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.