Because I Said So by P-HarpercollinsPubl


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									Because I Said So
Editor: Camille Peri
Editor: Kate Moses

In June 1997, Camille Peri and Kate Moses launched the daily website Mothers Who Think on
for women who, like themselves, were starved for smart, honest stories about motherhood -- personal and
intimate stories that went beyond tantrum control and potty training to grapple with the profound issues
that affect women and their children. Like the online site, their bestselling, American Book Award-winning
anthology Mothers Who Think struck a nerve across the country not just with mothers, but with all those
who shared a vested interest in the raising of the next generation.Because I Said So gives readers even
more to think about. This new collection of fiercely honest essays edited by Peri and Moses captures the
challenges of motherhood in the twenty-first century as no other book has. Writers such as Janet Fitch,
Mariane Pearl, Mary Roach, Susan Straight, Margaret Talbot, Rosellen Brown, Beth Kephart, Ariel Gore,
and Ana Castillo delve into the personal and the political, giving passionate expression to their
relationships with their children and to their evolving sense of themselves. Provocative, candid, witty, and
wise, their stories range from the anguish of giving up child custody to the guilt of having sex in an era of
sexless marriages; from learning to love the full-speed testosterone chaos of boys to raising girls in a
pervasively sexualized culture; from facing racial and religious intolerance with your children to surviving
cancer and rap simultaneously.Told in prose that is as unabashedly frank as it is lyrical, this is the
collective voice of real mothers -- raised above the din -- in all their humor, anger, vulnerability, grace, and

Ugly whispers about me began long before I found myself, in the summer of 2004, standing before a
massive green door that led into the mosque in the town that I have known as my home since I was a girl
of ten. The door stood in front of me like an entryway into my own personal hell.My local community of
Muslims -- interconnected via the Internet with like-minded Muslims globally -- had rebuked me for giving
birth to a child out of wedlock and living without shame with this fact, then writing about it publicly to
defend the rights of women who were quietly punished for similar cultural trespasses in the far corners of
the world. From the pulpit of our mosque, a Ph.D. student called unchaste women "worthless." In the
grocery store, an elder I had called "uncle" since my childhood days averted his eyes from mine when I
passed him in the fruit section. A professor told his children to stay away from me. My family lost Muslim
friendships of thirty years, relationships considered solid since we first made this town our
home.Criticism and condemnation seemed to come from everywhere: a Charleston, West Virginia, man
wrote that I should stay in the shadows: "It would have been best if the facts of [your son's] birth had not
been so callously flaunted ... Do you HAVE to rub it in?" When a Muslim immigrant said I was unfit to be
a leader because of my unwed motherhood, an American convert responded, "... why not just make her
wear a big red Z on all of her clothes, for zina, so everyone can steer clear and judge her for the rest of
her life, like the adulteress in The Scarlet Letter?" Finally, the men at my mosque were putting me on
trial, trying to banish me -- a symbolic exile from our community.It was my mother, Sajida, strong and
supportive and curious, who first sought out Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel. "You are Hester Prynne," she
told me when she closed the cover. I read it next, and she was right: the elders of our mosque were like
the seventeenthcentury Puritans in The Scarlet Letter who sentenced a single mother, Hester Prynne, to
forever wear the letter A on her chest as punishment for the adultery in which she had conceived a
child.Three hundred years later, I was being subjected to the same experience of religious scrutiny,
censure, and community rejection in a country that was founded on religious freedom. But could I garner
anywhere near the strength of Hester's inner character in the inquisition that I faced? To walk into my
house of worship was to invite the demons of hatred into my life. With a deep breath I opened the door,
my son scampering inside ahead of me. A throng of bearded men, in sad-colored garments and gray,
steeple-crowned hats, intermixed with women, some wearing hoods, and others bareheaded, was
assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak, and studded with
iron spikes. An assembly of my community sat, mostly men with beards, crocheted prayer caps, and
dim-colored pants and T-shirts; others were clean-shaven, intermixed with women hooded with hijab, the
head covering of Muslim women. I tucked my jet black hair into the hood of the oversize black, hooded
jacket I had won in a beach volleyball tournament in my younger days. Like Hester most of her life, hiding
her lush hair under a cap, I was making myself asexual in this world in which my sexuality had become
the evidence of my criminality. But my jacket had the label "Six Pack," insider volleyball lingo for the
power of a hard-driven spike hitting an opponent's face.I took a seat...
Author Bio
Camille Peri
Camille Peri was a founding editor of the Mothers Who Think website at and coeditor, with
Kate Moses, of the American Book Award–winning anthology Mothers Who Think: Tales of Real-Life
Parenthood. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and two sons.Don’t miss the next book by your
favorite author. Sign up now for AuthorTracker by visiting

Kate Moses
Kate Moses is a former contributing writer for and one of the founding editors of Salon’s
Mothers Who Think. She is also the author of Wintering: A Novel of Sylvia Plath, winner of the Janet
Heidinger Kafka Prize, as well as coeditor, with Camille Peri, of Mothers Who Think: Tales of Real-Life
Parenthood. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and two children.Don’t miss the next book by
your favorite author. Sign up now for AuthorTracker by visiting

"Skip the flowers and candy this Mother’s Day, and buy this book instead."

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