Instagram flashed an ad promising that an online course would offer the following benefit: Write for a year to discover your authentic self. I laughed out loud at this premise while acknowledging that writing this blog has enabled me to find my authentic self. However I have been writing for five years and have discovered five authentic selves. I would like to think that they are evolving and growing – building upon each other. I shall continue in this belief, it is not hurting anyone (including me). That is exactly how I feel about my belief in the tenants of the Islamic faith – it does not hurt anybody, it wondrously enhances my life and I have no obligation to convince anyone (man, woman or beast) that they should become a Muslim. Therefore I am happy, happy, happy. Allah is happy with my happiness as it is a gift bestowed by His Grace and if Allah gives you a gift a person is to share it – and I do. Almost everyday the following exchange takes place:
You: You made my day!
Me: Thank you for saying that. It makes me feel so good. And day I got nine “You Mae My Days” That was my record, perhaps one day I shall surpass it.
But there is a serious side to me as well. Guess you could call me the opposite of one dimensional which would be multi-faceted. Googled to find: The definition of multifaceted is someone or something with many features or perspectives to consider. A person who has many different talents in all kinds of fields and subject areas is an example of someone who would be described as multifaceted.
One of my serious features to facets is my feminism. There is an About Me section on this blog which actually requires an update as everything has changed (yet again). It begins with a quote from Maya Angelo about feminism, it is a continuing and central theme. I was propelled back to that them, spurred on (so to speak) by the recent New Yorker article “The Real Back Lash Never Ended,” masterfully written by Molly Fischer. Its subtitle Three decades later, Susan Faludi’s 1991 feminist classic still shows us how to read between the lines.”
Fischer begins: “It’s easier to be killed by a terrorist than it is to find a husband over the age of forty,” a man tells Meg Ryan’s character, Annie, in the 1993 movie “Sleepless in Seattle.” He’s parroting a statistic that was, at the time, a favored object of media hand-wringing—the dramatic results of a 1986 study on marriage patterns that had exploded onto magazine covers, TV-news specials, and movie screens. Annie, however, knows better. “That statistic is not true!” she says. “There is practically a whole book about how that statistic is not true!” The book in question didn’t even need to be named: it was “Backlash,” by Susan Faludi.”
Backlash was published in 1991 becoming an ‘era-defining phenomenon.” It looked at the non-existent gains fought for by early feminists. “The gains made by second-wave feminists in the nineteen-seventies, Faludi wrote, had inspired a vicious reaction from the protectors of the status quo. Single working women were demonized, stay-at-home-motherhood extolled. The message offered up by those that knew nothing (screenwriters, journalists, politicians, so-called experts) was the following: first, that feminism changed everything and second it was all because of horrible feminism that women were “miserable” It was not because it was simply impossible to balance work and family (with a lazy husband). The message was in error – it was not a sign that the feminist movement had gone too far – the simple and obvious truth is that if had not gone far enough.
I do remember what was going on at the time – the confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas with the outrage over the repudiation over Anita Hill’s testimony. The outrage fueled book sales propelling itto the best seller list however and horribly the harm that Clarence Thomas has done and will continue to do to women is monumental and will never be erased. What animated Faludi’s distress was “ the prospect of a world that treats women as vessels for childbearing above all.” And that is exactly, precisely, what has happened, in the United States.
Fischer describes the dire and cheerless situation that is upon us today. “A few months after the publication of Faludi’s book, an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune wondered whether a “backlash to the Backlash” was possible. “What unites women is the blatant, ugly evidence of oppression,” Faludi told the paper. “That will come with the inevitable demise of Roe vs. Wade.”
“Well here we are, we have arrived at the moment that Faludi anticipated. After the leak of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Michelle Goldberg, a Times opinion columnist, wrote that she’d returned to Faludi in trying to understand “this moment of backlash.” It hadn’t been so long ago, Goldberg wrote, that Beyoncé was dancing in front of the word “feminist,” that Sheryl Sandberg was urging corporate women to lean in, that feminism seemed triumphantly mainstream. Yet, with Roe on its deathbed, Goldberg saw disengagement and disagreement instead of reinvigorated feminist outrage. (Her column bore the headline “The Future Isn’t Female Anymore.”) Activists were burnt out; organizations were internally divided. She spoke to the editors of the literary magazine The Drift about a collection of essays they’d recently published on “What to Do About Feminism.” Several of the contributors, women in their twenties and thirties, described feminism’s recent pop incarnation as “cringe.”
“Writing in the early nineties, Faludi situated the backlash within an ongoing cycle of feminist boom and bust in American history: periods of reactionary hostility toward feminism followed periods of widespread embrace. From the vantage of summer 2022, it may be tempting to cast the present as “this moment of backlash.” But doing so raises a question: Backlash to what,exactly? The last decade in American life was full of headlines that trumpeted feminism’s rising power, and, reliably, what greeted these headline moments was swift retrenchment. Campus reckonings over sexual consent left universities scrambling to protect institutional interests. The much anticipated election of the first woman as President gave way instead to the open misogyny of Donald Trump. And, while Trump’s election inspired a resurgence of feminist organizing, such efforts hardly saw uncomplicated success: the Women’s March was a magnificent spectacle, but its long-term efficacy was unclear; the 2018 midterms swept the Squad into Congress, but their prominence drew a ceaseless stream of bile and threats; commentators fretted that #MeToo had gone too far nearly from the time #MeToo began. Christine Blasey Ford told her story, and the Senate confirmed Brett Kavanaugh. Meanwhile, all decade long, conservative state legislatures across the country made abortion ever less accessible.”
Here is the link to the article: https://www.newyorker.com/books/second-read/the-real-backlash-never-ended?utm_source=onsite-share&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=onsite-share&utm_brand=the-new-yorker
In other words, in the United States of America anyway, things are in an extremely utterly sorry state. The recent Supreme Court decision is a death knell to women – it will not serve as incentive to empower women. I thoroughly agree with Fischer’s conclusion by observing the response of the young women I know that live in the United States. They were spurred onto Stories in Instagram. Stories are one second attention getting devices with no content whatsoever. Their ‘duty’ done, they had after all spoke out, went on to trivial pursuits, sometimes literally by advertising their participation in trivial pursuit contests. Then, perhaps, they went on a march – those women did not plan the march, perhaps made a catchy sign. What I found fascinating was that in Calgary and Edmonton there were marches and gatherings decrying the Supreme Court decision held one week prior to the USA women got around to theirs. A heart stopping moment in Calgary was recorded; a USA tourist with two daughters declared that she would move to Canada to raise her daughters to provide a proper environment for their upbringing.
I must remind myself of this simple fact: The USA is not the world – although they and most that dwell therein, think they are. An objective measurement was reported in a prior blog – the gender equity index with Iceland in the lead, other Scandinavian countries close behind. So that is somewhat encouraging. Very encouraging if you live in Iceland or a Scandinavian country – not at all encouraging if you live in Afghanistan, the worst country on earth to live it doth appear.
So I guess I am fat and happy as the phrase goes. I profited from the beginning days of feminism – I was not required to have children. We could have a career INSTEAD, not in addition to. Of course the next generation of women had to have both as they were, of course, born of women who were stay at home women without careers. As an attorney I worked with women of that era – it is impossible to do both, no matter how hard they tried. It is so sad. I am relieved that the search for my authentic self took me away from them. I am disconnected from their pain. I am too empathetic for my own good and would suffer to be in their midst.
There is hope. I do inspire younger women to remain childless unless a nurturing environment can be provided for the child – an extended family or at least nearby relatives, a supportive husband who makes enough money for her to stay home with the children during their formative years, federally funded child care supplying well educated teachers and care givers, the financial wherewithal to ensure the children’s education.
The most encouraging moment in my five month sojourn in Abu Dhabi occurred in Costa Coffee at ‘my’ Abu Dhabi Airport Premier Inn. I met an Emerati woman, there with her two daughters, probably in their thirties. One daughter was a dentist, the other a psychiatrist. The mother was educated, prior to marriage worked in Human Relations. The mother and I continue our correspondence through Instagram. She was assisting me in dealing with the advances of an Emerati man met in the exact same Costa Coffee. She was so supportive – she said the magic words I long to hear.
She: You are a good Muslim
Me: It made me SO happy to hear you say that I was a good Muslim. That is now my goal in life – to be a good Muslim.
Me: I am so happy to be talking with you. You are a comfort to me and you help me on my way to the faith.
So actually this blog has a happy ending, the gift of this woman and now some humour. The photograph was posted on Instagram with the following caption. “This photo is a wall in my apartment. Its purpose is to make my girlfriends jealous but also remind myself of Allah’s words: Alexis Do not trust mere mortal men.”