Subscribe to my updates via email by entering your email address below:


more hey lady!

currently reading

  • Succubus Blues (Georgina Kincaid, Book 1)

  • Birds of Paradise: A Novel

We will always miss you:

Love this shirt:

Website development by:

Temptation Designs



recent posts

did you say that outloud?

cringe worthy


In Which I Defend Nine Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks

Yesterday I posted my review of Nine Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks. I didn’t get too much into specifics about the book; I was purposely vague as I didn’t want to get into any discussions regarding Islam. I am no expert on Islam, and frankly it’s not something I stay awake at night thinking about.

But I did receive a comment, which I left as is, that made some statements I thought merited correcting. However, I felt these corrections deserved more than editing the actual post, and while writing this particular post is probably overboard, what can I say? I’m feisty.

Here’s the comment:

I’m always astonished at the amount of knowledge you guys”really” have in the west concerning Arab women, hijjab and lifestyle.

This is like the new rave- let’s pick anything related to Afghanistan or the Arab world, Muslim women, oppression & pain and you’ve got yourself a best-seller.

Ironically when “we” pick these books up and read them we’re shocked just as much as you are. Last time I checked, I’m not genitally mutilated, neither oppressed nor forced to put a hijjab on my head.

We’re living life like normal people, waking up in the morning, order take-out coffee/tea, we hook up bluetooth hands-free in our cars (yes shocking not camels), we arrive at work, laugh with our colleagues, get paid and buy ipods then go back home and watch TV.

You want to “LEARN” about Arab women and how they function successfully in their societies, ask real arab women not rely solely on what’s written in some book or movie based on some rural muslim community that’s none-existent now adays but catchy enough to be turned into a book or a movie.

*and I’m talking about Arab women living in the Middle East not in your countries just to make things clear.

First of all, I never said *you* were genitally mutilated. The AUTHOR doesn’t even say all Muslims are genitally mutilated. In fact, she addresses this by saying, “Because some Christians and animists also practice genital mutilation, many Muslims resent the way it is linked most closely with their own faith. But one in five Muslim girls lives today in a community that sanctions some sort of interference with her genitals….While some Muslims protest the limkage of mutilation with their faith, few religious figures speak out against the practice, and numerous Islamic texts still advocate it….It is understandable that progressive Muslims hate to see their faith associated with these practices. But what is less understandable is the way they turn their wrath on the commentators criticising the practices, and not on the crimes themselves.”

I never said Muslim women were oppressed or forced to put a hijab on their head. In fact, what I said was, “Ms. Brooks attempt[s] to understand why Muslim women take up the hijab and how the culture has slowly been eroding women’s rights, rather than furthering them.” Ms. Brooks was clear that wearing hijab is a choice. In fact, many women who start off not wearing the hijab eventually decide on their own that they want to wear it. Let me make it clear: I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU DECIDE TO DO.

Next, Ms. Brooks did not base her research on what you claim is “based on some rural muslim community that’s non-existent nowadays but catchy enough to be turned into a book.” In fact, I can only think of ONE INSTANCE IN THE WHOLE BOOK that she was out in the country. Normally, she was in bustling cities talking to, not only average women, but quite extraordinatory women, such as Queen Noor.

Finally, Ms. Brooks spends quite a bit of time looking at women’s rights. And Islam HAS been, as I said, “slowly been eroding women’s rights, rather than furthering them.” Ms. Brooks notes this towards the end of the book:

Once I began working on this book, I looked everywhere for examples of women trying to reclaim Islam’s positive messages, trying to carry forward into the twentieth century the reformist zeal with which Muhammad had remade the lives of many women (other than his own wives and the Muslim army’s war captives) in the first Muslim community at Medina. It turned out to be a frustrating search. In most places the direction of the debate seemed to be exaclty the reverse. Palestinian, Egyptian, Algerian and Afghani women were seeing a curtain come down on decades of women’s liberation as Islamic leaders in their countries turned to the most exclusionary and inequitable interpretations. For those women who struggeled against the tide, the results were a discouraging trio of marginalization, harassment and exile.

Finally, I’d like to note that this commenter didn’t leave their real name, instead, ironically they called themselves “Ignorance”. And yes, an email was given, but I doubt the email is real. Does this kind of comment deserve the time I’ve put into rebutting it? Probably not. But I reserve the right to post a dumb comment so I can point and laugh…and this, in essence, is what I’ve done here. Maybe I’m not laughing, but I’m sure I will be in a few days.

| Tags: , , , , , 15 comments »

15 Responses to “In Which I Defend Nine Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks”

  1. Devourer of Books

    That commenter seemed very frustrated, but what she posted was pretty out of line based on what you wrote. You weren’t exactly “Save the Muslim women! They are soooo oppressed!”

    From what you wrote, Ms. Brooks doesn’t seem to sensationalize either.

    I also found it odd that “Ignorance” seemed only to be talking about Arab women, instead of also about Iranian, African, and Indonesian women who are Muslim. Perhaps there’s a higher prevalence of genital mutilation in the non-Arab areas of the Muslim world, I don’t know (although it seems to be more common in Africa and, from what I hear, rural Egypt). Besides, I somehow doubt that rural areas are almost non-existent in Muslims lands. Really? The entire rest of the world has rural areas and you don’t?


  2. bethany canfield

    great post girl! 🙂 keepin’ it real, I love it.


  3. Valerie

    I wonder if “Ignorance” has read Ms. Brooks’ book. I read this book recently myself and it seemed to me that the author is careful to explain which practices are wide spread and which are not. One interesting point that I recall Ms. Brooks making is that opression of women seems to be higher in countries/cultures/areas where the men themselves feel opressed by poverty or war or whatever–and that this is not unique to predominantly Islamic countries.

    I also read Queen Noor’s memoir a couple years ago and found it interesting; it’s not just about her life but also Arabic/Islamic culture and politics.


  4. raych

    Yes, feist it up! Ignorance is a bitch! Let’s all have ice cream!


  5. Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit)

    Wow, what a well thought out rebuttal post! The trick in writing about any culture is not to generalize your statements, and it seems from your post that Ms. Brooks merely wanted to be factual and as accurate as she can about a world that is foreign to many of us.


  6. Rebecca

    Good for you! As a lover of non-fiction, I’ll be putting this on my TBRs, and I’m proud of you for clarifying your review and responding to a comment that I’m sure was left with the intention to intimidate you and the assumption that you wouldn’t or couldn’t respond.


  7. Corinne

    I’m glad you wrote this. I’ve read the book also and actually felt like it was a very objective portrait.


  8. Ladytink_534

    Uh-oh sounds like someone didn’t seem to realize that you were talking about a book. Sounds like they should be taking up their problem with the author, not you.


  9. Jena

    I read Nine Parts of Desire a couple years ago–I think it was one of my first reviews on my blog–and I thought both this and your first post were well written and accurate (based on the book). I’m sorry this was a book group selection, though, that didn’t work out; I actually would’ve liked to take this back to a group and say, “Okay, I had these questions…” Not that any book group around here would have answers for me.


  10. Kim L

    Heehee Trish I like your blog cuz of the fact you’re feisty. I mean c’mon, you did win Ms. Chatty award.

    Your review was very objective, and clearly that person has had bad experiences before with people making assumptions and they decided to anonymously vent anger on you. I think a little controversy never hurt anyone.


  11. Chris@bookarama

    What an odd comment.

    I just read your review and I’m confused as to where “Ignorance” gets her view of “you guys”. You only commented on the book and your experience with it in a book club setting. She seems to be angry that you read the book at all, which is what I find odd. Maybe she should take this argument to Brooks who wrote it in the first place.


  12. The University Princess

    Oh dear. Why would someone do that? I mean, refute a post without at least reading it thoroughly?

    People dumbfound me.


  13. chartroose

    I’ll bet the commenter was some hairy talibanish dude and not a woman at all.

    Good for you, Trish!


  14. The-Hairy-Talibanish-Dudette

    Sorry I was away on holidays here and I missed the show. As you must have figured I am the star of the show – Miss Ignorance.

    Anyway, allow me to clarify a few things since you took the time to write all of that and it would be rude of me to just ignore it.

    First, you are absolutely right. I don’t have the justification to judge the book especially when I haven’t read it. I’m afraid it was one of those spur of the moment comments, but given the situation in hand, lately you get sick of hearing the same broken record on Muslim women this and Muslim women that, it kind of gets to you.

    Secondly, I wasn’t really directing a hate remark on “you” specifically. I was simply speaking about the typical Western point of view of Muslim women now adays.

    Thirdly, I don’t think I was wrong in judging how the West views these issues but I admit I was wrong in two things: 1) judging the book without fully reading it and 2) not being clear enough on who I am addressing which made you think I was attacking you.

    Anyway, I do apologize if you took offense girl. I actually happen to like reading your blog 🙂

    Like I said it was a spontangeous comment based on continuous past-agendas of unfair western discrimination, other than *pulls out a white flag* “I come in peace!”.


  15. In Which I Receive An Apology « Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’?

    […] back every 10 minutes and obsessively check every single post for new comments, and since I spent so much time and effort refuting one particular commenter’s comments about Nine Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks, I only thought it fair you should know I received […]

Leave a Reply

Back to top