Home Muslim culture I talked about drinking alcohol as a Muslim woman on TikTok – the response shocked me

I talked about drinking alcohol as a Muslim woman on TikTok – the response shocked me

0


I am a feminist – and a Muslim woman. I have always been outspoken about my feminist beliefs, and in my later adult years tried to live an authentic and unapologetic life. I wanted to stop hiding my life choices, so this week I posted a TikTok about the first time I tried alcohol during my college years.

I quickly forgot about the video and went to a Boom Cycle class with one of my best friends. When I got back to my apartment I saw that I had gained a few YouTube subscribers and one of the comments prompted me to check out TikTok. As soon as I opened the app, my heart sank.

There were hundreds and hundreds of comments under my video telling me that I was going to hell, that I was a whore and that I was no longer a Muslim Where Somali. A few years ago, I probably would have deleted the video, but today my resolve is much stronger.

As a young girl, I knew early on that my feminist views would meet with some resistance from members of my own community. Many nuclear Somali families are essentially patriarchal; and I grew up in a semi-strict Somali family so I was never taught to fully express myself or have free will or will.

Now, as a freelance multimedia journalist, part of my job is to develop an online platform. Over the past year, I’ve gone viral a few times whenever I’ve posted a job or career update on some of my social media channels.

It’s great, right? Well, yes and no. Every time I see a tweet that’s doing particularly well, I’m filled with a mix of emotions. While on the one hand I am happy to be recognized for my hard work; I’m also very tense as I know the first engagements I get will always be nasty comments from men (and some women, but mostly men) from my own Somali Muslim community here in the UK .

‘Cover up’, ‘you look like a whore’ and ‘you’re not Somali if you don’t wear the hijab’ are some of the most frequent comments I receive. To contextualize, I identify with the Islamic religion but I don’t wear a hijab. Also, like many other young women my age, I have a penchant for crop tops and mini skirts in the evening.

The Somali community in the UK identifies so strongly with the Islamic religion that if I don’t look ‘Muslim’ enough to some of these men then they not only try to exclude me from my religion – but of my culture altogether. It looks like a special type of erasure, reserved only for Somali Muslim women due to the community’s strong connection to religion.

Although I am shocked and sickened by the comments, I refuse to hide or change the way I communicate online. By stepping into the shadows, I would only reinforce these archaic and sexist views of women with deep patriarchal roots. I have no doubt that the people behind these comments want me do not to share my experiences – and I won’t be bullied into hiding my life choices or living my life for someone else.

To keep up to date with all the latest opinions and comments, sign up for our free weekly Voices Dispatches newsletter. click here

On my Youtube channel, I started creating content about sex, sexuality and Somali women to normalize these vital conversations because I feel like if someone was talking about these issues when I was older young, that would help me a lot. I also believe that if more Somali women stand up and make themselves visible, we can fight some of the most pernicious Somali men behind their keyboards.

It can be an exhausting struggle, especially when you exist at the intersection of so many conflicting identities. The discrimination I receive from my own community is compounded by being a black, Somali, Muslim woman living and working in the UK, with all the subtle and unsubtle forms of discrimination that come with being from of a marginalized community.

What encourages me to continue normalizing these conversations and breaking these stigmas is the amount of messages I get from young women of Somali descent telling me how much I make them feel seen and how much my content is relevant.

And reader, that makes all trolling miniscule in comparison.