To Have or Not To Have

Stephanie Bishop on Sheila Heti’s ‘Mother­hood’ and Jac­que­line Rose’s ‘Moth­ers’

The Monthly (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

Sheila Heti’s new novel, Mother­hood (Harvill Secker; $35), opens with the un­named nar­ra­tor in a state of limbo: should she or should she not have a child? She is in her late 30s, and “time is run­ning short on mak­ing cer­tain de­ci­sions”; she is a writer and re­luc­tant to com­pro­mise her art in the ser­vice of mother­hood. Heti’s self-de­scribed “philo­soph­i­cal novel” doggedly pur­sues the ques­tion of whether or not to be­come a mother, and un­folds as a pro­longed in­qui­si­tion into the ex­pe­ri­ence of am­biva­lence. The nar­ra­tor is ob­sessed by her own un­cer­tainty: “The ques­tion of a child is a bug in the brain – it’s a bug that crawls across ev­ery­thing, ev­ery mem­ory, and ev­ery sense of my own fu­ture. How to dis­lodge that bug?” While her in­ter­ro­ga­tion of this un­cer­tainty is by no means a ra­tio­nal in­quiry, Heti’s nar­ra­tor is clear in stat­ing that this cross-ex­am­i­na­tion must “erad­i­cate any sen­ti­men­tal­ity from my feel­ings” and “look at what is”. De­ter­mined not to suc­cumb to what she fears is sim­ply a base bi­o­log­i­cal urge, she spends her days in the “grey­ish, in­sen­sate world of [her] mind”, where she tries “to rea­son ev­ery­thing out”. Mother­hood some­times re­sem­bles a di­ary, at oth­ers an es­say. It fol­lows the nar­ra­tor over roughly three years un­til she hits 40, and is di­vided into sev­eral sec­tions that pro­vide a loose in­di­ca­tion of her jour­ney (“New York”, “Book Tour”, “Home”) and in­clude the phases of her men­strual cy­cle (“PMS”, “Bleed­ing”, “Fol­lic­u­lar”). The nar­ra­tive is highly cir­cuitous, re­turn­ing to key con­cerns again and again as the nar­ra­tor ex­pands and re­vises her views in the hope that she might fi­nally reach a de­ci­sion. In this process of de­lib­er­a­tion, the aim is less to make a choice and move on than to un­der­mine her own con­fused de­sire by us­ing up time – di­gress­ing and stalling, un­til her fer­tile years are over. Whether or not to have a child is per­haps one of the most sig­nif­i­cant ques­tions a woman will ask her­self, and one of the most far-reach­ing de­ci­sions she is likely to make. In many quar­ters Mother­hood has been her­alded as a wel­come fem­i­nist air­ing of a ques­tion rarely ac­knowl­edged or dis­cussed in any mean­ing­ful pub­lic way, other than to damn and so­cially ex­clude those women who opt against hav­ing a child. (The fig­ures on this vary. Be­tween 7 and 14 per cent of Amer­i­can women, and more than 7 per cent of Western women world­wide, chose to re­main child­free.) While vol­un­tary child­less­ness among women is in­creas­ing, the rea­sons are many. At times il­lu­mi­nat­ing, while at oth­ers ex­as­per­at­ingly self-in­volved, Mother­hood is a novel that boldly in­ter­ro­gates this de­ci­sion-mak­ing process. Heti is an ac­claimed Cana­dian writer whose work also in­cludes plays, non­fic­tion and phi­los­o­phy. Her break­through novel, How Should a Per­son Be? (2010), was aut­ofic­tional and highly ex­per­i­men­tal, framed as a se­ries of con­ver­sa­tions with her artist friends as they strug­gled to live and make art un­der late cap­i­tal­ism. Mother­hood is also a work of aut­ofic­tion, and while the con­ver­sa­tional tone re­mains, it is of­ten directed in­ter­nally as a di­a­logue with self. In the book, the de­ci­sion about hav­ing chil­dren is ar­rived at late. What is cer­tain from the out­set is that Heti’s nar­ra­tor wants to live for her art, and doesn’t know if she could be both mother and artist. She would pre­fer to not have to think about the ques­tion. But as a woman she is keenly aware of the obli­ga­tion to do so, in par­tic­u­lar the need to jus­tify her de­ci­sion if choos­ing against it. “Maybe,” she won­ders, “I have to think about my­self less as a woman with this woman’s spe­cial task, and more as an in­di­vid­ual with her own spe­cial task – not put woman be­fore my in­di­vid­u­al­ity.” The nar­ra­tor is aware that were she a male artist she could sim­ply be that, and not feel obliged to con­sider the ques­tion of whether or not to have a child. In de­bat­ing this predica­ment, Mother­hood slips side­ways into the ex­pand­ing genre of what the writer Kim Brooks has dubbed “the lit­er­a­ture of do­mes­tic am­biva­lence”. Brooks’s prob­ing es­say on the re­la­tion­ship be­tween cre­ativ­ity and do­mes­tic work, “A Por­trait of the Artist as a Young Mom”, can­vasses the sig­nif­i­cance of this genre – one ini­tially brought to at­ten­tion through Laura Miller’s es­say “Ladies of Leisure: The Resur­gence of the House­wife Novel”. Heti’s nar­ra­tor fears be­com­ing the kind of pro­tag­o­nist iden­ti­fied by Miller: “[s]he is a wife and mother, roles that seem to have taken over her iden­tity. Yet she looks down on women like that … She used to dream of art or writ­ing or some other cre­ative en­deavor. Now, she takes pills.” While Heti’s nar­ra­tor does not have a child, she re­mains ob­sessed with the pos­si­bil­ity of one, and is con­sumed by the art/child co­nun­drum Miller de­scribes. Heti’s nar­ra­tor also looks down on moth­er­ing, takes pills to deal with her sad­ness, and is pre­oc­cu­pied by al­ter­nate ver­sions of her life. It is Heti’s cri­tique of the so­ci­etal pres­sures that are placed on women to be­come moth­ers that is one of the tri­umphs of this book. Af­ter a night out with some friends, for ex­am­ple, the nar­ra­tor re­counts a con­ver­sa­tion be­tween “a sort of Marx­ist in­tel­lec­tual who was com­mit­ted to not hav­ing chil­dren” and his girl­friend. The man ref­er­ences Wal­ter Ben­jamin in jus­ti­fy­ing his de­ci­sion to not have kids. His girl­friend replies: Be­ing a woman, you can’t just say you don’t want a child. You have to have some big plan or idea of

Moth­ers are un­fairly ide­alised in con­tem­po­rary cul­ture while si­mul­ta­ne­ously treated as scape­goats for all our fail­ings.

what you’re go­ing to do in­stead. And it bet­ter be some­thing great. And you had bet­ter be able to tell it con­vinc­ingly – be­fore it even hap­pens – what the arc of your life will be. One in­no­va­tive fea­ture of the novel is the in­ser­tion of a se­ries of di­a­logues, based on what can only be de­scribed as a div­ina­tory game in which the nar­ra­tor asks a ques­tion and flips three coins on a desk. “Two or three heads – yes. Two or three tails – no.” The de­bate con­cern­ing her feel­ings of gen­dered obli­ga­tion con­tin­ues in this form: Is it that mak­ing ba­bies is not a woman’s spe­cial task? yes I should not be ask­ing ques­tions in the neg­a­tive. Is it her spe­cial task? yes Yes, but the uni­verse lets women who make art that don’t make ba­bies, off the hook? Does the uni­verse mind if women who don’t make art choose not to make ba­bies? yes Are th­ese women pun­ished? yes By not ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the mys­tery and joy? yes In any other way? yes By not pass­ing on their genes? yes [….] Do men who don’t pro­cre­ate re­ceive pun­ish­ment from the uni­verse? no The voice of the coins is some­thing akin to a higher but de­viant con­science, an im­per­sonal in­ter­locu­tor. Heti’s of­ten flip­pant nar­ra­tor (for­give the pun) adapts her po­si­tion de­pend­ing on the an­swers given. The so­cial cri­tique that re­sults – one con­cern­ing the broader ex­pec­ta­tion that a woman will choose in favour of mother­hood, “or at least try” – segues, how­ever, into a sec­ondary co­nun­drum. If a woman is choos­ing against mother­hood, how, asks the nar­ra­tor, does she de­fine her­self in a way that avoids the neg­a­tive? “I don’t want ‘not a mother’ to be part of who I am – for my iden­tity to be the neg­a­tive of some­one else’s pos­i­tive iden­tity.” Heti’s nar­ra­tor finds her­self in an un­solv­able rid­dle, echo­ing Ly­dia Davis’s pow­er­ful mi­crofic­tion A Dou­ble Neg­a­tive: “At a cer­tain point in her life, she re­alises it is not so much that she wants to have a child as that she does not want not to have a child, or not to have had a child.” Quite justly, Mother­hood ar­gues that there are other causes in which one can in­vest sim­i­lar care: “There are lives and du­ties ev­ery­where just cry­ing out for a mother. That mother could be you.” It is a sen­ti­ment that re­calls Re­becca Sol­nit’s ob­ser­va­tion, in her es­say “The Mother of All Ques­tions”, that “there are so many things to love be­sides one’s own off­spring, so many things that need love, so much other work love has to do in the world”. It is per­haps in Sol­nit that Heti’s in­quiry finds its clos­est ally. Strong feel­ings against hav­ing a child come to the fore, with the prospect of mother­hood de­scribed as “a garden of thorns that would prick me to death”. What trou­bles here, how­ever, is that the nar­ra­tor’s fears of mother­hood – and her con­cern that one can­not be both mother and artist – are premised on an ide­al­i­sa­tion of ma­ter­nity that she is afraid she could not live up to. The prob­lem at the heart of the book is that the nar­ra­tor fails to ad­e­quately in­ter­ro­gate this ide­al­i­sa­tion, while bas­ing her de­ci­sion upon it. In­stead, the nar­ra­tor watches her friends go about their busi­ness with their chil­dren, and imag­ines them to be per­fectly happy – com­pletely sa­ti­ated by do­mes­tic tasks, will­ingly en­sconced in the home, con­tent with their with­drawal from pub­lic and cul­tural life. The nar­ra­tor feels aban­doned and starts to whine: “I re­sent the spec­ta­cle of all this breed­ing, which I see as a turn­ing away from the liv­ing – and in­suf­fi­cient love for the rest of us.” In this vein of be­wil­der­ing nar­cis­sism she de­motes the role of moth­er­ing in or­der to ag­gran­dise her own po­si­tion: “The ego­ism of child­bear­ing is like the ego­ism of col­o­niz­ing a coun­try”, “To not be a mother is the most dif­fi­cult thing of all”, “It would be eas­ier to have a child than to do what I want” (that is, to re­main a child­free artist). The ver­sion of mother­hood that Heti con­jures, and which her nar­ra­tor, for good rea­son, finds re­pel­lent, is one in which the woman sac­ri­fices her own am­bi­tions in or­der to self­lessly de­vote her­self to her child. There is no at­tempt here to con­sider what a dif­fer­ent kind of mother­hood might look like, and how one’s ma­ter­nal life might be oth­er­wise or­gan­ised or shared so that the de­ci­sion to be an artist and mother need not be an ei­ther/or. This vi­sion of ma­ter­nal de­vo­tion is po­tent am­mu­ni­tion for the nar­ra­tor’s part­ner, Miles. He is a crim­i­nal lawyer, with a pre-ado­les­cent daugh­ter from an ear­lier re­la­tion­ship. This child lives abroad and vis­its on holidays. The ar­range­ment suits him and he is clear that he doesn’t want another child. He largely re­fuses to en­gage in a mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tion about the nar­ra­tor’s de­sire, leav­ing her to flip coins in search of an an­swer. Although the book has been lauded in some cir­cles as a fem­i­nist cel­e­bra­tion of a woman’s choice to re­main child­free, such a view seems to shirk the role of pa­ter­nal au­thor­ity here. It’s clear that should she have a child the bur­den of car­ing for it would fall on her shoul­ders. This

is no Clarke Gay­ford with the sleeves of his “daggy dad” cardie rolled up, ready for do­mes­tic ac­tion. Heti’s cou­ple don’t dis­cuss fa­ther­hood or par­ent­hood – only mother­hood, and what it might cost the nar­ra­tor as a fe­male artist. Can one even imag­ine a book called Fa­ther­hood that ex­plores th­ese ques­tions in a sim­i­lar fashion? As a re­sult, one starts to read Mother­hood as a game of smoke and mir­rors in which there oc­curs a grad­ual de­fer­ral to Miles’s au­thor­ity. Over time his views are in­cor­po­rated into the nar­ra­tor’s ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tions. Am­biva­lence is never erad­i­cated, but side­lined by his ar­gu­ments that aim to pre­serve their shared life – in which they have plenty of time to­gether, lots of great sex, and he can sing as he leisurely gets ready for work. He warns her that “we do not have the money, we’d have to move, change ev­ery­thing”. By the time the novel ends, the nar­ra­tor is re­lieved to feel her bi­o­log­i­cal clock ex­pir­ing; she does not ac­tu­ally have to make a de­ci­sion be­cause her body has done it for her. The anx­i­ety of Heti’s nar­ra­tor cuts to the heart of Jac­que­line Rose’s cri­tique in her new book, Moth­ers: An Es­say on Love and Cru­elty (Faber; $24.99). Heti’s por­trayal of the con­tem­po­rary mother as ei­ther a self­ish coloniser who re­fuses to come to the aid of oth­ers or some­one who sac­ri­fices her art in the pur­suit of do­mes­tic per­fec­tion (with­out help from her part­ner or oth­ers) highlights the rel­e­vance of Rose’s ar­gu­ment, in which she re­frames an on­go­ing fem­i­nist con­cern. Namely, that moth­ers are un­fairly ide­alised in con­tem­po­rary cul­ture – ex­pected to pro­tect, pu­rify and purge – while si­mul­ta­ne­ously treated as scape­goats for all our fail­ings. What, Rose asks, are “we turn­ing our backs on” when we re­gard moth­ers in this way? True to form, Rose homes in on the is­sue of avoid­ance and re­pres­sion: what are we not think­ing about, what are we not pre­pared to look at, and how does this re­fusal con­trib­ute to the pre­vail­ing view of moth­ers and moth­er­ing? More par­tic­u­larly, how does this at­ti­tude in­form so­ci­etal struc­tures that re­sult in sys­tems that pe­nalise and ex­clude moth­ers, plac­ing them on the mar­gin of the po­lis in a po­si­tion where they are ex­pected to act as pu­ri­fy­ing fil­ters? Rose is in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed for her many works on fem­i­nism, lit­er­a­ture and psy­cho­anal­y­sis. It was in her 2014 book Women in Dark Times that Rose most clearly ar­tic­u­lated her vi­sion for a strand of con­tem­po­rary fem­i­nism fur­thered in the more dis­cur­sive work of Moth­ers. We must claim, she ar­gued, “a new lan­guage for fem­i­nism”, that “bur­rows be­neath [the] sur­face to con­front the sub­ter­ranean as­pects of his­tory and the hu­man mind … which our dom­i­nant po­lit­i­cal vo­cab­u­lary most of­ten can­not bear to face”. Moth­ers pro­vides a pointed con­sid­er­a­tion of Rose’s broader con­tention that “women are of­ten so hated … be­cause of their abil­ity to force to the sur­face of the ev­ery­day part of the in­ner life … which in the nor­mal course of our ex­changes we like to think we have

sub­dued”. Moth­ers ar­gues that our con­tem­po­rary cul­ture has a Janus-faced re­la­tion­ship to the ma­ter­nal. Moth­ers are al­ter­nately ide­alised and ridiculed, caught up in a cy­cle of ven­er­a­tion and blame. As a cul­ture we re­press the dark com­plex­ity that un­der­scores ma­ter­nal life. This, Rose posits, is “the se­cret knowl­edge” of moth­ers, for which they are duly pun­ished – be­com­ing the ob­jects of “so­cially li­censed ag­gres­sion”. The book opens with the front-page head­line used by The Sun news­pa­per on Oc­to­ber 12, 2016: “Here for Ma­ter­nity”. Rose de­scribes the re­port in which 900 preg­nant “health tourists” are a cause for alarm: “The hos­pi­tal – read the na­tion – was be­ing ‘del­uged’, an ‘easy tar­get’ for ‘fix­ers in Nige­ria’ who were charg­ing women to use the NHS.” Ac­com­pa­ny­ing this ar­ti­cle was a photograph of a Nige­rian woman who de­liv­ered quin­tu­plets by cae­sarean sec­tion at a UK hos­pi­tal. In an age of in­creas­ing for­ti­fi­ca­tion, “with walls, con­crete and imag­i­nary, be­ing erected across na­tional bound­aries”, writes Rose, the im­age of the “alien, in­vad­ing mother” is used to ma­nip­u­late and in­cite pub­lic fear of civic dis­in­te­gra­tion. The im­age of the mother rep­re­sents bor­ders and their dis­so­lu­tion (think preg­nancy, birth and lac­ta­tion). The as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween the two is com­pounded by women’s tra­di­tional roles, es­pe­cially pro­nounced in the post­war pe­riod, as de­fend­ers and keepers of the home. In mak­ing her ar­gu­ment, Rose presents us with a sweep­ing range of con­tem­po­rary in­stances of “li­censed cru­elty” directed at moth­ers, and treats th­ese as symp­to­matic ev­i­dence of a deeper dis­like and dis­trust of the ma­ter­nal. From dis­crim­i­na­tory ju­di­cial prac­tices in which, dur­ing cus­tody bat­tles, sub­jects of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence can be in­ter­ro­gated by abu­sive ex-part­ners, to the sex­ist new ju­nior doc­tors con­tract in­tro­duced in the UK in 2016, to the ex­traor­di­nar­ily high level of neg­a­tive treat­ment, dis­crim­i­na­tion and job loss faced by preg­nant women and new moth­ers at work (77 per cent, up from 45 per cent 10 years ago), to the alarm­ing rates of un­der-treated post­na­tal de­pres­sion, the pic­ture Rose draws is a damn­ing one. “The fig­ures,” she ar­gues, “speak for them­selves … The vis­ceral fact of mother­hood … is an af­front to nor­mal – mean­ing, free of moth­ers and ba­bies – life.” Rose’s de­pic­tion of a cul­ture out­wardly hos­tile to­wards moth­ers is de­tailed in its cov­er­age of bi­ased work­place prac­tices, but reaches be­yond this to cri­tique the prej­u­dices faced by sin­gle and mi­grant moth­ers, the ris­ing threat to re­pro­duc­tive free­dom, and the sta­tus of ma­ter­nal men­tal health. Why, Rose asks, is ma­ter­nal ex­pe­ri­ence not re­garded as piv­otal to our un­der­stand­ing of civic life, why is it not counted, why are moth­ers so eas­ily rel­e­gated to the mar­gins of pub­lic ex­is­tence and de­bate, and has it al­ways been thus? As a cul­ture we have not come nearly as far as an ear­lier gen­er­a­tion of fem­i­nist thinkers hoped. If any­thing, women’s fer­tile bod­ies are in­creas­ingly sub­ject to “male coloni­sa­tion” – note Don­ald Trump’s re­in­state­ment of the “Global Gag” rule that de­nies for­eign aid to abor­tion-re­lated or­gan­i­sa­tions, his de­fund­ing of Planned Par­ent­hood, and the pos­si­bil­ity of Roe v Wade be­ing over­turned in light of Jus­tice An­thony Kennedy’s re­tire­ment from the US Supreme Court. It is sober­ing to re­mem­ber that in as­sert­ing her right to choose against mother­hood Heti’s nar­ra­tor is re­garded with sus­pi­cion. What’s more, the right to opt for an abor­tion (as Heti’s nar­ra­tor did in her 20s) is un­der threat across the US, re­mains a clear im­pos­si­bil­ity for many women where the pro­ce­dure is re­stricted, and is a very new free­dom for women in Ire­land. The polic­ing of the ma­ter­nal body and Trump’s ris­ing po­lit­i­cal in­sis­tence on mother­hood can be read as at­tempts to pre­vent the pro­lif­er­a­tion of al­ter­na­tive nar­ra­tives: what else might a woman do with her body and her life? Or, as Heti asks, what kind of trou­ble might a child­less woman make? For those who be­come moth­ers, this at­ti­tude of con­ser­va­tive hy­per-vig­i­lance re­sults in what An­gela McRob­bie has de­scribed as a dis­turb­ing “neo-lib­eral in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion” of con­tem­po­rary moth­er­ing prac­tices. In Western cul­ture, Rose ar­gues, one of two dom­i­nant op­tions presents it­self: the “air brushed and sani­tised im­age of moth­er­ing” that urges women back into the home un­der the guise of the New Do­mes­tic­ity, or the alarm­ing im­per­a­tive to “lean in”, “as if be­ing the props of neo-lib­er­al­ism were the most that moth­ers can as­pire to”. The ideal pro­mul­gated is, as Rose notes,

Rose queries what might hap­pen if in­stead of pun­ish­ing moth­ers “we lis­ten to what they have to say”.

“a pre­dom­i­nantly white, mid­dle-class do­mes­tic ideal … one which fewer and fewer fam­i­lies can pos­si­bly live up to. But that has not pre­vented it from spread­ing down the class spec­trum and across all eth­nic groups.” The “dik­tat” to be per­fect is an ex­pec­ta­tion, how­ever, that too read­ily back­fires, suf­fo­cat­ing both mother and child. In our own times the dom­i­nant ver­sion of mother­hood is one so sani­tised and lim­ited as “to si­lence the in­ner life of the mother by lay­ing on [her the] heav­i­est weight of its own im­pos­si­ble and most pun­ish­ing ideals”, with the term “mother[s]” so of­ten serv­ing as “a trig­ger for a willed self per­fec­tion that crushes women”. One loses track of how many ad­ver­tise­ments for clean­ing prod­ucts fea­ture white women in white clothes, tend­ing cheru­bic chil­dren while wip­ing down the kitchen bench with dis­in­fec­tant and shoot­ing an­tibac­te­rial spray into the air: an­gels of the house in­deed – and the stuff of Heti’s night­mare. Mean­while, this myth of ma­ter­nal virtue is a de­fence against a darker re­al­ity. Rose wants to un­cover this, and her ma­jor arse­nal is the psy­cho­an­a­lytic the­ory of Me­lanie Klein, Wil­fred Bion, and es­pe­cially the 1949 es­say by the Bri­tish psy­chi­a­trist D.W. Win­ni­cott, “Hate in the Counter-Trans­fer­ence”. Win­ni­cott’s es­say refers to the ha­tred a mother can feel for her child while con­tin­u­ing

to love them. She does not act on this ha­tred, but must ac­knowl­edge it lest the ha­tred turn in­wards and man­i­fest as masochism. To dis­credit this emo­tional ter­rain is to un­der­mine the com­plex­ity of ma­ter­nal life in which in­tense love and hate co­in­cide. Rose goes in search of rep­re­sen­ta­tions of mother­hood that give voice to this am­biva­lence and in the process asks how we can bet­ter “lis­ten to the tales that moth­ers choose to tell”. Rose draws on a mul­ti­tude of writ­ers and philoso­phers, from Edith Whar­ton to Si­mone de Beau­voir, Sylvia Plath, Toni Mor­ri­son and Rachel Cusk, to name just a few. The length­i­est ex­am­i­na­tion of the ma­ter­nal fig­ure in lit­er­a­ture is re­served for a late chap­ter on the work of the Ital­ian nov­el­ist Elena Fer­rante and her cen­tral mo­tif of ma­ter­nal dis­in­te­gra­tion, fran­tu­maglia, or “loss of self”. This con­sid­er­a­tion leads Rose to close with the mov­ing story of adopt­ing her baby daugh­ter from China. The joy Rose feels is over­whelm­ing, and she de­scribes this as part of the larger ex­pe­ri­ence of ma­ter­nal self-dis­pos­ses­sion – an elated era­sure of bound­aries. Rest­ing while her child sleeps, Rose de­scribes feel­ing her­self un­der­go­ing an in­verse preg­nancy, mov­ing back­wards in time, let­ting her in, or rather, it felt, her claim­ing her place as she crawled in­side my body and into my blood­stream … I was be­ing turned in­side out. This, I sug­gest, is the chief prop­erty of joy, cer­tainly of ma­ter­nal joy, which shat­ters the cara­pace of self-hood. Moth­ers does not pro­pose to fully an­swer the many ques­tions it raises, but the book opens an ur­gent con­ver­sa­tion, in which Rose queries what might hap­pen if in­stead of pun­ish­ing moth­ers “we lis­ten to what they have to say”. What greater ques­tion could we ask, Rose sug­gests, given that in their re­la­tion­ship to mother­hood, and their abil­ity to refuse it, “women have the power to bring the world to its end”.

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