Our Shabana-Rehman-like musical revues, titled SHE, are available featuring eight spicy sections. Each one paints uncompromising looks at women's lives. Shabana Rehman has been creating a stir in Norway and Europe with her stand-up comedy and columns that are expanding the range of cultural dialogue. She is brilliant and has taken on the job of bridging two cultures: her father's Pakistani Muslim culture and her mother's Norwegian culture.

In 2002 Rehman won Norway's Freedom of Expression Award. SHE, A Tapestry of Women's Lives, can do no less than shed its own light of insight on controversial topics in the gender area.

Section One is a spicy, blazing socio-political farce titled The Burkas Can Can made to enlighten and empower all women. The feisty Islamic woman driving this confection is enveloped in a traditional Islamic dress made so only one eye shows — mirroring the first line in SHE's "Money Makes a Woman Free," viz.: "With one eye on the public." As Islamic nations step onto the world stage, the confining nature of these garments has caused comment. Interestingly, the lyricist did not know at the time of writing that women anywhere had to dress so that only one eye showed, proving truth is stranger than fiction.



Photo by Daniel Herron
This woman is the main character
in the farce that opens SHE's musical revue.

The farce's heroine tells the world what she really thinks in a free, honest voice. and she has lots to say. As she talks she turns her world upside down, noting Islamic women need male houris, too, in paradise. She asserts Allah is female - showing she has not accepted her culturally-mandated low status. She makes fun of polygamy, and behaves as though she is the full equal of men though her Islamic religion permits men to beat their wives, to confine them to the home, to divorce them at will, to allow them few child custody rights, to kill them if they are raped, to ask male permission for all significant matters, and so on.

In the West, Sigmund Freud stated that women's true natures were masochistic, and in doing this he set up prisons for Western women that it took years to knock down. Wherever this type of thinking appears, it must be stopped for the world has enough prisons.

The Islamic Dress Code features "La Poeta-Dream" by Gaël de la Rozière, a poem about personal honesty, in which nudity and honesty are equated. Rozière wrote the poem in Spanish and translated it into English. The farce roars to a conclusion with The Burkas Cancan, featuring Black, Rainbow and White Burkas. This cancan's flavor is in the lyric line: "Dropped my burka in a flower pot/ It grew into a red lace top."

Scandalous songs featured are "Multiculturalism Died of Despair" and "Money Makes a Woman Free!"

As the head-scarf controversy bubbles on in France, this Wardrobe Warriors' issue will attract audiences, for the veil, hijab and burka are dirty symbols of women's oppression, just as the swastika became a symbol of Nazi oppression. The veil, hijab and burka bully women. In the Islamic context, they are cruel instruments of terror, just as Freud's theory of women's masochism was a form of cruelty. These garments must be transformed into garments under women's total control, having no reference at all to men's needs or wishes.

The Dubai-based Al Arabiya has proclaimed, "France, the country of liberty, defends only the liberty of nudity, debauchery and decay, while fighting chastity and modesty." This is nonsense. France has long been a fashion leader in women's clothing, perfume and cosmetics, items women enjoy. Prominent French feminists published an open letter to President Chirac in Elle on December 8, 2003, demanding that the liberty and status of the women of France not be compromised by Islamic missionaries seeking to impose Islamic law on French women. The separation of church and state is based on a 1905 law.

In 1905, France decided to separate church and state because of the Dreyfus case. In this infamous case, a French Jewish Army officer was accused of treason by an anti-Semitic military intelligence officer, Colonel Henry, who forged evidence against him. Emile Zola wrote a 4,000-word newspaper article, J'Accuse, in defense of Dreyfus, and was forced to flee to England. He was impoverished because of the aid he gave Dreyfus, and Zola's death in 1902 has been attributed to right-wing fanatics. Anatole France said at Zola's funeral that he became "a moment in the conscience of humanity," a perfect tribute and reminder.

Given her history, France has no reason to yield to the bullying of any wishing to turn her into an Islamic nation, one in which women have neither freedom nor meaningful citizenship. Full equality for women is essential today to all democracies. You cannot have one without the other.

Click to read the lyrics of "Multiculturalism Died of Despair".

Section Two titled Billie Jean King vs Bobbie Riggs Revisited shows how a girl copes with bullies so slimy she calls one, "The Buchenwald Butcher of the Fifth Grade and a Viper of the First Degree." It features the tennis sports song, "Our Women Are Strong," "Bullies Run Free," and other delights.

Section Three, Cinderella with a Ph.D., sensitively explores women's jealousy of other women, and ways women exploit other women. A standout song in this revue is "Cinderella Zap a Bunch of Cobwebs." Two poets grace this section: Noelle Caskey with her astonishing "Messages for a Daughter" and Linda S. Hagler, with her all-too-true "Rag Doll."

At this section's close, a duel between two sopranos unfolds, pitting women's role as family slave against women's equality. They sing "Give Me (or You) That Old Slavery, Slavery." This is a classy rephrasing of the 1865 "Gimme That Old Time Religion" that celebrated slavery's end in the U.S. In both instances, slavery is the issue.

Section Four, Jonathan's Harem, , shows ways women can cope with Harem Guys in a country-music operetta modeled after Mozart's opera, Don Giovanni. It can be retitled Donna Elvira's Revenge as it blithely cooks the goose of Béla Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle. When women are 50 percent of everything, how different our world will be. Love will be discussed and implemented in foreign policy. (Defining "love" is not easy, but we can keep trying.)

Section Five is Hello Joyce or Shaky Marriage featuring San Jose's outstanding poet and writing workshop organizer, Jean Emerson, and an unforgettable single mom who copes with impossible demands and dreams of escaping her hectic life by fleeing to Australia. She believes Australia's gotta be better than this! She clings to her friend, Joyce, as to a life raft. Emerson's poem, "Hummingbird's Nest," opens the scene. Emerson believes "Poetry can save the world," and here we see how music, humor and poetry work together to create revelation after revelation.

Section Six is Four Young Women of Valor. This musical revue asks "Why did certain rotten people (you know who you are) leave Monica Lewinsky, Anita Hill and Patty Hearst for dead?" It takes on Joan of Arc's pants' problem, and also her communication-with-angels's problem. For talking to angels, Joan was burned at the stake, but made a saint in 1920. You never know how things are gonna go. A sinner one century, a saint the next.

Joan of Arc, like Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison and Shirin Ebadi, are great people who belong to the whole world. Full of feisty songs, this section includes "Unbroken Hearts for Women," the rap song "Living on the Edge," and "Save the Last Laugh for Me!"

Section Seven is The Love Section. Its three major songs are "Blue Rose Blue," "The Lavender Raccoon," and "A Heart Full of Love." Its themes are, in a world full of hate, can humans learn to love and be loving? Also, love is cheaper than war. Choices? Funny songs, jokes, stories with the right messages and strength double-distilled enough to douse hostility.

Let's compare the value of a pro-woman, gender joke with war costs. It could be worth five tanks. Once such generous-spirited gender jokes get going, women and their male sympathizers will find ways for women to acquire full world citizenship. Let's remember that when Chrétien de Troyes wrote The Art of Courtly Love in the 12th century, it was because aristocratic women joined with the clergy to improve male behavior. De Troyes, a monk, formalized the thinking of that time, and his book became a bestseller which students stole so regularly from libraries it had to be kept in a locked case.

Ultimately women must be 50 percent of legislatures worldwide, owning 50 percent of the money, status and power. They will have fewer children, which will bring wages up, save the environment, and stop warfare. The world will gain a higher cultural level and fewer Stinger missiles, rifles, jet fighters, bombs, generals, etc. The planet will breathe a sigh of deep relief. Three cheers for comic writers of such songs, poems, jokes—like Rehman and the U.K.'s Shazia Mirza — who can help us all transform our planet. After that we can cultivate the joys of living.

Section Eight is Every Age Should Have the Stage, an irreverent treatment of the "Duty to Die" mentalities foisted on older people in various places and cultures. The featured song urges "Don't act your age/ Refuse!"

 

Introducing SHE
SHE Song List
SHE Endorsements
About SHE's Songs
About SHE's Musical Revues

 


Culture relativity and multiculturalism are used as shields for male privilege. They protect such woman abuses as Female Genital Mutilation, honor killings, bride burning.


Cooking the goose of the opera, Bluebeard's Castle with SHE's Jonathan's Harem musical revue section.


Do you live in the Hello Joyce House?


In SHE's Four Young Women of Valor, the beans are spilled on why Monica Lewinsky, Anita Hill and Patty Hearst were left for dead. It also takes up Joan of Arc's pants' problem.


Can humans learn to love and be loving?


Love is cheaper than war.


What about male houris (angels) for women in heaven?


Is The Art of Courtly Love relevant today?


Grunge is gone with the wind for guys.


"If women need burkas because men 'thirst' after them, maybe men just need blindfolds." Woman in India, a chat room.


Why should Americans not call Islamic leaders to account for the manifold cruelties endorsed in the Islamic legal code, the Sharia, and that are written also in the Haddiths and Koran, with regard to women? If we call American men to account for wife abuse, why do Americans not insist that Islamic and other people within America's borders treat women in unprejudiced ways? Why do we not link our foreign policy to human rights for women worldwide? If the whole world joined in, our world would change so much for the better we'd be amazed.


Four Women for All Seasons are Joan of Arc, Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison and Shirin Ebadi. They belong to the whole world.


"The veil signifies that women are made responsible for men's desires…The veil is not acceptable to me as a feminist…If one accepts the veil today, why not a burka tomorrow?" Elisabeth Badinter, French philosopher and historian.


The "chosen people" idea infects many religions. It is outmoded and an impediment to good human relations. "If I am 'chosen,' then you must be unchosen."


If females and males become nudists, we will not have a veil problem.


Women of all faiths must insist on gender equality.


We must have a Human Values Project to evaluate all values — a great boon to international relations.