Friday, September 8, 2017


This has been a week of seeing images from floods and fires.  Hurricane Irma has been sweeping through the Caribbean and my friend Wini who lives in Puerto Rico reports that she is safe.  But photos from PR are showing wide spread destruction.  I'm also worried about people in Cuba, especially in Guantanamo Provence, where Irma is expected to hit first. 

I'm seeing a lot of cartoons about rednecks and Trump supporters in areas hit by Harvey.  Not a lot of sympathy out there for climate change deniers and supporters of 'small government.'  They don't like welfare?  Well then, no flood aid for you.  This cartoons make me slightly queasy.  On the one hand I agree that the people most affected tend to be dyed in the wool red staters, and on the other, I don't want to kick a guy when he's down.  I hope they get all the help they need, and then remember that help when they start yapping about the darned government handouts, damned socialists, bleeding heart liberals.

Meanwhile...I am reading a fascinating book by Fatima Mernissi called Dreams of Trespass, Tales of a Harem Girlhood.  Ms. Mernissi was a university sociologist in Rabat, Morocco, and this is her real life story.  I get completely lost in her world, a world that is completely foreign to me.  She grew up at a time when Muslim culture was changing, a time when Harems became not a thing anymore, where her mother threw off the veil and walked with her head held high on Allah's earth.  There are many magical passages where she describes the friendship between the women, the music and customs, and the street life outside the walls.  She has an Aunt and Uncle who live on a farm in the countryside, and there are no walls, and the women walk freely through the fields to the river.  I haven't finished the book yet, so I don't know if she recounts how she became a scholar, but I do know she has the support of many of the women in the harem who encouraged her to grow up and be something great.  She turned out to be a leading Moroccan feminist herself.

There were many kinds of harems, but mostly they were small communities comprised of many women and some men, usually related by blood, but often not, as they took in widowed women and former slaves who had nowhere to go (in the case of Ms. Mernissi's family).  I also learned that there were early feminists in the Arab world, shut away in harems, but who wrote scathing essays on the Islamic subjugation of women.  And by early, I mean mid 19th century!  The author died a couple of years ago at aged 75.

Another very notable feminist (American) died yesterday: Kate Millet.  She died of a heart attack while vacationing in Paris with her longtime partner.  She was 82.  We're losing the pioneers of the second wave of feminism in the United States.  I won't hazard a guess on the state of current feminist politics in our country.  The news is good and bad all at the same time.  And you have faux feminists like the First Daughter, who uses women for the money they spend on her over priced products worldwide.  That Ivanka is a real piece of work.  Daddy's little girl.  The apple who didn't fall far from the corrupt tree.  What a gonif.  Yiddish for someone known to be shady or untrustworthy, a bamboozler or trickster.  If the shoe fits.  And by shoe I mean made by slave labor overseas for pennies and sold for hundreds of dollars.  Pffftttt.


  1. It is interesting to consider the current state of feminist politics. I am beginning to think that the world is shifting in such a crazy way it's hard to even find the shape of things. So many influences coming from every direction. We see that the common thread over time though is the unending power of psychopaths who will stop at nothing to enrich themselves. Seems utterly pathetic, but horrifically true.

  2. Thank you for looking at so many issues and events that affect us all. Have put Fatima Mernissi's book on my to-read list.


Yellow Cottage, Part 2

I have a dear friend who I met in my Creative Writing class my freshman year in college.  I sent the poem to her for her comments and edits ...