Yassmin Abdel-Magied through the eyes of three young brown women
Due to her seemingly unwavering confidence when it comes to expressing her opinions, TLW* identifies Yassmin Abdel-Magied as a strong and clear embodiment of a Loud Woman in today’s society. Earlier in 2017, almost 100 bedraggled students squeezed themselves into our small library at school to listen to the infamous (debatable) Yassmin Abdel-Magied. Only a few months after her book launch, for Yassmin’s Story, both dissenters and fans alike crouched under tables and sat three to a chair to listen to what she would have to say. We perhaps all had our own opinions about how she would conduct the discussion. I think it’s safe to say that she both exceeded our expectations and reaffirmed the notion that it is always important to be your own person.
It’s been about four months since the infamous seven-word twitter post by Yassmin Abdel-Magied. Four months of relentless castigation and demands for “self-deportation” garnered Abdel-Magied the title of ‘Australia’s most publicly hated muslim.’ Viewed through the eyes of a seventeen year old girl, born overseas and battling through wave upon wave of tests and SACs, I held a strange admiration for this audacious women. An admiration that was constantly underpinned by a sense of worry and apprehension. Where did she pluck up the courage to say that? How did she battle the surge of criticism following her tweet? Is this what happens when we voice our opinions?
On the 8th of August, Yassmin paid us a visit to promote her new book ‘Yassmin's Story’, and share some important moments of her life. She recalled her childhood passion for racecars and her career in the “blokey” off-shore Shell rig whilst embedding small nuggets of truth within each story to inspire us wide-eyed school girls. But what I found the most the most entertaining were the often racially tinged one-liners she would dot throughout her stories. Jokes that sent her audience into peals of laughter. From lifting up her ankle length skirt to yell ‘habibi’ at a boy to, her attempts at communicating with her male Shell co-workers. Amidst the hateful comments, hyper-patriotic articles and frankly offensive cartoons that had shaped our preconceived image of Yassmin, we were given a glimpse of the human beneath. Of the human that made mistakes but learned from them and always returned to fight another day.
While we all thought Yassmin’s stories would bemoan the loss of her identity as a woman in order to fit in with her male-dominant surroundings. There was an air of pure exultation when she uncovered her secret to surviving the ceaseless jeering and jibing from her co-workers and the media. Embracing her femininity. One story that really stuck with us was her recount of a conversation between her and a fellow male co worker, in which he asked why she felt so affronted when those around her pointed out she was female. It was at this moment that Yassim realised (and us in turn) that her need to conform to the behaviours and mannerisms of those around her was in fact, a desire and not a need. In embracing her gender, her cultural background she gifted herself an ability to rise above the challenge and confrontation that is so prevalent in our current society.
However, Yassmin did more than just empower us as women, she simultaneously emboldened our individuality. In a world that favours the extroverts and gifts them more opportunities all else. That successful is not synonymous with extroverted and no matter our personality we have a role in the progression of society. Her words were a welcome reprieve to the introverts among us, inspiring us to not alter our personalities in the face of adversity, rather to seek out and embrace our differences.
Yassmin Abdel-Magied. A name that perhaps carries the weight of many, different opinions, or perhaps, you haven’t heard the name before. However that seems unlikely as this woman has been subject to much media attention, positive and negative. While the negative might outshine the positive at times, the positive has definitely had more of an impact on my life. Ever since finding out about the existence of Yassmin, a young, smart and witty Muslim woman, I felt instantaneously more confident. It was the fact that I knew of no other Muslim women who appeared frequently in the Australian public sphere. It was the fact that she existed for me to see through a television screen, up with all these politicians and activists, that made me think: What does it mean for her to be there?
And, of course, I can’t speak for other people, but, as a young Muslim woman, Yassmin is a symbol of hope and equality. In a society where I am a minority, she made me feel less out of place. She is, in my opinion, the epitome of a young Australian Muslim woman, something that I had never been able to picture before. Because of this, I’ve been able to grapple more easily with my ideas of identity and belonging, and I believe she has influenced many other young women in the same way. The exposure, the existence, the simply ‘being there’ of Yassmin, has made more of an impact that she might ever know.