My family raised me with a life full of traditions and customs from our Arab heritage.
Since I was a child, they taught me about my responsibility as a daughter – I had to be an obedient girl to my parents and a good wife to my husband one day. They expected my full commitment to gender roles and rules that have been structured by the Arab community.
[bctt tweet=”For them, women are fragile and vulnerable.” username=”wearethetempest”]
For them, women are fragile and vulnerable. Women have to be guarded all the time. Women cannot go anywhere without permission or a male companion. Even when I was a teen, I could not go to lunch or the shopping mall with my friends. But there was one and probably, the most important rule of all.
Men have authority over women’s lives. Every order and demand are to be obeyed. No one can question it and this means women have no say in anything. Our voices are suppressed because to men, we are not entitled to our opinions.
I was convinced this was right and accepted it without question.
I would have believed it forever if I was living in Saudi Arabia, where my parents from. But I am not. I was born and raised in America, a land of the free and the home of the brave. But sadly, I am neither.
As I grew up, I saw my friends having fun and making the most of their teenage years. They were free to do anything they liked and travel anywhere they wanted without permission or a companion. They also had one privilege that I never had once in my life – the right to speak up. They could always be vocal about anything on their mind.
That was when I started to doubt everything I have been living with. I wondered if my parent’s rules were relevant at all. It made me realize that there are way too many restrictions on women and that we are handcuffed to the laws that have been set up by our community.
But my parents had planted the strong notion of patriarchy on my mind since I was young. There were moments when I questioned the rules and at the same time hesitated to let it go. Because somehow they convinced me that the way of life in America was wrong. It was a constant battle in my head, to choose which one I should believe.
Five years ago when I finally reached the age of 18, something unexpected happened. It changed my mind about the patriarchy rules in my family.
I was diagnosed with diabetes. Nothing crushed me more than hearing the result of the blood work from the doctor. The news shattered me, but my parents were utterly flabbergasted by it. It seemed like a death sentence for them and I did not know why. It did not take me long to figure out that my quality as a woman was lowered. I was a damaged good, although it was by natural cause.
[bctt tweet=”I was a damaged good, although it was by natural cause.” username=”wearethetempest”]
This shocked me more than the news of my disease.
I became the disappointment in the family. According to my parents, no eligible man would want me as their wife. The best chance of marriage I had was either being someone’s second or third wife or married to an old man. It would be a marriage of convenience.
I am still unmarried. My parents believe my health condition is the reason for it. To this day, I still cannot understand it. Why is it my fault that I am diabetic? My father is diabetic and it runs in his family, but no one blamed him for it.
I know I am not the only one with this question on my mind – why is everything the woman’s fault? Women get the blame for everything – for being assaulted, raped, carrying a child of the wrong gender and for their husband’s wrong behavior too! Or in my case, my uncontrollable disease is my fault.
[bctt tweet=”Women get the blame for everything.” username=”wearethetempest”]
Society regards women as properties to be owned. We are to be passed around from parents to husbands from the moment we were brought into this world. Men do not view us as individuals, as humans with hearts, brains, and abilities.
When I speak up about this issue everyone denies it. Parents, aunts, uncles and also brothers would say my opinions are irrational.
For them, “This is how it always been and should be for women. You better get used to it.”
Patriarchal systems are always unacceptable for me, no matter how long it has been practiced. I have rights as a woman. I deserve the freedom, to speak up and to make decisions for my future. My purpose of life is more than just being a good daughter and an obedient wife. And I am not a product to be browsed and picked by men or their family.
My health condition does not define my quality as a woman.