I was a Muslim in a Muslim majority country.  I came of age when I was enamored of all things “western”. For me, America was the land of the free – where Americans could do everything.  I believed that Americans were given the opportunity to accomplish anything they wanted. What I wanted was to follow my dreams. When I arrived in the US, I found out that the American women were just as “boxed in” as the women in Pakistan.

Women were given contradictory messages. I know we can wear high heels and lipstick and can still be intelligent and feminists. There is always a tension – between women taking care of themselves and being smart.  I know –we don’t have to choose. I know that paying attention to my looks does not take away from my activism or from my intelligence. And I cannot imagine my life without being a wife and mother as well as an intelligent person who cares about women’s rights. 

Education in the USA was easy. Now I am a Professor of English, University Distinguished Scholar, and former Director of Women and Gender Studies at a university in New Jersey. 

This is an excerpt from a comprehensive interview.