Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Grace and Strength

I don't think I could ever call myself a feminist in the current, leftist sense of the word; I'm just not comfortable defining myself as a victim. This has partly to do with my upbringing, I'm sure, and a lot to do with my old therapist who, before coming to the States, organized women's groups in Iran. It was really hard to complain about having it rough when I gave thought to how women over there had it. Especially after the revolution, when groups like what my shrink person led were outlawed.

I've been finding a decent number of stories on the web lately about women standing up to terrible injustices and risking their lives to start improving their situations and those of their fellow country men/women. Though a lot of this can be tough reading, it's all a great antidote to the latest Harvard Tempest in a Teapot:

Sissy's post highlights Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Dutch MP and anti radical Islam activist. She is currently under police protection, as the same people who murdered Theo van Gogh are currently after her.

Neo-neocon discusses a story in the WSJ about a girl in Niger turning tradition on its head with some surprising help from her father.

Gates of Vienna has a post on some women in Pakistan who lived through and are living with the results of a particularly barbaric style of murder attempts. (Be warned, there is an image that might be hard for some to take.)

Norm has two great posts: the first is a roundup of news on the women's protest march in Tehran. Better treatment of women and more rights - not at the expense of men's rights, but rights as intelligent, sentient human beings just like men. Important to note in opposition to the whole affirmative action line of argument.

Also, payback for courage and magnaminity Pakistani-style. She sees to the education of her rapists' children, and the authorities still place her under arrest. She isn't permitted to leave the country out of fear that she will "malign Pakistan's image."

It certainly is a pity that 1/2 a population is held hostage to the other half's self-image.


I certainly hope I don't have to ever live through what any of these women have withstood. If I do, however, I hope that I do so with even a fraction of their grace and strength. My heart goes out to them.


Dymphna said...

Thanks for the link...the picture is rough, but as one commenter said (was it you?), when you look at their eyes, their smiles...

I'd noticed that, too, when I put up the picture. I think it's what made it bearable. As one who suffers from PTSD from severe domestic abuse (many long years ago) I have to be careful not to look at things that might trigger me. That picture didn't, so I thought it was perhaps safe for others, also.

I even avoid the more sensational "news" -- the distractions that the media outlets put up for our entertainment because of that. Life is just to short to spend it suffering for people when my suffering doesn't change anything.

So the picture and the story are different: having people see that may change minds and hearts. Not radically, just incremental changes that lead one closer to true north on the moral compass.

What is so important to point out in these stories are the good men. The fathers, the imam. Without them, these women could not have survived, much less begin to transcend this.

Hmmm. I may be starting my Father's Day post here.

BTW, I've examined that picture to try to figure out why it 'works' -- I think it's the beautiful color of their skin, the contrast of smile (which the photo shows well how transforming *that* can be), and their colorful dresses. Were that me, I don't know if I could dress colorfully, smile, or look at the camera...

...I say this from experience, having suffered cystic acne as a girl. One day, after years of treatment, my dermatologist smiled and said "you're getting better. You made eye contact with me today for the first time." This from a man whose face was partially paralyzed from a wound in the Korean War. He knew.

Be said...

Yes, I was the one who mentioned that their faces glowed and their smiles were gorgeous. I was particularly taking with the woman on the far right - the one with her head kind of cocked to one side, the arched brow and the really saucy smile. Smiling while you bellydance is part of good stage presence, so you learn to do it, but it's the only danceform I've experienced that actually causes a smile to bloom.

Best wishes to you!