Dec 20, 2011


A former student who reads my blogs remarked, recently, that some of my essays surprised him. He hadn’t realized I was “a bit of a feminist.” His remark proves I never brought politics into the classroom; but feminist I am, if the word is still current. And while I don’t believe women in the Western world have achieved parity with men, it’s women in the Middle East who concern me most, particularly during these transitional times.

Recently articles have begun to appear in media outlets that the ruling patriarchs in Saudi Arabia wish to curb a woman’s freedoms further than they already are. In that country, women are not allowed to drive and are required to wear the burka in public places. Now they are being warned that if they have attractive eyes, they must be covered as well.



Who shall determine whether or not a woman’s eyes are too attractive to be seen is not clear but being “blinded” in any fashion hampers maneuverability as surely as a leash upon a dog.

I’ve often said that when a woman does not own her body, is not allowed to move freely in society or to dress as she chooses, she is a slave. Now I begin to think the conditions for women in Saudi Arabia are worse. A society that attempts to render them invisible is engaging in a form of extermination.

Imagine my surprise when Ghida Talal, a woman born in Lebanon and married into the Royal family of Jordan, said much the same in a recent interview for More Magazine. It’s her view that oppressive Middle Eastern societies are simply unwilling to “tolerate the idea of a woman existing.” (“More” magazine, Nov 2011) 

Of course it’s easy to feel smug about women’s rights in western societies if we are ignorant of our own history, or if we forget that in 584 church fathers at the Council of Macon seriously debated the question of whether or not women were human. Women retained their status by a slim vote of 32-31. (“Man Mad God,”  Barbara G. Walker) 

Yes, I am a feminist. And anyone who desires to defend human rights is one, too.