THE SOUND OF WOMEN
The second workshop of the Heritage project Thistle and Dandelions is called “Women’s protest history”.
During my studies at the University I had the pleasure of reading a Greek comedy named Lisistrata written by Aristophanes. It is a comic account of a woman’s mission to end the Peloponnesian War between Greek city states by denying all the men of the land the only thing they truly and deeply desired from women.
There is an article on the Time website written by Megan Gibson entitled “I am a woman: hear me roar”, in which she has gathered all of the principal events of the feminist revolution around the world.
By looking at international literature, we can highlight the production of some female writers and the different topics they introduced to the world through their works.
In Nigeria, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote many novels. The first one was Purple Ibiscus, in which she told the story about a young girl who lived in Nigeria with her parents and her brother. For a while, the girl and her brother lived with an old widowed auntie. During this time the girl discovered the value of freedom through her cousins and a priest.
“Mama had greeted him the traditional way that women were supposed to, bending low and offering him her back so that he would pat it with his fan made of the soft, straw-colored tail of an animal. Back home that night, Papa told Mama that it was sinful. You did not bow to another human being. It was an ungodly tradition, bowing to an Igwe. So, a few days later, when we went to see the bishop at Awka, I did not kneel to kiss his ring. I wanted to make Papa proud. But Papa yanked my ear in the car and said I did not have the spirit of discernment: the bishop was a man of God; the Igwe was merely a traditional ruler.”
This writer wrote also an essay entitled We Should All Be Feminist. Please see the following video in which she explained the first time in which she was called feminist. https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_ngozi_adichie_we_should_all_be_feminists?language=en
In France one of the most important female writers of the last century was Simone de Beauvoir. She is famous for her novel The Second Sex, however during my studies I had also read Tous Les Hommes Sont Mortels, in which the main character, Regina, is an actress angry with God because in her opinion He does not love her enough. She was also scared about death, yet throughout the reading of the book, she understood that immortality was a curse for anyone.
One day I'll be old, dead, forgotten. And at this very moment, while I'm sitting here thinking these things, a man in a dingy hotel room is thinking, "I will always be here." (Regina to herself).
In Italy, one of the most well-known writers of Sardinia was Grazia Deledda. She was the first Italian woman to received the Nobel prize for literature in 1926 “for her idealistically inspired writings which with plastic clarity picture the life on her native island (Sardinia) and with depth and sympathy deal with human problems in general”.
According to an ancient Sardinian legend, the bodies who are born on Christmas Eve will never dissolve into dust but are preserved until the end of time.
For an insight into Pakistan, I recommend The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History written by Rafia Zakaria in which she describes the private lives of women. She expressed in an interview that she had tried to be as honest as possible.
The higher you set your ideal the lower it falls. I have loved you my darling as it is guess to few men to be loved. I only beseech you that the tragedy which commenced in love should also end with it.
Last but not least, the Scottish writer I want to mention here is Eleanor Thon and her novel The Tin-Kin, in which the main character Dawn rediscovers the history of her family after finding secrets kept from her during her childhood.
We should remember that some despots like Mussolini in Italy claimed publicly that he would take care of women. However in reality Mussolini cancelled any education for the female population, and denied them any right to work or input into the political situation. In the African colonies the situation was even worse for women, because men could buy a young girl from her family, and during Fascism the Italian government often didn’t recognize the children born from the relationships between Italian men and Eritrean women. A moving novel set in Eritrea during Fascism is The Good Italian, written by Stephen Burke.
“(...) he hoped that things were different now and that he had become important to her. Not just a provider of money. (...)”
If people do not recognise yet that women have a role during a war, Chinua Achebe explained it in his short but extremely meaningful story GIRLS AT WAR.
“(...)Wasn’t it a miracle that she still had memories of the other life, that she even remembered her name? If the affair of the drunken Red Cross should happen again now, he said to himself, he would stand up beside the fellow and tell the party that here was a man of truth. What a terrible fate to befall to a whole generation! The mothers of tomorrow!”(...)”
The arguments of women who protest are many: the same rights between men and women at work, at home, the right to abortion, and many more. The world has responded in different ways over time to these demands, and it is interesting to gain insight from around the world through every component[s] of culture: literature, paintings, songs, law, movies.
During my last dissertation I explored the representation of the generational gap in Italian television. One of the most interesting aspects of my thesis was the the representation of women in different age groups. [the relationship between three different ages of them].
It was a pleasure this week to receive the Volunteer pack of this project with some essential tools in order to work with the organisation and the other volunteers with enthusiasm, colour and a safe environment. Thanks to EWFC!
The aspect I really enjoy of Thistle and Dandelions is that everyone has the opportunity to give a contribution. We can learn new languages, skills, and knowledge from each other.
To end this article, I would like to entertain you with an old Italian song. I hope you will enjoy a video of one of the two Italian movies I analysed for my last dissertation in 2013.
Even my 20 months old daughter Chikaima Maitea wanted to tell us her point of view: “JKMN NHV JKMN M JK”. My personal hope for the future of women is that she and her sister Chimamanda Lavinia will have the recognized rights other women have fought to achieve in the past and in the present. I also hope their voices are heard throughout the entire world and beyond.