As a girl I’ve been told many lies. As a girl I was deceived into believing and conforming to things which were unjust.
As a girl I also experienced the sharpest betrayal.
I thought if I cleaned all the rooms, served all the guests, washed all the clothes, said yes to everybody, swallowed my feelings, dressed properly, kept my mouth shut and got all the grades I would be fine and survive.
Little did I realize that survival comes at a terrible cost.
This startling and dull realization came maybe that day when I spent twenty minutes standing front of my balcony railing wondering how it would be to end the hopelessness and inadequacy I constantly felt. I remember my hands shook because of fear. I had never felt something so real as that desperation and helplessness in my life before.
It was then I came into contact with the reality that this world did not function in the favor of women. For a long time I had thought this was the way things were. This was their natural setup, their order, God’s plan. There is a war against women which soured my language of love and neatly sliced my intentions of courage.
And when you do decide to act out and refuse to act like ‘non-breathing-irrational-for granted’ beings you will be called ‘rotten’ and words slightly near to ‘slut’. You will be told that things aren’t that bad and you are being crazy. You will be beaten and you will carry a scar on your face to school and lie about it. You will cry about how small and powerless you feel. You will hate loneliness, you will hate gatherings.
I was told if I was a homely lady, everyone will respect me and I will have the skills to handle life. If I didn’t say too much and accepted everything as the ‘true and only holy’ I would be counted as a good, practical person. I was told the only way I could find a place in this world would be through talking about things which weren’t too controversial. I was told I would be loved if I obeyed the rules and didn’t question.
I had learnt to keep quiet and not speak my mind to an extent I forgot how to talk and my ears would hurt from all the shit I had to listen. I have spent so much time with people who thought women were born sluts who deserved the bullshit they faced. I can’t recount the number of conversations I’ve had with people who think men are being discriminated against; think oppression of women is a myth, a distant fairytale. ‘Women should be married off early and hence they should not choose risky or too demanding careers’. I carried my opinions like a secret ensuring no one around me know in their fullest sense. The people at home or the people at school. The only people who ever surrounded me. The only places where I ever was.
The truth remains that the people, who direct our behavior, make our passport to live and fund the factories where our thinking is produced are the real rotten assholes. It’s a lesson we need to remember, else we’ll have to learn the hard way. The people who demand obedience and conformity do not want us to survive. They love their power, their worth too much. They live up high in the sky and can never understand the sorrow of those being oppressed by them. Which is why instead of pleading to them we need to wrestle our rights from them. Or we can go about staring at our individual balcony railings.
I have learnt that in patriarchy a woman’s very being is a threat. Women who have a mind of their own, who can think for themselves are dangerous people. Those who refuse to chant the same mantras taught to them since childhood, who question the inevitability of a woman’s grief and dare to propose the radical idea of a woman’s true happiness are threatening people. And I’d rather be dangerous than be fucking good.
This blog is my personal effort to muster the courage and knowledge to write the story I’ve not even told myself fully yet and learn those stories which have been drowned because of their strength.
This blog is our collective effort to join in an ongoing movement which has been relentlessly fighting for making a better world and making women matter.
Author: Umara Zainab