By Sara Nadine Matyas
I just spent the evening with six incredible women – vivid, powerful, hilarious authors who made meeven more fiercely proud of the complexities and subtleties of life as a woman. But what I loved most about the women onstage tonight is that they made no sweeping statements about womankind. They made no assumptions about what the XX-chromosome holders of society would do or should do in the midst of any particular state of affairs.
Instead, each author gave voice to the story of a particular woman, and the particular events of her life, and her particular thoughts about what transpired. Each story was about women, but only because it was told by a woman about a woman. These authors came from all across the world, speaking different languages and wearing different traditions on their backs. And the characters they created were just as varied – young and old; married, divorced, and single; searching, hiding… And yet, in each of them, through the incredible diversity of their stories, a constant thread was woven: change. Just as the story was getting comfortable, something happened to shift everything.
A half-hearted seduction suddenly interrupted by lice. A hesitant psychotherapy session distracted by a bared septuagenarian belly. A promising young engineer switches her devotion to “pure unadulterated Islam.” An impetuous marriage proposal ends in sudden death. A Voluntary Human Extinctionist finds herself pregnant. And a small-town Mennonite girl tries to hold on to both her fleeing sister and her out-of-control car.
Oftentimes, we don’t even recognize change until so many little changes have piled up to produce an extraordinary rebirth. Tonight, these stories paused that process of rebirth and gave us a glimpse of just how revolutionary each step of the transformation can be. This evening was a challenge to pay attention to those changes. If change is the one commonality between each of us, then changes in our own life can nudge us closer to a better understanding of someone else’s life (and quite probably, a better understanding of ourselves in the process).
And all that was from hearing mere snippets of these books! I can only imagine the changes that will come once I read them in their entirety…