I have started reading Gloria Steinem’s My Life on the Road again. I read a few chapters a couple of weeks ago as you may have noticed from my Instagram but had to stop due to uni reading taking over.
Today I came across the following quote:
‘In much of the world to this day, a woman may be disciplined or even killed for dishonouring her family if she leaves her home without a male relative, or her country without a male guardian’s written permission. In Saudi Arabia, women are still forbidden to drive a car, even to the hospital in an emergency, much less for an adventure. During the democratic uprisings of the Arab Spring, both female citizens and foreign journalists paid the price of sexual assault for appearing in the public square. As novelist Margaret Atwood wrote to explain women’s absence from quest-for-identity novels, “there’s probably a simple reason for this: send a woman out alone on rambling nocturnal quest and she’s likely to end up a lot deader a lot sooner than a man would.” (Steinem takes the Atwood quote from “Headscarves to die for,” New York Times Book Review, August 15, 2004.) (Introduction, xxx-xxxi, Oneworld Publications (2015)).
It is the quote from Atwood which struck a cord in me more than anything. Just the word ‘deader’ in ‘a lot deader a lot sooner’ is deliberately not coating the issue of gendered violence in complicated legalistic/political language, but putting the issue in very raw, blunt, and simplistic phrasing.
Through Atwood’s deliberate phrasing combined with Steinem’s listing of facts they create an overwhelming picture of the unbelievable lack of freedom women still have in other parts of the world.
Atwood’s Book Review of SNOW by Orhan Pamuk can be found via the link http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/15/books/headscarves-to-die-for.html. Atwood argues that ‘attitudes of men toward women drive the plot’ but that the book is also about ‘identity’ and how men learn to understand one another. This is definitely a book I’m going to be picking up soon!