Female sharia judge- is that feminism? Equal does not mean better.

I follow a brilliant blogger, a Canadian Pakistani woman. Eiynah —

@NiceMangos

Recently, she pointed this article from Al-Jazeera portraits as victory for feminism.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/08/female-face-islamic-law-malaysia-170802110726630.html

It is shocking, but not surprising. It is about female judges in Sharia law, happy to sentence people to floggings, beheadings, punishments for breaking religious Islamic laws.

Well, here is what I feel:

Feminism for me is about women being EQUAL, not BETTER.

feminism

I do not believe we are any better or worse than men. We can be evil, bigoted, sadistic, violent, dishonest, and many other things. Like men. Not better, not worse.

Look at all those WW2 concentration camp female guards.  Women in many political oppressive regimes always played a role.

Yes, as a woman, sometimes I wish to be able to look at other women with rose tinted glasses and think we are better, gentler, nicer.But no, we are not.

Bad laws and regimes are supported by men and women.

Yes, Islamic societies oppress women, and feminism should play a role in changing that. Of course, a female sharia judge, unless aiming to reform the law- that was not obvious from that Aljazeera article- are as harmful to female equality as male sharia judges.

So, let’s fight oppressive ideologies, regimes, inequality, racism together, men and women.We are all just people. Good and bad.

women

And thank you Nice Mangoes for those brave, brilliant blog posts.

 

 

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Should we topple those statues? Maybe it is time.

I have been changing my opinions a lot during the last 30 years.

From the foolish conviction that “my enemies’ enemies are my friends” which made me admire Margaret Thatcher and excusing some vile politicians like Pinochet as “not so bad”, coming from a totalitarian country, I instinctively used to have the opposite opinion to the communist government.

That changed, gradually. Living in England, I listened to other people’s opinions, read various sources, looked at news from other countries. I learnt to use that freedom of being able to do it. It was great. In Prague, I used to listen to Radio Free Europe and Voice of America and BBC World service when it was not scrambled, but now I had more places to get my information. I read assertions and contra assertions, and gradually changed my opinion about a lot of things.

Do you know that silly joke? “Women have cleaner minds, they change them more often”?

Well, maybe my brain is very clean. I think it is a good thing.

I remember in 1995, I visited USA and an American friend showed us Washington DC. There was a road or street named after General Robert E. Lee. I remembered admiring the tolerance of a country that kept memorials of the defeated.

But in the recent years, I changed my mind. I started to think about how it must feel to an African American, a descendant of the slaves. I started thinking how I would feel if I saw memorials to German Nazi generals,men who fought for the country that was responsible for killing tenths of my close relatives in the gas chambers.

There are lots of controversies about statues, Cecil Rhodes, many others…

I am not sure about some. Queen Victoria? Thomas Jefferson? I would probably keep their statues, they did more good than bad. We should not judge previous generations by today’s standards, by today’s standards, Abraham Lincoln would be a racist.

But those Confederate statues were mainly raised much later, in the times when Jim Crowe laws reinforced the terrible racial discrimination still happening in the USA.

And now I read that even General Lee did not want those memorials built.

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/08/16/us/robert-e-lee-statues-letters-trnd/index.html

It is complicated, maybe keeping the statues and putting explanation about the place of these people in history would make a good compromise? But maybe that would not go far enough.

The white supremacist actions recently terrified me. Somehow, they feel they can get away with it now, under president Trump administration.

It is scary.

My heart goes to all those liberal, thoughtful American friends I have, various colours and sexual orientation. Nice, thoughtful, smart people. They must feel the hurt more, because it is happening in their country.

We Europeans are often rather negative about “The Americans”.

Let’s stop, not generalise, support the good majority of people there. Like they always support us.

 

Limiting prose to 100 words is tough- it might make writing the book easier.

 star-of-david

MORE 100 WORDS from the other blog. Being a control freak my entries are always EXACTLY  100 words. I remove and add till it fits. But it might make the writing worse.

3RD

I met two school friends today. They crossed the road. Did I still belong here? I tried to cover the yellow star with my hand. A German girl in the ugly uniform of the Bund Deutcher Mädel bumped into me. An accident? Not sure.

I wished I had my bicycle. But Jews must not own bicycles.

I passed the cinema. Jews must not go to the cinema.

At home, I told daddy about the girls.

“They don’t know what to say. Their mothers are telling them it is dangerous to speak to the Jews. It is hard even for grownups.”

 

4TH

We have lessons in Mrs Klein’s flat. I like mathematics, but Mrs Klein is not very good at it, she prefers history. It is not like real school, but I get the best marks. “Stop bragging! “my brother said. But daddy was proud of me.

Jewish men shovel snow in the streets. Daddy is strong, he says he likes working on fresh air.  He is a lawyer, but he lost his office.

Mummy told our cook Marie she had no money to pay her salary. Marie cried and shouted, “No, I will look after you, despite those horrible Nazis. “

 

 

Example from a new blog I am writing with other writers from Women Reading Aloud

Joined a new blog wra100words.wordpress.com
I write ,like the others 100 word piece every week.
My bits are shortened parts of a novel I am planning to write.
What do you think?
 
1st
Yesterday mummy sent me to my room for eating the cake from the kitchen. But I have a secret weapon. I cry, loudly, for hours. Daddy cannot bear it and stops any of my punishments. The crying isn’t real, like actresses do. When I cannot cry any more, I start thinking about something very sad, like little cute puppies dying. Daddy rescued me after exactly 10 minutes. I still got my dinner. No cake, mummy didn’t allow it. Today the Nazis stopped Jewish children from going to school. I love school. I cried for real. Even cake did not help.
 
2nd
My mummy was stitching pretty yellow stars on all our coats. I asked her why she was doing this. “The bloody Nazis”, she said. I giggled, wow, she was swearing!
Daddy told me it was king David’s star. I like king David, little, but brave. He killed the Goliath. He was clever, like me.
“The Nazis want us to be recognised on the streets as Jews, so we must all wear the yellow star. You should wear it with pride, we are a civilised, ancient, educated tribe.”
Tribe? Like Red Indians? That made me giggle again. But mummy was crying.
 
It will continue….
 
 

Wimbledon, and am I too much of a feminist?

So, Wimbledon is over for this year. Wimbledon

I watched both finals with both being only competitive in first set. I also watched the almost hysterical reverence for  Roger Federer by the British media.

Yes, he is a great champion. Yes, he played beautifully. But Greatest of all times? Nope, not in my eyes. That is a comparison difficult to make.

Just watch the You Tube videos of some old matches like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8IJ0F01IiU

Good, ha?

I also feel that we should stop saying that this is the best tennis record – 8th Wimbledon singles title, and 18 grand slam singles titles. Yes, but how about Martina Navratilova with 9 Wimbledon singles titles and also 18th singles grand slam titles?  I just watch her, age 60 in Ladies invitational doubles. She won. Still playing brilliantly. And what about all those women who have more grand slam titles than Roger Federer? Margaret Court 24, Serena Williams 23, Steffi Graff 22, Helen Wills Moody 19.

Isn’t it time that we don’t say “Best tennis player” about a man, but “Best female tennis player” about a woman?

And no, I do not agree with those (lately John McEnroe) saying that if men played women, women would have no chance. It is comparing oranges and apples. Nonsense. We are built differently to men.

But that should not take anything from those brilliant female athletes’ achievement. And while I am ranting, what about the nonsense of using ” Miss” but not “Mr”. Murray to serve, but Miss Hingis to serve ( they just won the mixed doubles championship. Great match, too.)

Am I too feminist? No, I do not think so, but I do believe men and women are different, but equal.

The tennis world need to catch up with this.

Do you agree?

 

 

No, I do not want to live in Middle Ages

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In my eyes, the world we live in is paradoxically a strangely medieval world. Drawbridges being drawn up, not letting enemies in, religion yet again ruling people’s violent actions. Name of a God, Allah, being called by foolish teenagers dying in vain. Politicians talking about their Christian beliefs. “I am a Christian,a Conservative and a Republican, in that order. I am a Christian, a Conservative and a Republican, in that order…”( Mike Pence Vice President of  USA)

People talking about threats to our civilisation. Comparing it to Rome and the Barbarians at the gates. Well, those Barbarians brought something, their heritage is part of our European history, too.

I find it scary. I am thinking about the 1930s, the time when my Czech ancestors found out in one month in 1939 that they are not really Czech, they are Jewish. And that being Jewish is something inferior…

I believe in melting pots and mixtures. When I cook, adding almost too many ingredients.  My lover, a Jazz journalist, calls it my jazz cooking, He likes my jazz cooking. I am a good cook. Mixing is good, all those ingredients adding to the taste.

I see all those generalisations coming back, the “Us and Them, The Fanatical Muslims, The Unsophisticated Americans, The Evil Russians, the Snotty Europeans, Those Lazy Greeks, those Wasteful Puerto Ricans…”  also “the Nasty Misogynistic men, those Crazy Feminists…”

I do not believe those clichéd generalisations, and they scare me.

Yes, maybe some of those things are true about some people. But even if the majority of those groups fitted those clichés, what about the ones they don’t? By enclosing them in those groups, we are doing them irreparable harm…Not dissimilar to the harm done by the Nazis. Yes, I am being a bit melodramatic. There are no gas chambers, not yet.

But I am scared, and I do not scare easily.

I am promiscuous as far as friends go. I have at least five “best friends”, some of them men, some women. I am close to many others. They come from various nations, ethnic groups, religions. I am a non-believer, but I believe in humanity, in that unwritten moral code of respecting the similarities AND the differences. And I believe in Kipling’s

“We are of same blood, thou and I”

My world has got strangers who are friends, and friends who are strangers. I am often close to people who are of different gender,nation, religion, and I am sometimes distant from people like me, Czech Jewish intellectuals of my generation.

I want those drawbridges all coming down, those borders open, those newcomers given a chance.

In 1986, I got a chance, a political asylum in the UK. I want other people, those escaping from unspeakable horrors I never lived through to be given a chance, too.

I do not want to live in the world of drawbridges. They should have gone out of fashion 500 years ago. Their return scares me, and I do not scare easily…

I do not want to live in the middle ages.

 

 

 

 

I like social media, but they steal my time. Should I write my books instead? Am I a writer? And my grandmother’s dress. A very disorganised blog post.

I like social media.

I got my connection to the wonderful Women Reading Aloud group through a friend on Goodreads, a lovely woman who I now met in the USA and became real, not just Goodreads friend with.

When I get the time, I follow twitter and Facebook entries and find them often very interesting.

However, it is all very time consuming.

And I find that instead of editing my second book and writing my book, I type emails, Facebook entries and Goodreads emails.

I need a systematic approach. Limited time for some things, extended and protected time for writing. Or is my writing just a silly hobby, easily dismissible? I hope not.

In my long American trip, I spent 3 days in Sea Girt on a Women Reading Aloud retreat. Writing to prompts. And again, like in Greece, I loved it.

So instead of carrying on with this silly blog entry, I will add one of the things I wrote.

The prompt was:

A piece of clothing in a closet at home that you cannot get rid of but you never wear

I wrote it in 30 minutes, without corrections. But I kind of like it. Do you? Here you are:

“I have a wardrobe full of clothes I might never wear, but I often thing; Well, what if…?

But there is one dress hanging in my wardrobe that I KNOW I will never wear, but I also know I will never get rid of it. Will I give it to my non-existing granddaughter one day? We’ll see. But no, maybe not. I might not have a granddaughter anyway…

That dress was made in 1922 in a very expensive salon called Rosenbaum in Prague for my grandmother. It is made of thin see-through black chiffon silk, crepe de chin my grandmother called it. It is long, mid calve length and very elegant in that beautiful fashion of that time. I can imagine cocktail parties, dances, conversations about the war that recently finished, a war that will never happen again.  A happy, frivolous time, at least for people with money. I imagine introductions of men in tuxedoes and women in similar dresses and diamond and gold jewellery. I imagine my grandmother, young, just after getting married, trying to please her formidable mother in law. She never managed to do that.

I found the dress in my mother’s closet when I was 16.I asked her what it was. My grandmother died that year. “Oh, we still have that dress? I remember mother bringing it back from the Kubicek family after the war. Not sure why she kept it, she never wore it again.” Said my mum. It fit me beautifully, it fits me now, too.

The underlying, not see through part is missing. That dress was hidden with many other things with some Czech friends during the war, when my grandmother went to the concentration camp. She got it back again in 1945 when she came back from the camps, with my mother, but without her beloved husband and son. For a while, it was too loose for her, then she put on weight and could not wear it. But there were no opportunities to wear it in communist Czechoslovakia anyway.

I do not have occasions to wear an evening gown to either. My world is more casual.

But sometimes I take that dress out, it is part of my family history. And I can remember my wonderful grandmother, that brave, kind, simple woman who coped with horrors of her life by finding positive things in a way I have never seen anybody to do. Waiting in the long queues for meat in Prague, she said how nice it is not to have a cook and to be able to walk in the street without hat and gloves, and not to behave like a lady…A woman, who, unlike my mother, did not have a manipulative streak. She was simple, in the best possible meaning. She never read books, but unlike my mum, who never read much either, she thought her granddaughter, obsessed with written words was great. She gave me the unconditional love people sometimes get from their mothers.

The grandmother I knew was dressed in casual, non-elegant clothes, a heavy woman, no make-up. A woman with a laud not ladylike contagious laugh.

But when I touch this dress, I see her as a young slim beautiful woman, smiling, carefree, with no need to find a brave face to put on. That dress is not just a dress, it is a reminder of life’s many twists. And the reminder that one can survive, change, adapt, and still be happy.

Will, I ever wear it? No. But they will find it in my wardrobe when I die.”

So, am I a writer? Maybe. Maybe not. But I will carry on trying.