Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘feminism

War in white sheets: The public invasion of the private female space in women’s literature

Reine Azzi posted her thesis in Journal of Arts and Humanities

Abstract

The dichotomy between the “angel in the house’ and the “devil in the flesh” used to symbolize the restrictions facing women in 19th century literature.

With the advance of the different stages of feminism, this (dichotomy) began to slowly dissipate as more female heroines began to be depicted as a major part of both the private and public spheres.

Does a more prolific female presence eliminate this opposition?

This research paper will focus on whether such a distinction continues to preside over the works of female novelists, and the works under study are Hanan Al-Shaykh’s The Story of Zahra and Women of Sand and Myrrh in addition to Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook.

Full Text:

PDF

References

ACCAD, EVELYNE, Sexuality and War: Literary Masks of the Middle East, New York: New York UP, 1990.

AL-SHAYKH, HANAN, The Story of Zahra: A Novel, 1986, Trans. Peter Ford, New York: Anchor Books, 1995.

Women of Sand and Myrrh, 1989, trans. Catherine Cobham, London: Quartet Books, 1993.

COOKE, MIRIAM, War’s Other Voices: Women Writers on the Lebanese Civil War, Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1988.

DARRAJ, SUSAN, “We All Want the Same Things Basically’: Feminism in Arab Women’s Literature”, Women and Language 26.1, (Spring 2003), pp. 79 – 82.

GELBLUM, AMIRA, “Ideological Crossroads: Feminism, Pacifism, and Socialism”, Borderlines: Genders and Identities in War and Peace 1870 – 1930, Ed. Billie Melman, New York: Routledge, 1998, pp. 307 – 327.

GRIFFITHS, MORWENNA, Feminisms and the Self: The Web of Identity, London: Routledge, 1995.

LESSING, DORIS, The Golden Notebook, 2nd ed. London: Flamingo, 1972.

MOKHTAR, KHAOULA, “Becoming Liberated in Beirut”, Women of the Mediterranean, ed. Monique Gadant, trans. A. M. Berret, New Jersey: Zed Books, 1986, pp 5 – 11.

SALIBA, THERESE, “Arab Feminism at the Millennium”, Signs, Vol. 25, No. 4, Feminisms at a Millennium, (Summer, 2000), pp. 1087-1092.

SEGAL, LYNNE, Is the Future Female? Troubled Thoughts on Contemporary Feminism, London: Virago, 1987

Speech about feminism at the United Nations. Emma Watson: “The View of Feminism Is “Man Hating” Has To Stop”

“The more I spoke about feminism, the more I realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man hating,” Emma Watson said.

“If there is one thing I know for certain is that this has to stop.”

Watson, a U.N. Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, was in New York to launch “HeForShe,” a campaign for men and boys worldwide to advocate an end to gender inequality. She spoke frequently about the role men have in helping women and girls achieve equal rights, and said that liberating men from stereotypes ultimately benefits women.

Emma Watson delivered an inspiring speech about feminism at the United Nations Headquarters in New York yesterday, saying there is a need for more feminists in society and called on men to advocate gender equality.

Carlo Allegri / Reuters

In her speech, Watson described her decision to become a feminist as “uncomplicated,” but that she was shocked to find that society associated it with being “too strong, too aggressive, anti-men, unattractive.”

Near the end of her speech, Watson made a lighthearted reference to her Harry Potter fame by asking, “Why this Harry Potter girl? What is she doing at the U.N.?” — but she was quick to address the seriousness of her advocacy, saying, “All I know is that I care about this problem and I want to make this better. And having seen what I’ve seen and given the chance, I feel my responsibility to say something.”

You can watch Watson deliver the speech here:

youtube.com

The full transcript of her amazing speech can be read here:

Today we are launching a campaign called “HeForShe.”

I am reaching out to you because I need your help. We want to end gender inequality—and to do that we need everyone to be involved.

This is the first campaign of its kind at the UN: we want to try and galvanize as many men and boys as possible to be advocates for gender equality.

And we don’t just want to talk about it, but make sure it is tangible.

I was appointed six months ago and the more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating.

If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.
For the record, feminism by definition is: “The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”

I started questioning gender-based assumptions when at eight I was confused at being called “bossy,” because I wanted to direct the plays we would put on for our parents—but the boys were not.

When at 14 I started being sexualized by certain elements of the press.

When at 15 my girlfriends started dropping out of their sports teams because they didn’t want to appear “muscly.”

When at 18 my male friends were unable to express their feelings.

I decided I was a feminist and this seemed uncomplicated to me.

But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word.
Apparently I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men and, unattractive.

Why is the word such an uncomfortable one?

I am from Britain and think it is right that as a woman I am paid the same as my male counterparts.

I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body.

I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decision-making of my country.

I think it is right that socially I am afforded the same respect as men. But sadly I can say that there is no one country in the world where all women can expect to receive these rights.

No country in the world can yet say they have achieved gender equality.

These rights I consider to be human rights but I am one of the lucky ones. My life is a sheer privilege because my parents didn’t love me less because I was born a daughter.

My school did not limit me because I was a girl. My mentors didn’t assume I would go less far because I might give birth to a child one day.

These influencers were the gender equality ambassadors that made who I am today. They may not know it, but they are the inadvertent feminists who are.

And we need more of those. And if you still hate the word—it is not the word that is important but the idea and the ambition behind it.

Because not all women have been afforded the same rights that I have.

In fact, statistically, very few have been.

In 1997, Hilary Clinton made a famous speech in Beijing about women’s rights. Sadly many of the things she wanted to change are still a reality today.
But what stood out for me the most was that only 30% of her audience were male.

How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation?

Men—I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too.

Because to date, I’ve seen my father’s role as a parent being valued less by society despite my needing his presence as a child as much as my mother’s.

I’ve seen young men suffering from mental illness unable to ask for help for fear it would make them look less “macho”—in fact in the UK suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20-49; eclipsing road accidents, cancer and coronary heart disease.

I’ve seen men made fragile and insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality either.

We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that that they are and that when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence.

If men don’t have to be aggressive in order to be accepted women won’t feel compelled to be submissive. If men don’t have to control, women won’t have to be controlled.

Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive.

Both men and women should feel free to be strong… It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum not as two opposing sets of ideals.

If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we are—we can all be freer and this is what HeForShe is about. It’s about freedom.

I want men to take up this mantle. So their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too—reclaim those parts of themselves they abandoned and in doing so be a more true and complete version of themselves.

You might be thinking who is this Harry Potter girl? And what is she doing up on stage at the UN. It’s a good question and trust me I have been asking myself the same thing.

I don’t know if I am qualified to be here. All I know is that I care about this problem. And I want to make it better.

And having seen what I’ve seen—and given the chance—I feel it is my duty to say something.

English statesman Edmund Burke said: “All that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph is for enough good men and women to do nothing.”

In my nervousness for this speech and in my moments of doubt I’ve told myself firmly—if not me, who, if not now, when.

If you have similar doubts when opportunities are presented to you I hope those words might be helpful.

Because the reality is that if we do nothing it will take 75 years, or for me to be nearly a hundred before women can expect to be paid the same as men for the same work.

15.5 million girls will be married in the next 16 years as children.

And at current rates it won’t be until 2086 before all rural African girls will be able to receive a secondary education.
If you believe in equality, you might be one of those inadvertent feminists I spoke of earlier.

And for this I applaud you.

We are struggling for a uniting word but the good news is we have a uniting movement. It is called HeForShe.

I am inviting you to step forward, to be seen to speak up, To be the he for she. And to ask yourself if not me, who, if not now when.

Thank you.

Emma Watson Says That The View Feminism Is "Man Hating" Has To Stop

Dude Feminism: A language? Mind your language?

The sort of language used to assert men’s dominance over women has a pretty recognizable pattern across the cultural landscape.
We frequently hear that Men are in charge of things because they have supposedly something women lack: physical strength, honor, higher cognitive facilities, or the mystique of the male organ itself.Women, “lacking” these qualities, need to be “protected” from the all-consuming lusts of strange men.

 posted on APRIL 24, 2014 (selected as one of the top posts)

The Language of Dude Feminism

This can be spun as noble chivalry, brutal domination, or a playful battle of the sexes, but at the root it’s the same: women are denied the freedoms that men take as a God-given right, assigned subordinate status, and coerced into performative gender roles.

In this dialectic, men’s protective abilities and ravaging urges come from the same place and are both aimed squarely at women.

Language did not create the patriarchy (not sure of that statement), but language is a powerful method of inscribing the possible, shaping how and what we think, and justifying the status quo.

Thus, perhaps it’s no surprise that feminist outreach towards the traditional opponents of women’s liberation – i.e., cis-gendered heterosexual men — utilizes the same language as that of domination.

justin-timberlake

Rather than attacking the institution of masculinity itself, several recent campaigns have attempted a sort of masculinity triage, trying to eliminate violence against women, while still flattering men with the label of protector.

These campaigns, such as “real men don’t buy girls,”“my strength isn’t for hurting,”are various incarnations of “how would you feel if someone said that to your mother /sister /girlfriend,”and have proven to be enormously popular, achieving prodigious re-blogs, conferences, and media airtime.

They are, by many metrics, successful, and have gotten institutions long silent on the rights of women to speak up. I believe we are the better for them, but I also believe that they do not go far enough, and we all must, as feminists, radicals and progressives, push against our comfort zones.

In these campaigns, the masculine mystique is still very present, albeit a kinder, gentler version.

By flattering men’s strength and asking them to use it to protect women, we once again place men in the driver’s seat of culture, asking for them to renounce violence and be less vile guardians.

Common to all these messages is that men CAN rape, hurt, buy women, catcall or what-have-you, but they SHOULDN’T.

Men, we are told, shouldn’t hurt women, not because of any intrinsic rights women may have, but because other men might do it to THEIR women, and that would be awful.

Male privilege is re-defined, but not negated, in a way that leaves masculinity unchallenged and still dominant.

The wonderful, complex, and multi-faceted language of generations of queer, trans, intersectionalist and sex-positive feminism and human-rights dialogues is thrown aside completely in favor of a request that straight, cis-gendered men join the rest of the world at the big-kids table.

Again, this isn’t to say that these campaigns haven’t done good, but rather, that they should go farther.

There is certainly something to be said about using the language of the patriarchy to subvert the patriarchy, or of using privilege to end privilege, but it’s not clear that’s what’s being done.

Rather, it looks as if men are given a privileged place in the feminist movement, one where they are praised for simply not being terrible and their much-vaunted power remains intact.

The bar for male allies has been set tremendously low.

In contrast to the sacrifices, acts of bravery and daily fights women and LGBTQ people are expected to take on to achieve equality and justice, men are asked simply not to buy people, physically abuse people, or rape.

The fact that this counts as progress is a sad indictment of how much work there is left to do, but that is all the more reason to not sugar-coat it or water down the message.

Feminism has made great strides against patriarchal oppression in much of the world, and perhaps to finish the job, to make a world of true equality, the message cannot be compromised or simplified.

Males in the movement should (and can) be challenged and encouraged to act not like a virtuous “real man,” but like (well-nurtured) humans.

Note: In human interactions and communication, it is not good enough to understand the notion: We need to have a “Feel” of the concept. Someone has to write a novel using Dude Feminism Language or provide a list of novels that come close to that language.

Creating critical new terms in Dude Feminism language is inevitable so that readers discriminate between the patriarchal implicit meaning from the explicit meaning in the Dude Feminism language. A novel is the best means to convey a feeling of the purpose.

 

johnAbout the author: J.A. McCarroll is a NYC-based writer, anthropologist, and baker. He works in reproductive rights and volunteers with Canimiz Sokakta and the Rules. Tweet @jamccarroll.

Do you think Feminism is Hurting Men? And how?

Ideas such as “women are people too” and “the dignity and rights of women are as important as those of men”.

Micah J. Murray posted this Nov. 12 2013

How Feminism Hurts Men

Yesterday somebody on Facebook told me that feminism elevates women at the expense of men, that its agenda to validate women emasculates us guys.

He was right.

For men, the rise of feminism has relegated us to second-class status. Inequality and discrimination have become part of our everyday lives.

Because of feminism, men can no longer walk down the street without fear of being catcalled, harassed, or even sexually assaulted by women. When he is assaulted, the man is blamed – the way he dressed he was “asking for it”.

Because of feminism, there are no major Christian conferences about how to act like men,  where thousands of men can celebrate their manliness and Jesus (and perhaps poke fun at female stereotypes).

Because of feminism, church stages and spotlights are often dominated by women. Men are encouraged to just serve in the nursery or kitchen. Sometimes men are even told to stay silent in church.

Because of feminism, women make more money than man in the same jobs.

Because of feminism, it’s hard to find a movie with a heroic male lead anymore. Most blockbusters feature a brave woman who saves the world and gets a token man as a trophy for her accomplishments.

Because of feminism, women’s professional sports are a massively profitable enterprise where women are globally idolized. Men only appear briefly, before commercial breaks, when they’re objectified for their bodies.

Because of feminism, all birth control is covered for women without question or debate, while men have to fight to get insurance companies to pay for their Viagra prescriptions. When men do speak up about this, leaders of the “family friendly” right wing labels them “sluts” and “whores”.

Because of feminism, the male body is constantly under public scrutiny. If a man appears topless on TV, it’s a national scandal resulting in huge fines and boycotts.

Bloggers regularly write about how we need to be more mindful of the ways our clothing choices tempt women to sin. Satirists insist that shorts “aren’t really pants” and then men should cover up because “nobody wants to see that”.

Because of feminism, men are not represented in the White House, and women hold over 80% of the seats in Congress. When a man runs for office, his physical appearance and clothing choices are discussed almost as much as his policies and ideas.

Because of feminism, men must fight for a voice in the public sphere.

In issues of theology, politics, science, and philosophy, the female perspective is often considered default, normal, and unbiased.

Male perspectives are dismissed for being too subjective or too emotional. When we speak up, we are often dismissed as angry, rebellious, subversive, or dangerous.

But stay strong, bros.

One day we’ll all be equal.

Whatever you do, don’t read Jesus Feminist.

– See more at: http://redemptionpictures.com/2013/11/12/how-feminism-hurts-men/#sthash.KyFViAo2.dpuft

On friendship and feminism?

Hanan al-Shaykh is one of the leading female author of her generation in Lebanon.  Nidal Al Achkar is one of the leading actress and theater director of hers. The pair came together on stage last week at Madina Theater, as part of Hay Festival Beirut, to read stories from Shaykh’s new adaptation of 1001 Nights. The stories remind us of the complexity of humanity that touch on “all aspects of life: justice, injustice, gender issues, strife, the cunning of women, city-dwellers and people from the countryside, hate, love… it also contains very bloody stories, of unbelievable darkness and wickedness, alongside highly charged erotic ones.”

Iante Roach of NOW posted on May 14, 2013

Shaykh and Achkar go back a long way.

Hanan al-Shaykh first became aware of Nidal’s work in the 1960s: her acting talent was attracting the attention of many critics.  Shaykh, the journalist then, interviewed Nidal and followed her career avidly: “she is the person who began real, alive theater in Lebanon, a theater that dealt with Lebanese society and its problems from within, very different from the previous tradition. She was interested in Arabic playwrights and made us realize that theater does not only come from Europe, that there is much more to theater than Shakespeare, comedy, the theater of the absurd… She is an extremely courageous woman, and her play Edrab al-Haramiyeh (The Strike of Robbers in English), was stopped by the government.”

1001 Nights

NOW met with the women to talk about their longstanding friendship, feminism, freedom of expression, and the challenges they have experienced as women in the arts from the 1960s onwards.

In turn, Achkar reveals that she has been a fan of Shaykh’s “for a very long time, both as a woman whose personality fuses femininity and strength to the utmost degree, and as an author, with her modern and sophisticated style – an excellent example of al-sahl al-mumtana (inimitable simplicity in English) – and her stance. When she first wrote, her bold books appalled people.”

Shaykh, whose Shiite family comes from Nabatiyyeh, grew up in the Ras el-Naba’a neighborhood in Beirut. She left Lebanon soon after the outbreak of the Civil War, eloping with her future husband (a Christian) to Saudi Arabia and later to England, where she has lived ever since. Her family found out about the marriage in the press!

The author dispels common myths about her strict Shiite upbringing and her position as a feminist Arab author. “My father was devout, but not a fanatic – just imagine that he let me go alone to Egypt to pursue my studies at the age of 17! Though he wanted me to wear the hijab, I rebelled and convinced him that it wasn’t for me. I used to think he was strict, but now I realize how much freedom he gave me. He was very loving and a little naïve, he would believe me in everything.

For instance, my father saw me holding hands with a boy, and I convinced him that the boy was simply helping me to cross the road unharmed. Initially, he was upset about my marriage, but he came to love my husband (whereas the rest of my family was happy and relieved, as they feared no one would marry me, with my strong character!). My husband’s family had no qualms whatsoever about our interfaith marriage.”

Asked whether she would define herself a feminist, Shaykh replies forcefully: “they pigeon-hole you! Maybe I am, I don’t know. My novels talk about women, strife, society issues – yet so many male Arab authors do the same and are not called feminists!”

Strong female characters appear in many of Shaykh’s novels – such as Ruhiyya and Asmahan from Beirut Blues. “My female characters come from here, from there, from everywhere. Some are women I met, others are members of my family, some I thought I knew, but I don’t know if they really exist. Ruhiyya from Beirut Blues, for instance, a character I adore, was inspired by Billie Holiday, the nickname of my mother’s dress-maker, who smoked cigarettes and was very outspoken and extremely alive.”

Shaykh reveals that she wished to return to Lebanon in 1982-83, “when the situation was really not very good. However, I thought of my children, who were very young at the time. I wanted them to continue living in a peaceful world, and feared they wouldn’t learn anything but fear from living in a state of war. I believe in secular society, and after a long experience of the UK’s real democracy I don’t think I can live anywhere without similar political conditions.”

Nonetheless, the boundaries of freedom of expression in the Arab world have never stopped her from “writing what I feel like writing: I am daring, I do not censor myself, and luckily I have a Lebanese publisher, who was very interested in my adaptation of the 1001 Nights and did not censor it even though I warned him that it was very daring.”

Achkar is an actress, a theater director, an author and founder of Madina Theater (in 1994). She has been seminal for modern and contemporary Lebanese theater. She announces to NOW that she is currently working on two big projects. She will act in a new play which will be directed by Madina Theater director Nagy Souraty. It will premiere in October 2013.

“All I can tell you about my role is that she’s a timeless woman,” she says with mischievous eyes. She will also be directing a big show in 2014, which she has adapted from ancient Sumerian texts, brought to her attention by her father some 40 years ago. “The play will deal with the Sumerian universe, from its beginning with the creation of the first cities and the search for eternal life to its end. According to Sumerian traditions, the universe was created by a woman.”

On her experience as a woman in the arts in Lebanon from the 1960s onwards, Achkar says “it has been a continuous struggle, yet easy because of my very open family, all my friends, and all the writers have been with me from the start. I had a golden beginning and was able to continue thanks to my confidence and the love my family gave me, even though it is a tough world. I enjoy the struggle and I enjoy succeeding and being the first woman to found an open, civil society theater, which fosters freedom of expression.”

The combined efforts of the seemingly delicate Shaykh and the dramatic and clearly forceful Achkar, who have both contributed immensely to the development of theater, literature, and the condition of women (whether artists or not) in Lebanon, created one of this year’s best and most enchanting theater and storytelling performances in Beirut.

One hopes that they will continue collaborating and achieving such ‘inimitable simplicity,’ the result of constantly striving, and that they will continue to take Beirut audiences along on the journey with them.


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