Animal and woman. How would you kill a bear? An animal that is much stronger than man falls down when a bullet is put through its head. The bleeding wound leaves red stains on its white fur, and without understanding anything a bear closes its eyes. They take it to the cold dark shop located in A. Street and plunge the knife in the back of its head to peel off the skin. In a month Zeyneb, a woman from our neighborhood, wears this skin. She minces down the stairs, gets in her car and drives off to see her friends. They talk about her new fur coat. The woman boasts that it’s natural leather because she would never wear anything artificial. That same evening her friends make calls to contract the murder of an hare and a seal. Zeyneb’s bag is seal leather. It is the skin of a seal mother brutally killed with a metal rod last year in the North. Her baby seals have already forgotten her.
Zeyneb thinks she is beautiful and elegant. She often checks the size of her waist to be sure that her elegance and grace are not in danger. This woman makes fine facial expressions and tries to speak with a tender voice. When Zeyneb hears doleful songs she becomes sad. Sometimes when watching a movie she cannot hold back her tears. While crying she puts her head on the shoulder of a man, who never says “no” to any of her wishes.
If you were told nice fairy tales in your childhood, you would know that Zeyneb is the bear of an artificial and coarse society. There is no bear which wears a coat made of human skin and there is no seal which carries a bag made of the skin of Zeyneb. She is the woman that peels off the skins of hares, pandas, crocodiles, and wraps herself in them. She is proud of this like a savage in a primitive tribe.
In Western countries demand for this kind of fur and leather is gradually decreasing. Famous actresses are proud to own coats and bags made of artificial leather. However, other women, like Zeyneb organize culinary contests on TV and award a fur coat to the winner. Behind the prize are heartache, suffering and death. The winner of this skin of fox, tiger or hare, leaps up and cries out with joy: “Wowww!”
In a couple of years Zeyneb lies in a dark corner of a hospital ward located in A. Street. She has an abortion because she expecting a girl for the third time. The name of the second girl is Qiztamam (Girl Over). The possibility to give such widely spread Azerbaijani names as Qıztamam and Qızyetə, Qızbəs or Bəsti (Enough) did not help this woman, she was again expecting a girl. Zeyneb’s heart aches, she cries and moans. Rude nurses say to her: “Do not groan like a bear.”
Plant and woman
Dr. Narmin Kamal is a scholar, writer, and researcher from Azerbajan. She may be reached through her Facebook profile or through comments to the website where she originally posted this article:
My birthday was the day my father started to grow a beard. According to the rules of the village a man must let his beard grow for one week or 40 days when a close relative dies. This time nobody died but God granted my father a daughter, instead of a son… In every phase of my life I came up against constraints that prevented me from feeling like a human being. In third grade I realized that as a girl I must conceal myself. There was graffiti on the school walls: Rza + L = Love and Mammed + A = Love. In declarations of love boys wrote their names while keeping the names of the girls they admired a secret. This was done to protect the girl’s name and not to injure the boy’s pride. Our literature teacher, Nazim, used to say to us, “Do not irritate the eye like a nettle, Be a violet and let somebody find you.”
At university I studied philosophy but thought of becoming a reporter. In my first years as a student I dreamt of writing from hot spots around the world. This is when I began writing my first articles and submitting them to a newspaper. As soon as one story was published I would have another one ready. This brought me into the world of mass media. The majority of journalists working in our newspaper were men. At first I wrote on social issues but later switched to politics. My wild dream of becoming a war zone reporter was closer and clearer than before.
At 18-19 I was already used to participating in press conferences. Once, my colleague and I went to the Parliament building to gather information for an article. From far away, we saw a young girl who I knew fearlessly conducted economic and political investigations for a daily paper. I look at her and said, “She looks so small, fragile and shy but her articles are so good and daring. I think she is a nice person.” To which my colleague replied, “If a girl writes for a newspaper, how she can be ‘nice’?”
Men of all backgrounds and regardless of their level of education talked about women in a sexist way. In discussing world famous women authors they focused on their private lives and external beauty but not their work. It did not matter what I did, my gender was always a barrier. Despite this I continued to write short articles for my newspaper. They would get published with my photo at the top. From time to time I managed to contribute to other periodicals as well.
As my career began to progress I met my first love. This was an Azerbaijani man with whom we worked together at the paper. We felt a connection while reading the same book – The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir. Our topics of conversation ranged from European history to movies to philosophy. It seemed I found an island of Europe in Azerbaijan. And this is why I loved him.
This was a time when I was surrounded by intelligent people who worked in high places as editors-in-chief and politicians. According to many of them, the best woman was the one least talked about by the public. The social withdrawal of a woman was considered attractive. An active woman, who worked, wrote for newspapers, engaged in discussion with other men, was not marriageable. She was like a beautiful but oil-stained blouse. These people believed that women should think of marriage to a man as an award. A woman should be happy to be picked out like a Christmas tree from among other trees for her appearance. She should be happy because someone CHOSE her in marriage.
I remained indifferent to these comments because my beloved was not at all like them. I was supposed to live my life differently. And the one day, he said to me, “I don’t want you writing these short articles for the newspaper.” I asked him “Why?” and my open-minded man responded like this, “In Azerbaijan people use newspapers in the toilet. I don’t want someone to wipe his bottom with a photo of my lady from the paper. Moreover, I don’t want other men to talk about my woman. I also have pride and dignity, please understand this.”
I could not understand him and continued my work. Eventually we broke up and in a couple of years he married another girl, a school teacher. She lived her life without paying much attention to events taking place around her or the news in society. The children surrounding her at school did not threaten his dignity or manhood.
Dr. Narmin Kamal is a researcher, scholar, and writer from Azerbajan. You may reach her on Facebook or through commenting where this essay was originally posted, at this forum on women and society: http://women-forum.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=119%3Aboys-gathering-violets&catid=62%3Aessay-competition&Itemid=98&lang=en
Read the original essay, and comments it received, here: http://women-forum.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=157%3Agoezllik-250-volt&catid=34%3Aindividuality&Itemid=53&lang=en
I am attending an academic conference. There is a huge mirror on the right side of the hall. Several PhD candidates are sitting there – three girls and many boys. Boys are feverishly discussing an issue of the legal regulation of property management in foreign countries. One of the girls turns around and looks at her image in the mirror. She wants to check her appearance before addressing the audience. The other girl reaches into her bag, presses on a perfume flask in it and wipes around her ear with a finger. Minutes pass.
The discussion between the lawyers becomes even more intense; they seek to figure out which country’s laws regulate the division of property for an Azerbaijani national married to a foreign national in case of a divorce. The lady who has just perfumed herself scans her image in the mirror out of the corner of her eye and starts expressing her opinion while looking into the boys’ faces. Sometimes they apologize for interrupting her and make remarks on a different legal question. She avails herself of the pause brought by such an interruption and throws another glance at herself in the mirror…
I am watching TV now. In the TV show, men and women compete for an expensive prize. While men are heavily involved in proving somebody is right or wrong, women often turn to the studio screen to check how they look in front of the audience.
A 19-years old girl whom I know well admits: “Oh, every time when I walk with my fiancé in the streets and he talks about his expectations of family life, my eyes jump from one shop window to another in search of sales offers where I would come back later to do shopping. He gets angry and asks where my attention wanders when we are having such a serious talk. He cannot understand that I need new clothes for our next rendezvous and another new dress for the one after that…»
I am approaching a book stand with many shelves entitled «Women’s World» in a bookstore in some European country. Female writers have produced tons of books on ways to look pretty! “A Secret of Success” is one of the titles I come across today.
I could cite dozens of examples similar to the above, for more examples will provide a better illustration of women’s struggle for the sake of beauty. When they don’t look nice, women avoid appointments, become gloomy, lose their love for life and self-confidence…
An attractive appearance is many women’s number one concern that keeps them under constant pressure and interferes with other important spheres of life such as science, philosophy, and law. When a man ponders over philosophical details of the meaning of «logos», a woman wonders what people see when they look at her face and body.
As if their never-ending search for beauty and charm is the devil’s trap.
My attraction to the energy of urban areas inspires a playful,
excited examination of the frenzied systems around me.
Highly active environments such as ports, stations, airfields,
or sub-street infrastructures feel like childhood experiments
with Tinkertoys and Lego bricks,
or voyages into Richard Scarry's seemingly chaotic worlds.
I’ve been exploring my awareness of these arrangements
and my position within them, making
associations with anatomy and physicality, and allowing
myself the opportunity to revisit a youthful mindset
that seems more and more fleeting.
For our readers: the poet, filmmaker, and novelist Faracy Grouse, whom we’ve published various times in Synchronized Chaos, is launching the Visual Jazz Film Festival, which will take place in Spain later this summer.
Here’s how the festival will operate:
OPEN CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS
Hinchas de Poesia—an online digital codex dedicated to modern Pan-American writing—is now soliciting submissions for its Fall 2010 issue. Hinchas seeks to publish innovative, experimental work of a devastating caliber, regardless of format, medium, or language. Please send us work that you are unsure about, using language that belies the contours of a nameless gloss. Submissions will heretofore be regarded as poetry, fiction, poetry in translation, non-fiction, and photography and painting.
To date, Hinchas de Poesia has generated substantial interest with over 7,500 visitors interacting with our website, at an average of at least 55 visitors per month. Our online issues are released quarterly and Hinchas Press, an imprint dedicated to publishing chapbooks, has seen its roster of releases grow from the initial four titles at the time of our inception to our current stable of seven titles with four more forthcoming, including Compound, an illustrated short story of an American reporter that takes a job in Baghdad and misappropriates funds for an Iraqi secretary named after mirages, as well as Odas a Futbolistas, an anthology of soccer poems dedicated to the heroes of the beautiful game.
Our reading period for our fall issue will run from June 15th, 2010 until. Multiple submissions are permitted but please do inform us if your work has been accepted elsewhere.
To submit electronically email your text as an attachment in .doc or .pdf format to: <hinchasdpoesia(at)gmail.com> (replace (at) with @).To submit images electronically, please follow these requirements: 2400pixels wide (high res) at 72 dpi. To ensure compatibility, please only attach images as .jpegs. Attachments should be no larger than 24 MBs. If you are sending multiple images that exceed this capacity, then please send images separately.