Your Repressive Culture is Not Your Only Choice
Dear girl I saw waiting in line for the Ferris wheel today,
I’m writing this because I honestly have no idea when I will get a chance to speak to people like you in my life, about what I have to say. I can’t. It’s not really socially acceptable. And I’m not getting into specifics about the way you look or the culture I’m referring to, because what I have to say applies to all cultures and religions that repress women, who live in countries where there are choices. I have a young daughter, and would tell her the same thing, if she ended up associating herself with people who aren’t letting her thrive, or be herself. So here goes.
I saw you. I saw that look. We made eye contact. You’re what, 15 years old? You had a moment, didn’t you? Where you knew that everything around you was crazy. You had a flash, a moment of clarity, saw your world and thought, holy crap, I gotta get outta here. I saw it! I completely understand. And it breaks my heart to think of your future, if you truly feel trapped.
Your parents brought you out into normal-ish society today, but clearly there is some kind of local, culture wide, organized event happening, because you guys are everywhere in this place. But I’m here too. So are lots of other people who are, for lack of a better word, free. We’re free. You’re clearly not. That’s probably why you only get to come out if your parents know hundreds of your followers will be there. So you don’t feel out of place, so you don’t wish for a different life. Ugh, you’re so young.
You will grow up. You will have some choices once you can literally drive yourself away forever and never look back. You’re probably thinking, this is my family, this is my town, my people. On my own out there, I’d be lonely, scared, and I do like my friends, as screwed up and brainwashed as they are. I do want another experience in this life, though. Good! A+ on your brain figuring out that this shit is oppressive! You are forced to dress the way you do because of dated beliefs. You will be forced to live a certain way, speak a certain way, and repress thoughts that don’t fit into that cultural narrative as you grow older. That sucks. In your culture, it’s okay, but it doesn’t have to be like this forever.
I understand that living one’s truth comes with risks, for so many of us. What is the right choice. A rule-bound life with love and comfort, or free life with hate and banishment? Its personal, I guess. But that whole thing about rules for men and women in this day and age? It’s looney tunes. Really. All that old traditional garbage. I’m sorry if you truly believe your soul can only be saved by repressing your womanly, corporeal form, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Humanity is still struggling with so very much, but you live in a country where you can move on, if you wish. Living within the rules of your culture doesn’t hurt anyone, though. It makes me feel uncomfortable and almost sick to my stomach, but on the surface alone, that doesn’t hurt anyone. When the rules that we as a western society have established have been broken, rules pertaining to underage, unwilling participants in marriages or sexual relations, then we can step in and say enough is enough. But I don’t think that’s the case in your culture. Maybe it is. I certainly hope not. It has been the case in some groups, where there have been real repercussions and examples made.
Maybe I’m the one who should just turn around and go home, if I arrive at a place where your people have descended upon for a day, to have some fun. Since I’m the one who feels uncomfortable seeing repression in such a blatant form, yet I won’t complain or say anything, for fear of being seen as an intolerant asshole. In our country, your culture is one of the manifestations of freedom. You were at an amusement park, and despite looking at your for just a moment, and seeing a glimmer of longing, of sadness, of fear, you still had fun, waiting in line for that ride with your friends.
Yet that look. It compels me to say something. Do anything. So I wrote this. I want more for you than your culture wants for you. Because I know the beauty of freedom. Maybe there is beauty in knowing your place; in rules, in complacency. But, I actually think freedom to live our truth should be a right of humanity. I get so angry at my country sometimes, but we live in a place where you can start over and build whatever you want. Please, go rebuild.
Woman who saw you while standing in line.