This year, in my reading spree, I added the book My Dark Vanessa, which is the narrative of a girl groomed, raped, molested, threatened and abandoned by her teacher for years. It was a story that shook me to my very bone, it was a painful eye opening experience that left me angry, wise, sad and simmering.
In the book, the teacher presents her with a « gift » in the beginning, which is nothing but the book Lolita by Nabokov. It is obviously a great description of his character without actually saying anything. So when I finished the book, I added Lolita to my to read list.
Two nights ago, I received an email to my personal account from a guy named Tony, with the subject of “I just have a question” and started it with “don’t you differentiate between the author and the character?”
I finished the book more than a month ago and I left my review at Goodreads, I expressed my opinion that this book is only a guidebook for pedophiles, it has no literary merit and it should not be a part of the canon, as we don’t need to hear a pedophile’s side of the story. I ended my review with a big finger to Nabokov, losing all respect for him, deciding never to read any of his books.
And this was not the first person to criticize me for criticizing Nabokov for writing a pedophile story, a story which leaves little for imagination and much for speculation into whether Nabokov was the pedophile himself or knew one in person or just wished to be and this would be his story to get away with it if he ever got caught.
Article 19. Of the UniversalDeclaration of Human Rights
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
This took me right back to my time in graduate school in English literature where our “professor” who seemed to have stopped reading books at the age of 10 and did not show any interest in books, social matters or political subjects, who probably thought the earth was still flat and abused female students whenever he could just because he could get away with it, this same professor told us that turn of the screw written by the whitest blandest most boring heterosexual cisgender male writer of the 19th century, which he himself had NOT read yet by the way, was very important and “enjoyable” because it was in the canon, the same canon made by the same string of whitest blandest most boring heterosexual cisgender sexist racist males who did not read books themselves.
So in the story of Tony and the “professor”, Nabokov has the right to write all he wants and normalize sexualizing and victim blaming minor girls and we are supposed to applaud him for his canonical literary genius, in a world where the likes of R. Kelly roam the earth free because he generated revenue and his fame is more important than the lives of all the girls he raped, and when you google him, the results says singer and anthropologist and his crimes are only alleged accusations, in this world Nabokov gets to familiarize us with the “obscure” mentality of the predator and the rapist, because that was what we were missing all along! More white male voices in the crowd!
The problem with Tony is that he has the right to “Question” me for criticizing his favorite pedophile, but he does not seem to deem me worthy of “questioning” the existence, the popularity, the literary value of this piece of “work”.
The problem with the existing dominating systems such as patriarchy and its protégée religion, is that they abhor doubt and they despise anyone who dares to question their rule over our thoughts, our bodies, our entities, and our autonomy. We have to hush on our questions to keep forever the status quo, because god forbid Lolita loses some stars on Goodreads and it becomes obsolete and people stop shoving it down our throats for generations to come as a piece of art!
I believe the right every human should have is the right to question, and I will do that and I won’t stop.
So if you are a Tony out there, why are you asking the wrong questions? What are you hiding? And who and what are you defending?
It was a late November evening in Vancouver. I was walking the twenty-two minute road from my place to my boyfriend’s for maybe the last time, since he was going to move to his new place soon after.
It had become strangely cold during the past nights and temperatures hardly rose above zero that mixing with the hundred percent humidity made a dangerously freezing combination.
Yet, some people had already started the Christmas preparations and stream of light strings hanging from their awnings and shining from their doorstep, giving hope and light to the November night and the passers-by moving through it.
Resting amidst the houses was one white mansion that at first glance looked like the rest of the houses in that row, but on closer inspection was anything but. White stately covered in bright white lights in contrast with red and green lights that welcomed Christmas. The paint looked new, unblemished, weirdly inviting and yet, the inside was obscured by not total darkness but the absence of too much light. A contrast purposefully chosen by the people residing inside.
I didn’t see anyone move within the house, but I had a glimpse of the furniture and the rest of it I left for my imagination, I let myself wonder about the peaceful way people of this household moved around the house, or sat about reading their books, or just lounged in silence while one of the was washing dishes perhaps, lost in their own thoughts. They seemed so decided in their tranquility, that to me it seemed sanctimonious, untouchable and at the same time so inviting.
I tried to imagine myself auditioning for a role in that house, realizing soon that although aspiring for that life in my head, I can never make the cut, I am too quick to judge, too loud in my opinions, too set in my ways. I didn’t want to impose myself and unbalance their equilibrium.
But inside my head, that’s a different story, in that it exactly the same as that white mansion, outside looks bright, shiny, inviting and full of joy in the terms people find relatable but inside is happy in my own way, lighted by the natural light, cozy for the familiar people and a place to rest in silence.
I am an Iranian, by default I am maybe simultaneously the least and most qualified to write about this issue. I am not familiar with political terms so I am just gonna simply say what’s on my mind.
Ever since I was a child my government kept warning us about America the great evil, the one who installed the Shah, overthrew Mossadegh and the Iranian government was so adamant against America (or so they told us) that they raided the US embassy and took Americans hostage for a long time. And I believe that to this date we are paying back for it. I am horrified by what Iran did to those innocent Americans but there is one thing that America is good at is milking that cow, no matter how they get it, they use that milk to invade countries and steal their resources in the name of injecting them (against the will of their people (on both sides) with the so called American democracy.
I used to joke that the only difference between Iran and USA was the language. There is so much truth to that. Americans show their ignorance by mentioning they think we ride on camels and speak Arabic (hint: Iranian speak Farsi/Persian) and Iranians show their ignorance when they think most Americans are heathens, while I know that the average American is way more religious than any Iranian ever would be.
Most of us have not seen the inside of a mosque for years, while Americans go to church at least a few times a year.
Back in Iran, I could buy morning after pill for less than a dollar without a prescription or anything, and I recently learned that the so called plan B that has so much negative talk around it and is sold for 50 dollars is only the morning after pill! My mind was blown!
I only started this post to say, that if by any chance Americans decide to re-elect Trump, they will have no right to talk about democracy in any way under any circumstances at all.
As the collective fanaticism in America votes a dictator in, they will lose the right to call themselves a democracy, and the only difference between Iran and America would be that we didn’t vote for our dictator.
So we just have to wait and see, if America wants to really have democracy or they just pretend they want to have democracy ?
They say it is better to get wherever you want to go late versus never getting there.
In Farsi, we have the same expression but it is specific only to physical distances and locations, which makes it rather limiting in meaning than its english counterpart that is more circumspective.
In English when you say better late, it could include anything, and I like that infiniteness about it.
If you are Logan (and I am sorry for spoiling the ending if you haven’t watched the movie(s) yet), it is way better to be late in dying than never to die, because that’s all he wanted to do, having lost all his friends and seeing the worst. Who are we to judge a dying man’s wishes?
If you are a late-bloomer and it has taken you years to realize your gender identity or sexual orientation, it is so much better to come out late and embrace your true nature than to never be able to do those wonderful things.
If you are like me and you realized only when you were in your late twenties what you actually wanted to do with your life, and that you didn’t know much about it, had no formal training in, nor previous experience and no connections to the industry whatsoever, you might think it is better to give it all up rather than pursue it. what you should keep in mind is, it is always, always better late than never. and you should never say never anyway, right?
So, what I am saying is, it doesn’t matter if you are 15 and trying to come out to your friends and family or you are 50 and trying to start your life over, or you are 34 and trying to do a total career change, it is never late, because if you look at it from my point of view, your other option is NEVER and that is too disappointing.
This is going to be a controversial post. I know it as I write this. But, it has been on my mind forever, and three things happened recently that prompted me to be braver to talk about it.
As you know, it was my birthday recently, my 34th. every year as I approach the day when I was born, I make resolutions that I adhere to for the next 364 days. Mostly! on my 33rd, I decided to start eating healthy and working out which resulted in me losing 20kg of weight and gaining some muscles. I loved myself when I was overweight but I also think that we are in charge of taking care of our bodies. That was my main reason for doing it, not peer pressure, nor fashion nor even a boyfriend (I was single at the time and also during the past year). I learned long ago that I would not tolerate being in a relationship with someone who would not accept me the way I am and that will always stay true no matter what. So on my birthday this year, I decided that I will start the foundations for a headstand so that by the time I am 35, I will be able to do it. I just love the core strength that comes with it. I was talking to a guy friend (this guy is pretty much your classic patriarchal and chauvinistic guy) but he and I are not sexually involved (this is important in the story, just hold on). So I told him about my resolution and he said without any prompt or being asked: “but it won’t work, your neck will break if I try to f*** you in that position!” I was speechless. I was talking about an activity for my health and my benefit only, talking about my resolutions and here he was just seeing it from his point of view. Me as an object to be had sex with. I did not have any humanity or personality other than him being intimate with me in NEW positions!
Yesterday, I was watching an Instagram live of a Farsi speaking feminist. she was explaining what the pyramid of misogyny is and how it starts from the slightest ignorance of women’s feelings and lack of empathy, to dehumanizing them and rape and it ends with physical removal of women that is called murder. She was talking about the things that have been happening in Iran for decades but especially the last three months (since before I immigrated to Canada), several girls were killed by their dads (in Iran, a man can kill his wife or children with no consequence as he owns them). and then they removed the picture of schoolgirls from math books, they condemned and threatened women who came forward with their #metoo stories, and to top it off they portrayed the 80th birthday of Shajarian (our beloved classical music artist) with no women in the picture! So you can see why she was talking about the basics of woman hating and at the same time getting bullied on her live so hard that she had to disconnect and start from the beginning with the comments off!
And last but not least, last night I was browsing on Tik Tok as per usual, when this lady that I didn’t know (she was not from Iran or the middle east) came up in a video in which she was explaining that women’s arousal equals them not being tight (which is a good thing), but she had to make another video to reply to a MAN saying that and I quote “your wrong lady, we know when its not tight, pomegranate juice might help”. I did not have to read the name to know the signature phrase of pomegranate juice coming from Iranian male suffering like most Iranian men from micropenis.
So, these things brought me to the verbal objectification of women that is a common daily occurrence happening to all women everyday. If you are a woman in Iran and have contact with men, there is a high probability of you hearing this phrase: “don’t pretend to be tight”. Yes, you read that right. Do NOT PRETEND TO BE TIGHT WHEN YOU ARE NOT BECAUSE THAT IS A HUGE FAUX PAS ALMOST PUNISHABLE BY LAW! well not yet, at least. But leave it to the average Iranian man to try and pass it up as law sooner or later. In a society where being tight is the only virtue you can bring to a relationship, pretending to suffer from it while you are not actually it, is a no no. You can only have a say, if and only if you are tight. You can only be serious if you can make a man feel big enough by hurting when they are inside of you. You can have terms and conditions only if you have that quality. If you are not tight or tight enough, you cannot disagree with a man, or ask for your basic human rights, because you do not have anything to offer, nothing to bargain with. It is only by virtue of tightness that you can have a semblance of being treated with a shred of respect. And in this world, when you prove your tightness through the physical act of intercourse, you will go up on the list of the women that can be called human, which is only his mother and now it can include you, until you stop being tight, that is.
Iranian men love traveling to Thailand to feel the tightness. Iranian men think that being tight when they are intimate with you is a sign of virtue. They refuse to believe that it is a sign of their inadequacy in making us feel comfortable enough to actually be aroused while being intimate with them. And if you have the misfortune of not being tight enough, you can always sit in a pool of pomegranate juice overnight to make yourself ready for your owner (aka husband/fiancé/boyfriend).
In a country where your only job is being a sexual object and your only value, tightness, in a country that ranks 140 out of 144 countries in the gender gap, there are still people who tell us that feminism is redundant and feminists are ISIS members and pornographers! The only thing that Iran can rank lower in, other that its currency, would be its male genitalia size (sigh of relief from Iranian men when they realize there is no such ranking)!
I recently figured out that the reason you have to ask permission from your husband to leave the country is, if you leave you will see other men and compare them with Iranian men and will definitely see the many things wrong with them and will most probably not want to be with an Iranian men. I love how innovative and smart, men are being with their patriarchy. They are true geniuses.
We as feminists have to learn to utilize the same evil genius against patriarchy. We have to stop playing by the rules of a society whose argument is your tightness. We have to as Mona Eltahawy says: “F*** the Patriarchy!”
I realized as the egotistical egomaniacal self absorbed narcissistic birthday-frenzied overdramatic queen that I am, I could make a whole post for my birthday, and no one can be able to interfere.
If you want to know how self obssessed I am, you should know I didn’t even start this post todaty, I have started it exactly a week earlier. And that is not even the closest time I have started my birthday. I have already had two birthday gifts, that is how demanding I can be.
I love surprises, but am better at making them happen that having them happen to me. Because surprise! I am a control freak. But I am very eloquent, so I just say that I am meticulous, into details, intricate and super organized. I think decorum and form matter.
So, what, you ask is so special about my birthday. Well, everything and nothing. There is more than 8 billion of us, and my story as unique as it is, must have been repeated maybe not in the same exact way under the exact same name, but in different versions at least a thousand times. Not to take into account parallel universes and incarnation, if you believe in those things.
I believe in parallel universes. and Karma, but not Incarnation.
I believe Unicorns are real and magic exists and my wish is for mammoths to come back to life, so much so that if I were a billionaire, I would donate to any scientific project that was invested in conducting research on it.
Having said that, I believe in a version of God that is Feminist and non-binary.
And I believe that prophets are superheroes and their miracles are their superpowers and the strongest magic in the world is HOPE.
I believe I can incessantly about these things and all that matters in the end of this day is that I was born.