Women defining women

Two stories caught my attention this morning in the online press. Firstly an article about the Muslim women’s magazine Azizah. The front page for which, I must say, looks fabulous.

“For centuries, particularly within Muslim majority countries, women have been defined by men” If Muslims believe they have been unfairly maligned by Islam’s association with the terrorist acts of a zealous minority, then its women are the most visible targets of misunderstanding.
“In Muslim majority countries and elsewhere, the Muslim woman is seen as a victim, either the victim of men or the victim of religion,” Taylor said.
Taylor, a Canadian of Caribbean descent who converted to Islam at the age of 15, said that in this environment, the hijab had unfairly become an “alien marker” signifying restriction and restraint. Yet increasingly, young Muslim women saw it as a “statement of womanhood” and an acknowledgement of intelligence over physical appearance.

Well, women defining themselves, including a preference for intelligence over looks. That deserves applause and support.

Not that I’m about to convert to Islam. I’ve done my time with patriarchal and organised religions, preferring a mother Goddess these days, however a woman exercising freedom to live and define her own life and validate her experiences is a wonderful thing. Blessed be, sisters.

The second is an opinion article asking where all the women superheroes are?

As a kid in the ’70s, I loved watching Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman. She was tall and powerful: an Amazon woman who deflected bullets with golden bracelets and wielded a glittering lasso. She was beautiful, of course, with an otherworldly figure, but she was dignified and serious, with little time for romance.
Thirty years on, you’d think there’d be female superheroes everywhere in kids’ films. But the best Hollywood can now offer is Jessica Alba. In The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, this superhero spends more time worrying about her wedding than the coming Armageddon. She uses her special powers to make a zit disappear on the big day.

Apparently a male blogger observed that Alba’s role was, well, sexist.

Karen Healey would love it!

The article continues with discussion about various women comic characters in movies in recent years and notes the mother-like character in The Incredibles, and of course Buffy who is still a stand out hero.

The only problem is that we’re still caught up in a world of violence and murder, creating enemies and villains, not really getting anywhere as a race. How many women are out there doing heroic things on a day to day basis, that aren’t defined as “heroic” according to our woman-hating, brutally regimented culture? The ancient Aztecs considered a woman who gave birth to be a hero on a par with someone who captured an enemy alive in conflict. The dearth is in our cultural definitions as much as our characters, and the portrayal of such stereotyped characters perpetuates the images of dominance and abuse of power in our culture.

Here’s a real hero for you. A single mother who daily copes with two teenage children and successfully defends her family from the sociopathic intent of malicious politicians in Canberra! Now that’s a hero!


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