My sister, who lives in Armenia, has ripped her husband’s passoport into many pieces in front of him. Her action has nothing to do with patriotism or anarchy. She just prevented her husband from traveling to northern Europe for five days at a time when she is getting closer to having her second baby.

She had apparently overheard her husband’s friend convincing him to definitely make the trip because they could have fun with women. While my sister had been reluctant about the this business trip, hearing the conversation she knew it was not going to happen. Her husband’s response? He laughed and, well, he is not going.

Although my sister never uses words like feminism or women’s rights, she resembles a not-so-much discussed traditional feminism that exists in some, but not most, Armenian families.

This story reminded me of what I once read in Armenian-American expressionist Arshile Gorky’s biography. Here is an excerpt as posted at 16Beaver:

“Arshile Gorky’s grandmother, the widow Hamaspiur, had brought the family together to hold a vigil for her youngest son, sixteen-year-old Nishan, who had vanished several days earlier. She suspected that he had been abducted by Kurds, for he had fallen in love with a Kurdish girl whose brother took offense. . . .

Only five years earlier, her husband, Sarkis Der Marderosian, the last of a long line of Armenian apostolic priests, had been nailed to the door of the church where he served in Van

As the family prayed, there was a thud at the door. Outside, they found Nishan’s blood-drenched  body. Months of wild grief later, “to revenge herself against God,” Hamaspiur set the monastery church on fire.