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  • Writer's pictureJose Arrieta

On A Woman is No Man

A few months ago I heard a person I look up to, Prof Sarah Kaplan. say: "I believe bell hooks is responsible for 90% of the stretch marks in my brain". A visual statement that hit home.

I have my share of bell hooks stretch marks. But mine tend to be in my heart. Among truly a million others (see here for more), it touched me to learn how someone would do a Doctoral Degree as an act of defiance. How for feminists of her age, building theory and breaking Ivory towers was the frontline of the war on our culture.

I have read hundreds of books to understand otherness. To leave my autistic brain and openy heart for the lives of others. Some are good, some are great. Some as Jordan Peterson's manure are awful, but they help me learn to feel as others do.

I just finished "A woman is no man" by Etaf Rum. It tells the story of three generations of Palestinian women who rebuild their life's after a people who took their lands as as part of this people's flight from European genocide.

Palestine is not where I grew up. But as I read Etaf Rum's masterpiece, I kept thinking of my abused aunt's. How my family normalized their aggression through Catholic lógics. How I failed to be brought to anger towards the garbage my funnel fed me.

"You'd tell me be patient, endure. You'd tell me that women everywhere are suffering. And that no pain is worse than being divorced. A world of shame on my shoulders. You'd tell me to make it work for my kids, my girls to be patient so that I don't bring them shame so I don't ruin their lives" This comes from Rum's book but everyone I loved said it in one way or another as I grew up in Costa Rica.

As the shockwaves of Isra's last chapter ebb away in my body. I feel a deep sense of connection. And a deep sadness. But thanks to Rum I know that sadness is the root of all beauty.

Too often being happy means being passive or playing it safe. There is no skill required in haopiness, no strength of character, nothing extraordinary. It's discontent that drives creation the most. Passion, desire, defiance, revolutions don't come from a place of happiness. If anything it's sadness or discontent that it's at the root of everything beautiful.


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