Saturday, May 26, 2018

Review: Infidel

Infidel Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a two part book. The first half is the author’s history beginning in her home country of Somalia. She educates the reader on how Somalia became a place of political unrest and eventually civil war particularly between clans Somalia and how the tribes or clans protect one another. It is chronological as Ayaan and her family live hungrily but with the help of the black market. Her father has been imprisoned for opposition of the current president. The life of a Muslim girl in Somalia includes female genital mutilation, a primitive and invasive operation performed without anesthesia or clean instruments. Ayaan barely survives.

The story follows the author to Mecca, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and back to Kenya where she is given to a man to be his wife against her will. By this time she has been fully indoctrinated in Islam.

The second part of the book begins with a stopover in Europe that was supposed to put her in Canada. She runs off to Holland and asks for asylum. It is in Holland that she finds a well run government where the police force are friendly and helpful. It is a welfare state run like a Republic. She is shocked to see that, when she removes her Islamic coverings, men do not suddenly go crazy with lust as she has been taught. There is order, there are laws, and most of the laws make sense. It is here that learns about something called the Holocaust. It is also here that finds friendships with Christians who do not lead her down to Hell. She begins to question her faith and what it is built upon which is a book, a man, and intense fear. She becomes atheist. She is now an Infidel. According to the Quran, she must be put to death.

It is fascinating to read about her indoctrination and her beliefs then the evolution of her beliefs. She is currently a political activist for The rights of Muslim woman. As with the refugee crisis of the past few years, those seeking asylum are often Muslim. The problem with Islam, she states, is that it is way of life that is incompatible with modern life. Muslims do not adapt to their society.

When brave men like Martin Luther or Calvin began questioning the Roman Catholic Church’s interpretation of the Bible, reformations took place and Christian churches evolved with society. Islam in and of itself is radical and needs to go through the same process. However, to make interpretations or to modernize it will put a target on your chest. To question Mohammad and his personal life is to choose death.

It is a very eye opening book.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Review: Brave

Brave Brave by Rose McGowan
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I just can’t finish this book. The author has a story to tell but she lacks perspective and introspection as well as a good editor and writing coach. I really don’t mean to demean her memoir. It is very real and her childhood was nothing short of bizarre. Yet in the same paragraph she would often paint herself as a victim then tell the reader that she was insulated because she was intelligent and pragmatic.

I’m halfway through the book and haven’t seen her courage. I’m sure it comes but the overwhelming message is Rage with a capital R and denial. Her rage is directed at any and all white males. They victimized her, trapped her, took away her voice. The Rage is overstated and globalized. Yet from the snippets I gathered and the way presented her mother, father, and the holes in her grandparents’ stories, I’m leaning toward a more Freudian take on her Rage. It was easy to hate her father. It was easy to hate the men in the cult. It is easy to blame all the men that kept women oppressed and my mind keeps wandering back to her mother. I can’t help but wonder that, if Rose pushed aside the Rage she expresses over the obvious culprits, that she might find the child Rosa who is actually very confused and angry that her mother didn’t save her.

I am not discounting the author’s anger and at whom she is directing it. I am pointing out that she doth protest too much which is a strong indicator that she needs to dig deeper, move the Rage against white, powerful men aside for a moment and see what is behind it. The Rage has served its purpose well in protecting her but there is something else she needs to find; a vulnerable, scared child? I don’t know but until she accepts that piece of her, she will continue to be angry.

** UPDATE **

I did finish the book. My opinion above stands but with a very conflicted addendum. Actually, I’m not conflicted, I’m deeply disturbed that this book went to publication. The Rage the author portrayed in the first half turned to RAGE where she seemed to believe that respect and dignity are not a two way street. The author seemed to have a superiority complex to nearly everybody she crossed paths with. And she covers herself in her role as a victim, glossing over that, in many instances, she has far more power and choice than she believed. Which might also account for her RAGE. She had choices but didn’t like the alternative so she pretended that she was victimized by other people. “They” boxed her in. “They” hurt her. “They” caused her to do this or that.

I’m struggling with which examples to use, there are so many. One is early in the book when she is homeless and hungry which inflicts her with a deep fear of ever being homeless and hungry again, driving her to take work that was beneath her. This is a great argument except that her street days were her choice. Not that she had a living home to return to, but she had options. She just didn’t like them. She ran away from a drug rehab. She chose the street over returning to rehab which she treated like a joke.

The author whines about the hardship of being a bombshell in Hollywood. She’s treated like a sexualized object but she has a brain, she laments. She then shows up for an awards show with her boyfriend, Marilyn Manson, in what she called a “nude dress.” I looked it up. Oh. My. Gosh. Naturally, media were upset. People were offended. She explains in her book that Americans are too Puritanical about bodies to understand the irony. We are not enlightened like she is. 1) It is not socially acceptable in any first world country to walk around naked in public, 2) our roots are Puritanical. Welcome to America! 3) yes, she did just insult the reader. She is victimized by us, Her neighbors and fans, because we didn’t understand her self absorbed ways. I admit that I did not understand her irony, 4) she continues to bash Hollywood for selling sex.

She has a relationship with the singer, Marilyn Manson, who she describes as shy, deep, sensitive, and thoughtful. He is different and respects her for who she really is. In the end, they break up. Much to her disappointment, she hears an interview on the Howard Stern show where her ex boyfriend bashes her. She surmises that Manson ended up being a “typical cisgendered male, that is, harassing the defenseless woman because his man ego is hurt. Waaaaah. Poor wittle baby.” I found that incredibly insensitive and categorically misandrist. Did it occur to her that he lashed out with anger in order to mask his own pain?

Bottom line, I believe MG was raped. I believe she was sexually assaulted. I also believe that she has thinking errors of globalizing and is very self absorbed yet not terribly self aware. Definitely not “other” aware. She was absolutely right to expose the accepted Hollywood norm that is criminal and misogynistic, at best. It is degrading and reflects poorly on society.

That said, being treated poorly does not give one license to disrespect everybody else or subject others to lashing for not being like you. MG is big on encouraging critical and creative thought and being an individual but it is clear from her writing that she only believes this if we are like her. She shames those who lack or have not yet discovered their creative passion. She sneers at those who choose to dress according to our own comforts (jeans, shirt, shoes, underwear). Even if that is our authentic selves. No, really. That is my uniform of choice. Jean shorts in the summer and maybe ditch the shoes.

I found the book had one good, strong message but was riddled with hypocrisy beyond that.

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