It’s been a busy two weeks at the wood turtle homestead, so my apologies for the light posting. We’re also all headed out to Seattle tomorrow — so I’m not sure how things will shape up for next week. But do give me a shout if you’re in the area!

In the meantime, I have an extended review of Solar Mamas up at Muslimah Media Watch  (exert below) — and I’m also hoping to get a roundup out before we leave.

Space Needle and Starbucks here we come!

Rafea’s personal strength shines through after her controlling husband threatens divorce and the loss of her four daughters in order to emotionally manipulate her into coming home early from the program. There’s a fantastic scene where she’s sitting with some female members of her family, trying to gain their support by arguing the importance of educating women. It’s a frustrating discussion, as every point she makes is met with apathy toward change, and arguments that it’s “best for women not to work or educate themselves,” and calls of “haraam” when she threatens to take out a loan.  In response, Rafea says:

“I can’t do anything if I don’t have any skills. I want to explore the world. I want to learn. I want to see how people in other countries think and work. I want to think and work with them… I want to succeed and change the situation in the village…  If everything is [haraam] then we can’t do anything.”

Her insistence finally pays off and the women help browbeat Rafea’s husband into allowing her to return to the college.

But it’s not as simple as a group of women (and one male village elder!) emasculating her husband. In the end, Rafea needs official support from the ministry and further passive aggressive, emotional manipulation on her part before she is “allowed” by her husband to return. Despite the fact that he “kills her spirit,” she deprives him of having any control over her, by heartbreakingly pretending she doesn’t care about anything — including the hope of a better life or his threats to take her daughters.

It’s seriously a fantastic example of the fluidity and dynamics of power and gender.