Love, Inshallah:The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women

Title: Love, Inshallah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women

Author: Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi

Every American Muslim women has their own unique story on dating, love, and marriage. As American Muslim, I wish I could say “yes, arranged marriages always work out or one day we will all find our soul mate and its just a matter of searching”. Unfortunately, that’s just not how it works. Like all women, we too have a longing to one day be united by our one true love. We are also willing to search far and wide through any means possible. From single events and college flirtations to arranged marriages.

Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi’s book gives us the opportunity to have a first hand look into the lives of some of these American Muslim women and their struggle to find love. At the same time, we watch as others’ love stories unfold. When I read, Love Inshallah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women, I was blown away by their stories. At the same time, I felt relieved to know that I am not alone in these struggles to find love. There are other  Muslim women who face the same struggles as I do. There is someone else questioning the logic behind arranged marriages, the relationship between husband and wife and God, and the role of religion.

Today, in modern times, it is difficult to find a spouse who is compatible with you and has the same religious views as you,whether you are liberal or conservative. As a Muslim, it is hard to date, because Muslims do not date. I can’t imagine going home with a boyfriend and introducing him to my parents. Let alone a boy. It is shameful. And arranged marriage maybe your only option. As an American Muslim, what do you do when you are in such a position? Do you date non-Muslims and hope they will convert for you or wait until the one that you long for shows up at your door? Mattu and Maznavi do not answer these questions for you. For that it is something you have to decide for yourself. However, what they do share with you is something more powerful, an hour-glass look into the lives of American Muslim women who are going through the same struggles as you and a whole new perspective on our continuous search for a life partner.


Basket Weaving: A Global and Historical Look

“Before the arrival of Europeans on this continent, Californians wove baskets for many purposes: cradling babies , gathering and storing, cooking. Women wore basket hats baskets were given for gifts and made especially before ceremonies”

Ellinger, M (2010) “An Honored Art for a worthy fee: Spotlight on Weavers” News from Native California Volume 24, Num1 Pg.19.

Global and Historical Perspectives of Basket Weaving

Traces of baskets have been found in the Egyptian pyramids, and woven basket liners have left their impressions inside fragments of ancient pottery. While basket weaving is one of the widest spread crafts in the history of any human civilization, it is hard to say just how old the craft is because natural materials like wood, grass, and animal remains decay naturally constantly.

Basket Weaving is a universal art that can be traced from different countries, with varying cultures. Each country or culture focuses on different styles of weaving their baskets. One may also recognize that Baskets are made in other countries or by other non-native person that looks similar to North American Indian basketry. Examples of such is bundle coiled African basketry may resemble Coild Hopi baskets of Native Americans.

Basket Weaving Today

Many Native Americans still practice basket weaving today, as the craft continues to grow. The California Indian Basketweavers Association (CIBA), established in 1991, hosts an annual Gathering for basket weavers which is widely attended.  Right here at SFSU, students can enroll in a Native American Basket Weaving course with AIS lecturer, Kathy Wallace to learn this intricate craft. Here are some of the baskets made by students in her course last year.



There is also a wealth of archival material on baskets, including preserved baskets from Native Californian tribes, stored in the Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UC Berkeley. Some of our ROMC staff members had the opportunity to visit the museum and view some incredible artifacts of traditional baskets, shown below.




Vital Signs: Crip Culture Talks Back Film Screening


About the Documentary:

This edgy, raw documentary explores the politics of disability through the performances, debates and late-night conversations of activists at a national conference on Disability & the Arts. Including interviews with well known disability rights advocates such as Cheryl Marie Wade, Mary Duffy and Harlan Hahn, Vital Signs conveys the intensity, variety and vitality of disability culture today. Open-Captioned. Contains strong language and nudity.

Documentary Reviews:

“Long on humor and leavened with performance art, poetry and anecdote, Vital Signs may be raw, but the content is fresh, fully developed and anything but primitive.” Barry Corbet, New Mobility Magazine

“Extremely insightful. This thought-provoking, often irreverent video dispels myths about disability culture. Recommended without hesitation for academic and adult collections.” Library Journal

“Filled with engaging, in-your-face eloquence replete with anger, humor, ardor, irreverence, dignity, and creativity.”Disability Studies Quarterly

Contemplating “Rescue”

Our February 2nd, 2012 event Beyond Rescue: Critical Approaches to Human Trafficking in Asian and Migrant Communities was an incisive investigation into the complexities of the human trafficking framework.

For those who were unable to attend, here are a few of the points of discussion.

Panelists put human trafficking into the larger context of global movements of people through immigration and emigration. There are many push factors, which include the conflicts and wars in which US militarization has played a key part. Family reunification is also often a key factor. Emigration for economic reasons is another factor in global movement, and these economic factors are also closely connected to the conflicts in which the US military is implicated. The structural economic inequalities inherent in international trade agreements, such as NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), also cause some of the push and pull factors.

Panelists also deconstructed the stereotypes of human trafficking involving young women in the sex industry. Human trafficking in fact does not have a typical ‘face.’ It crosses different industries involving agricultural workers, food industry workers and domestic workers. It also crosses genders, nationalities and age groups.

The discussion around human trafficking also often assumes an Asian ‘victim.’ Panelists discussed significant historical traits in the continuation of this trope. The history of US military engagement in the Asia Pacific in which comfort women served the sexual ‘needs’ of US troops still color the discussion today. Orientalist stereotypes, with Asian women associated with a forbidden sexuality, also inform the trope. Patterns of immigration history and legislation also come to bear on today’s narratives. The US barred the entrance of women from particular Asian countries in the 1800s and 1900s, and human trafficking stereotypes are bolstered by these old fears of Asian women coming into the country.

To find out more, visit these websites:

Further Reading:

Trafficking and Prostitution Reconsidered: New Perspectives on Migration, Sex Work and Human Rights, ed. Kamala Kempadoo

Trafficking Women’s Human Rights by Julietta Hua (Assistant Professor, Women & Gender Studies, San Francisco State University)

Orientalism by Edward Said

A huge thanks to all our panelists:

Hediana Utarti, Asian Women’s Shelter

Ivy Lee, Esq. Former Lead Trafficking Attorney, Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach

Hyun-mi Kim, Legal Caseworker, Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach

Charlene Khoo, M.A. Candidate in Ethnic Studies, SFSU

New Books at ROMC Library!

The ROMC was recently given many books from Dr. Amy Sueyoshi, a professor here at SFSU in both departments of Ethnic Studies, and Women and Gender Studies.  Two books we have here in the ROMC library are titled The Four Immigrants Manga by Henry Kiyama, as well as Good Wives, Nasty Wenches and Anxious Patriarchs—Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia by Kathleen M. Brown.

The Four Immigrants Manga is a story told in the form of a Japanese comic book, or manga. The storyline follows the lives of four Japanese immigrants, who start their new lives in San Francisco in the early 1900’s. This manga’s storyline is a satire of the typical struggles and challenges faced by the Japanese immigrants during that time. Struggles and challenges such as those depicted were actually seen in the eyes of the very author and illustrator of The Four Immigrants Manga, Henry (Yoshitaka) Kiyama.

Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs is an analysis of gender and racial issues during the years of Colonial America. Kathleen Brown covers these issues in depth, which are drawn from the perspectives of the white European male colonists of the 1600’s and 1700’s, about their encounters with the Indigenous females. The colonists’ perspectives also are shown in their encounters with African female slaves later on in the period of colonialism. These perspectives also include racism, ideas of purity, masculinity and femininity. They often voice their comparison between the Indigenous and African females to their own white European females that came with them, and the expectation and value of the colonial women versus the Indigenous and slave women.

Thanks to Dr. Sueyoshi, we have many more books just like these two, available in the ROMC library. Hopefully, they will be helpful in the research of Ethnic, and Women and Gender Studies!

A Look Back on The Occupation of Alcatraz

Today, we’ll turn on the news or look at online articles, and we’ll see a lot of what’s going on with the Occupy movements, a collection of events that many of us have followed for the past couple of months. We can even walk around campus and find information about the OccupySFSU movement. Knowing about these events currently, many of us look back to the San Francisco State 1968 strikes as an inspiration and motivation to speak out. However, we should also look back at a very important and very meaningful occupation movement: the Occupation of Alcatraz.

This nineteen-month-long movement (November 20th, 1969-June 11th, 1971) first began with, and primarily included urban Native American Indian college students from around the Bay Area, and was planned by Richard Oakes (Mohawk). This movement was a response to Nixon’s Termination policy, which called to end all Indian Treaties made with the United States. It was also a response to all of the mistreatment of the Native American Indians, because of the different laws made by the United States Government over the years.

“Up to that time, Congress had passed some 5,000 laws dealing with Indians, and most of them were bad for Indians.”—Dean Chavers, in his article “Alcatraz Occupation Four Decades Ago Led to Many Benefits for American Indians” from Indian Country Today.

Indigenous people (later to be known as the Ohlone) have been on Alcatraz about 10,000 to 20,000 years before any of the European settlers appeared on this land. Then, during the occupation, the many people involved represented various tribes, and had all identified themselves as “Indians of All Tribes.”

What’s different about the Alcatraz occupation, and the Occupy movements of today (besides the reasons as to why the people involved with the movements have protested) is the organization of the publicity, and spreading the word to others about what’s going on. Today, we can use social networking, such as Facebook invites, twitter posts, and even emails. However, the information about Alcatraz occupation took much more effort and time to spread (again, this movement took place way before internet!).

“An ‘Indian Desk’ was set up at the SAC offices to handle public relations. The office was initially staffed by Livermore and other Indian volunteers. One worker summed up the efforts of the many volunteers: ‘Everyday was HECTIC, but wonderful.’”—Johnson, The American Indian Occupation of Alcatraz Island

It’s very awesome and inspiring to see and look back on this kind of movement done by young people who stood together for a change they longed to see, just like today’s Occupy protesters.

A Further Look into Campus Strikes

Two books called, The Long Walk at San Francisco State by Kay Boyle (which is an account from her own perspective of the 1968 strikes on SF State Campus) and Confrontation on Campus by Art Seidenbaum (a collective view of many well-known strikes on California university campuses), were recently donated to the ROMC Library. To be given these books means that the collection for the 1968 strikes can grow further as well, and can help give information to students about how the University was able to get the Ethnic Studies program that it’s well-known for today. It also means that students can get a detailed look at what campus protests looked like from decades ago, how these protests rose, and what issues these protests were based on.

As many students today have gone to the recent Occupy SFSU movement’s general assembly meetings, and are continuing to work together against CSU tuition hikes, the feelings of wanting to get our opinions heard as San Francisco State Students are rising. The donation of these two books give the ROMC archives more growth, as well as more of a power to educate students about the culture of our school from long ago, in comparison to today’s culture, as well as reinforcing that we as individuals at San Francisco State have voices. In other words, it is an awesome opportunity to have gotten these books, while our current events of the Bay Area have had a lot to do with protest.

In the book The Long Walk at San Francisco State, Kay Boyle who at the time was an instructor in the English Department in the late 1960’s, recalls the relationship that developed between students and faculty, as well as between all different races, because of the cause they fought for:

“We saw our students for longer periods, and in many instances more frequently than we had in our classrooms, for without willing it, and without wholly understanding it, we had become outcasts together, and the old artificial barriers were no longer there. Black, oriental, white, and Mexican, were resisting together the armed invasion of a territory we knew was entirely our own.”

–Kay Boyle, The Long Walk at San Francisco State

Art Seidenbaum, author of Confrontation on Campus, says that even peaceful efforts to fight can be seen as violent pushes for the cause:

“Society’s attention has effectively been called with predominantly hostile result. Polls indicate that the general public—more than administrators, more than politicians, and certainly more than faculty members—is more than fed up with college unrest and in a mood to punish. Legitimate questions concerning campus governance, obscured for the public by the ‘non-negotiable demands,’ nonsensical vandalism, and Anglo—Saxon name calling.”

–Art Seidenbaum, Confrontation on Campus