The Lives of the Dead

Some of the most interesting people I meet are dead…

Archive for the tag “women’s studies”

To Feel Something, Anything

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(this was channeled over a couple of weeks.  Each time I revisited it,  I got more detail.  I could see the details of the room very clearly.  This image is not exactly what it looked like, but it gives the general impression of the back of the house.)

Guli

As a woman, happiness and satisfaction were not things I had the privilege to think about. I was taught from birth that my purpose was duty to my husband and my family. I had no right to demand anything for myself. I was hardly more than a slave. This was life.  No point in complaining about it.

When I was fifteen my parents gave me in marriage to a man many years my senior. I was no great beauty and walked with a limp from a childhood accident. They did not have much money and they were happy to find someone who would take me off their hands.   He gave my family some money,  as a gift to celebrate the marriage it was said, but in my heart, I felt he was buying me.

My husband had a shop where he repaired vehicles, motors, even hay wagons. He needed a wife and not many would have him.  He was an ugly brute — short and round, with fat, indelicate fingers. His body was covered in more hair than I’d ever seen on a human being.  He was more ape than man. And his manners were not much better, at least not around me. Only the most desperate family would give their daughter to such a man.  He knew it, and he resented me for that.

We lived in a one room house in back of his shop.  There was a kitchen area with a wood stove,  a sitting area where we might entertain guests (though we rarely had any), and a sleeping alcove.  To relieve ourselves, there was an outhouse in the back which was nearly unbearable in summer and bitter cold in the winter.

He drank often — sometimes alone in the shop, after he closed up for the day; sometimes I assumed he drank at the home of an old friend. He did this even though it was haram. I do not know where he got the drink. Perhaps from a traveling transport driver he was acquainted with. Those men were often a source of contraband.

When he was drinking, I was happy to be free of him for a few hours, although I knew it often meant trouble when he got home. If I were lucky, he would fall asleep quickly but sometimes there was  violence,. Often there was forced sex. It was easier be passive and let him do with me whatever he liked. It was over fast enough. Resistance would have only made him angrier and prolonged my misery.

I hated him on top of me, inside of me. His breath was foul and his hands and hair and body always smelled of motor oil and grease and cigarettes. Even so, there were times I longed to get pregnant, to relieve the nearly intolerable loneliness and boredom. I could happily devote myself to a baby. But then I’d ask myself if it would not be cruel to make an innocent child join me in my misery.  What kind of life could I offer, with such a man for a father? What if he beat the child, too?

It wasn’t for me to decide, however. It was in the hands of God, and I suppose in His wisdom, he decided it was better not to force an innocent to live in such conditions. I never conceived. My husband didn’t seem to mind. One less mouth to feed. That much less responsibility.  One less person to take my attention away from his needs.

After several years of this, I lost my desire to live.  I was nothing but a beaten mule with no hope, nothing to look forward to, no joy in my life. I contemplated suicide but I knew it was wrong, and that I would never get to Heaven if I killed myself.  And if I were going to spend an eternity suffering for my sin,  I might as well stay alive.

I didn’t intentionally set out to provoke violence in him, but when I stopped caring about doing my chores – cooking tasty food for him, chopping wood for the fire, washing his clothes – he would become angry, and the beatings became a daily thing. I didn’t mind. To be honest,  in a strange way, I liked them. They allowed me to feel something when otherwise, I was numb.

In the beginning, I did not resist. I stood before him and took his blows, and then went off to tend to my bruises in the most matter of fact way. without feeling sorry for myself.

One day, however, as he rained down his blows on me for allowing the fire to go out,  I became angry.  At last! An emotion! I felt something other than nothing!  I welcomed that feeling, and let it grow until I hit him back.  I didn’t care what he did to me.

I got in a few strikes and even drew some blood,  but he was bigger and stronger than me,  and he beat me unconscious and left me on the floor.

That was when I realized that if I could make him kill me,  the sin would be on his soul, not mine.  My suffering would be over, and I would spend eternity in Heaven, free of him forever. I knew he would likely not suffer any consequences for his actions in this life, but at least he could not follow me into the next.

And so, oddly, that became my reason to live:  to make him beat me to death.

It took nearly a year, but finally, he succeeded.

And the irony is, I did not escape eternity with him. He is here with me now and we will be together again in another life, although in very different circumstances which we have yet to decide.

 

—-

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If you are enjoying this blog, please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days). When you think of others who might enjoy it too, it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media. Email a particularly apt link to a friend. Even better, talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also, I have just started a discussion group on Facebook, for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts. Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself. I would love get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!
-Adrienne

 

Blessed Are You, Among Women…

woman walking to well

photo: gyaandna.com

 

first published July 20, 2015

Lei

I never had to think for myself. Where I lived, a woman was not meant to think. She was meant to obey.  She was meant to follow first her father’s, then her husband’s commands. There was no good reason to teach her to read or write.  Men had to be careful not to let women have access to new and strange ideas.  A woman’s place was just below that of a good pack animal. She was judged by how much work she could do, by how much she could carry, and by her acquiescence to her master’s will.

The men held fiercely to their small power over women. Every possible minuscule advance in our status was weighed with great solemnity. They discussed and argued.   The loudest voices were the ones who warned, that if we were allowed to do this, soon we’d want to do that. And if we did that, there’s no telling when we’d demand to do such-and-such. Or, if we found out this, we might surmise that which might eventually lead us to discover so-and-so. And then, before you know it, we women would not be able to be controlled.

As a female, I learned at the breast that I was inferior to males, even the stupid ones, even the lame ones, even the young ones, even the evil and crazy ones.

I didn’t get angry about it. It never dawned on me that it should be any other way.  I would no sooner think that I could change the color of the sky or stop the snow in winter. These were just the immutable facts of life; laws of nature. Why waste energy on trying to change what cannot be changed?

Joy and relief were only to be found among women. In this sisterhood, we eased each others’ burdens and shared our hearts. We did not converse about changing our lot. We did not secretly plan to topple the status quo. We had no power and we knew it. And even if we could, by some miracle, shift the balance to our own favor, what then? We did not have the knowledge or skills to run things.   Perhaps we might eventually have learned what was necessary, but we might well have starved before then.

In our group of women, there was a funny one who could really make us laugh.  She imitated perfectly the fat man’s swagger, and his way of talking down to everyone as if he alone knew all the answers.  When she told stories of things she had seen in the village or in the fields or on the road to market,  she described them in her special way, noting funny things most of us would not have noticed. We giggled like little girls at her sharp-eyed observations.

But even she dare not show this talent to the men. She was far too clever to reveal her cleverness.  And if she dared not to rise up;  if she, in all her cleverness, saw no hope of changing the existing conditions, how could any of us even think about dreaming of change? It wasn’t hopeless. It just was.

We were not completely helpless. Sometimes the women banded together to achieve certain concessions from the men. But our demands were not for freedom or education. Such requests would only cause us to be beaten back down severely, to teach us our place.  We used our wiles.    Once, we wanted a new well closer to our end of the village so we didn’t have to carry water so far. We convinced the men of the economic logic in this. If we didn’t have to waste our time carrying water, we would then have more time and energy for other, more productive work. It was suggested – with words which were never spoken – that less time walking to and from the well meant less time for gossip.   Men hated women gossiping because they did not know what we were saying, and they understood something that we did not – that if we women ever decided to rise up together, the men would be helpless against us.   They could not vanquish us as an enemy. They could not kill us all. They could not live without our work; without our child-bearing and child-raising. I think they all lived in fear that one day, amid our gossip, we would suddenly realize  that although the men had the guns, the women held the power.

The idea of less time spent together appealed to their logic, and so we got our well.

Any man who thought by curtailing the time women spent together pulling water, they would curtail our gossip,  did not understand women at all (not that many of them did!). We simply made up the missed time while doing other communal chores.

This sense of community made light of our work. I cannot say the gossip did not sometimes get hurtful or petty or manipulative. In every group, everywhere, there are always those who will be small-minded and those who will rise above. Thus defines the dynamics of the group.

Our aspirations were never much higher than these types of mundane changes; changes which did not raise our status but merely rearranged the packs on our backs.

I cannot say I was unhappy. My life was my lot, and I accepted whatever came to me. I did not expect grace or kindness or respect in the world and so I did not feel deprived not to have it.

There is something to be said for accepting one’s lot in life the same way one eventually must accept one’s own face, the structure of one’s own body. Wishing for something different is a pointless. Better to put our energy into making the best of what we have.

To fight against that which cannot be changed is a sure recipe for an unhappy life.

____

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

Blessed Are You, Among Women…

woman walking to well

photo: gyaandna.com

 

New Post!

Lei

I never had to think for myself. Where I lived, a woman was not meant to think. She was meant to obey.  She was meant to follow first her father’s, then her husband’s commands. There was no good reason to teach her to read or write.  Men had to be careful not to let women have access to new and strange ideas.  A woman’s place was just below that of a good pack animal. She was judged by how much work she could do, by how much she could carry, and by her acquiescence to her master’s will.

The men held fiercely to their small power over women. Every possible minuscule advance in our status was weighed with great solemnity. They discussed and argued.   The loudest voices were the ones who warned, that if we were allowed to do this, soon we’d want to do that. And if we did that, there’s no telling when we’d demand to do such-and-such. Or, if we found out this, we might surmise that which might eventually lead us to discover so-and-so. And then, before you know it, we women would not be able to be controlled.

As a female, I learned at the breast that I was inferior to males, even the stupid ones, even the lame ones, even the young ones, even the evil and crazy ones.

I didn’t get angry about it. It never dawned on me that it should be any other way.  I would no sooner think that I could change the color of the sky or stop the snow in winter. These were just the immutable facts of life; laws of nature. Why waste energy on trying to change what cannot be changed?

Joy and relief were only to be found among women. In this sisterhood, we eased each others’ burdens and shared our hearts. We did not converse about changing our lot. We did not secretly plan to topple the status quo. We had no power and we knew it. And even if we could, by some miracle, shift the balance to our own favor, what then? We did not have the knowledge or skills to run things.   Perhaps we might eventually have learned what was necessary, but we might well have starved before then.

In our group of women, there was a funny one who could really make us laugh.  She imitated perfectly the fat man’s swagger, and his way of talking down to everyone as if he alone knew all the answers.  When she told stories of things she had seen in the village or in the fields or on the road to market,  she described them in her special way, noting funny things most of us would not have noticed. We giggled like little girls at her sharp-eyed observations.

But even she dare not show this talent to the men. She was far too clever to reveal her cleverness.  And if she dared not to rise up;  if she, in all her cleverness, saw no hope of changing the existing conditions, how could any of us even think about dreaming of change? It wasn’t hopeless. It just was.

We were not completely helpless. Sometimes the women banded together to achieve certain concessions from the men. But our demands were not for freedom or education. Such requests would only cause us to be beaten back down severely, to teach us our place.  We used our wiles.    Once, we wanted a new well closer to our end of the village so we didn’t have to carry water so far. We convinced the men of the economic logic in this. If we didn’t have to waste our time carrying water, we would then have more time and energy for other, more productive work. It was suggested – with words which were never spoken – that less time walking to and from the well meant less time for gossip.   Men hated women gossiping because they did not know what we were saying, and they understood something that we did not – that if we women ever decided to rise up together, the men would be helpless against us.   They could not vanquish us as an enemy. They could not kill us all. They could not live without our work; without our child-bearing and child-raising. I think they all lived in fear that one day, amid our gossip, we would suddenly realize  that although the men had the guns, the women held the power.

The idea of less time spent together appealed to their logic, and so we got our well.

Any man who thought by curtailing the time women spent together pulling water, they would curtail our gossip,  did not understand women at all (not that many of them did!). We simply made up the missed time while doing other communal chores.

This sense of community made light of our work. I cannot say the gossip did not sometimes get hurtful or petty or manipulative. In every group, everywhere, there are always those who will be small-minded and those who will rise above. Thus defines the dynamics of the group.

Our aspirations were never much higher than these types of mundane changes; changes which did not raise our status but merely rearranged the packs on our backs.

I cannot say I was unhappy. My life was my lot, and I accepted whatever came to me. I did not expect grace or kindness or respect in the world and so I did not feel deprived not to have it.

There is something to be said for accepting one’s lot in life the same way one eventually must accept one’s own face, the structure of one’s own body. Wishing for something different is a pointless. Better to put our energy into making the best of what we have.

To fight against that which cannot be changed is a sure recipe for an unhappy life.

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