It is hard to decide whether the worst day in a girl’s life is when she is born a female; when she gets her periods and the nature reminds her that she cannot be an “innocent” child anymore; or when she wears the wedding gown and kisses goodbye to herself and says hello to a brand new identity; or when she gives birth to her daughter/s. It is even harder to decide which one is the happiest day in a girl’s life. Is it when she is born a female; when she gets her periods and the nature reminds her that she cannot be an “innocent” child anymore; or when she wears the wedding gown and kisses goodbye to herself and says hello to a brand new identity; or when she gives birth to her daughter/s. You might be confused and think that I mistakenly wrote the same thing twice, but no I didn’t. It is rather dreadful to be born a rose and not know whether having thorns is a curse or a blessing, as it is hard to be born in a patriarchal society and in every important event of your life (whether you were old enough to remember or not) to be stuck in dilemmas whether being a WOMAN is a burden you will have to bear or it is a miracle you were chosen to hold.
I believe that the moment I realized being a girl is a miracle, I truly started to live, which gives me five years of life. In this sense I have lived so little, but yet so much. I have a mother who in this sense is only one year old, as she realized her importance only one year ago, but who has transmitted to me plus ten years of “experience” which gives me fifteen years of wonderful appreciation of being of this gender. I grew up in a household where growing into a woman was considered a curse as it would bring disgrace to the family. It meant that you do not belong there for long, and the identity given by the surname was not a souvenir you could hold on to as your fate was sealed the moment the gender was revealed. My life took a surprising turn from my birth to the present, with my mother wanting her first child to be a son and my father being happy even with me, and going downhill from there, with my mother taking pride at raising an independent daughter and my father taking shame at such matter. Taking into consideration the pressure of having a daughter in a society where girls are destined to take the trip into oblivion, my mother raised me to be a strong, independent woman, and yet a humble housewife and mother.
On one hand I was constantly reminded to watch my manners and behave like the good girl that I was meant to be:
“Don’t sit with your legs open, you are a GIRL!”
“Did you just use a bad word? Shame upon you! Didn’t your mommy teach you manners young GIRL?!”
“Look at that dress, it is so short, I could see your underwear if you move a little. Where is your integrity GIRL? ”
“One day you won’t be a little GIRL anymore, you will be a WOMAN and then you will go at your husband’s house. Who will take care of him if you don’t know how to cook or clean?”
On the other hand I was constantly being told empowering phrases, and I remember I would take the first ones put them in my pocket, and take the second ones and wear them as a headband:
“Don’t let anyone tell that you are not good enough just because you are a GIRL.”
“You can achieve anything you put your heart into, because you are lucky to be part of the most beautiful and amazing creatures in Earth.”
“Your life is your own, if you feel like saying NO you should scream it out of your chest, and if you believe that YES is the answer you should rain it out of your heart.”
“I believe in you, even if the world is against you for being a GIRL, I will be by your side.”
At that time I believed that it was a mother’s job to remind her daughter of the duties the society had chosen for her, but at the same time fill her heart with strength for tomorrow. However, I came to realize that it wasn’t the case. As I grew older, and knew people from different backgrounds I happened to hear mothers tell their daughters only one or the other of the above statements. When I heard the first case I felt lucky that i had a mother who would spray drops of wisdom on me, and when I would witness the second one I would feel miserable for having to listen that I belonged to a man and until being taken by one I was worthless. As I was getting out of the adolescence, and going into youth, I would realize even more how the women around me were being (miss)treated, beginning with my mother, and I realized that I had been protected by a well hidden hand, that of my mother. I started to gain my sight and open myself to the dark reality of being a woman…
To be continued…
Look Behind the Reflection (Part 2)