps in the near future unless I am certain they won’t coincide with my period.

So, those were a few of the battles I have had to face when my desire to be a Scout clashing with my uninvited monthly guest. But don’t think that just because you are female and have periods, you can’t be adventurous and have lots of fun within or outside of Scouting – there are so many more amazing things I have experienced and participated in within Scouting than I have missed out on because of my period! And you don’t even have to miss out on these activities I have mentioned above if you don’t want to – it’s all about what you are and aren’t comfortable doing during that time of the month and for me, I am not comfortable doing these activities, but you might be! Having periods is definitely not a reason to be put off of joining Scouts because we need to show our periods – and ourselves for that matter – that we can achieve anything we want to – whether that be an adventure within Scouting or outside of. And what about those times when your period prevents you from doing adventurous activities? Well, my fellow females, the next time you are able to spend time outdoors, exploring and having fun, you put 100% effort into it, have tonnes of fun and make as many memories as possible so that even just the thought of all of the adventures you have participated in will be enough to keep your adventure-addiction at bay (for now) whilst mother nature is having it’s own way.
Thank you for reading this, I hope you have learnt a bit more about the struggles of being a female Scout now but also why our periods don’t always have to stop us from doing what we love. I strongly believe that more girls should get involved in the Scouting movement as currently we only make up 25% of Scouts in the UK alone. Scouting has helped me develop as an individual so much and taught me countless life skills as well as given me amazing memories to cherish forever. If you want to read more about being a girl in Scouting, I have written about “Scouting for girls, Scouting for all’ on my own blog.

Being A Muslim: An Angel’s Experiences

Hullo peoples! Sorry for the late post but today was so hectic….actually this week was hectic but never mind now as there’s a new post! YAY! Anyway, so this week is free theme week as you can tell and I know I said on Twitter I’d talk about the Jenners vs Malala but that’s actually going to be part of our theme next theme (did that make sense?). I won’t tell you what it is but I love it and I’m so excited for the post! Anyway, I love talking about my religion whenever someone asks me about it and I know you guys didn’t really ask me about it but I mean I’m not preaching. I’m just going to talk about some of my experiences with being a Muslim and a bit of my story. Now the biggest note/warning I have (and what is the biggest thing I stress) is that THIS IS MY STORY. NOT ANYONE ELSE’S AND IT IS NOT THE FULL AND TRUE REPRESENTATION OF ISLAM. If you want to know about Islam, the best thing to read is the Quran. If you can’t do that, check out a mosque and ask! I’m sure everyone would love to help you out (I sure would!). And that goes for whether you’re just curious or if you’re even thinking about converting or knowing more about your religion. Anyway, now to my story!

So I was born a Muslim and as far as I know, everyone in my ancestry has been a Muslim but don’t take me on my word on the latter bit. Anyway, so I grew up as a Muslim in western society which can be, as you can imagine, a little bit interesting. The reason for me why it was interesting was that I was usually the only Muslim PERSON in school. Not kidding when my family and I found out that a Muslim boy went to my middle school we became friends with them near immediately! They’re pretty cool but we kinda grew apart when they moved. Anyway, high school was interesting for me as now there were more Muslims and some of them were girls!! Now you all think I’m probably crazy for freaking about that but sometimes it was hard to grow up without Muslim friends in your school especially when you went to Sunday School and everyone there went to the same schools so they had people to talk to whereas I only saw them on Sunday! And holidays but you get the point. And that’s part one of my interesting Muslim experiences.

Part 2 was that though for the longest while I didn’t go to school with Muslims, my friends were pretty awesome about me being a Muslim. They didn’t make jokes, they knew my religion’s limits on some things and whenever it was Ramadan during the school year, they were always really careful about eating in front of me; making sure that even though I was sitting at the lunch table with them and wasn’t eating, that they were still okay to eat in front of me. In all honesty, that’s one of my favorite memories of my non-Muslim friends and religion. I remember I moved away and came back a couple of years later and when I was fasting during school one day, one of my classmates asked why I wasn’t eating and one of my friends who I grew up with knew that I was fasting for religious reasons and I’m pretty sure she said it before I did. Do you know how amazing that is? In all honesty, I was extremely lucky growing up; I know that there are many people out there some of whom were in my school, who would make fun of Muslims or anyone they thought was a Muslim just because of 9/11. So it felt good to grow up with such supportive friends.

Part 3 of being a Muslim goes to the unfortunate stuff. The jokes and the teasing. I’m not going to lie but there were some people in my life who I thought were friends of mine (none of these are people I talked about before) who I spent a lot of time with. One of them actually was someone I could have considered as almost a best friend. Unfortunately, for the first year that we were friends, I didn’t totally see how bad the jokes were. Yes, a couple of my friends would make jokes about Muslims and terrorists and I would get mad and tell them to stop and they said they would. But it happened several times. Each time I would forgive them saying that they’re my friends, they know it’s a joke, they said it would stop. The next year though something happened, I’m not sure what exactly, but it felt like someone took down the blinds and I saw everything wrong with it and after one joke I stopped being friends with the people who made jokes. I haven’t talked to them like I used to since (polite words have been exchanged but that’s because ya kind of have to) but I don’t regret what I did for a second. The only thing I do regret is spending so much time with them before instead of the people I now call some of my closest friends. Anyway, the experience did help me learn not to trust too easily and to be firmer with my anger when people try to make jokes about terrorism, 9/11 or Muslims.

This isn’t everything certainly but this is all I could think to fit at such a late time that would be of the most benefit and that wouldn’t be that generalist. All and all though, that’s some of my experience as a Muslim. I hope you guys did learn a little bit more, even if it was just about me, but remember this is just MY experience. This in no way is a true and accurate representation of Islam. Please discuss any questions you may have about Islam with someone in a mosque or look it up in the Quran. Thank you guys, have a great day/night and tata for now!

~Angel, Avid Reader

If you want to see/hear more from me, check out my Find Me page and follow me on the social media listed there! See you!

Hey, HON(e)Y: Facebook Done Good

Huma

Hey, everybody! So, I just remembered today is my post day, and after ascertaining that our current theme is once again free, I decided to write about the topic I meant to do my last post on but never got round to: the Humans of New York social media movement. It was started by New York photographer Brandon Stanton in summer 2010, with the aim of providing “an exhaustive catalogue of New York City’s inhabitants”. It was originally started with the goal of shooting 10,000 street portraits and plotting them on a map, but now is more about just creating a photographic census of NYC. Originally, Stanton was doing HONY as a full time job, albeit without an income, supported only by a couple of benefactors. Now, HONY has been monetized, with a popular and New York Times bestselling book.

The photos are published on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter as well as on his website, though I’m not sure which came first. The photos are all captioned by a quote of varying lengths – some a line, others a paragraph, other mini sagas spread across two or three posts. HONY has become something of a quiet internet sensation, well known among social media users – 15 of my friends have liked the page – and around the world – Stanton has allowed people to use his idea in different places around the world, although he will only personally promote a select few that he feels  show sufficient dedication to the project. When I travelled to Nis, in southern Serbia over the summer, volunteers at the jazz festival I was playing at created a ‘Humans of Nisville’ Facebook page.

But why has a simple photography project become so popular, so mainstream? For me, the magic is in the stories. Often, I glance at the photo but regularly take the time to read the full caption. You just find out such interesting stuff about people and their lives, from the heartbreaking to the hilarious, things you would never guess was going on in their lives. And when Stanton takes the project abroad – most recently, Iran and Pakistan – you discover even more, about the people who live in these less economically developed and often conflict-riddled countries. You find out about the humanity the media is so desperate to hide in it’s reports about rebels and guns and massacres. You find out that people all over the place are, in essence, the same.

The Facebook comments are also something to behold. No idiotic memes in sight, and rarely a negative comment either. Instead, people have often taken the time to offer advice, even if they doubt the intended recipient will read it, or to empathise and share their own experiences. These – often heartbreakingly honest – comments regularly garner sympathy, empathy and responses from all over the world. The President of the United States has even commented on one of the HONY posts! I just find it incredibly refreshing to see comments, even on often tragic and sad posts, that are mostly upbeat and positive.

I just want to share one last thought with you – one that’s not actually my own, but belongs to a commenter on one of HONY’s posts at the end of the summer. It said something along the lines of, “I was about to ask whether you’re still in Pakistan, or back in New York. But then I realised that that was the whole point. It doesn’t matter.” To me that’s incredibly profound, and gave a whole new meaning to the page that I hadn’t really considered before.

Have you seen the HONY social media? What do you think? Pointless project, or powerful photography? Let me know your thoughts, and if you haven’t seen HONY, I’ll leave all the relevant links below.

Thanks for reading,

An Overthinking Teenager

Humans of New York: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Website | Pinterest | Bloglovin’

An Overthinking Teen: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Blog | Bloglovin’

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#WonderWomanWednesday

Hello everyone! So this week is a free theme week and I thought I would talk about #WonderWomanWednesday. I found out about it after a friend on Twitter was tweeting using the hashtag. I am not too clear about how/when/why the hashtag is around as it mostly seemed to just be pictures of Wonder Woman. That is not what I thought of (surprisingly) when I thought about #WonderWomanWednesday. Instead, my mind was brought back to my post a couple of weeks ago called Normalizing Supergirl and I thought it was a feminist thing.  When I actually clicked on the hashtag though and found out it wasn’t (as far as I could see) I was quite disappointed and let me tell you why:

Society/the hashtag was missing out on a very valuable feminist “promotion” opportunity. 

You probably know where I’m going with this but stick around anyway. So I was annoyed actually by this hugely missed opportunity and so I thought I would write this post and see if we can maybe take that opportunity. I’m thinking that maybe next Wednesday, everyone takes a picture of themselves (yes, you too men!!) and posts it on Twitter, Facebook, Insta (etc) with the hashtag #WonderWomanWednesday. Why do this and why guys too? Because feeling empowered is – and not too feel too basic but hang on – quite a powerful thing too feel. Yes it sounds dumb saying it that way but doesn’t it just feel awesome being in control and happy and powerful for even a short time? That wonderful feeling is what I want to accomplish with this idea. I will warn that being the private person that I will post a picture of an angel instead of my actual face but that’s more for personal, security reasons than because I’m a flake and horrible.

Now in lieu of this, I just thought of something you could post instead of/with a picture of yourself. If you are a private person/don’t like posting pictures of yourself, I challenge you to write why you are powerful and amazing with the hashtag. I am definitely going to do this. It may be out of your comfort zone to talk about yourself but do it anyway. I am certainly not going to judge and whoever does is not worth talking to in the first place.

Anyway, I encourage you to take part next Wednesday in this hopefully worldwide thing and who knows, maybe this will trend?! Thank you, can’t wait to see all your posts, have a great day/night and tata for now!

~Fantasy Angel, Avid Reader

If you want to see/hear more from me, check out my Find Us page and follow me on the social media listed there! See you!

Clearing Up The Definition Of Feminism, And Why Even The West Needs It

Through being a member of The Feministas, I’ve encountered and become aware of many more opinions regarding feminism and feminists than before. One example is of an Instagram user who commented on this post on my Instagram account (@booksteaonesie, if you’re interested ;)) (OK, shameless self-promotion over) soon after becoming a Feminista:

This photo spawned 21 comments, primarily from two different people (and myself, obvs). One of these people argued that believing in equality did not equate to being a feminist, something I entirely disagree with. They said this was the case  because by definition feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men”. However, if you look in the Oxford dictionary (or the Oxford dictionary website, as I did), you’ll find that this is actually the definition of feminism:

feminism definition

My understanding of this definition is that although feminism primarily focuses on improving women’s rights (because they need the most improving), equality of the sexes is the ultimate goal. Not to have women superior and fantastic and worshipped like gods, which appears to be a fairly widespread understanding of the definition of feminism. Of course, there are many different definitions floating around out there, but I think this is the one that I want to base my identity as a feminist on – and I suspect many (if not all) of the other Feministas would second that. Also, although it may seem like feminism is only about women, there are people fighting for overall gender equality, including men’s equality, for issues like the fact there’s a massive stereotype that men have to have six packs and act manly and never show emotion. I won’t go into massive detail about that now (I’m running out of time) but as a starter, I highly recommend you listen to Emma Watson’s incredible speech to the United Nations.

Another thing that this commenter said was “if it feminism did advocate for everyone’s equality then it would not be referred to as feminism. The word feminism is pertained to the word female. Not equality.” [sic] OK, this is kinda a good point. I think the origin of the word ‘feminism’ is related to ‘female’ because originally, the movement was much more based around women’s rights, whereas more recently the focus on men and women’s rights has become more equal. Also, something I saw on probably a Tumblr text post on Facebook – how can the word ‘feminism’ be sexist when the word widely used  for all humans is ‘mankind’?

OK, now onto an issue the other commenter raised. She said about much the same things as the previous one, but added something – she’s not a feminist because she doesn’t think the west really needs feminism, what with all the laws against gender pay gaps and whatnot. Now, I don’t have the time right now to research gender pay gaps in the West in detail, but I’ll leave you with this: one reason I believe the West needs feminism as well as more Eastern LEDCs, is that while crocodile steaks, helicopters and edible sugar flowers aren’t taxed because they’re supposedly essential products, women’s sanitary products are taxed because they’re apparently a luxury and not essential. And that’s in the UK. I believe that isn’t right, and that’s one of the reasons why I’m a feminist.

*mic drop*

(sorry, couldn’t resist).

An Overthinking Teenager

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Normalizing Supergirl*

When the word Supergirl comes up, what’s the first thought that pops in your head? Is it the new awesome show on CBC? A female version of Superman? Here’s another question: do you ever think about you? Yes, you. Sitting or standing right there, reading this post. What about you? Maybe you’re not a girl and you’re reading this, so do you think about your mother/sister/aunt/daughter as Supergirl? Either way, I bet it doesn’t come up often even with all the feminism lying around but it should.

And it should make sense.

There are about 1.01 males for every 1 female in the world according to the CIA Factbook and there are 611 female superheroes add or take a few. Now those statistics are pretty good in terms of the fact that there are a lot of females superheroes that people can admire. However, even though women make up about half the world and there are a ton of superheroes, women don’t usually get enough credit, and I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know 98% of the female superheroes out there. So let’s be honest here, it’s a bit hard for those who read or like comics and such to feel like they’re getting representation. Thus I bring the idea/question to you (which is certainly not new), why isn’t being a mother counted as a female superhero? Why isn’t a regular girl/woman counted in that? Why do I have to have radioactive powers to be put on that list?

The answer: because we talk the talk but we don’t walk the walk.

That’s all. Yes, we say being a mother is amazing; it’s its own job for Pete’s sake! Yes, we say just being a woman is amazing because we put up with a lot. But do we truly show it? Save for mother’s day and birthdays, women aren’t shown that much love. We are sometimes dehumanized, sometimes made to feel less than, and most of the time, the idea of being woman, is just ignored in every day life. As long as you can eat, sleep and work, no one really cares that you’re doing anything else, being anything else.

Therefore I’m here to say that we should actually normalize Supergirl. That we shouldn’t just say on Mother’s Day or birthdays, “you are amazing; I love you!”; we should say it all the time. We should show it all the time. Acknowledging that a woman is a superhero doesn’t seem like much in thought, and probably hasn’t come up in your mind that much if at all, but it very much does. In all honesty, if someone – a random stranger – came up to me and said I was a Supergirl or if I overheard that being said to somebody else, I would be extremely happy. You know why? Because recognition is amazing; being acknowledged for your hard work is a great feeling and shouldn’t be taken lightly. That’s why I challenge you today to tweet, text, say, “You’re a Supergirl/Superhero” to a woman. Multiple women. And then see for yourself how wonderful those words can be. As a society, we need to normalize Supergirl and it all starts with you.

Thanks, have a great day/night and tata for now!

~Fantasy Angel, Avid Reader

If you want to see/hear more from me, check out my Find Us page and follow me on the social media listed there! See you!

*Note: yes this post is about women, but even if you’re a guy, you deserve the same and don’t worry, I’ll post about that soon! 🙂