As the World Turns

It’s 5pm and I’m standing in my kitchen, one hand on top of the baby’s head, the other flipping fish. My daughter is talking nonstop about something—whether purple Tylenol is better than red, I think—and through the kitchen window I can see my oldest son taking out the trash.

It is normal. It is dinnertime.

Over the mosquito-drone of children’s ceaseless chatter, I hear the story on the radio and the room begins to spin. I cannot hold back tears, and I barely keep from retching. I’m unsure how the world continues to turn in the face of such news.

On Tuesday, twenty-five-year-old Farzana Iqbal was bludgeoned to death by twenty members of her family outside of a Pakistani courthouse while bystanders and police looked on. Farzana was three months pregnant.

Her killing and ritual humiliation were done for family honor, they said: Her husband had paid for her, but the family wanted more money and the husband refused to pay. Some stories say she was killed for marrying a man she loved.

Yesterday her husband acknowledged that he had strangled his first wife so that he could marry Farzana. For that crime he spent one day in jail.

The fish begins to burn. My daughter becomes frustrated by my lack of “oh, reallys?” and smiling nods. But with this news I am unsure how to continue functioning. Surely we must stop everything and change this? How can I shred lettuce, mix salad dressing, talk about my daughter’s new T-ball glove? Surely it is wrong to keep moving.

Farzana is but one of about 1000 honor killings that take place each year in Pakistan. When I went online to read more about her life and death, I saw a related news story reporting that two teenaged girls—ages 14 and 15—were added to that number yesterday, but not before they were gang raped and strung up on a tree to die.

The articles—deeply-buried under stories of Kate Middleton’s bare bottom and the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter—say that Farzana’s family felt they had to kill her—she had dishonored the family by giving herself to a man of her choosing.

Last week, Elliot Rogers went on his own honor-killing spree, claiming girls should have chosen him.

Some die for choosing, others for not choosing. But they all die because they are women. Rogers was mentally ill, and there is debate about whether it was his illness or a misogynistic culture that caused his rampage. For Farzana’s family, and for the 1000 Pakistani girls and women who die each year in the name of honor, there is no question.

This morning I perused Forbe’s recently-released list of the top 100 most powerful women in the world. I am struck by their high-powered jobs, their massive earnings and earning-potential. I’m curious where Mother Theresa would have fit on that list. Where Farzana would have been. #12? 27? What about the 13-year-old girl whose double-take of a young man on a motorcycle caused her parents to kill her with acid? Their deaths, the message behind their deaths, have shaken me to my very core with the power that they wield. I am breathless and overcome with the enormity of their weight.

Do you feel it too? Power in surges and waves that crash over us in our kitchens, our cars, in the snippets of news we catch between Dora episodes. The strength is there, inviting us to the harvest until our stores become so full we simply can’t hold any more and we must share what we’ve gathered with the world.

For now, the day is about to begin; the children are sleeping late but will soon be awake, and I must remove one hat and don another. Because as hard as it is, I know I must keep moving, keep cooking dinner, keep smiling and nodding at endless chatter. Keep finding my balance on a spinning world.



Is Religion the ‘Biggest Problem’ Facing Feminism Today?

Earlier this week, feminist Gloria Steinem said that religion is the “biggest problem” facing feminism today.

Steinem made this assertion in response to a town-hall style question she was asked during an interview with Jennifer Aniston at the MAKERS Conference. The MAKERS Conference was born of the PBS documentary, “MAKERS: Women Who Make America,” and was held to develop an “action plan to define the agenda for women in the 21st century.”

Steinem was asked, “What do you think the biggest problem with feminism today is?” to which she replied, “What we don’t talk about enough is religion. I think that spirituality is one thing. But religion is just politics in the sky. I think we really have to talk about it. Because it gains power from silence.”

You can read the rest of today’s post by clicking here.

Helga Esteb /

Womanhood by the Book

As a 30-something, married mom of four, I am no longer a girl. But the word “woman” is a weighty term I’m not sure I qualify for.

To me, woman designates someone of enormous and quiet strength, bearing the weight of her world with grace and a smile. Hardworking, savvy, and smart, yet kind, nurturing, and warm. Much of this image comes from my own mother, of course, but a large part of it also comes from the pop culture I grew up with.

Our popular definition and image of womanhood bends and stretches to encompass new realities and lifestyles as times change. Women are caring for aging parents and young children. They are entering ministry and moving their families to further burgeoning careers. They are keeping house and earning paychecks and feeling torn in different directions by all of it. They’re struggling (like I am) to understand how they measure up against the generations before and the representation of womanhood they internalized over the years.

Read the rest of today’s post at Her.meneutics by clicking here.