Sunday, August 10, 2014

From the Archives: Price of Honor by Jan Goodwin

I began keeping a reading journal several years before I began blogging. I find it interesting to sift through my thoughts of books that I read back then. My reviews were often brief and contained little substance, but I thought it'd be fun to document them here on my blog as well as share them with you. Here is one from November of 2005 (for a journal entry, I got pretty wordy with this one!): 


Price of Honor: Muslim Women Lift the Veil of Silence on the Islamic World by Jan Goodwin
Plume, 1994
Nonfiction; 368 pgs

Fundamentalism emerges out of every religion, and Islam is no different. Women are being subjected to oppression, their rights and freedom stripped away. The words of the Koran are being distorted and laws are being made that have absolutely no basis of support in that very book the extremists claim to follow literally. Hypocrisy abounds. Jan Goodwin takes a look at ten Islamic countries and their treatment of women. 

Women are the ones blamed for being raped, sometimes forced to marry their rapists; beating a woman is acceptable behavior if she is your wife; in one country a female child of nine is eligible for the death penalty while boys are eligible at the age of 16; men can have multiple wives, including temporary ones in some countries, and yet those same men attack Western cultures for couples having affairs; health issues are suppressed from the public, including the prevalence of AIDS; and women are treated as second class citizens, where an 11 year old mentally [disabled] brother has authority over his grown sister. In many of these countries, women were once allowed equal education to that of their male counterparts and held jobs. And yet those rights are slowly, sometimes suddenly, being stripped away from them. 

While some of the women the author spoke with find comfort in the restrictions applied to their lives—and even find it freeing, many more women feel trapped and oppressed. Despite that, many of these women are strong people, making the best of their situations. Some women are courageous enough to stand up for their rights and go against those in power, often suffering death threats and financial and social ruin as a result. 

As Ms. Goodwin suggested throughout her book, women’s rights become the focal point in many of these countries when leaders want to draw attention away from the more real and immediate problems or to subvert attention from unfavorable government decisions. Women become the scapegoats, and it is argued that every decision made is in the name of protecting the woman, when really it seems that she is only more endangered, subject to humiliation and violence. Men can act however they want, but women are the ones who have to be on their best behavior. 

The extreme fundamentalist movement is attractive in many ways to countries described in Jan Goodwin’s book. Most of these countries are mismanaged and run by leaders who fail to meet the growing needs of their people. War, either directly or indirectly, has torn other countries apart, forcing hardships on them that make survival difficult. The fundamentalist groups offer the people hope and resources they desperately need. The extremists’ passion and assistance is hard to resist, even knowing the possible cost of it in the end. And that, I’m afraid, is what makes the fundamentalist movement even more of a threat than it already is. Although a bit dated, having been published 11 years ago [And now 20 years ago], I found Price of Honor to be an interesting and informative book.


© 2014, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

22 comments:

  1. Hi Wendy! I would love to take a look at your journals some day. Would it be possible for you to posts some pictures of your notebooks?

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    1. Alice - I kept my review journal on the computer, Alice--and I don't imagine a photo of my computer will be much fun. For a number of years I took notes in paper journals, however. I am not sure where they are now or even if I still have them. When I get time, I'll see if I can find them.

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  2. It's interesting and informative to learn about these issues in some countries, yet I feel saddened by the women being treated there. They must be leading a miserable life, with such systems or rules being considered as rightful.

    You've written a great review of this nonfiction, Wendy!

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    1. Melody - It was an eye opening book and unfortunately, in some places, still true today.

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  3. Sounds like an interesting read. I wonder if someone were to revisit the same topic in the same countries now, how much, if any, change they would find in the treatment of women there.

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    1. Megan - I wondered that too. How much has changed? Or how little? I think it some places, life hasn't changed at all for women.

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  4. Enjoyed reading your post. It's so interesting to be able to review what you thought about books you read a while ago.

    My Sunday post: http://www.bookclublibrarian.com/2014/08/weekly-book-recap-77.html

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    1. Catherine - It's been interesting to see what I was reading then too. :-)

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  5. Sad that most (all?) of what you mention in your review is still very much relevant and alive in some countries. I need to check this book out. It sounds like the author has presented a very balanced study of some cultures.

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    1. Athira - I do hope that things have changed for at least some of those woman (although ideally, it would be all). I did think she presented a balanced view and, if you do read this one, hope you like it. Maybe she's added an update. I know some authors are able to do that.

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  6. I'm not sure much has changed in many countries--sad to say. Even families living in the West still follow some of the same tenets. Can't imagine living in a society that held those views or how circumscribed life would be.

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    1. Jenclair - I have a feeling that's the case, unfortunately. I can't imagine either. For some, I realize they know really no different, but it still wouldn't be easy, I don't think.

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  7. This is terrifying to me. I've heard the argument that the restrictions are somehow freeing to women and it's a positive thing but I fail to see how restrictions on day to day decisions, education and any kind of responsibility for your own life can be freeing.

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    1. Katherine - The author did touch upon that, how some of the women found it freeing, but it didn't sound as if that as always a majority view. I have trouble seeing it as being freeing or positive either. I suppose a woman might feel safer and more protected in some incidences, but then to be persecuted at a level in which the men aren't . . . There's nothing fair or positive about that.

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  8. This is one of those books that just feels like a must read.....although a difficult one thanks to the subject matter. Thanks for sharing about this one as I am adding it to my TBR list right now!

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    1. Samantha - I am glad I read it. It was a real eye opener.

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  9. Yes. Unfortunately all these issues are still so worrisome and prevalent today. This ISIS movement in Iraq is scary. I fear for the women there and in Nigeria. I wish the world could make headway on helping these women ...

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    1. Sandra - It is so sad. I have heard some about the ISIS movement and it really is scary.

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  10. This reminds me of a memoir I read called In The Land of Invisible Women. It really is something that women are treated this way. Unreal really, especially in this day and age.

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    1. Naida - I have heard of that one. That one was written more recently, I believe.

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