Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism


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Training up this child – Part 21 – What’s love got to do with it?

The joy, the tension, the laughter of our families reached our ears long before we reached the back door. As Harry and I entered the house, we saw both our families sitting at the table, ready to jump up for hugs, to admire the ring and to eat the festive dinner my mother had prepared. The little ones couldn’t really sit still, I suppose they had to sit still for quite a while at this point and didn’t know what this was all about. Everybody had a huge smile on their face. Our parents were full of excitement and happiness, the younger siblings had a shy smile full of curiosity. Harry grabbed my hand and pulled me into the middle of the room, standing in front of our families. I took a quick glance at my parents. My mother had a puzzled look on her face which I guess was caused by the fact that Harry and I both had teary eyes still.
Everyone had grown quiet, waiting for one of us to speak up. Harry was the first one to speak up. “Well. I guess, I guess I have an announcement to make.” His voice was a bit shaky and I could see the smiles vanishing a bit off the faces of our families. They knew something was wrong. “After careful and long consideration, Lisa and I have decided that we won’t get married.” The air turned tense, jaws dropped and I heard some people gasp very loudly, a whispered “What…” here and there. My dad spoke up. “Why, what, I mean, are you two sure? Why?”
Harry again took over all the talking, which I was endlessly thankful for. “Well, we talked about our situations and our relationship with God and we realized that we are either not meant for each other, or that we aren’t ready for each other in marriage yet. We both feel like God isn’t done with us in this area and we figured it was better to wait and see where he is leading us before we make a huge mistake.” Considering how things went outside between Harry and me, this was a huge lie. He made it sound like a mutual decision lead by God, which was really the only way to get us both out of the heat for now. Of course, this might have made my parents believe that I was still deeply convinced of our beliefs but it saved us both from a lot of anger at this point.
The situation went quiet again, everyone thought about what Harry said. The silence was dragging, so I ended up saying “I hope you can understand this. We’re not ready for it.” Harry’s mother and my mom both said something along the lines of “It’s okay, you’re right if you don’t feel God is leading your way.” while nodding slowly. I looked at Harry and he looked back and I tried to communicate with my eyes how thankful I was that he was doing this with me, that he lied to save me from questions even worse than these ones. My dad then said: “Why are you guys holding hands then? Are you going to stay in this courtship?” “We will see. We aren’t sure yet. We haven’t had time to discuss this yet” Harry answered. “I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to touch. There’s no point causing more hurt than there already is.” Harry let go of my hand. My Dad announced that it would be a shame to waste all the food and called everyone to the table.
Dinner was painful. There wasn’t much talking, everybody seemed to be in a state of tension, of embarrassment, of surprise. Right after dinner we had a very short prayer time. We prayed for both Harry and me, that we would be shown the path from here on out and that our decision was right. Harry’s parents rushed their kids to get ready and they left in a hurry. As they said their goodbyes, Harry whispered to me: “You know how to reach me. Contact me whenever you need me. Or whenever you feel like it. Nobody will know.” I quickly nodded and gave him a hug, which earned stabbing looks for both of us.
The sound of the door closing sounded as if a stone dropped off my heart. I was relieved. I was happy. For the first time in weeks I felt as if I could breathe again. And I did, heavily, a few times. I turned around to face my family. My mother gave me a look of pity, clearly misinterpreting my sighs as a sign of sadness, and hugged me. My dad was quiet, though not angry. This surprised me more than anything. We went on cleaning the house up, removing decorations, washing dishes and storing leftovers in the fridge. Dad was nice, talking through the plans for the next day for a bit and then excused himself. He needed to go to his office, pray some, talk to God about the night. He said goodnight to us and left – everything seemed so peaceful. I started to believe that it might not be the end of the world, that I still had a chance with my family. Everybody needed time to settle emotions and think, and so bed time came early that day.
As the next morning arrived I felt as if the world was a new place. I was happy, even more, I was cheerful and full of energy. I could turn this thing around! I got ready for the day quickly. And again, the morning was peaceful. No anger. No hate. No punishment. I spent the day with my mother, doing the usual chores around the house. My mother and I talked about Harry. I tried to explain to her that, though he was a great and godly man, it just didn’t feel right. My mother was very understanding, said that maybe that was a sign from God that it just wasn’t time yet. She asked me what I felt God was leading me to do next. Encouraged by her gentleness during the whole situation, I carefully told her that I might look into school some more. However my mother was skeptic of that. “What do you want to learn?” she asked. I told her that I maybe should do some more classes so that I could go to college one day. That was bold of me – too bold for my mother’s taste. “Lisa, just because you didn’t marry Harry doesn’t mean you won’t get married at all. I think you should keep preparing for the calling to be a wife and mother.” Upon hearing that I decided it just wasn’t time to talk about these things yet.
I remember the following days as the weirdest time of my life. I had hours where I felt I was the strongest person in the world, ready to do anything I wanted. I had hours were I regretted breaking my courtship with Harry. I actually missed him and the phone calls we shared. I was all alone, yet again. Then I had hours when I was completely in despair. What should I do? What would become of me? How could my life possibly work out? I had to figure out what to do with my life – just something. I still wasn’t ready to leave, but I wanted a change, that much was sure.


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Some technical issues

Dear everyone!

Unfortunately, I’m a bit stupid. WordPress has changed the blog manager system, which turns out to be way too difficult for silly little me. One reader commented that something was not right with the numbering of the my story posts, which lead me down a bunny trail, and now I messed a few things up. The issues will resolved soon and I will also update the page for the my-story posts, which is currently a bit messy and doesn’t work as it should.

I also noticed that, by accident, the last post in the training up this child series was a part I had already posted previously. This was caused by the fact that I had one (full) version published, and for some reason, this version also made it into my drafts folder. When I submitted the post last week, I decided to take out some parts (aka I shortened the post) because I thought it was too long. Seeing that this is effectively the same story in a shorter version, I decided to leave up the full post and delete the short version (of last week) as there’s really no point to keep two identical posts up (it just makes managing the links etc messy, see above, lol). I will put up another part really soon (and this time, make sure that it’s not a draft of an already-published one!).


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I’m not dead yet, I’m *alive*

Wow, it’s been ages. I really don’t know where to start.

This page is a few years old now and I have been blogging on an off for almost 2, before that, I blogged somewhat regularly. I feel terrible for not following through with things I had in mind. I apologize for that.

I never expected that life could be so worthwhile. Real life. When I started this blog, I thought, well, I have so much time. I always had – I grew up without any major media to clutter my time and on some days, it was hard to find something to do. Stay at home daughterhood can be very, very boring. So I thought, you know, there’s plenty of time to blog. It’s just like 700 words each post. That’s not a lot.

Turns out, it is. It really is. During my first few months and years apart from my family, I prefered staying at home, keeping to myself and just trying to get my life in order. That gave me lots of time to sit at home and ponder. But now, with university and jobs and friends, actual friends who care about me, my life has become incredibly busy. I still don’t consume a lot of media, because I simply don’t have the time. I prefer to spend my free time away from the computer or the phone, considering that I am forced to spend a lot of time working on the computer for university. Staying inside all day drives me nuts!

And I thought, well, I can work on a schedule. That shouldn’t be so hard. But other things come up all the time and you end up saying “tomorrow” all the time, until you suddenly realize an entire month has passed. Where’d it go? I have no clue!

I wish time would stop, so I could finally catch up. I am happy time doesn’t stop. The constant flow and development makes me so happy I could cry. All that has happened seems like a different age, a different universe. How did I get there? I have no clue.

I’ve been pretty clueless lately.

Yesterday, or maybe three days ago, who knows, I sat in my car and waited for a friend. Suddenly, a very nice memory came to my mind. Do you know those types of memories that come in fragments and feelings and colors? A memory of kisses and giggles, a fragment of me and someone walking hand in hand, getting away secretly, hiding, the smell of lush leafs and stars in the sky, the scent of summer. I smiled to myself and let that memory linger in my mind.

We all have memories like that. They are what remains when everything else is lost. Nobody can take them from you. They are yours to treasure. And sometimes, these memories make you so happy that that very moment existed. The entire world has a reason to exist because that one moment existed for someone, at some point in history.

What I’m trying to say? I have no clue. Spring is coming. Don’t stay at home waiting for life to happen to you. Go out. Go somewhere. Go hike, ride a bike, do something stupid. Meet with your best friend, buy one of those teen magazines and read it to each other while sitting in the grass in the sun. Giggle. Drink good wine. Breathe in deeply. And for one moment, realize that life is all around you and enjoy the fact that this moment exists. It’s a good one, believe me.


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Men are visual, women are not – A Confession

Dear men who think that they are ‘more visual’ than women, dear women who believe that,

I am a mid-twenties woman. I am a physically healthy and normally developed adult. Apart from the occasional quirk, I am also mentally healthy. Though I grew up somewhat exotic, I have adapted to ‘normal’ life in most ways. I dress the way you do, I watch the same stuff on TV, I eat the same things, I go the same places, and so on. There is no reason to believe that I am in any way abnormal. So, let me assure you that the confession you are about to read is not the result of a mental issue or any other developmental problem.

The belief that men are more visual than women is annoying to me. This belief is often attributed to purity culture, but really, it’s no different in the secular culture – it is the ultimate excuse why men watch (supposedly) more porn than women do.

My problem with this is: It’s not true. The actual problem is this: Women can’t admit that they are visual because that makes them sluts. So let me rename this “confession of a slut”.

When I see a man, dressed and all, I do not look at his impressive jaw or deep grey eyes or strong hands.

I look at your muscles, and your hips, and your nose (guess why). And if I can’t see them cause you’re wearing some fancy t-shirt, let me assure you: I can perfectly well imagine you naked. And even worse: I do it. all. the. time.

When I look at a man, I don’t stare at his eyes because they reflect some promise of love and tenderness. I look at your chest and imagine what it would look like in dim light. I wonder if you have a “V” and then I wonder if it would look good on you (it doesn’t on everyone).

When I look at your hands, I don’t see protection and strength. I wonder what they would look like with my hair between your fingers, and what they would feel like on my legs.

And when I look at your lower section… well, let’s say that I’m not dreaming of being the woman who will do your laundry some day. Believe me, I don’t.

I have all the imagination I need to picture you naked, even when you’re fully dressed. You cannot escape it, no matter how you behave or what you wear or say or do. I do not care about your positive character qualities. Not one – tiny – little – bit.

And it’s also irrelevant if I like you, or if I want something more. If you’re attractive, I’m going to be imagining you. Even if you didn’t even say hi. Even if I’ll never see you again. And yes, also if I do like you and want to see you again more than anything else.

If you want to know why I do that, I have to admit: Because it’s fun. Because I like thinking ‘dirty’ things. Because I enjoy the fantasy. Because it’s part of human nature to desire something new, exciting, beautiful.

And when you people say that men are more visual and women simply don’t act that way, I’m insulted. I am hurt. I hate hearing it because it robs me of my very own normal, natural and healthy sexuality. You take this away from me because I’m a woman and I’m not ‘wired that way’. You make me a freak and an abnormal beast that must have gotten too much testosterone at some point.

And then there are those who will say I act this way to attract men, because I subconsciously know that all men will consider me a ‘kinky freak‘ and a nympho. Believe me, I don’t. And it also doesn’t mean that my ‘No’ means less of a ‘No’.

I am perfectly able to say No and Yes and mean it. I am perfectly able to deal with my sexuality. I don’t have to put on a show because it makes me sexy, and I’m also not crazy or gross or a freak.

I am a normal, healthy mid-twenties woman and when I see a man, I imagine what he would look like naked. Because if nothing else, that is how I am ‘wired’.

 


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Do we need feminism?

Libby Anne recently posted a short story on her blog. Long story short, she describes the way she felt when she met a man who was wearing a T-shirt with a pretty stupid and insulting anti-women message on it. When I scrolled down to the comment section, I was shocked. To echo a general idea of some of the comments “feminism has reached the goal of equality long ago – now feminism is all about pushing men into submission”. Yeah. Right.

The #aufschrei (=’crying out’) hashtag on twitter has addressed the very same issue in Germany about a year ago. Thousands on women have shared experiences with this hashtag, and many of these messages were met with disbelief by the public. “Is this really, really, true?”

Let me share some messages from the #aufschrei campaign (translated by me, taken from http://www.zeit.de/politik/deutschland/2014-01/sexismus-debatte-folgen and http://www.onlinejournalismus.de/2013/01/25/aufschrei-sexismus-debatte-bei-twitter/).

“That stranger who kissed me on the shoulder for no reason”

“The coworkers who I overheard whispering to each other ‘They are going to hire two women, what do you think about that?'”

“The math teacher who told me I didn’t need to understand something, I’d be a mom anyway”

“Sitting on the subway, hearing two guys discuss my body and what they’d like to do with me”

“The guy on the bus/train/XY public space who grabbed my butt” (multiple tweets)

“When coworkers play an explicitly sexual song and ask me if I like the music”

“The man who hired bigger women because they are less likely to get pregnant”

This is just a small selection. This is normal. This is daily life for women. This is not “freedom of speech”. When your coworkers play a song that describes sexual scenes in detail and ask you if you like that ‘song’, that is not normal behavior, or acceptable, and has nothing to do with freedom of speech. It targets women and pushes them into a position were they cannot be anything else but victims of further harassment. (IE. if you answer “yes”, you are a slut and you’re “up for grabs”, if your answer is “no” you’re an uptight, prudish feminist).

Feminism is also about equal pay, equal chances, and yes, improvements have been huge. But at the end of the day, we still have to deal with comments like this every single day. If you think feminists are trying to push men to the margins of society, read the tweets above again and seriously ask yourself if that is ‘normal’ behavior. Ask yourself how you would feel if your daughter was in that place if you have to. And if your answer is “my daughter wouldn’t dress/act/go places/hang out with people/etc like that, so she would never be in that situation”, well then… think again and pray that you will never have a daughter.

I also want to share this very recent (and very short) German commercial (it is brazilian-themed due to the football world cup in brazil coming up in a few weeks). The company advertising here sells HiFi, Tvs, cameras, computers, etc and is, to my knowledge, the biggest company of this sort in Germany. Here’s a word for word translation:

“Guys! Didn’t you want to marinate the chick(en)s?” (small note: in German, the same word can be used for ‘chick’ and ‘chicken’)

Now, knowing that, take a look at this commercial:

Now tell me, don’t you feel appreciated in your femininity? No? Weird. Me either.

Finally, I don’t know if this has been shared before, but I want to share it. This video pretty much sums up a bunch of very important reason why feminism is still important:

 


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Good (enough?)

I’m having one of those days. I’m supposed to study (catch up on some readings) and I just.can’t.get.myself to do it. I’m constantly staring at the wall, the air, check something in my room (did I put the pants away?), walk to the kitchen, open the fridge, stare at the fridge, close the fridge. I just can’t work today, but I really should. Readings are due tomorrow.

These are the times I can’t help but wonder what on earth made me believe that I’m good enough for this. My own behavior frustrates me so much. I can’t concentrate, I can’t read. I wish I knew a way out but I don’t.

Often times I believe that my obsession with “being good enough” has a lot to do with my religious past. Growing up, being a certain way was a central element. They always say christianity isn’t about being ‘good enough’ or ‘doing good things’ to get to go to heaven, but at the end of the day it is. It’s about behaving a certain way, wearing certain things, saying and thinking them. The constant pressure to be good enough, even if only for your parents, if not for God, is something that never quite leaves you.

I wish I could be better. I wish I could study harder, memorize more, know more. When I don’t, I blame myself. It’s because I didn’t try hard enough, it’s because I wasn’t good enough. But God – or teachers – don’t tell us to do things that can’t be done, right? If I fail, it must be something about me that isn’t ok.

And what does failing mean, anyway? What standard do you have to meet to ‘succeed’? Perfection? In our world, perfection is the only valuable standard. Everything but perfection is failure. No matter the reasons – you should’ve thought ahead and avoided the things out of your control, somehow.