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Wednesday
Aug122009

Drawing a Line in Lubna's Sand, Saying 'No More' to the Growing, Global Erosion of Women's Rights in the Name of Any Man's Religion

Is She a True Grit Woman?

True Grit women walk the talk of feminismSome women might be affronted, having money people discuss whether or not she (me) has the temperment to walk into a distressed-company lion’s den.

Not me. They had better discuss my temperment under pressure. When the wasps are stinging, I can’t exactly jump up on my chair, short skirt and all, suggesting we all take a deep-breath, cleansing moment.

Being ‘still’ is probably the best strategy in a wasp attack, but a woman risks being called ‘soft’ and not understanding her enemy.

The ‘still’ strategy didn’t work for Jews and it hasn’t helped the women of Sudan much either, since the mid-eighties.

When you’re losing millions, businessmen tend not to be in a good mood. Tempers are short and everyone’s out to get you.

The same can be said for the largely-male, international cadre of usually ultra religious zealots, who believe us women shouldn’t be let out of the house in the first place.

Life’s mighty interesting when Harvard guys are telling me: “You’re tough enough to solve this corporate mess, Anne; just stay the hell out of Sudan.”

No Visa In My Future

I think we all agree that I would not be granted a Sudanese visa at this point, unless a blond-head beheading was on the government’s ToDo list.

I keep telling my friends not to worry. Anne’s in a state of perfect emotional/psychological balance, even if I do wake up to Blackberry messages bootlegged out of Sudan. I hate starting the day with the f-word, but that was my reaction Tuesday morning, reading P’s message out of London.

Lubna Ahmed Hussein, the courageous Sudanese ‘trouser girl’ woman was not allowed to leave the country last night.

Hussein’s defiant “I dare you to flog me” voice has turned me inside out, with her bravery. Consider the global reaction one fierce women has launched, in her act of controlled defiance and refusal.

Lubna Ahmed Hussein on the streets of Khartoum, appearing in court on August 4, 2009

When a woman cries defiantly “You can flog me 40,000 times, I want this 152 law changed for women in Sudan”, I really can’t stand by saying “and what do you want from me? I have my own problems.”

Overwhelming Atrocities Against Women in DR Congo

When you open the flood gates, the women’s rights news is overwhelming.

Secretary of State Clinton was in the Congo yesterday. Once I got beyond the ignoramus who queried Hillary about being the channel for Bill her husband, the real man in charge of American diplomacy — I descended into the hellish stories of the most unimaginable brutality that defines the lives of women in the Congo.

In many countries of the world, the rape of women is now officially a tactic of war. Misty-eyed at my computer, I read one sickening story after another. I found inspiration, too, in features and news of people trying to raise our consciousness about the plight of Congolese women.

When I travelled 50% of the time internationally, I always had an excuse for not knowing what was going on. Those days are gone from my life, so how is it that I don’t know about Brooklyn-based, Pulitizer-Prize winning playwright Lynn Nottage and her play ‘Ruined’?

Listening to Lynn Nottage’s podcast on Human Rights Watch, this Smart Sensuality woman tries to capture fleeting moments of joy, beauty and flirtation in Congo, straws standing next to the pillars of horror.

Lynn Nottage and Lisa Jackson HRW podcast“A sole focus on the ugliness and atrocities of the play will consume her audience”, says Nottage.

Perhaps the flirtation serves as jam for the bitter pills of life.

Lynn Nottage expresses the thought that now, more than ever, people truly do want to understand what’s happening in the world. The emerging Cultural Creative mindset is undeniably focused on admitting: ‘the jig’s up’.

It’s now or never. And as Howard Buffett says on the ground in Africa, parenthetically, “It may already be too late.”

A Complete 360

My own journey to this activist moment has been instructive, to say the least. (Note: in Oct 2010 Anne gave up her apt in NYC and her country house in Carversville, moving into a gorgeous industrial loft in Philadelphia, four blocks from Independence Hall but also located in a lower-income neighborhood, very different from her beautiful apartment in Wall Street. As a much younger women, Anne lived in renovation neighborhoods in Brooklyn and was always happy there.)

In so many ways, I feel that I’ve come full circle in my life, returning to the young woman, who arrived in New York from Minnesota, convinced I could change the world. The banker reminded me last evening that my Minnesota people are socialists.

I responded: “Don’t go there. Don’t do a Sarah Palin on me.”

The stories of humanity’s brutality to each other — usually in the name of one God or another — overwhelm us. Yet, I feel that the explosion in our web traffic confirms Lynn Nottage’s point of view; and that of Lisa Jackson, whose film ‘The Greatest Silence’ is also featured in the Human Rights Watch podcast.

People want to know the facts. In our hearts, we know we must take action, while engaging in a hearty dose of intercultural and religious communication. In case you’ve been living under a rock for decades: the world is under wasp attack.

Queen Rania at Jeddah Economic Forum via Flickr’s crazymaqThe Essence of Smart Sensuality

There’s a changing pattern in our most-read articles, here at Anne of Carversville.

Web friends continue to savour the pleasures of my chocolate mousse cake stories or a night journey into the intoxicating, dark streets of Marrakesh. The Marilyn Monroe story will continue to be in the top five, because what woman has the audacity to say that she identifies with Marilyn Monroe!

That takes balls.

Not only has our Cultural Creatives channel gained a lot of traction. In the middle of these weekly favs — annuity stories I call them — another story has taken hold, and it’s one of my favorites: Carversville, Cuttalossa Road and a Peaceable Kingdom.

This was my first writing, inspired by Queen Rania’s YouTube channel on stereotypes about Muslims.

I wove Queen Rania’s mission into my own recollections of a real-life barnyard scene next to my first house on Cuttalossa Road in Bucks County, and the Edward Hicks painting ‘The Peaceable Kingdom’.

In a mind-boggling moment, the animals next door marched out the door into the sun, two by two. They weren’t like species. The dog was with the rooster, and a goose next to a lamb — or some similarly irrational combo. The scene was animal cacophony.

The scene was one of most profound statements about world peace that I could ever imagine. You know that animals can look happy to us. I tell you they were smiling, dancing and prancing, marching out into the light with no violence or recriminations.

The dog didn’t say: “Die, goose.” The rooster wasn’t at war with the babydoll sheep. And no one had experienced the removal of a clitoris.

All genitals were intact on Cuttalossa Road as the pleasurable warmth of the sun swept through the dense tree canopy around my house.

Edward Hicks “The Peaceable Kingdom”I’ve done nothing to promote my Peaceable story, and it only came alive since I began writing about Lubna. I think this says something about the mindset of our new readers and my writing about burqas and Islam. Also Queen Rania is very popular these days.

Simply stated, animals discover ways to live together. Why can’t humans to the same? We are a pitiful lot.

Meditations at Sea

Another treasure remains buried in deep water here at Anne of Carversville. The writing was inspired by the most wonderful vacation of my life, sailing in a tiny boat around the islands of the Ionian Sea.

When one believes in Carl Jung’s concept of the collective unconscious and lies asleep, awash in the waves of Ithaca, your dreams are very vivid.

My intention to tell the story of this most wonderful vacation, and was derailed by an extraordinary poem: “Ithaca” by Konstantinos P. Kavafis.

Just opening up the page now, that emotional writing night floods over me. I was psychological toast that night, but I also experienced some kind of breakthrough, overwrought (don’t tell the bankers), my head bowed in front ot the fireplace.

I won’t repeat the words to the Kavafis poem “Ithaca”; you will find them at Sailing Towards Ithaca and also in the video. I don’t care if it’s schmaltzy; for me, this video is one of the most inspiring on YouTube, a free gift from an unknown person, living in the digital universe.

Ithaca by C.P. Cavafy (with Sean Connery & Vangelis)

These last few months have returned me to my thesis work at NYU and my focus on gender relations in fifth century BC Greece.

Women’s Rights: Exploding or Eroding?

What men think of women has always fascinated me. Perhaps this is why we get along — men and me. Without excusing men, I’ve always tried to understand gender relations from their perspective.

There comes a time in everyone’s life when s(he) must draw a line in the sand. It’s a line that says “no more; I’ve had enough”. There’s no doubt that Lubna Hussein has drawn her line in the sands of Sudan.

Reading women’s stories these past two months, I readily admit my concerns that women are going backwards in total. I don’t know this for a fact, but I will gain a better perspective. For certain, many women of the world are going backwards or making no progress in their repressed lives.

Somewhere between the Peaceable Kingdom on Cuttalossa Road and landing Odyssey on Mars, reflecting back to the learnings of ancient Greece and Egypt, there are answers for the road ahead.

Buddas of Barnyan, dynamited by the Taliban under Sharia lawI remember a few years ago when the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamyan on orders from leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, after the Taliban government declared that they were “idols” (which are forbidden under Sharia law). Taking down the World Trade Center is one thing; but destroying statues that stood along the Silk Road for nearly 2000 years is astonishing. via Wikipedia.

In yesterday’s Letter from Egypt, NYTimes writer Daniel Williams writes of the battle for Alexandria, once one of the most cultured, sensual and intellectual cities in the world.

Today women are swimming, covered head to toe in Alexandria, and Christian women are afraid to come out of their houses.

I ended last year’s digital journey to Ithaca on a glorious note, with video of a moving concert in Greece, as Odyssey sped towards a Mars landing.

There is so much inspiration, celebration, hope and sensuality in this video that pays tribute to the great civilizations of Egypt and Greece at a time when women’s rights were far better than now.

Vangelis - Mythodea - for the NASA Mission Mars

On the subject of fundamentalism, I no longer wear rose-colored glasses. Like Lubna Ahmed Hussein, I am drawing a line in the sand and saying ‘no more’.

Peaceful, intelligent people of every culture and faith, who want to coexist MUST gather together. We must have our own songs and images that inspire us as a group.

Deadly, irrational, automaton forces — with no conscience, just march and kill — are snatching women around the word. They operate on autopilot, asking no questions. There is no reasoning, no logic, no peace table for these robotic wasps.

Fundamentally savage men round up women and rape them unmercifully, frequently in the name of their respective Gods and generals and minerals, too, I imagine. Africa’s warfare is not only about religion.

We have more than one god involved here, I’m sure, although one in particular seems to be particularly hard on women.

Buddas Are the Beginning

What if the Buddhas of Bamyan are only a taste of the future? Nothing in this glorious Mythodea testament to humanity and civilization will exist in the world of wasps.

Women especially, cease to exist in this hornet’s nest, except as sexual reproducing machines, available to meet a man’s needs, whenever he desires. Presumably, they will also cook and clean house, but who knows? The more I read, the more savage is the truth. I can’t imagine living in these psychological and physical conditions every day.

If you’re one of these ‘cultural relativists’ I’ve been reading about — saying that this is not my concern as an American woman, what goes on in other countries — I say you have no sense of the struggle that’s coming.

Speaking out and working for women’s rights is not the same as sending in the troops.

I truly don’t believe that the women of the Congo consider my interest in their affairs an aggressive form of American cultural imperialism.

Lubna Ahmed Hussein has drawn a line in the sand in Sudan, and we must back her, whether it’s culturally convenient or not.

In Alexandria, Egypt, women have gone from wearing bathing suits to head-to-toe coverageAs one Muslim man living in the Middle East told me last week — this fight is about my daughters. The disease is spreading like wildfire, and we must stop it. I am so afraid for my daughters.

On my end of this conversation, I have drawn a line in the sand over international women’s rights. How about you?

Remember, when the wasps are stinging women of every hair color, jumping high on a chair with hoping some handsome man will save you, does not cut muster.

Romance, emotion and beauty are a sensual vision, forever banned in Taliban country and also at the Western Wall of Jerusalem, where the mere sound of a woman singing is considered a morally corrupting influence. Anne

Reader Comments (5)

I agree with all that you say, Anne and I can understand your fears for your daughters. Wherever women are being abused, that is the concern of all women.

August 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWelshcakes Limoncello

Branching out from whales & dolphins I have started reading Annes other pages.
It occurs to me that if half the male population had their testicles removed we might all be able to move on in peace! [some might suggest a higher proportion but I need a space for me to remain intact].
Dave

October 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDave Head

Thanks for your comment, Dave. Actually, I've returned to the beginning, so to speak, trying to understand the concept of patriarchy.

It's a fact that men threw veils over married women's heads in 10,000 BC, long before Islam was founded. I hope to compare life in Latin America with the Middle East.

My sense is that native populations weren't as violent and aggressive there.When Columbus landed in the New World, the women were naked and smiling, and bejeweled, not under veils. Columbus's own journals refer to a harmonious, loving, deeply sensual people who greeted him.

What part of male dominance is unavoidable, due to genes and hormones, and what part is socio-cultural?

I believe strongly in the link between repressed sexuality, or sex as "bad", evil, ungodly and a propensity to violence. This is the gut issue of Anne of Carversville.

But the acquisition of property, human greed, culture and genetics, and controlling lineage must be considered. I'm wondering if the evolution of civilization in the desert, father than lush territory, is a factor.

Psychologist Ernest Becker died before developing his theory that women remind men of their mortality, which presents an unavoidable tension between evolving men, who believe they can triumph over nature.

This is Modern thinking, in my consulting business.

Today's reality is that many men are more enlightened and conscious of their actions, which is why I'm a big supporter of men. I believe that many are trying very hard to analyze their own behavior and motivations.

I was thinking about your whale rights writing yesterday, and it occurred to me that men being the "good guys" on protecting cetaceans is a way of channeling male nurturing tendencies to a positive good.

The selfless actions of many soldiers are also part of this desire to be the protector, rather than the aggressor. The issues are very complicated with soldiering, because aggression is part of the picture.

Society says that women are complicated hormonally, but I believe that men wrestles also with how not to be defined by their hormones.

I don't wish to see men neutered, because I believe that positive sexuality is a beautiful thing. But yes, those testicles do get in the way when not properly channeled. Anne

Anne

October 13, 2009 | Registered CommenterAnne

Religion, a belief of faith, but of what idea? Ideas shape behavior, why NOT love, because that requires the greatest sacrifice to be made of all, which most individuals are NOT willing to do. So the question becomes why NOT then? In simple terms, "selfishness and greed" but also arrogance of thyself.

So what is the solution then? In a word, "maturity". The aim of education should be to teach us how to think, rather than what to think.

Socrates said, "the only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance." So that explains war, because whenever war is declared, truth is the first casualty.

However, the great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie—deliberate, contrived, and dishonest, but the myth—persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.

Freedom of the mind requires not only, or not even especially, the absence of legal constraints but the presence of alternative thoughts. The most successful tyranny is not the one that uses force to assure uniformity, but the one that removes awareness of other possibilities.

Why should God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect intended for us to forgo their use?

Christianity started out in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and became an enterprise.

Now you know how much spiritually (doctrine of conscious) has been replaced with materialistic acquisitions in the present age of civilization.

Wisdom consists of the anticipation of consequences. Man has responsibility, not power. We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.

Knowledge is like an island. The bigger the island the longer the shores of curiosity.
A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThird Leg

Thanks so much for your extensive comments. Your last line sums up the tenets of modern Christianity, though.

In the philosophical transition from Socrates to Aristotle, the erosion of power and influence and rights for women declined precipitously. Socrates said that women could rule the state. Aristotle said women were animals, requiring management my men. Athena may have been the Greek goddess of wisdom, but in a short three hundred years, women were declared mentally incompetent.

In your writing "a gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials," you use a patriarchal language that supports Aristotle. I can only infer that you agree with his view, although many of your words suggest a more moderate view.

As I wrote in my essay, fundamentalist and men-run religion is the biggest obstacle to women's well being and general peace on our planet. The men of religion seek a global blowout; they thirst for it -- in the name of God, of course. Orthodox Jews loved Aristotle and his views on women.

While I agree with you that materialism has 'corrupted' our civilization in many ways, male power, male privilege and men's assertion that women are lesser beings have wrecked far more havoc and misery, in my opinion . . . detaching us all from our spirituality

We have no evidence that God proposed a patriarchal system of life for humans. Men seized that opportunity for themselves, declared women corrupt and immoral and we've been paying for it every since.

Regular readers know I am actually very supportive of men, and 40% of our regular readers are men. But on this basic fact, we agree. Women must throw off the shackles of men before we will know true spirituality.

The second wave of feminism was co-opted by male liberals who told us that liberalism would deliver female emancipation in the world. I will never again put the global emancipation of women aside to any man's teaching on religion -- no matter how holy he divines himself to be.

October 15, 2010 | Registered CommenterAnne

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