Thursday, December 25, 2008

What's so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding?

I'm still sworn off the Today programme, but I'm as all over the BBC News website as ever I was... I find the newfangled Have Your Say bits deeply tedious, but it's as well to remind oneself that most people with strong points of view and the time/inclination to expound them in a random and anonymous fashion are both blinkered and borderline illiterate. LOL.

And I love the fact that you can spend time following a story that's caught your eye, come back to it later to see what's happened. The most recent of these for me is the story of Dr Humayra Abedin, a London GP trying to escape from a marriage she was forced into in Pakistan.

I was once stuck for many hours on a train limping north with no lights or heating -- I was travelling in the smoking carriage (it was a long time ago) with then-housemate S, and the woman behind us turned out to have some tea lights on her, so we lit them, passed the tobacco around and got chatting. She was British Asian, a doctor, and on her way to Edinburgh to see a man she'd met via a personal ad. She hoped he would still be there when she arrived -- we were running about three hours late and neither of them had a mobile phone (it was a really long time ago). She also hoped the sex would be ok and he wouldn't be too old.

I said I hope she didn't mind me saying, but she didn't look like the sort of person who would be travelling to Edinburgh to have sex with a man she'd never met. And then she told us that when she was 16 she'd had a white boyfriend, and her parents had taken her to Pakistan on holiday. When they got there they said she wasn't coming back, and that she could either train as a doctor or get married. Then they left.

She was there for seven years, and came back to the UK as a qualified doctor, whereupon she married pretty much the first man she met. He turned out to be a) lazy and b) violent, and a few years later she divorced him, bringing double shame on the family. We met her a few years after *that*, where she was having random sex with men she met via personal ads.

I have thought of her from time to time, perhaps most recently when I was watching a TV programme about the porn industry. Asked how she ended up in her line of work, one of the actresses explained how her dad used to rape her when she was a child. Now she makes porn films to get back at him -- all these men can have her seventeen ways to Sunday, but he can't touch her. Look what you're missing, dad! It was fair heartbreaking, it was.

On the face of it, Little Miss White Trash Porn Star and Dr Abedin have nothing whatever in common, but R, the woman on the train, made a link for me. I wish them all well, but there are mountains to climb.

So all I really want for Christmas is for women (everywhere -- not just the stroppy difficult ones) to be able to define themselves, carve out their own space in the world and inhabit it, rather than have their lives bounded by the expectations, the reflections, and the desires -- real and perceived -- of the people who have more power than they do and do not use it well. Oh and for the Pope to Get An Afterlife and leave this one to people who know what they're talking about. 

Since that's all up there with the moon on a stick, I'll settle for a new bottle of Yardley Sandalwood Eau de Toilette, the perfume of switched on spinsters everywhere.


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Blogger Tim said...

If the quality of debate on Have Your Say has ever left you slack jawed and incredulous, then you may enjoy spEak You're bRanes:

Happy Boxing Day!

5:34 pm  
Anonymous nuttycow said...

Happy belated Christmas and here's to a fantastic 2009!

2:08 pm  

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