#998 Letters from the Pandemic 10: My dearest Mary

LETTER: Ms. Mary Wollstonecraft
c/o The Disputatious Hereafter
by Reema Faris


My dearest Mary,

Gunnebo House in Göteborg, Sweden. Photo by Reema Faris

It’s been over five years since our encounter at Gunnebo House on the outskirts of Göteborg. Pushing the door ajar for me was such a kind gesture on your part. Luc, 14 at the time and with all the certainty of youth, insisted it was merely a draft, but I recognized your presence!

I often wonder, Mary, what you would make of the world today. In your travels through Scandinavia, you often commented on the paucity of information and education, especially for women. Today, information and education proliferate and yet the deluge of misinformation and disinformation threatens to undermine the opportunities that exist for self-improvement and self-edification. It’s become abundantly clear that the wider availability of knowledge is not necessarily accompanied by a wider application of reason!

Your adoption of the moniker “Cassandra,” alas, has proven all too prescient. Your disturbing vision of what was to come to pass if wealth became the predominant operating system for the world is the reality of now. This pandemic has ripped away the mask and shown, as you were wont to observe, the deep inequities of monied hierarchies and pyramids of power.

Mother of Feminism by Maggi Hambling at Newington Green, London, November 2020. Photo by Paul Childs

As always, however, there are distractions from the woe. You would be chuffed to see that a statue now stands in your name on Newington Green. The furor it has caused! While I fear you would find the inescapable corporeality of the naked female form unseemly despite its upwards transcendental trajectory, I am convinced you would be vastly amused that the artist, in defence of her work, pronounced that “there are plenty of schlongs honouring men in art.”

These are the absurdities and intrigues of life that temper the harshness of human existence in our quarantined bubbles of isolation and anxious speculation!

Until we meet again and in eternal appreciation,



Reema Faris, 2019. Photo by Aman Chandi

Reema Faris is a PhD student with the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies (GSWS) at Simon Fraser University (SFU). She holds an MA in Graduate Liberal Studies from SFU, a BA and MBA from other Canadian universities, and has worked as a teaching assistant in various SFU departments. Her research focuses on popular culture and feminism as demonstrated in her 2017 TEDxGastownWomen presentation. Before resuming her academic career, she served one term as Trustee for the West Vancouver Board of Education, after many years as a communications professional with a variety of public and private sector organizations. Ms. Faris is also a mother who is guiding the now undergraduate through life as an artist. A past member of Vancouver Opera’s Board of Directors and a Philosophers’ Café moderator, she is an avid traveller, a chocolate enthusiast, and often dreams of Paris.


Editor’s note: to view all the “Letters from the Pandemic” in the Graduate Liberal Studies Journal, see here.


The Ormsby Review. More Books. More Reviews. More Often.

Publisher and Editor: Richard Mackie

The Ormsby Review is a journal service for in-depth coverage of B.C. books and authors. The Advisory Board consists of Jean Barman, Robin Fisher, Cole Harris, Wade Davis, Hugh Johnston, Patricia Roy, David Stouck, and Graeme Wynn. Scholarly Patron: SFU Graduate Liberal Studies. Honorary Patron: Yosef Wosk. Provincial Government Patron since September 2018: Creative BC

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One comment on “#998 Letters from the Pandemic 10: My dearest Mary

  1. I love this, Reema! I did not know that Mary Wollstonecraft used “Cassandra” as a moniker. I will have to read more about that… I guess a lot of smart women in history have had this uncanny ability to look far down the road of what is to come… and yet — like Cassandra — they are almost never believed when they try to articulate it. An absurdity, and a kind of curse, in my opinion; to know something, but to be unable to change it — or convince others to take it seriously.

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