This week’s The New York Times Book review of The Trouble with White Women by Kyla Schuller manifests dishearteningly why Feminism has failed to gain unanimous consent of the universal womanhood across social barriers, cultural differences, and physical planes. Instead, it reinforces my conviction that Feminism is a league of an ambitious, level-headed elite group of women (Black or White) pretermitting the rights and positions of all ordinary women who live in the periphery of their ambitious political constituency academic appellation.
The review written by Joan Morgan, the director of the Center for Black Visual Culture at NYU, who is also a black feminist scholar, is an intricately academic and emotionally trenchant antithesis to white Feminism, so to speak, by the women, of the privileged, for the white. Morgan’s review itself has no regard for a general reader in mind with her magnificently intellectual syntax and abstruse syllogism, which makes on a par with the hypocritical white feminists she and her league of feminists criticize. Feminism, in its unalloyed sense of justice and the most original idea of essence, should belong neither to ideology politics nor to academy subjects that cater to a specific group of demographic populations. Thus non-white (the adjectives I am so hesitant to use because of its coarse way of describing a person) women should not feel betrayed because many white women who professed themselves to be feminists voted for blocking the Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The stance of pro-choice is not a proverbial character of white conservative Christian women because, as a matter of fact, Hispanics, African-Americans are more religiously and culturally more conservative than their counterparts. I am not here to debate my stance on abortion, but historically, the procedure has been motivated and campaigned by the eugenic inclination to curb a particular “undesirable” population, no matter how intelligently the proponents of abortion would try to persuade you. That said, wouldn’t it odd to even contemplate the recent Texas case as a manifest token of White Feminism v. Non-white Feminism?
Perhaps it’s an American thing that inherently discombobulates a simple truth. Outside the States, sisterhood among the members of Female Species is comparatively felt and celebrated, albeit without a total transcendence of racial and cultural discrimination, which you can’t eradicate in this world. But America is New World, and it still lacks a coherent force that unifies peoples. That is why Feminism, which should be only one with capital “F,” has so many subsidiaries, resulting in Morgan’s review of the book by another feminist (a Rutgers University professor who happens to be a white woman). Such is my true feeling about my reading of the review, but it should not be yours.
Her epithet is deservedly illustrious, equal to her protean capacities for being multifarious: saint, mystic, and artist’s muse who was a curious kind of practical mystic with vision to match – that she would talk and hear God’s words from within and share them with the crowd in practice of charity, faith, and hope but never without heart. Protestant Elizabeth I of Great Britain might have envisioned the image of a Catholic nun of Spain a night before her Tilbury address that she had a woman’s body but had the bravery of a king. She is also the Doctor of the Church. She is Saint Teresa of Avila, the headstrong founder of the Carmelite Discalced and the woman of Lorenzo Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Teresa.
My first encounter with this remarkable woman was not religious but academic; while researching women’s monasticism in the high medieval age during my college. Teresa saw many women who were too poor to pay dowry and didn’t want conjugal life found convents as shelters from social conventions without certain religious convictions. Consequently, convents became gossipy sonority houses populated with lackluster and jealous nuns backstabbing one another. The sad atmosphere of the convents used as a mere social institution propelled Teresa to establish the Carmelite Discalced – the Convent of Saint Joseph – with physical labor and disciplined monastic rules not without tenderness attended to individual nuns from all walks of life. She abolished land ownership and rent collections of and by nuns and instituted self-sufficiency of working without shoe but sandals, hence the name “Discalced.” The reformation within the Church was seismic but was a necessary medicinal receipt for the ailing monastic community.
What is most brilliant about Teresa was to create the idea of “The Interior Castle,” a philosophy that the creator of the Universe dwells inside the castle of our souls. That God is from within us, rather than the beyond betokens the idea of personal God with whom we can communicate and thus become a literal mirror image of him for what’s best in ourselves. In fact, this revolutionary philosophy is also linked to Giordano Bruno’s “The Memory Palace,” from which the knowledge needs to be unlocked to bestow upon us the power and joy of the knowledge from within. Further, it is related to the idea of the Nine Muses, whose inspirations are invoked from our minds, not from the Olympus or oracles. All of the mentioned above shares one origin in the cognitive technique employed in Christian meditation developed from the essential reading and contemplating the Bible. But Teresa’s Interior Castle is a beautiful poetic license to enrich power that is never esoterically prideful but blissfully joyful. Where Bruno’s Memory Palace and the Artist’s Nine Muses are not all-inclusive, Teresa’s Interior Castle is universal with tender charity and faith even if it is not necessarily Christian God.
Teresa of Avila was one brave and adventurous woman who was a prototype of feminist in the sense that she voiced out her mind to the patriarchal church authority in danger of being suspicious of heresy or witchcraft even in Catholic Spain, known for the Spanish Inquisition. But she was not a vociferous activist for abolishing the Church or would-be founder of an offshoot of the Church. Teresa was religious of the supreme kind. However, she never abandoned her femininity latticed with passion for helping a young priest in his spiritual crisis in war with physical temptation, tenderness for attending those in need of her consolation, and beauty that was both beautiful externally and internally. She shows us that a strong woman doesn’t need to shout out invective expletives or clamor for the reward for her damages in the name of womanhood when it is really for her sworn revenge. Aside from sectarian religious affiliations, Teresa of Avila deserves her reputation as a star in the Milky Way of the Great.
Before the mercantile empire of ‘Amazon’ amid the Sea of the Internet, there once was an eponymous band of fierce women warriors whose famed ferocity and fearlessness was enshrined in the Classical literature and history. It is said that they were real women soldiers living in ancient Eurasia with husbands and children who seemed to know something about how to maneuver the sphere of personal life and that of military commitments. The subject of this mysterious ancient militant women from this month’s National Geographic History intends to deconstruct such mysticism surrounding the factual evidence thereof and demystify the origin of the meta women fighters modern feistily feminists and politicians love to panegyrize.
First, the origin of Amazonian warriors comes not from the Amazonian jungle who are believed to be scantily clothed with breasts deformed women prone to attack men without reason. They were, in fact, the female warriors among Scythian and other nomadic Steppe cultures across the Eurasian plain as embedded in Homer’s The Illiad, Herodotus’s Histories, and Plato’s Laws. The recent discoveries of 4 female corpses bearing combat-related injuries, such as slashed ribs, fractured skulls, and broken arms are claimed to be of the lost Amazonians prevalently seen among Scythian women riding to battle alongside their men.
Notwithstanding the above archeological excavation and factual evidence, my personal sentiment toward the adulation of the female combatants is anything but the elevated opinions about them. Although Homer in The Iliad praises Amazonians for being the equals of valorous men, I wonder if he would have wanted to take one of them as his better half in reality. Plato in Laws recommends that boys and girls should be trained for horse-riding, archery, javelin-throwing, etc., which is very indeed commendable, but I opine that no every girl should be forced into such training because every girl is not of the same aptitude or disposition. Of all these complacently abstract perspectives on women soldiers, Herodotus seems to be only one who has a comparatively objective view on Amazonians not as a glorified tribe of female bravery but as a tribe of women freed from conventional conjugality. They were a group of shipwrecked women tended by local men with whom they moved to new lands and happily lived after while maintaining their own separately private lives as something of common law marriage couples.
The modern perspectives on the Amazonians as a manifestation of gender equality in the spheres of domestic and public life exceedingly lionize the necessity of upending what is perceived as traditionally patriarchal gender roles peculiar to the biological characteristic of men and women. Needless to say, the word “Equality” is highly admirable and desirable, especially on the frontline of livelihood, but you can’t force everyone – that is every woman- to be as aggressive or belligerent as these ancient female warriors were in fighting everyday strains of life. Besides, I see there are more widespread issues of racism, classism, lookism, and agism than sexism in daily life because womanliness adorned with beauty and sex appeal armed with the art of seduction can work wonder in every place, helping her to achieve social mobility. Reading the article intent upon the historical evidence of these Amazonians makes me realize that the advocation of public sentiment in practice overrules the consideration of single individuality in theory.
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