I just shared this on Facebook – via Upworthy–but I am also posting it here. You should watch. Here’s the copy from Rebecca Eisenberg’s post:
One billion women across the globe will be raped or beaten in their lifetimes. That’s a really depressing statistic. So on the 15th anniversary of V-Day, Feb. 14, 2013, the One Billion Rising campaign is inviting one billion women (and those who love them) to stand up and dance — to DEMAND an end to violence against women. It’s an invitation to woman and men to put an end to the status quo, it’s an act of solidarity, and it’s a refusal to accept violence against women and girls as a given. On Feb. 14, I’ll be dancing with a billion other people. Will you?
Trigger Warning: Uh, pretty much all of them in the first minute and a half. Jump to 1:30 for the inspirational, wonderful, chill-inducing, and empowering stuff.
One of eight major works that can reliably be ascribed to Attar, Ilahi-Nama (Book of God or, sometimes, Divine Book) has, according to Encyclopedia Iranica, been translated once into English, by John A. Boyle in 1976, and once into French, by F. Rouhani in 1961. Four of Attar’s eight works—Ilahi-Nama is part of this subset — are mystical narratives, each one dealing with a different aspect of Sufi thought and experience. Ilahi-Nama’s subject is zuhd, or asceticism, which Sufis understand to mean a disciplined stance of detachment and indifference towards one’s desires so that one will not be ruled by them. This focus on the interior world of human emotion differentiates Ilahi-Nama from the other of Attar’s poems with which it is often compared, Manteq al-tayr(Conference of the Birds), his best known work in English. The two poems are similar in form (they are each frame stories) and message (the key to enlightenment exists within each human being, not in the external world), but the framing narrative of Manteq al-tayr, an allegory about a group of birds in search of a king, is essentially a critique of people’s need to find a master who will lead them on the path to true understanding. Ilahi-Nama, on the other hand, is about learning to master oneself.
The framing narrative of Ilahi-Nama is about a caliph who asks his six sons what they desire most. The first son says he wants the daughter of the king of the peris (faeries); the second wants to learn the art of magic; the third son desires Jamshid’s cup because it will reveal to him the secrets of the world; the fourth seeks the water of life; the fifth son covets the ring Solomon used to control demons; and the sixth son wants to master alchemy. As each son gives his answer, the father tells stories to illustrate, first, how shallow and materialistic the son is for wanting what he wants and, second, how the son should understand his desire so he can use it on the path to enlightenment. None of the sons, however, accept their father’s lessons at face value, arguing that he has misunderstood their desires and that the lessons he wants them to learn, therefore, are misguided. When the father tells his first son what has come to be known as “The Tale of Marjuma,” for example — about a beautiful and righteous woman who, after her husband leaves on pilgrimage to Mecca, must fend off a series of men who are so overcome with lust when they glimpse her beauty that they will stop at nothing to have her — the son accuses his father of wanting to eliminate sex. “God forbid[!]” the father replies, explaining that “The Tale of Marjuma” illustrates how sex, properly comprehended and entered into, is a first step on the path to enlightenment:
But when your desire achieves apotheosis,
sex gives birth to a love without limits;
and when this love is pushed by passion to the edge
of its strength, spiritual love emerges; and when
spiritual love can grow no further, your soul
will vanish into the Beloved’s endlessness. (My translation)
Given that the surface of the narrative in “The Tale of Marjuma” feels more like a Perils-of-Pauline-type story in which the depraved and debauched men get their comeuppance than one about the spiritual nature of sexuality, the son’s misreading of the tale is an easy one to fall into. Such a reading, however, fails to account for, among other things, the fact that not all the men who try to possess the woman give in to their desires without a struggle. They are, in other words, neither evil nor merely slaves to their desires; they are human and flawed and, more to the point, they are, in the end, able and willing to repent. Indeed, they must repent, for God has punished them with a paralysis from which — in an irony that is at the core of the story’s meaning — they can be healed only by confessing to the woman everything they did to her. » Read the rest of this entry «
Recent events in my life[1. I have moved this post over from my other blog, and I will eventually move Part 2 here as well. This way, when I finally get around to writing Parts 3 and 4, they will all be in the same place. I see each post in this series as one section of a single piece of writing, not as a discrete essay unto itself. As a result, while each section may contain its own argument, it is not really possible to know whether an issue that you feel is important will or will not be left out of the argument made by the entire piece if you’ve only read a part of the series. I certainly do not mean this caveat to be, in any way, an inoculation against critique, but given the modular nature of posting to blogs and of how blogs are read, it is a caveat I’d like you to keep in mind if you find yourself wondering, and commenting on, why I have not addressed something you feel needs to be addressed. Thanks. Also, to protect the privacy of the individuals involved, some names have been changed and some identifying details have been fictionalized.] have started me thinking deeply, for the first time in many years, about condoms and what it means to use them. Not that I have failed to take condoms seriously. I have worn them when I needed to, refused to have intercourse when they were not available, and I have a ten-year-old son who knows what condoms are and why, all else being equal, everyone who has sex should use them. I am, though, also old enough to remember (and boy does it feel strange to use that expression) when safe sex was pretty much exclusively about birth control. I might have learned that using condoms would help keep me from catching or transmitting gonorrhea or syphilis, the only two STDs I knew about at the time, but I’m not sure. Instead, the focus in my sexual education when I reached puberty was on the need for a young couple planning to have non-procreational sex to do everything they could to prevent the woman from becoming pregnant, and that meant, for men, being willing to wear a condom unless the woman was on the pill, using a diaphragm or had an IUD.
It did not occur to me that there might be more to pre-AIDS male heterosexual responsibility than simply keeping a barrier between my semen and the body of the woman in whom I would otherwise have left it until I was having sex regularly with a woman I thought I was falling in love with – we were each in our early 20s and using only condoms – and I realized I did not know what she would do, or even what she thought she would do, if she became pregnant. Condoms, after all, do fail. I was as certain as I could be that I did not want to become a father, but I was also certain that the ultimate choice of what to do if she did become pregnant was hers. So, if a condom did fail, it suddenly occurred to me, and she decided not to have an abortion, I would be a father whether I wanted to or not. I knew I’d do my best to live up to the responsibilities that fatherhood would bring with it, but I did not think my relationship with that woman would survive. Not only would I have resented her for having made the decision that made me a father, but I did not yet know if the love I was beginning to feel for her was, as they say, a love that would last, and having to be parents to a child – forget whether or not we would have, or could have, gotten married – was not the circumstance under which I wanted to find out.
I will not retell here the story of what happened when I tried to talk to my girlfriend about my concerns, except to say that I was completely unprepared for her to tell me she had no idea what she would do if she got pregnant. It wasn’t that I expected her to know with 100% certainty what action she would take, or that I was looking for some kind of contractual agreement that would insulate me if she at first said she would have an abortion and then changed her mind; nor was I thinking that the only answer acceptable to me was the one I hoped she would give, i.e., that she would have an abortion. What I wanted, first and foremost, was that we should talk, openly and honestly, and then, once each of us knew where the other stood, we could make a decision about what we should do in response. It had never entered my mind, though, that the person who would be pregnant if pregnancy happened would even think about starting to have sex without some sense of what she would do.
Given that my girlfriend had not thought about this, or at the very least was unwilling to tell me what she thought about this, I did not see how we could continue having sex, or, to be more precise, how I could continue having sex, knowing first that our fucking put me at risk of becoming an unwilling father and, second, that if I did become an unwilling father, it would probably mean the end of our relationship. I’d been very happy with the sex we were having before we started fucking; I assumed my girlfriend felt the same way; and I saw nothing wrong with rolling things back to our pre-intercourse days until we were able to talk about this. I wanted to be with her, plain and simple, and that desire far outweighed for me the pleasures of putting my latex-covered penis in her vagina. So, more or less – at my insistence, not hers – we stopped fucking. » Read the rest of this entry «