You Are Not Equal. I’m Sorry.
Dina Leygerman

There’s not one day when I don’t think about gender equality, particularly about how women are treated everywhere. I am currently in Istanbul, Turkey where I hear stories about harassment every day, where ‘feminism’ isn’t popular in the slightest (I have met more women in all of my three years here who oppose feminism than women who think that feminism is positive in any way because they are taught from childhood that men and women aren’t equal — end of story). I think about the people I meet in Istanbul who say that women shouldn’t work when they are married because their husbands get jealous or the men feel that they must protect their wives so they prefer to keep their wives away from the workplace. The word of the father is the last or the only word in many, many families in Turkey no matter how old anyone is in the family. A lot of men don’t do any housework, literally have never washed a dish or done the laundry before and some have married only so that they have someone to clean and pick up after them. I’ve imagined the scenario for a long time now: how can a man and woman live together when the man tells his wife what to do, not discuss with her on what’s to be done, that only the man makes all decisions on his own without his wife’s input? As if the woman is a mere child — or, actually, not even? Is this a husband who loves his wife? Is this how to treat your life-long friend (or perhaps many married men don’t perceive their wives as such)? It’s hard for me to fathom how this type of marriage still persists today in many parts of the world (perhaps in a majority of the world); it’s definitely not only a Turkish problem at all — far from it. I’m only more aware of how the problem of gender inequality negatively impacts a society when I first began to live in Istanbul. I was born and raised in Boston, MA and I have always been aware of the problem, have always thought about how much better women could be treated but I have witnessed and have heard of as many injustices in Boston as I have in Istanbul. I think it’s about time that people rethink how human beings ought to be perceived, we need to rethink what our abilities are, our interests, what strictly enforcing gender roles does to a people, why this problem shouldn’t just be tolerated behind closed doors. I used to know a young man once who told me that I wouldn’t want to be married to him because he thought that I would think that he was mistreating me. I don’t understand why so many women choose to live their lives suffering in silence for the sake of religion and culture. I am at a much better level than most of the women I encounter in Istanbul but despite that I still think deeply about how women are treated. I don’t care about how good my life is going; I don’t know why I can’t let this feeling go but I can’t ignore this problem. I think it’s because I’m a humanist; I am sensitive; and I feel too much for society as a whole. We are a part of this world; we need to make it our business to make sure that everyone can enjoy equal freedoms for a better world.

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