Friday, April 13, 2012

I Have Decided to Let You Live -- Writer's Poke #380

In the United States, abortion has been legal nationwide since 1973, the year that Roe v. Wade became the law of the land. So, assuming you were born after 1973, you should call your mother and thank her for allowing you to live.

Once you’re born, you probably no longer worry about someone else having life and death control over your existence. That is, unless you happen to commit a capital offense, you assume that your life is your own and that no one can take it from you. Even when you are a teenager, you know that you might be punished, you might be grounded, but no one is going to kill you for not doing what you’re told to do.

Imagine living in another world from the one you know and grew up in. In this world, you have a “master,” and this master can do with you whatever she wishes. Like the world you know, this world might have laws to protect you, but the laws are not enforced. No one cares if you live or die, and you have no way of escaping the prison you find yourself in. Even if you could leave your prison, you wouldn’t have anywhere to go, and you wouldn’t have anyone to turn to.

Eventually, you might meet a friendly man who claims he wants to help you, but you don’t trust him. Why should you? You’ve learned early in life not to trust anyone, because everyone you’ve trusted has only ended up betraying you. But something about this man is different. He doesn’t seem to want anything from you. Do you have it in you to believe that he will take you away to a magic place? You can’t go home again, but perhaps if you put your faith in this man, he can help you escape your prison. What, really, do you have to lose?

Your master tells you that she has decided that she will let you live, but what kind of life is it to be a slave? Can you put your faith in a man that promises to make you the master of your own life?

How can (and do) people maintain hope even in the worst of circumstances?

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” – Martin Luther King

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Rules of Being a Woman -- Writer's Poke #379

For Lakshmi, being a woman means looking up to your mother. It also means understanding that your mother does not have the power to protect you. Lakshmi’s mother has had four children after her, but none of them have lived. Being a woman means no health care.

Being a woman means remaining in the goat shed for seven days when you have your first period.

Being a woman means working like a mule. “Women’s work” includes cooking, collecting wood and dung for the fire, raising the children, patching the hut walls, and burying the children.

Being a woman means not looking a man in the eye, not talking back to a man, not eating until your husband has eaten, and satisfying your husband in every way.

Being a woman means needing a man for protection, but being powerless to do anything about a man that doesn’t uphold his obligations. A man’s obligations are voluntary, whereas a woman’s obligations are mandatory.

Being a woman means dreaming big and hiding disappoint when the dreams evaporate.

If these are the rules, is there anything Lakshmi (or her mother) can do to break them?

“Being a woman is terribly difficult task, since it consists principally in dealing with men.” – Joseph Conrad