“What do the Women Say?...Talkin’ Bout Sex,” A Celebration of International Women’s Day

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March 7 at 8:00 p.m.
La Pena Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley
Tickets 510-849-2568 x20

Golden Thread Productions Presents
Talkin ‘bout Sex
A Celebration of International Women’s Day

Talkin ‘bout Sex
with Maryam Keshavarz (Circumstance),
Zahra Noorbakhsh & Ayesha Mattu (Love Inshallah), and Bareed Mista3jil Queer Arab Women Stories

Buy tickets HERE!


Golden Thread’s annual International Women’s Day celebration will be sizzling hot. An eclectic selection of female artists discuss the pain and pleasure of addressing sex and sensuality: Award-winning filmmaker, Maryam Keshavarz who received overwhelming critical acclaim for her first narrative feature, Circumstance; joins standup comedian, Zahra Noorbakhsh and author, Ayesha Mattu, editor of Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women, one of the first collections of writing by Middle Eastern women about sex. The evening will wrap up with excerpts from Bareed Mista’jil Queer Arab Women Stories, selected by Happy/L.A.Hyder. The conversation will be facilitated by Golden Thread artistic associate, Haleh Hatami. WVN is a proud community sponsor.

Everyone seems to have an opinion about Muslim women, even (especially!) those who have never met one, say co-editors Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi of Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women, “it’s about time we heard directly from Muslim women themselves.” Golden Thread’s artistic director, Torange Yeghiazarian couldn’t agree more. “No other territory is coveted and fought over as much as women’s bodies,” Yeghiazarian explains, “from the American Right-wing conservatives to the Taliban and Ayatollahs in Iran, the real battle is over controlling women’s bodies and sexual expression.” Join us for this year’s& What do the Women Say? and find out how this group of Middle Eastern women artists counter and shatter stereotypes.

Bareed Mista3jil features 41 stories in Arabic and English, each one originating from interviews with some 150 lesbian/bi/trans/questioning women from various regions of Lebanon. “The title of the book, Express Mail, really indicates the urgency of the stories and the private nature of them that needed to be told, made public,” explained Nadine Mouawad, a member of the Feminist Collective, involved from the project’s inception. Since 2009, Bareed Mista3jil has been presented in the San Francisco Bay Area, at the AWID Istanbul conference 2012, and at the Aat Festival of Women’s Theater in Amman, Jordan, 2013. The book was produced by Meem, a feminist organization in Beirut with a focus on community building through programming and counseling.

An open-mic after-party will follow the event at La Pena Lounge featuring songstress, Naima Shalhoub.

Artist Biographies:

Maryam Keshavarz has been making award-winning films for 11 years. While still an MFA student at NYU / Tisch, Maryam’s short film THE DAY I DIED won the Gold Teddy and Jury Award at the Berlin Film Festival and her feature documentary THE COLOR OF LOVE won top awards at Full Frame Festival and was broadcast internationally. Maryam’s first narrative feature fiction film, CIRCUMSTANCE premiered to overwhelming critical acclaim at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, garnering the coveted Sundance Audience Award, leading to Maryam’s inclusion in Deadline.com’s 2011 Directors to Watch. CIRCUMSTANCE has won Best First Film at the Rome Film Festival and the Audience & Best Actress Awards at Outfest. The Independent Spirit Award nominated film was described by the New York Times as “Swirling and sensuous”, by the Wall Street Journal as “Supremely cinematic”, and by theHollywood Reporter as “Amazingly accomplished.” Maryam has received grants from the San Francisco Film Society and the Creative Capital Fund in support of her upcoming film THE LAST HAREM.

Ayesha Mattu is a writer, editor and international development consultant who has worked in the field of women’s human rights since 1998. Her first book, “Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women”, was featured globally by media including the New York Times, NPR, the BBC, Washington Post, Guardian, Times of India, Dawn Pakistan, and Jakarta Post. She was selected a ‘Muslim Leader of Tomorrow’ by the UN Alliance of Civilizations and the ASMA Society and has served on the boards of IDEX, the Women’s Funding Network, and World Pulse. Ayesha is an alumna of Voices of Our Nations writers’ workshop and a member of the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. Her latest book, “Salaam, Love: American Muslim Men on Love, Sex & Intimacy” is now available through Beacon Press.

Zahra Noorbakhsh is a writer, performer and standup comedian. The New Yorker Magazine dubbed her one-woman show, “All Atheists Are Muslim” a highlight of the Int’l NYC Fringe Theater Festival, the largest multi-arts festival in North America. Her performances have sold-out theaters in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Zahra is a contributor to the groundbreaking, NY Times featured anthology, “Love Inshallah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women” featuring her piece, “The Birds, The Bees—and My Hole.” In addition to the NYC Fringe Theater festival, and numerous colleges around the nation, Zahra has performed at the SF Theatre Festival, the Solo Performance Workshop Festival, and is one-third of the troupe DISoriented, a trio of Asian-American performers, touring nationwide. As a comedian, she was a finalist in the Aspen National Rooftop College Comedy Competition and has performed with international acts, Maz Jobrani (Axis of Evil), and Shazia Mirza (Last Comic Standing).

Happy/L.A. Hyder, visual artist and writer, first visited Lebanon a few years ago to explore a land that held many mythic qualities for a child growing up in the U.S. and with little family connections to the actual land. The resulting images are an homage to beauty, strength, & resilience. Her 1980 image, New Country Daughter-Lebanese American, is included in Lesbian Art in America, a history, Harmony Hammond, in the third edition of This Bridge Called My Back, writings by radical women of color, and in Food for our Grandmothers: Writings by Arab-American and Arab-Canadian Feminists.

Nyla Moujaes(TruBloo) is a Lebanese-Armenian hip hop-poetry fusion emcee, percussionist, composer, cultural and justice worker. A music prodigy, Tru studied classical guitar and music theory as a young adolescent and won her first poetry slam at age 15. As half of the hip hop duo, NaR (fire, in Arabic), Tru performed at national and international festivals. When she’s not blessing mics, she’s either curating ground-breaking cultural events like Al Musiqa, Al Funoon, Music Without Borders, or the upcoming music and arts festival Hip Hop Beyond Gender (lapena.org) or in the courtroom advocating for homeless, differently-abled people in Berkeley as a staff attorney (homelessactioncenter.org). To learn more visit, therealtrubloo.com

Mary Salomeis an Arab- and Irish-American media activist, writer, and producer of radio, video, and web publications. Her prose and poetry have been published in Sojourner Magazine, Food for our Grandmothers: Writings by Arab-American and Arab-Canadian Feminists, and The Bakery, among other publications. She is the co-producer of the web site BintElNas.org and has been involved with Lit Crawl in San Francisco as a featured reader and a curator over the past three years.

Zeina Zaatari is currently working on a book project titled: Interrogating Heteronormativity in Lebanon: Family, Citizenship, and Access to Adulthood. She is an independent lecturer, researcher, consultant focusing on gender and sexuality in the Middle East and North Africa. She earned her PhD in Cultural Anthropology with an emphasis in Feminist Theory from UCD, and was the Regional Director for the MENA Program at Global Fund for Women, 2004-2012. Her publications include Telling Our Stories: Women’s Voices of the Middle East and North Africa (2011), Re-Imagining Family, Gender, and Sexuality: Feminist and LGBT Activism in the context of the 2006 Invasion of Lebanon co-written with Nadine Naber in the Journal Cultural Dynamics: Insurgent Scholarship on Culture, Politics, and Power (2014), Arab Feminist Awakening: Possibilities and Necessities in Arab Feminisms: A Critical Perspective (Bahithat, 2012 Arabic), In the Belly of the Beast: Struggling for Non-Violent Belonging in Arab and Arab American Feminisms (2011), among others.


March 07, 2014 at 8pm - 11pm
La Pena Cultural Center
3105 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94705
United States
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