Dec 30 2018

The Definition of Honor and a Book Review

The noun HONOR is defined as strong admiration for someone for a distinct reason.

I submit to you that the definition of HONOR is actually the ability to crush those under you because your peers and superiors consider it your right to do and believe that you would crush them the same way they would crush their inferiors, making it acceptable. This does not always mean one is obligated to crush others, just that the ability and authority exists.

It is said that a slave has no honor. Slaves exist only to obey, and to do anything else is punishable, usually by death. This goes to my point, as a slave can only obey, not give orders. A slave has no inferiors, and thus no one to crush, and thus no honor. Any slave who manages to become superior to another slave gets regarded as having some honor. How does that happen? Usually by doing some crushing.

The same hierarchy applies in prisons, schools, politics, and the entertainment industry. What’s the advice you are most likely to hear if you’re going to be incarcerated? To beat up the biggest inmate. Biggest isn’t really a size reference, it’s an honor reference. The inmate with the most connections, the one who can best crush the others. All the peers, the fellow inmates, know it, and the superiors, the guards, probably know it too. In school, honor and popularity could be interchanged, as far as peers go. Just have someone under you who you could crush. But as far as superiors, the administration and teachers, view it, the students with the most honor are the ones who do not cheat and get good grades. They are rewarded with special privileges, something their “crushed” classmates are not granted. The most powerful politicians are known for crushing those who stand in the way of their goals. And anyone honored with an award in the entertainment industry gets a bump in honor, a means to crush a few more people who were once peers and are now a little more inferior. Maybe that means getting better roles, higher pay, or more attention.

A judge has “Honorable” added to their name. Why? Their job is to crush wrong-doing. Their peers and superiors believe the judge will do it the same way they would. Only if a judge doesn’t follow that are they removed from the job.

Mulan dishonors her father image on giphy

In the Disney film, what did it mean when Mulan’s father said Mulan dishonored him? He seemed like a pretty good guy, one who wouldn’t crush his family members. But, ah, I said the definition is about ability and authority, not about doing it. Mulan basically pointed out that her father couldn’t crush enemies anymore. But, by pointing it out, she was no longer being crushed (by keeping silent) by her father. She was one more person that wasn’t his inferior. This turns around when she saves China, making her whole family more superior, and thus increasing the honor.

This definition shouldn’t work. You might well be wishing I was wrong and drafting a reply to poke holes in this. It’s natural to want a word like “honor” to mean something that sounds, well, good.

“Honor your parents.” By this definition, it means to treat your parents as if they could crush you (ground you, cut you out of the will, whatever way it might mean in your family). “Love, honor, and cherish your husband.” Just when they finally replaced obey with cherish, I’m here telling you that honor isn’t much better or very different. Mind you, it could be changed to a promise to love and cherish your spouse, and keep your union honorable. In that case, it would imply a promise to always be the “it” couple. The one other couples are crushed by, probably because they envy what you two have. Showing a united front to the world. Not so bad.

How about the idea of defending someone’s honor? How would that fit this definition? Well, if one has honor, one can “crush” the person making advances or threats, meaning one can say no and have it mean no. The moment that “no” is thrown out, the attacker has taken the honor. The ability to crush the attacker’s intentions is gone, meaning the attacker gets to claim to be the honorable one. You’d think that’d be the bottom of the crap bucket, but not if the victim tries to get that honor back. There’s then a debate as to if it was a crime. And you know how that goes? The Honorable judge hears some lawyers argue as to if the attacker had a reason to assume it was okay to crush the victim’s honor. Who was better dressed? Which one had better schooling? Had either of them ever indulged in an alcoholic beverage in public? What’s the standing in the community? And really, the lawyers each try to argue that it would be a bigger detriment to society for their client to be the one not honored. A judge then picks who gets the honor. See, possession is only nine-tenths of the law. If someone steals a physical object and is caught, a judge usually doesn’t decide the thief can keep it. But with honor, it can go either way. (Some people, like me, find that appalling, ridiculous, and consider it the downfall of society because when those who are meant to uphold and enforce the law think a crime is just a gray-area debate, the world is doomed.)

What could have prompted this approximately 900-word discussion? I mentioned my feelings on the definitions of “civilized” and “savage” before, which tied to my birthday. So what is it this time? A book.


This book had been on my TBR for a very long time. Honor comes up in the book. It’s honorable, in this book and according to the laws of some places, to let your child be married long before puberty, even if that means the sexual relations of such a union will lead to the child’s death. Some of us think that sounds pretty dishonorable, which is sort of the point of the book. The current law, their “honor code,” allows the male head of household to treat others as inferiors. Crushing your own child via a marriage is acceptable in some places. Then crushing a child-bride via marital relations is also acceptable, is honorable. And complaining about such things is a dishonor. Nujood did it anyway, to a judge. And that is how she became the youngest divorcee in the world. In doing so though, she publically proved that her father and husband could not crush her, which means she took their honor.

That probably would have worked out better if she were able to stay among the people who agree that little children are not for having sex with. I wanted to know how things were going since the book. I turned to Google. Based on what I found, the father took his honor back, because it seems Nujood (who changed her name from Nujood, which means “hidden,” to Nojoom, which means “stars in the sky”) did not get the money from the book. There’s an article that made me facepalm so hard. And here’s the Wikipedia page:

If that’s not enough for you, the book mentions what had happened to someone else in the story. Minor spoiler alert — the setting is one of those places where raping a virgin gets you an instant bride. Stealing a goat is a crime. Rape? Eh, that’s just an aggressive negotiation tactic. Only some people have a right to their own bodies.

That’s something that needs to change. And frankly, if you think there’s a situation where rape is okay, especially in the case of child molestation, you can block me and my online presence right now because I assure you that I’m your enemy and proud of it.

In fact, the only way I might find my definition of the word “honor” to be different is if this sort of thing changes. If slavery ends everywhere. (I’m not talking about you BDSM folks who are consenting adults with proper access to mental health care and have been deemed competent.) There are actual humans who are abducted by other humans and have their rights and honor taken away and live a life of unimaginable horror. And sometimes there isn’t even a law to help them. In fact, until the early 1980s, it was still legal in America to abduct a Native American child from their biological parents. And that’s coming back around again. -Native American children less protected news article- We know there are some judges who have broken laws and are still judges. We know that not all parents or spouses are worthy of being honored because there are abuse cases all around us. And really, saying a rapist or child molester has any honor whatsoever is more ridiculous than three monkeys with typewriters running the world. But, here we are. And as long as all of this is still real and true, I’ll be sticking with my definition. Basically, I’m using whatever honor I might have to crush the people who are using the word “honor” in a way of with which I disagree, a way I consider bad, ways that hinder equity.

equality equity fence meme

I AM NUJOOD, AGE 10 AND DIVORCED by Nujood (Nojoom) Ali, Delphine Minoui
4 star rating image on the blog of @JLenniDorner

Publisher: Broadway Books; First Edition edition (March 2, 2010)
#14 in Books > Law > Family Law > Domestic Relations
#144 in Books > Parenting & Relationships > Family Relationships > Abuse > Child Abuse
#151 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Sociology > Marriage & Family

This is a profound true story. And while the book ends on as good a note as it can, researching the “after” a decade later is heart-breaking. Due to the laws of the country (the same one that let the marriage happen in the first place, and still allows this horrible practice of child molestation and rape to be, essentially, legal), the royalties from the book, money ear-marked for Nojoom’s (Nujood changed her name) education had to be given to her father, who squandered it while the world watched helplessly. The same country won’t allow her to leave, so there’s almost no chance she’ll ever be legally entitled to the money from the book. Delphine Minoui, who helped write it (literacy being important when writing a book), is probably still getting her royalties though at least. Credit for trying? At least some difference was made? Maybe enough time hasn’t passed for the wave of change to be evident. So, while yes I would recommend that everyone read it so as to understand the need for change, I cannot in good conscience recommend anyone buy it. (Because some of your money will go to one of the “villains” of the story.) I borrowed this from a friend who got it as a gift when it was on sale.

The cover is good and does go with the story. The title sums the book up perfectly. I wanted to read this book because I remembered hearing about it when it first came out. It sounded compelling and heart-breaking, which it is. And learning about how and why these things still go on in the world, educating oneself, is the path to stopping it. (Stopping eager child molesters from claiming children for spouses. Granting divorces in these cases is good. Though, apparently, not nearly enough protection.) I read the whole book in one sitting because I wanted to know as much as possible about the situation. I don’t read many books like this. But I care about ending child-trafficking, child abuse, child molestation, and pretty much anything that allows children to suffer great horrors.

That’s really the lesson, or theme, of this book; that there are people who need help and there are several reasons why getting them help is so difficult. There’s red-tape from the religion, culture, lack of education, current laws, lack of public safety, and economics. Which means it’s not just a little help, it’s an entire upheaval, and those are hard to come by and even harder to get people to agree upon. (What does it say about the world when we can’t even unanimously agree that sexual relations with pre-pubescent children is wrong?) The book filled me with anger that these things happen, sorrow for those who suffer such horrors, rage toward those who advocate in favor of such evil atrocities, and resentment that there’s so little I can personally do about any of it. Had I not done a Google search for updates, perhaps I would have been left with a tiny glimmer of hope. Still, I think this story is a beneficial read as more people should think about these situations.

It is well edited and translated. There were, however, parts where I believe the translation may have caused parts of the story to fall a bit flat. Perhaps this is because it’s non-fiction. Or perhaps it’s because this is by a ten-year-old. (With a literate adult obviously helping. I mean, it’s in first-person, but the book mentions more than once that the author can only read and write a few words. So it’s clearly more of a dictation situation. It’s still marvelously well-done, overall.) But, for example, when she talks about having been upset with Hamed in chapter seven, it’s telling not showing. There isn’t much of this though. For reasons I am unaware of, the translation of “P” becomes “B,” as she eats “bizza” and drinks “bebsi” soda. And if Nojoom writes another book in a few years, if something changes and her life gets a new and better direction, I’d want to read it. It’s clear the author, at the time of the book, was passionate about education. It was heart-warming and uplifting to hear her talk about her love of school.

Mona’s story in the book is just about as bad as Nojoom’s. I’m glad it was included. It shows yet another problem that too many people face when “marriage” is little more than a slave sale.

It’s a chilling, inspiring, haunting, educational story. And yes, she does talk about the pain, fear, and disgust of the monster who believes molesting a child is fine if the child is your spouse. The mother-in-law is also written as an antagonist, though one has to wonder if she went through the same thing and just doesn’t have pity because none was shown to her? Or if she has to fear that showing pity for a molested child will get her beaten? Perhaps she just isn’t as brave as Nojoom? (Considering how life went after the book, maybe it isn’t about bravery, but resignation that a bad situation isn’t likely to get better but could easily be worse?)

The setting descriptions were fantastic. Bab al-Yemen, in chapter four, is especially well painted. All of the people were brought to life on the page. In chapter nine, when Mona is recounting what happened to her and Monira is “watering a bush,” I was a little lost as to how Mona could wear a niqab, which hides all but her eyes, yet a smile could be seen around her lips? The order the book was told makes sense, as it seemed to be organized for suspense and page-turning.

I’m not sure why Amazon doesn’t have this book in the biography category, where it most naturally belongs.

This book is diverse, filled with a culture different from my own. It is the first book by this ten-year-old. The first publication was a few years ago.

#WeNeedDiverseBooks #DebutAuthor #BeatTheBacklist
try something new square 2018 book reading challenge

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