But an ad-based publishing model built around maximizing page views quickly and cheaply creates uncomfortable incentives for writers, editors, and readers alike. Attention flows naturally to the outrageous, the harrowing, the intimate, and the recognizable, and the online personal essay began to harden into a form defined by identity and adversity—not in spite of how tricky it is to negotiate those matters in front of a crowd but precisely because of that fact. The commodification of personal experience was also women’s territory: the small budgets of popular women-focussed Web sites, and the rapidly changing conventions and constrictions surrounding women’s lives, . And so many women wrote about the most difficult things that had ever happened to them and received not much in return. Most sites paid a few hundred dollars for such pieces at most; xoJane paid fifty dollars. When I began writing on the Internet, I wrote personal essays for free.
Sarah Hepola, who worked as Salon’s personal-essay editor, described the situation to me in an e-mail. “The boom in personal essays—at Salon, at least, but I suspect other places—was in part a response to an online climate where more content was needed at the exact moment budgets were being slashed.” When I worked as an editor at the Hairpin and Jezebel, from 2013 to 2016, I saw up close how friendly editors and ready audiences could implicitly encourage writers to submit these pieces in droves. For the first two years that I edited personal essays, I received at least a hundred first-person pitches and pieces each week.
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With the trend to revive or create Islamist movements, women have continued to take up the modest covering of the hijab. Within women's groups the debate over its use also continues. Some progressive groups, such as the Women's Action Forum (WAF) in Pakistan, explicitly condemn all attempts to impose a dress code on women. They argue that those who do not conform to it are stigmatized. They say that it denies women the freedom to decide on their own appearance. Women's groups endorsing a strict interpretations of Islam, on the other hand, aggressively promote dress codes, putting out information sheets listing its requirements...
The Impact of Nationalism
The ideas of Qasim Amin reflected those who closely linked the emancipation of women and rejection of veiling to national movements for independence. For this group, the changing roles of women in society were important ways to convince the overseas colonial rulers that their subject nations were ready to govern themselves. Women were encouraged to be symbols of the new state. Those who resisted these ideas of social progress were mocked. Turkish elites, for example, mocked women covered in black, calling them "beetles." Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who began to build a secular nation-state in 1923, denounced the veil, calling it demeaning and a hindrance to civilized nation. But he did not outlaw it. Shortly after, in Iran in the 1930s, Reza Shah Pahlevi did, issuing a proclamation banning the veil outright. For many women, this decree in its suddenness was not liberating but frightening. Some refused to leave home for fear of having their veil torn from their face by the police.
Male leaders of nationalist movements encouraged women to join them and appear more freely in public. Slowly some women did. In 1910, a young Turkish woman attracted attention by daring to have herself photographed. At about the same time, educated women in Turkey began to leave the house unveiled, but still wearing hijab. The most dramatic public unveiling was undertaken by Huda Shaarawi in Egypt in 1923. Following suit were Ibtihaj Kaddura in Lebanon, Adila Abd al-Qudir al-Jazairi in Syria, and much later Habibah Manshari in Tunis. Moroccan scholar Fatima Mernissi remembers the fight her mother had with her father about replacing her heavier traditional veil with "a tiny triangular black veil made of sheer silk chiffon. This drove Father crazy: 'It is so transparent! You might as well go unveiled!' But soon the small veil, the litham, became the fashion, with all the nationalists' wives wearing it all over Fez - to gatherings in the mosque and to public celebrations, such as when political prisoners were liberated by the French."
Women's organizations also played an important role in transforming dress, although this was a minor issue in their struggle for women's political rights and for legal reforms. It should be stressed that for many women it was not the fact of wearing the veil that was the issue, but that the veil symbolized the relegation of women to a secluded world that did not allow them to participate in public affairs...
What happened? To answer that, it helps to consider what gave rise to the personal essay’s ubiquity in the first place. Around 2008, several factors converged. In preceding years, private blogs and social platforms—LiveJournal, Blogspot, Facebook—trained people to write about their personal lives at length and in public. As Silvia Killingsworth, who was previously the managing editor of The New Yorker and took over the Awl and the Hairpin last year, put it to me, “People love to talk about themselves, and they were given a platform and no rules.” Then the invisible hand of the page-view economy gave them a push: Web sites generated ad revenue in direct proportion to how many “eyeballs” could be attracted to their offerings, and editorial budgets had contracted in the wake of the recession. The forms that became increasingly common—flashy personal essays, op-eds, and news aggregation—were those that could attract viral audiences on the cheap.
Women activists in the Muslim world are less preoccupied with what women wear than with securing other freedoms such as access to education, better health care for their families, or wider opportunities for work. Commonly they argue for women's rights under the supposition of a culture-specific struggle, focusing on the implementation and activation of human rights claimed to be granted by Islam. Feminist consciousness and action may indeed exist in greater measure with the wearer of Islamic dress than with one who wears up-to-date Western style clothes!
For women wishing to pursue professional and public social lives, wearing hijab allows freer movement outside the confines of the home. In leaving their homes, this upwardly mobile group is actually defining new roles for themselves, not defending traditional ones. In the same way, students who take up hijab are able to move into areas that were once closed to them, such as attending classes, discussion groups and religious activities. Wearing conservative clothing protects them from sexual harassment and objectification. An Iranian school girl states, "We want to stop men from treating us like sex objects, as they have always done. We want them to ignore our appearance and to be attentive to our personalities and mind. We want them to take us seriously and treat us as equals and not just chase us around for our bodies and physical looks."
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While both descriptive and narrative essays are similar in many ways, the descriptive essays use of language fully immerses the reader into the story and allows the reader to feel the intended emotion....
Earlier this year, I visited the Kazuo Ohno dance studio in Yokohama, established some 60 years ago, and collaborated with Yoshito on a performance celebrating his father's life and work. At Ohno's bedside, I witnessed a surprising vitality and sensed an almost invisible movement reverberating through his elderly frame. As he lay there, his window open to reveal a cherry blossom tree and a view of Mount Fuji, I realised that Ohno had developed a creative process that was a byproduct of his spiritual practice. Yoshito told me during my visit to the studio that they aspired to total freedom in their dance, and that it emerged from a place of universal love.