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Dabiyyah

Trust and who’s worthy of it

For the fourth year in a row, I’m in a leadership position for a club centered around education and outreach for non-normative identities and relationship structures. It’s a group that requires me to maintain the anonymity (and thus the trust) of dozens of members while still being transparent and honest with the university. This seemingly…

On communal identity

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a drive to figure out who I am, who I want to be, and how to bridge those two things. I’ve written lots of essays, filled seven journals, and talked for hours about this topic. My pursuit of identity has always been rather self-centered. Who am…

Talk to people (professors included)

I forgot why I stopped watching “House M.D.” (Spoiler: It was the romantic subplots.) But that was nearly a year ago, and besides, I had too much work to do last night; I needed to procrastinate. So I started where I last stopped: season seven. And on episode two of that season, Dr. House and one…

Femininity in STEM

The kind of femininity that Stanford University accepts and encourages is very masculine. Admittedly, this is a meaningless statement, at least at a first glance: Aren’t femininity and masculinity polar opposites? Let me define what I mean. Femininity and masculinity are the traits and behaviors society expects of women and men, respectively. Historically, a significant…

Seven ways to make money if you’re a broke Stanford student

1.  Paid studies Both the Graduate School of Business and the psychology department conduct paid studies. Sign up for an account to access all the studies you may qualify for. Most studies range in time from 15 minutes to an hour but may span multiple days either in person or online. After completing the assigned task or…

Fear, and learning to live with those different from us

For the most part, I’m not shocked or upset when people say they don’t like Muslims. This may be incredibly presumptuous of me (being Muslim and all), but I think I get where they’re coming from. I’m incredibly (irrationally) suspicious and fearful of men. When I think of men, I think of the 50-year-old guy…

The futility of self-reliance

Two weeks ago, I ran four miles in (for me) record time and only got off the treadmill because I had class in 30 minutes. A couple days after, I was a ball of pain and exhaustion, and I didn’t have the energy to bike or eat. My jaw hurt if I had to chew too…

Humans and our institutions

I usually make a clear distinction between an institution itself and the people who make up that institution, because I always feel uncomfortable when people criticize institutions based on what its members do. This might sound weird; after all, an institution is its people, is it not? Well, not necessarily. The personal example for me,…

Decisions, decisions

Sometimes, deciding whom to ask for advice is as fraught as the decision you need advice for. Anybody who truly cares about you will give you what they think is the best advice. But what a person thinks is best is based on that person’s values, and those values are soaked up from what they…

External markers of identity

This November will mark a year since I stopped covering my hair. I decided that the cons of looking Muslim overwhelmed the pros and so succumbed to the external and internal pressure to abandon the hijab. There were many social consequences of this; I no longer received salaams from other Muslim women, people stopped stepping out…

Bridging Impossible Distance: More about girls, pt. 1

If you are considering marrying a man and you want to know whether he beats his wives, you ask your brother to infiltrate his social circle and find out. Or you ask his first wife. If the man doesn’t have any other wives, you find out whether his father beat his wives. If all your…

Bridging Impossible Distances: On the Inferiority of the Girl

After being married to my mother for barely six weeks, my father emigrated to the United States from Ghana to start building a new life for his family. My mother moved to my father’s family’s house, as was the tradition. When it became clear that my mother was not pregnant after six weeks of marriage, she became the subject of ridicule in the house. She was given the worst work and constantly insulted. She was a childless married woman. This was a problem. It was enough of a problem that my father made frequent cross-Atlantic conjugal visits. After almost a year, they finally conceived. And I was born. This was a bigger problem. The first born child is supposed to be male. If all the children turn out to be male, that’s not really an issue. If there are female children born after the first male child, it’s not a huge deal either. However, having a first born girl child is not okay. And my father’s family made sure my mother knew it.

Bridging impossible distance: Distant stories

I have to be upfront here. I am not technically an international student. I hold American citizenship and so receive federal financial aid. I receive citizenship through my father, who is a naturalized citizen. However, I do not have citizenship papers in my name, so I have no way to prove my American citizenship when…

Bridging Impossible Distance: Part 1/Introduction

“This is part one of a series that is broadly about how cultural differences inform our experiences here at Stanford. I will be drawing largely from personal experiences, both mine and others’, and will attempt to speak on topics ranging from Western exceptionalism, evaluating value systems, and the impact of religion. Comments and discussion will…
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