In the Shadows of Men (excerpts)

Time had passed, and it was too late to grow beyond what had been ingrained in me for years. Yes, I broke from tradition and convention, but I remained within the structure created by men. The ceiling above me was represented by my mother telling me, “Be careful. You are a girl. Be educated so that education can be your weapon. Work hard so you won’t need anyone to support you.” And yet no sooner do your dreams start to fly than spinsterhood becomes a threat on the horizon, and you haven’t even yet surpassed the age of twenty. “You have to marry,” my mother told me, “for you are the eldest. And everything you do will reflect on your many sisters behind you.”

I threw myself wherever life hurled me and said, “It is written and destined.” I insisted on the challenge, on creating a reality that looked like my revolution, on manifesting the enlightenment I wanted to exist somewhere inside me.

Before the age of four, I asked my mother whether God was male or female. I thought he had to be male because everyone preferred males. I silently questioned the masculine dominance of this “fact,” because the origins of life are from femininity. How could my mother, the creator of children, remain in the shadow of my father, who we rarely saw? How could the branch be stronger than the tree, and more dominating, while the tree, the origin, remained subordinate and obedient?

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