Hysterical Woman Phenomena

Hysterical Woman Phenomena

Written by Stephanie Siam

man goes to the doctor complaining of stomach pains; gets Rx. Woman goes to the doctor with same problem; gets straight jacket
man goes to the doctor complaining of stomach pains; gets Rx. Woman goes to the doctor with same problem; gets straight jacket. graphic by Nicole Elmasry.

Let’s get ready to rummmmble!!!!!!

The late 19th century (probably before and most certainly until some point after) saw a Western cultural predominance of labeling people according to disorders. If you’ve ever taken a look at literature or societal psychology from this time period, you’re sure to be acquainted with ideas such as leeching or frontal lobotomies.

Of course, if you spent more than 3 seconds looking at the recipients of such pleasant treatments, you’ll notice they often have one thing in common: the “fairer” sex.

Ah, yes. Throughout history, women have continuously been dealt the bad reputation of being unpredictable and emotional. Therefore, we tend to be considered weaker and prone to act irrationally based on our feelings at any given time.

Unfortunately, though the West has (mostly) progressed past this deluded mindset, other nations are still far behind understanding how a woman’s body works for – or against – her.

Not only that, but when it comes to women’s rights and inclusion, many societies base their ideologies on misappropriated ayat (verses) from the Qur’an and/or ahadith in order to subjugate, dismiss and maintain the patriarchal status quo on the (irrational and idiotic) basis that:

Women are easily confused and should not be given full responsibility or choice due to their precarious emotional states.

Go with me now to the year 2012. . . . .

We are still in Saudi Arabia, but it is nearing the end of my contract. We will be moving soon, and as the end grew ever nearer, I realize I am happy to go. Our time has been pleasant, but it is finished.

My husband’s niece has gotten engaged, so we make a weekend-trip to Kuwait for her engagement party. Now, I’m no extrovert, and I hate parties – but, it is for family, so I have to go to show support.

On the way to the border, we stop and eat lunch at a Hungry Bunny (fast food burgers) with bathrooms so clean I would eat off the floors. We hit the road, and I grab a cup of ice to go (because I have pica, and I crave ice).

Once in Kuwait, we get settled in the hotel (apartment) with my sister-in-law, and then we head to my other sister-in-law’s (mother-of-the-bride) for dinner. I don’t feel too well, so I don’t eat much. I think I am just tired from traveling. It was a long week at work, and there are lots of people in the house. I nibble.

Change scenes. We’re at the mall. Everybody’s happy and laughing. I can barely walk. Once again, I attribute it to being tired, plus I have major back issues, so I thought, “Eh, figures.” I sit and watch them walk around, having a grand time. I’m labeled as unsociable.

It’s the night of the party. I get all dolled up, and I even do my hair (it was just for women at the beginning). Get to the party. Start to get a migraine. I’m thinking, “Great….perfect timing.” By the middle of the party, I have to leave and go sit in the car. I’m dizzy, my head is throbbing and I’m pouring sweat.

The next day, we go to the movies. I’m still feeling queasy, but I warrior through. Afterward, all the family wants to go out to do something (I can’t even remember, I was so sick). I said I couldn’t, and I asked my hubby to take me back to the hotel. I barely got back to the room before I was choking and throwing up. He said, “I feel sorry for you, but I’m happy because now I can tell them there’s really something wrong!” (It sounds insensitive, but I understood what he meant.)

We finally get back to Saudi, and I start feeling better. I thought it was just a stomach bug. Then, Laila gets sick. And mine returns.

So, we head to the doctor. While Hubby takes Laila downstairs to the pediatrician, I wait to be seen by the doctor upstairs.

Now, you must understand this: I have a laundry list of medical issues that puts me at the doctor quite often. I have several chronic conditions that require treatment and stabilization — and they have been. At one point in the past, however, I had some chest pain. I knew there was nothing seriously wrong, but when you present with chest pain, they do the heart tests and make you see the heart doctor for a follow-up.

While I’m waiting to see the doctor, the heart doctor is sitting nearby talking to a nurse. . .about me. They’re speaking in Arabic, but he keeps motioning toward me. She keeps looking. Then the nurse of the doctor I’m waiting to see comes by and joins in the conversation. They continue talking about me. The gist: I’m there all the time. . .or, I’m a hypochondriac.

When it’s finally my turn, I go in to see the doctor (whom I’ve seen before). I run down my list of symptoms: sweating, fever, nausea, diarrhea, pain, etc.

Again, please note: The nurse did not take my temperature, and even though my blood pressure was high, it wasn’t seen as important.

The doctor asks about my husband. Yes, that’s right. My husband should be there to verify my problem.

“He’s downstairs with my daughter,” I say.

“Oh, is your daughter sick?” he asks.

“Yes. She’s got like the same thing, but not as bad.”

It’s like a light bulb goes off in his gray-haired head. “Are you worried about your daughter?”

I’m confused. “No, I’m not worried about her. I mean, of course I’m concerned for her health, but I know she’ll be okay. . .”

“I think you’re a little anxious. You’re probably upset because your daughter is sick.”

“No, that’s not what’s wrong. . .” To prove his point, I start tearing up.

“I’m going to give you a shot of _________” (I don’t remember the name, but it was an anti-anxiety medicine….Xanax, maybe?)

“I don’t need a shot. . .”

He sends me out of the office to wait for the nurse.

In the meantime, my husband comes up to check on me. He finds me crying.

“What’s wrong?” he asks.

“He won’t listen. I told him what’s wrong, and he thinks I’m just worried about Laila.”

“What?” He goes inside and speaks with the doctor. “Honey, come inside. . .”

I go back inside the office, and the doctor breaks down and checks my temp (imagine the concept!). It’s very high. Suddenly, he realizes I am sick, and he hands out a list of various medicines to collect from the pharmacy downstairs.

Royally pissed, we go to get them and leave for home.

That night, I can’t sleep, and I end up in the bathroom for hours. Anything that goes in comes out five minutes later. I can’t eat, and all liquid makes me nauseous.

We go to the emergency room, where the resident runs a bunch of blood tests.

“I have an idea of what’s wrong,” he says, standing beside my bed. “But I’m waiting for the tests to confirm it. I’ve ordered a Widal test.”

“What’s that?” I ask, completely out of energy.

“It tests for typhoid fever.” He leaves the room.

“Oh, my God!” I’m terrified. I don’t know exactly what typhoid fever is, but I’ve heard of it. And I know it doesn’t sound pretty.

The doctor comes back and confirms the test is positive. I have to be admitted. And I can’t have any human contact except for those whom I’ve already been around.

What is typhoid fever? It’s untreated salmonella poisoning which, if left untreated, can result in death. It takes months to recover from completely, and it took me nearly ten days in hospital to reach a level of being able to be around people again.

I had a “Do NOT Enter Without PROTECTIVE GEAR” sign on my hospital door!!!!

That’s right. I came *this close* to death, and I was labeled “emotionally unbalanced”. . . a hysterical woman.

I had my husband go down to the doctor’s office who had written me off with a diagnosis of hysterics.

His response? “Oh, really?” No apology. No realization of what could have happened. Just an, “Oops.”

Alhumdulillah rab-il al-ameen! Thank you, God, for your unending protection! It was a long road, and I recovered.

And I’d like to say this was a one-off. I’d like to blame it on Saudi Arabia.

Unfortunately, I can’t.

The moral of this story?

When women are quickly labeled as emotional and, thus, not even able to appropriately gauge whether their OWN BODIES are acting erratically, it can be more than just a simple “oops” that results. To allow the diagnosis of hysteria to persist as a cultural norm only risks further maltreatment for women in those locations. To be frank, it puts them at a clear risk for death.

This is why careful study and interpretation of religious doctrine is necessary and why biased and flippant prose that condescendingly discounts a gender is dangerous. When such verses are misappropriated to serve a specific purpose, they propagate the stereotype that women carry too much emotional baggage to think clearly.

Of course, by saying that women are the “weaker” sex and inclined to hysterics, what’s really being said is that men are the opposite. That they’re not prone to emotions because they’re “stronger”. That their judgment is solid and unwavering. That they think with their heads, and not with anything else (like their HEARTS). That they’re not easily swayed by gossip and don’t make rash decisions.

Yet, in this story (as well as many, many others), we can see this isn’t always the case. At times, we are all led by emotions instead of logic and clarity. This doesn’t make us “weaker” or “stronger” than the other. It makes us human. And, as humans, we must respect each other to create a stronger, united ummah (brotherhood) and present a positive image of Islam to the world.

But unfortunately for me, it didn’t end in Saudi Arabia.

So, join me next time, when we travel to Oman, and I continue the story of The Hysterical Woman Phenomena.

Oh, and PS. . .wondering what caused the salmonella? I suppose those bathroom floors weren’t as clean as they looked. Never eat ice from a border-town fast food restaurant.

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Take Back Islam: Rape is NOT Zina

Take Back Islam: Rape is NOT Zina

Written by Theresa Corbin

In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, a 23-year-old woman was “awarded” a one-year prison term and 100 lashes for committing “adultery” and trying to abort the resultant fetus after being abducted and gang raped – Saudi Gazzette.

We live in a world where men in charge conflate rape with sex. We live in a world where women living in “Muslim” countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and many more, are charged with zina (adultery) when, in fact,  they have been victims of rape.

This is a dangerous game men play with the lives and well-being of women.

No one is free when others are oppressed

Rape is not sex. Rape is not zina (adultery). Rape is ightisab (taking something by force). The history of Islamic scholarship bares this out. It is well-known that in “Fiqh-us-Sunnah” (an Islamic legal book) rape is included in a definition of hiraba (terrorism or crimes of violence), which states: “A single person or group of people causing public disruption, killing, forcibly taking property or money, attacking or raping women, killing cattle, or disrupting agriculture.”

But by conflating adultery with rape, the “Islamic” courts insist that a victim of rape should produce four witnesses.

However, the four witnesses demanded in the Quran does not even apply to rape. The four witnesses are only required when accusing a woman of adultery (zina). 

Those who commit unlawful sexual intercourse of your women – bring against them four [witnesses] from among you. And if they testify, confine the guilty women to houses until death takes them or Allah ordains for them [another] way.” (4:15)

It is absolutely absurd to claim that a rape victim is accusing herself of being unchaste and committing adultery and then demand she produce witnesses!

In reality–which seems to not exists when it comes to rape in these Muslim countries–Islam as a crime despicable rape where the rapist is put to death or given 100 lashes. And the victim is not to be put under societal or legal pressure, but should be offered state sanctioned support.

But I guess these lawmakers in “Islamic” countries didn’t see the verse after the four witness verse that says both involved in sin of adultery should be punished.

“Punish both of those among you who are guilty of this sin, then if they repent and mend their ways, leave them alone. For Allah is always ready to accept repentance. He is All-Compassionate.” (4:16)

The fact that these “men” in charge call rape adultery and do not even punish the other party (rapists get off Scott free or even get to marry their victims) in the act is blatant evidence of their extreme misogyny and lack of understanding of the religion of Islam.

Because of this severely skewed sense of “justice” rape has sky-rocketed in the offending countries.

International rape scale

According to the Archives of Women’s Health study Violence Against Women in South Asian Countries:

“The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) found a sharp rise in cases of rape over the decade with estimates suggesting that for every two hours, one woman was raped somewhere in the country. Other reports suggested the figure could be far higher, given that many instances of rape are never reported [understandably], as a result of social [and legal] pressures. Incidents of abusive incest and rape within marriage are also said to be common although most occur in a hidden form in the society.”


These governments and “scholars” twist and distort Islam till it is unrecognizable. But the question is why? What do they gain?

They step on the rights of women to gain political power, using rape and humiliation as a tool. One notable example is General Zia of Pakistan who gained his political power through systematic oppression of women, as can be seen in his introduction of the 1979 Hudood ruling.

Rahat Imran writes in an essay, Islamic Laws, Gender Discrimination, and Legal Injustices, that:

“Zia used the ‘women card’ as the first and most obvious symbol for his Islamization plan, knowing that a large majority of the male population of the country would have little problem in digesting its implementation […] because the law not only serves the purpose of terrorizing and subjugating women, but also resolves critical and controversial issues like proving rape in the court of law in men’s favor”

This and other grabs for power at the expense of women’s rights, like the Ayatollah Khomeini’s “Islamic” revolution, paved the way for future oppression of women under the guise of Islam.

Today the torch of violence against and subjugation of women in “Islamic” countries has been handed down to the likes of the Taliban who burn the flame brightly to the detriment of all. 

What can we do?

It is time we pull the rug out from underneath these “men” who rule on false claims of Islam.

The first thing we need to do is understand the truth. Learn the reality of Islam and not the version that has been bought and sold by governments and/or people seeking power.

Then we MUST educate those around you.

And call these corrupt rulers and law makers out on their heinous crimes against humanity and God. Where ever you see oppression done in the name of Islam, speak up. It is your duty.


It’s Time to Take Back Our Religion

It’s Time to Take Back Our Religion

Written by Theresa Corbin

Take-Back-IslamWhenever I come across an issue that evokes an emotional response, I spend many hours combing through it trying to make sense, logical sense, of it. I obsess about it while I am driving. I blankly stare at people who are talking to me and think about it. I construct arguments in my head while I am “watching” movies.

I come to a conclusion that has been disentangling from my emotions and categorized nicely in my frontal cortex. Then I write about it. This is my process. A lot of the stuff I write will never reach an audience. It doesn’t need to. It is enough for me to write it down and make space in my brain for the next topic to mull over.

But there is one topic about which I cannot smolder my anger enough to reach logical thoughts.  I fear I may never be able to. I have said I would write about it, I have promised other bloggers that I would address the issues. But I cannot bring myself to the point where logic overrides emotion. I remain at a fever pitch and all I can write is #$%^&*#@$!!!!!!!

The issue, however, was brought once again to my attention (as if it had ever left) recently by a fellow Muslimah blogger and writer who also happens to be a journalist and activist for women’s rights in Pakistan. This amazing woman added facts and fuel to my fire for women’s rights, and more specifically what is done to women in the name of Islam.

I may never be able to come to a place of tempered anger about the suffering that “Islamic” regimes place on women, my sisters, around the world. But it is time that I say something about it, if to do nothing more than to make a few more people aware, if to do nothing more than to explain how un-Islamic these anti-women regimes are, if to do nothing more than to defend Islam despite the Muslims. It is my hope that I can do more, but I have to start somewhere.

I have had sisters contact me distraught and on the verge of apostating because of what is done to women in the name of Islam. I have had people ask me how I could be Muslim when it is such a misogynistic religion. I have had family members ask me why I am driving because it is against my religion. I have heard a Muslim convert’s non-Muslim family ask if she was going to cut off her daughter’s clitoris.

And how can I blame these people for their ignorance when it is what they hear is done under the flag of Islam?

But Islam came to woman kind to free us from these types of oppression. Women’s liberation didn’t begin in the West, it began in Mecca, Saudi Arabia over 1400 years ago, when the West was in an age of deep, bleak darkness. Islam came as a light for humanity.

Islam taught that women were humans in their own right when the rest of the world thought of their sisters, daughters and wives as nothing more than a possession to be done with as they willed. Islam encouraged women to seek knowledge (with no stipulation on what kind of knowledge it may be) when the rest of the world was largely illiterate and thought teaching a women was a waste of time.

Islam encouraged women to pursue careers, to enrich their communities, to own property, to lead others, and fight if their person or property was threatened. Islam taught men to respect and honor and treat women with kindness and not just because they are daughters, mothers, wives and sisters, but because women are human beings and equal in the eyes of the creator, because women are capable of more mercy that men, a limited resource in this world.

Islam still teaches all of this …

But now, 1400 years later, the Islamic world is experiencing a dark age of its own, where women are thought of as property, imprisoned or even murdered for reporting their own rape, imprisoned by mis-education and shot when they try to free themselves, forced into marriages and prostitution, mutilated in unspeakable ways, used as pawns in politics, killed by their family members for imagined dishonor, and even sold to pay for the sins of their fathers.

While our male counterparts are very rarely held responsible even in the face of unspeakable crimes, are not even taught to be responsible, and are even encouraged to view a women’s bodies as nothing more than a decoration in their life to do with what they like.

This is not the Islam of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him). This is a community of Muslims that the Prophet (PBUH) would be ashamed of. Many Muslims today, when faced with these issues, will try to divert attention to what the West is doing, point fingers, try to sweep under the rug the misdeeds of their brothers or even try to explain it away with magnificent feats of mental acrobatics. It is time we deal with the shit that is happening in the name of Islam.

As a Muslim who believes in the original message of the Prophet Muhammad (May God’s peace and blessings be upon him), I will not be silent while evil is allowed to propagate in the name of my religion. I am obligated to help the oppressed (Muslim or non-Muslim) against the oppressor. And I am obligated to help the oppressor by seizing his hand.

Since this topic covers so many issues I will break it up into installments, discussing rape punished as adultery; rampant sexual harassment; genital mutilation; forced marriages and the removal of rights within a consensual marriage; honor killings; Ba’ad (where women are enslaved for male family member’s crimes); forced prostitution; and barring women from education, driving, working or even being in the public realm.

So if you have the emotional and/or mental maturity of a 10 year old, please excuse yourself from these future posts, they will be graphic (but not gratuitous) because the reality is graphic.

The best of you are those who are best to women –Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him)

So, what does it make you if you are the worst to women?

Stay tuned for more *&%#$@!!!!!.


Read more about our Take Back Islam effort: hereherehere, and here

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