The other day I received an e-mailed advertisement for a production of Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites at the Washington National Opera. Prominently included above the title of the opera was a blurb from The Toronto Star that read: “Wonderful psychological complexity . . . a hymn to the powers of sisterhood and the strength of female solidarity.” There was no mention there or elsewhere in the ad that the females in question were nuns, or that the cause of their “female solidarity” was their joint refusal of a demand by the Legislative Assembly of Revolutionary France that they renounce their faith in a certain patriarchal religion. We may put to one side the apparent lack of “power” in this particular sisterhood, since that refusal resulted in their being guillotined, but surely any less obvious power attributed to...

 
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