Response for “The Future Stands of the Shoulders of Women”

In response to Rachel’s (my MOM :D) comments on my last post…

Absolutely, women all over the world suffer from being or feeling disempowered. My argument is that the subjugation of women by different entities of patriarchal societies has been the norm for a very long time. But any being, whether male or female, if oppressed, if treated badly or is convinced that he or she is unworthy will internalize these messages and it will become part of his or her self concept, rendering the individual passive or self deprecating and unmotivated. So this response is human, not something that is endemic to women…it is an outcome. And subjugation can occur on many plains. It can start on a very fundamental level, the way your parents and your community treat you and educated you. It can be on a larger plain, on the plain of religion/dogma, politics, law; but these arenas are not divorced from or independent of the familial or communal arenas. They are in fact all symbiotic and help perpetuate one another over generations.
There are some cultures and parts of the world where subjugation seems almost to be bred. In these places it seems like people, women in this case, are living at the source of these unfortunate conditions. Well, the sin is always greater when someone else is doing it, and it’s easier to judge when you are judging someone else…there is no stack of justifications, rationalizations and denials. My point is that just because women there are clad differently and the statistics on economic equality depict a more stark disparity does NOT mean that the root issues that cause those problems preclude the structures in the “West”. Far from it.
In the US, women enjoy freedoms and safeties that many countries cannot offer them. No doubt. Women here are constantly faced with redefining the gender, redefining the expectations. But freedom of speech, expression and laws that promote equal opportunities cannot change, overnight, the prejudices…whispering sinister protests to all this progress. All it takes is a five minute walk down times square, a minute looking through a magazine, 15 seconds of television to see how the contradicting messages bombard all of us every minute.
So girls don’t know how to feel good about themselves if they don’t have a boyfriend, many women don’t know how to ask for a raise, many women don’t know how not to feel guilty when they want to work instead of being a housewife. Maybe some of them end up giving up their dreams and they stay at home, or maybe they don’t speak up when they know their husband is cheating, or as you said…they go after a man who is unavailable because they only feel woman enough when they have “won” a man.
The field of mental health has a history of struggling a lot in the insurance industry. This has mostly to do with the fact that there is usually no concrete time-frame for psychological treatment, and insurance is all about treatment plans that are water-tight and establishing limits. But therapy should naturally take time…reprogramming your thinking, unlearning certain false messages, re-loving you inner child?

A certain type of “therapy” does get more coverage for obvious reasons. In psychiatry, you give a drug to help alter the activity in a certain pathway in the brain. It either works or doesn’t, and that becomes clear within a few weeks. Then either you change the dose or try other meds.  God forbid the patient is a non-responder. Both treatment and coverage get complicated then. The fact is that  the meds, for some people, really help them rise above the fog, or maybe give them an oar to start getting somewhere. But for many people suffering from mental health disorders, the roots of the disease are non-biological…they are social and emotional. So essentially the medication is working at on the effect, not at the cause. These people must now use the effects of the medication to face their lives and work on the actual causes of their disease. So for complete healing, a long road is unavoidable.
Healing the condition of women in the world, resetting the status quo is a long process. Some tools (the meds) for doing this could be changes in policy, providing freedom and safety for women. But the underlying pre-programming, the poisonous, backward mentalities…those will all take time to change. Those will take individual as well as global transformation…it’s the next step on our “evolutionary track”.

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The Future Stands on the Shoulders of the Women

Since I started this blog I signed up for a bunch of different google alerts, news alerts on specific topics that interest me. I give google some keywords of issues I want news updates on and several times a day (which is one of the settings of the application) I receive emails with links to all possible internet sources on those topics…God bless google. So my alerts are about women’s rights in the middle east, the green movement in Iran, etc. And my eyes have been peeled open by some of the things I come across in these alerts. I realized how silly it is to say that women in the middle east are silenced. It’s just not true. Yes, many are…many suffer at the hands of dogma or regulations, we hear all about those things…but soooo many women are so incredibly active, so bold, so fearless and Eloquent, my God.

The most inspiring event that I experienced in my life so far  was hearing Shirin Ebadi talk at Columbia University. It was 2 or 3 years ago, she was there to give a talk about her new autobiography, Iran Awakening and also about the role of women in world peace.

She is such a sweet and endearing lady…tiny with very round features…big Iranian eyes. I wanted to hug her (and I actually did!) she had a translator for the talk, and at the end she had a lengthy q&a session. One student asked her the star question, “Ms. Ebadi, what do you think is the role of women in the future of Iran.” Ebadi smiled knowingly, and in her tone of voice I could hear her saying (eventhough it was in Farsi), “Listen, hunny; the ‘Future of Iran’… it will stand On the Shoulders of the Women.” Meaning, the point is not the “role” women will play in it….it’s just not going to happen WITHOUT the women. Haha :)

My mom would always tell me, if you look at the countries that are suffering the most, they are the ones in which the women are the most oppressed. That’s because, as we all should know by now…a society will never go very far if it ties up the hands of half its population. Period. It’s logic.

So, yes, the inspring article of the evening is the following: http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2010/04/05/feature-02

Let’s just note, please, what this woman looks like…oh, yes, she is in a black burkah

But guess what? I’m alllllll the way here, thousands of miles away and I can identify her words, her name, her message. So I guess forcing us to speak behind a black bag still doesn’t drown out our voices, amazing! And it sure doesn’t make the clerics’ postulations and fatwas any louder.

So how did I hug Shirin Ebadi? :) After her talk they had a little cocktail thing where she was signing books for people. I bought her book and went to her to sign. At this point i knew ummm…five words in farsi. But I managed to walk over, say “salaam, hale shomaa khoobe?” (formal way of saying, hello, how are you?) She responded graciously and said something to the effect of (i believe) “shall I sign this for you?” I answered with my eyes, since i had exhausted my farsi at that point. Then when she was done she asked me, “Farsi harf mizani?” (Do you speak farsi?) And i said something like “ye kam” (a little). She got very enthusiastic, took me by the arms and told me “Learn Farsi, learn it well and use your words, you are Iranian.”

I know what I am. I am Turkish born, and my father is Iranian and has super genes that completely dominated my phenotype :) But she hit it on the mark…words are incredible power. May we use our words to bring peace.

Shabbat Shalom!

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Freedom of Music/Speech/Life: Propaganda Balagan

Egyptian Heavy Metal Fans Reject Accusations of Satan Worship, Collaboration with Zionism

Balagan is the word for “a hot mess” in Hebrew;  it thoroughly captures the vision i had upon watching this clip.

first, i’m reeling at the ignorance and i am slowly feeling sadness creep up through the numbness. this link is representative, to me, of the demon (i guess, pun is intended) wrecking havoc on the middle east and locking it in the state of conflict. the “ideas”…or mindless propaganda the “moderator”  is spewing…sadly, i have heard such thinking first-hand. it always leaves me speechless…but i know that is just my own naivete. i live in america, in NYC, no less…i surround myself with open-minded and like-minded people. so facing people like the speaker on this show is like an alarm in my face at 5 am…that gross feeling. but the one spark of hope: if you pay attention to the defense from the youth being interrogated — i mean, interviewed …they are so bright, so honest, so genuine. my heart reaches out to those that are struggling in this type of environment. they are certainly not alone.

i hear you and i respect you :)

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