Friday, June 25, 2010

A Look Through Media at Women in the Middle East

I watched a really intense movie last night. It was called The Stoning of Soraya M. and it was extremely powerful. I've always kind of had an interest in regards to women in the Middle East. Back in my freshman year of high school, I read a biography entitled Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia which was written by American-born Jean Sasson who related the story of a woman she met while in Saudi Arabia. I hadn't known much about women's rights in the Middle East before then, and that book really opened my eyes. Since then, I've had a desire to learn more. I read Reading Lolita in Tehran a few years ago, which is amazing, by the way. Once I'm finished reading my current book (The Collected Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald...I find everything he writes absolutely delicious) I'm planning on reading a book my mom just sent me in the mail entitled Unveiling Islam, which is more of a look inside Muslim life and beliefs than a focus on women's rights, but I'm interested in learning more about that, as well.

Have you ever seen the movie Not Without My Daughter? It will totally freak you out. It's based on a true story of an American woman (played by the amazing Sally Field) who was married to a Middle Eastern man who had immigrated to the United States. She and her husband and daughter go to the Middle East to visit her husband's relatives, and her husband decides they are going to stay there... permanently. This woman can't bring her daughter back to the United States with her, because Islamic law states that her husband has full custody and he gets to keep her. She loses all of her rights in that foreign land. It's frightening, and you should watch it.
The movie I watched last night was based on a true story concerning a woman named Soraya, who lived in Iran and had a husband who wanted to divorce her so he could marry a fourteen year old girl. She refused to get a divorce because she knew there was no way she would be able to support her family without his financial help (because he wouldn't pay her anything once they were divorced). Her husband rallies other men in the village to figure out what they can do to convince Soraya to divorce him. They offer her a job cleaning a man's house...that way she can earn her own money and eventually divorce him when she has made enough to live on her own.

So, Soraya works for this man, knowing this is the only way out of her abusive marriage (her husband regularly beats her) while still being able to take care of her children. Well, her husband says that the wait is too long for her to save enough money, and he wants to get rid of her. He asks his friend to help convince the people in the town that his wife is having an affair with the man whose house she is cleaning. A woman cheating on her husband is considered a serious offense, and is punishable by death under Islamic law.

Soraya's husband convinces his friends to say that they saw his wife with this other man, and he even goes to the man and threatens to kill him and put his son (who is mentally challenged) in an institution if he doesn't tell everyone that he had an affair with his wife. The man is frightened, so he tells everyone they had an affair, even though it is nowhere close to the truth. The men in the town have a trial, declaring Soraya guilty of adultery, and have decreed she must die.

As you can guess by the title of the film, she is stoned to death. I knew people were stoned to death in the Middle East, but I always just pictured it as the person running around and people throwing rocks at them. This is not the case. They buried her waist deep into the ground, and tied her arms behind her back, leaving her completely helpless.
Like I said, I knew from the beginning of the film what was coming, but when the scene came where they showed her being stoned to death, I lost my shit. I started bawling. (And I am not a crier.) At first, they take turns throwing rocks at her, beginning with her own father. After that, her husband throws a rock that hits her right in the head, sending blood down her entire face. Then, her two sons both take rocks and hit her with them. Then, all the men in the village begin throwing stones at her. It was so brutal. To think that something like that happened . . . is still happening . . . makes me feel sick. To think that we, as human beings, can inflict that kind of pain on another person, and get enjoyment out of watching them suffer, is sickening.

The husband never even ended up marrying the fourteen year old girl, and the town soon found out that the alleged affair had been a lie. But no one seems to be too upset about it except Soraya's aunt. The day after the stoning, a French journalist was passing through the village, and Soraya's aunt tells him the entire story, because she wants the world to know what happened. The journalist tapes her recounting of the entire event, but when the men of the village find out, they try to steal it from him. He eventually gets away with tape intact and that is how Soraya's story is known.

Is that not the most awful thing you've ever heard? When I hear about these horrible events, it makes me want to do something, but what, I don't know. What can I do? The change has to come from within that society, and I don't see that happening. One thing is for sure, it makes me grateful that I was born in the US of A, baby. Sure, we have our problems, but we have a lot to be thankful for.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

all about hoarding

As you may remember, I have an obsession with the television show Hoarders. I was checking out my Netflix, and I saw that it came out on DVD recently, so that immediately was at the top of my queue. I eagerly awaited its arrival, and I have been watching Hoarders Season 1 since. Actually, I watched the whole thing already. It was amazing.

Some episodes were definitely better than others, but there was one woman that I considered to be the worst of them all. I would say they're all pretty bad, and a lot of them are so disturbing on account of how disgusting their house gets, but this woman's hoarding problem was shocking not because of how filthy her house was, but because she had more stuff piled in her house than anyone...EVER.

When they piled all of the stuff from her garage out into her yard, it was shocking how much was laid out there. And she wouldn't/couldn't part with most of it. So they ended up packing away most of the stuff in boxes, and sent them off to multiple storage units she had decided to rent. They said there was over 1400 boxes of stuff in those units. Is that not absolutely crazy?
At the beginning of every episode, there is some text that says there are more than 3 million people who have a problem with hoarding. That's a lot. I'm sure the majority of them are not to the state of the people on the show...that they have a more manageable hoarding problem. It got me thinking about the people I know and whether or not they have problems with hoarding.

Okay, from what I gather from the television show, people seem to hoard for four different reasons: 1. the stuff has sentimental value to them, they have an emotional attachment to it or they keep it to help them remember things 2. they think the objects are valuable or can be sold with some repair work done, so they keep them because they think they are worth value 3. they are convinced that the things they collect will be useful to them someday 4. they just never learned how to deal with handling their possessions, and so they let it accumulate (to me, this seems like the worst excuse ever, but, it is what it is).

My mom would probably kill me for writing this (so don't tell her) but she has a small hoarding problem. Her hoarding falls under reasons number 1 and number 2 above. She has a bigger problem with reason number 2. She hoards magazines and TV guides that are years and years old, because she thinks they will be worth something someday. She literally has stacks and stacks of magazines. Most of them she moved into the attic because my aunt told her she needed to get rid of them, and my mom couldn't part with them, so she stashed them away where no one could see them up in the attic.

I think she's like any other mom in that she keeps a lot of me and my brother's childhood things, but they're all packed away in boxes in the attic. She also saves cards for sentimental reasons. I'm talking birthday cards or Christmas cards, whatever the occasion, if she really likes the card or it's from someone special, she dates the back of it and stores it away. But, believe me, her house does not look all cluttered and messy. She is very organized in her (minor) hoarding.

I'm not going to let myself off the hook, though. The more I thought about whether or not I had any issues with hoarding, I came to realize that mine has to do with recyclables. Since I am having trouble recycling items here in Colorado, I have been keeping them in garbage bags and different bins, just letting them accumulate into a giant mass. I guess part of it is reason number 2, because I know we can get money for turning them in, but that's a very small part. Really, it's more reason number 1. I know that sounds strange that I have an emotional attachment to recyclables, but I really, honestly, cannot throw them away. I literally can't do it. When it's gotten to the point that something had to be done, they were thrown into the garbage and it made me feel so bad...really, really BAD. I just hated knowing they were in the trash. But then I start collecting them again. So, see? I have a problem, too. (Even though I think mine is a little different, because if I COULD recycle them I would get rid of them.)

How about you? What do you hoard?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Kiddie Confusion: Father's Day Edition

Let me start off with a Happy Father's Day to all the daddies out there! (Including my dad.) Yet again, just like Mother's Day, this is the very first Father's Day that I haven't spent with my dad and it makes me sad. But just like my mom spent this past Mother's Day with her mom, my dad is spending this Father's Day with his dad. So I guess it works out.

So, with it being Father's Day and all, I'm dedicating this post to a Dad Kiddie Confusion. This Kiddie Confusion is one my dad experienced as a child. When I was little and had asked my dad about blood brothers, my dad had shared something that he had been confused about when he was a little kid. (I think he told me about it so I'd feel better.)

He said when he was about the same age (8 or 9) he had learned about how the Earth was rotating all the time. He didn't understand why, when he jumped into the air, the Earth didn't move underneath his feet....therefore enabling him to land in a completely different spot. I remember reflecting on this at the time, and to me, his kiddie analysis made perfect sense. My dad then explained Earth's gravity, and how it kept us in place. Wouldn't jump-travel be awesome, though?

It's strange to think my dad was a little kid once...I only think of him of just being my dad. Happy Father's Day, Dad.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What'd you learn in school today?

Don't you think it's weird, the things that we retain from our education? I will be the first to admit that I've probably lost a TON of knowledge that I've learned over the years. I think the little tid-bits of information we do manage to hold on to is interesting. Why do we remember this, but not that?

The earliest pieces of information I can remember learning are from the second grade. I can remember learning the different colors by their Spanish names, but the only one I retained was red, which is rojo. The rest I forgot. When we were learning about the weather, I can still to this day, remember the names of the different clouds. Isn't that weird? There's nimbus, the really dark storm clouds, then stratus, the gray rain clouds, there's cumulous, the big ,white, puffy clouds, and cirrus, the wispy, feathery ones. I also remember learning about evaporation, and that between two jars filled with the same amount of water, the one with the wider mouth will evaporate faster. (Common sense dictates this, now, but for a second grader, it was difficult. The point I'm making is that it's funny I even remember this little evaporation test. Our teacher had us guess which would evaporate faster and I had no idea, so I said the one with the smaller mouth would and I was bummed when I was wrong. I think that's why I remember it so well.)

In high school, I remember learning from my science teacher, that when you turn on a fan, it doesn't change the temperature of the room. The room doesn't become cooler, it just feels cooler to us because the air is being displaced. Every time I turn on a fan, this little piece of information always enters my mind for a fleeting second.

In a sociology class I took back at my junior college (I totally loved Sociology, I'm contemplating minoring in it) I learned a lot of really interesting things. The pieces of information that come back to me the most when I'm people watching involve couples, though. I learned that interracial couples are not very common (less than 6% of married couples are interracial) - that people tend to marry people of their own race. I also learned that couples usually have the same degree of attractiveness, and that many times, (I forgot the sociologic term for it) people choose mates that are close enough to their own appearance that they look like they could be siblings. Strange, isn't it? I'm always reflecting on this stuff whenever I am watching people in public. (I'm not creepy. Who doesn't like to people watch?)

Another thing I think about a lot was something I learned in a psychology class. I read that a lot of times, when we dislike someone, it is because we see traits in them that we deny/repress in ourselves. In other words, that person has some sort of personality trait that we see in ourselves that we don't like. Whenever I find myself disliking someone in one of my classes or wherever, I flashback to that piece of information. It kind of blows my mind, sometimes. The opposite is true, as well. People that we choose to be friends with, are people that we see as having the same traits that we embrace within ourselves. Basically, our entire lives, we are reflecting ourselves in the mirrors of others. The deeper I let my mind go into it, the more tripped out I get. (Psychology is an insane thing. I was thinking about becoming a psych major a few years ago, but as I delved deeper into it, I came to realize that I would, quite literally, become crazy if I continued studying it.)

What weird facts did you retain from school?