Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism


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Of free-ing the free?

I’m all for women’s rights, freedom and equality. If you look at the issue from all angles, you’ll realize that equality is easier said than done, and that sexism is not necessarily the result of religion but rather a symptom of a general disease, whether a community is religious or not.

Especially or “western” mindset makes us believe that we are the good guys, our way of doing things is the right way, and everyone who doesn’t do it this way is either a madman or an oppressed, weak woman. In this sense, we’re really not that different from all the “madmen” we want to protect women from.

I think this becomes especially evident if you look at the ways many westerners view the Islam, and especially muslim women. A woman who covers her hair is necessarily oppressed and needs our help to be set free. We cannot imagine that any sane person would choose to wear a hair covering because she wants to, Instead, us western, “civilized” and “free” women think we have to stand up for our “sisters” and free them. And if they tell us that they aren’t actually oppressed – well, they’re brainwashed. We have to show them the light.

The result of this is more often than not some sort of movement that instead of uniting women for a common cause tends to dig even deeper canyons between us. Take, for example, the “Femen” movement. All things aside of good intentions, strong women and important political causes. These are women who demonstrate against the oppression and objectification of women by going naked. This is somewhat similar to trying to extinguish a fire by pouring gas into it, in my opinion. In a world where women are objectified in every way possible, is there really a way to get a point across if you make yourself another object? Sure it gets the attention. But what do you think is going to happen in the minds of men who see these women? Are they going to think “Oh, that woman demonstrates against the exploitation of women as sex objects”, or are they going to think “Oh my gosh, BOOBS!”?

While I didn’t mind femen too much when they first started, I started to disagree completely with their methods when they started demonstrating against Islam. I’m not a muslim and have no interest in this religion (or any other, for that matter), and to be honest, I don’t care much whether you are a muslim or not (do whatever rocks your boat), but I don’t think it’s ok that a group of western women comes along as the knights in, well, no armor, I guess, to “free” women they have never asked if they actually need their help. I know plenty of muslims (there are very many in Germany). Some of them cover their hair, others don’t. Some are religious, others not. Some drink and eat pork, others don’t eat pork because they don’t like the taste (not for religious reasons, I was told pork is a taste you have to acquire), some stick to religious laws concerning their diet. Either way, it’s ok to do whatever you feel is right. One of the girls I study with wears a hjiab. She also cares about women’s rights. What makes us think that women who cover their hair are too stupid to free themselves? What makes us think that they’ll end up being thankful for helping them by demonstrating naked?

Even personally, I feel insulted. I used to be oppressed and brainwashed, but I don’t want some woman who hasn’t experienced the same thing to strip down naked and yell “freedom” in my name. It’s not the right way to appeal to the people you want to convince. If you said you’re going naked because you’d rather be naked than wear fur, I can understand why you would protest naked. But that’s not what’s happening here. What is happening is the idea that nakedness is the ultimate way to get what you want, to convince people. Sounds familiar? To me, that sounds about as terrible as any other form of oppression. Do I really want a freedom that we had to undress for? Do I really want to convince people by turning into an object that only gets the attention because it is a highly sexualized form of protest, often causing people to forget why you are undressing?

I think this entire discussion is a very difficult one. Of course there are brainwashed, oppressed women who could use some help. I was one of them. These women aren’t a phenomenon of Islam but a phenomenon of general society, and victims to men all over the world. On the other hand, plenty of women are well able to make these decisions for themselves, and don’t need our help – don’t need help at all because there isn’t a problem to begin with.

I think what should be remembered is that we need to move away from our western ideal of “freedom”. Freedom comes in many colors. Freedom includes the choice of dress, the choice of religion, and yes, also the choice to live a life that might not conform with our image of how women should live. Finding the balance is probably the biggest problem in all this. How do I balance helping women who really need help and hurting perfectly fine women because I demonize their way of life as “oppression”? I don’t have an answer to that, but if I find one, I certainly won’t be writing it on my bare breasts (and I ask you not to do that in anyone’s name either, unless you have their permission to do so).


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In which we get a mention

We got a mention in one of the fanciest magazines in the world of purity cults: Leslie Ludy’s Set Apart Girl (July/August issue, Article on page 27ff). Well, it’s not actually Leslie writing about this. It’s an “Anonymous Warrior Poet”, which is a Ludy term for a man who resembles King David, I believe.

The fact that this is written by an “anonymous” person is problematic to me. Now, I do not want to point fingers here, but… I read the set apart girl magazine every time a new issue comes out. I read all of Leslie’s articles. I read all of the “Warrior Poet” articles. The styles resemble each other strongly. I do not believe that this series of articles is written by a different person each time. I also think that Leslie’s writing and the Warrior Poet’s articles resemble each other in respect to style. Just throwing that out there.

Anyway. This months’ warrior poet (following “WP”) is concerned, very concerned. Why? Blogs. Let me quote him:

“And now – I have observed – many of my peers, who were once zealous advocates for purity, restraint, holiness, and waiting on God for their future spouse are now throwing in the towel on the whole idea. Numerous blogs have been written by young men and women who “believed the lie” of the whole “purity thing.” They rant to high heaven that all the purity rings and courtship lectures ruined their ability to interact with the opposite sex. They cross their arms in a teenage huff when they hear certain relationship books or authors mentioned. They write blogs expounding their angst and how they “removed their ring” because it was just a fuddy-duddy way of dealing with sexuality, and, with rolling eyes say, “it doesn’t work anyhow.”

What WP is doing here is far from an objective description of the ex-purity cult blogging scene. He uses several ways to label these bloggers as teenagers at mind. Now I don’t know about you, but that’s not a very “loving” thing to do for a christian. Labeling us teenagers is the equivalent of calling us unreasonable and immature – he blames the way we feel on the fact that our hormones are raging and we don’t know what’s good for us anyway. Teenagers! *eyeroll*

I don’t know how well-read you are when it comes to ex-purity cult blogs. Most bloggers are well past their 20s. Many are married and have children. Calling grown adults teenagers degrades us into a position in which we are considered to be unreliable, blabbling out of pure spite. Actually, the quote above denies us that our negative emotions towards the purity cult are reasonable.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being called unreasonable in such a flowery way when I complain about serious and real hurt. I don’t think my feelings about this issue come from one single experience.

By the way: Certain books and authors? Who could that be? But let’s move on:

“They make viral youtube videos that accentuate all the ridicoulousness our parents told us about these matters.”

He did it! He’s talking about the parents! What he’s basically doing here is telling all those good, pure girls “Look! These guys are making fun of YOUR parents and the values THEY believe in! You have to honor your parents! If you believe anything they say, you are one of these people who makes fun of YOUR parents!”.

“They say that it ruined their ability to have healthy guy/girl interaction.”

Here, he actually mentions an important aspect: Many feel that the purity teachings ruined their ability to interact with men/women. So far so good. But where is his argument against this? I read the article four times now, and I cannot find a single sentence in which he explains why this isn’t true. Please, go read it yourself and comment if you find it. It kind of feels like WP wants to make sure that his readers know this isn’t so, but he can’t go into detail. Why? Maybe because he himself has very little experience with women. Maybe because he doesn’t know how to relate to them. Maybe because the definition of “healthy” is very subjective – what is normal to me may be weird to you.

“I have a hunch that what is behind all this angst, and all this disgruntled blogging, and all this huffiness is an attitude of self-justification.”

The worst sin of all: Selfishness! Of course that’s what it is. We are selfish. We failed, and because we are selfish, we need a good reason for our selfishness. Everything we say is to justify our failures. Especially in Ludy-ism, selfishness is high up on the sin scale. Basically every sin is in some way based on a person’s selfishness (including, for example, homosexuality, masturbation, physical contact before marriage – I read the books and listened to the sermons).

“My concern, as a Warrior Poet in the making, is that a whole generation of young women will be led into a compromised and self-justifying lifestyle that is based wholly upon the sarcastic cynicism and bad experience of those around them.”

WP is in fact concerned that this pattern of relationships, which can be so convenient for men, will collapse due to women starting to think for themselves. The counter-culture the christian fundamentalists develop stands and falls with the participation of women. Ultimately, it is women who have to give up their entire identity in this pattern. If a woman refuses to become a mere extension of the man’s existence, none of the beliefs and patterns would fall into place anymore. The obsession to fix the problems people have, always have had, by following a certain pattern is very clear in this article.

In the end, I think the fact that our blogs got a mention in such a popular magazine among young conservatives is telling. There obviously has been some effect, some change, just something going on. Are they scared of us? No, probably not, but they feel they need to address the issue in some way, so I guess there is some progress.

Whatever it is, it seems as if the blogging scene is opening up to them as a new battleground for their “war of cultures”. Maybe we will see and hear some interesting articles and speeches about the blogging scene in the future. Let’s wait and see.


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Me and the great punisher

I don’t remember when I wrote my last post on believing in God and Jesus. It must have been over a year now. This post has been on my mind for so long, but somehow I never found the words. I feel some sort of inner pressure to write this, yet I don’t know how. I’m not the kind of person who doesn’t find words to say things. That should say something.

You know, I really want to be an atheist. Sometimes I believe that’s what I am. There are days when I have that summery, beachy way of freedom. Those days where you think that your entire life is in your hands. That you’re not just some sort of marionette in the hands of an all-knowing, universal punisher. Those days can be so reassuring that you’re on the right track, that your life is going well and that your decisions really matter.

Other days I find myself deeply wanting to pray. And on some of these days, I do. It’s not very often anymore. Most of the time I will delay myself somehow. Do some house work, go somewhere, read some blogs, whatever. I will pray before I fall asleep, I tell myself to calm my mind. God won’t strike me dead if I pray an hour later. These are the days where I usually fall asleep just before I remember praying. But on those other days, those on which I pray, I pray fervently. Please God, please forgive me, please forgive me for being blasphemic, for saying those terrible things about you. I was angry, you know that. Please look into my heart. Please do something, please change me so I can be good and right. Please forgive me forgive me forgive me I will do anything but please forgive, tell me what to do. I am so alone without you. And then I feel better for a while. I’m thinking it’s a bit like an alcoholic drinking his first beer in months. Desired, fulfilling, but somehow it feels wrong.

There’s one thing I never say, though I’d said it so many times before: “I surrender my life to you.” It’s the one thing I don’t want to say. I don’t want to “surrender” my life. It’s my life. It’s mine and I will not let anybody decide what I do with it. I think that’s what makes me feel so bad on the days I pray. My prayers are useless because I am selfish and despicable. I don’t trust God anymore. Nothing can fix that. It’s what will send me straight to hell.

Other days again I am angry. No, I am furious. I don’t know if you can understand just how furious I get. I hate God with all my being. I know he’s there, and I hate him, and I want to spit in his face for all the terrible things he does. He is not good, he is not just, he is an evil, evil and mean little child who steps on ants and burns them just for fun. I feel for satan – I wouldn’t want to deal with the evil big guy either. Maybe satan is actually trying to save us from God’s wicked ways. Maybe he’s the only one who understood everything that was wrong with the big punisher all along. I want to scream and yell at God that I’d rather spend eternity in hell than with him, because hell can’t be worse than an eternity at the feet of such a gruesome, evil being. I get so angry that I want to hurt everyone who believes in God. I want to tell them that hating people for being gay is awful and disgusting and terrible. I want to tell them that treating women as doormats is stupid and gross. I want to tell them that all they believe is a joke. So an extraterrestrial being snapped us all into existence? And you want to tell me that evolution doesn’t make sense? Please!

And then, I am sad. Because there is no God to save us, and nobody will be there when we’re dead. And I hope that the evil punisher is real, even if that means burning in hell for me. But I hate him and I want him gone, and I want him to be there so badly. Sometimes I hear those one minute ads by the catholic church on the radio. They make me want to be part of it. Somehow I always feel better when I heard them. A few days ago there was one on christians living normal lives. A girl talked about how she can go out at night, be a bartender, even drink. That’s not against her religion. Catholic doesn’t mean boring. Catholic is young, cool and hip. I can see behind the marketing here, but I still wish this was true. I wish I wouldn’t have to throw everything away to be religious. For me, there is no middle ground, no grey area. Faith in God still means complete and utter self-denial. I thought this might change at some point, but I’m losing hope. I want to be a part of christianity, but I don’t want to join the choir of hate speech and judgement that I see everywhere.

So yes, that is my update on my faith. I don’t think anything has changed.


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What is feminism to me?

I recently read a rage-filled fundamentalist post on women’s right to vote (and that women should not have that right) and I secretly thanked feminism for allowing me to be an individual in this society – or any society really.

So what does feminism mean to me? Does it mean “Yay I get to wear pants”? Sure, but that’s really just a side-joke.

It means my husband cannot quit MY job when he thinks I don’t do enough housework. He does not have the ability to cage me at the home and to rob me of my means to make money both for me and for my children (and potentially for him). It means that I will not suffer from the fact that I have no job experience, resulting in the fact that I have only two life choices: Divorce and poverty, or an unhappy marriage. It gives me the security that I have abilities which people are willing to pay money for.

It also means that I can get higher education. I can study at university in order to improve my market value and in order to improve my knowledge. It gives me a chance to decide what and who I want to be. It gives me the security that when everything is lost, my education will still be there.

It means that I can vote. I can vote for the candidate with the best program, the greatest vision, who shares my opinion or, yes, the candidate I find physically attractive. That’s how it is. It means that my opinion will count even if my justification for these opinions is based on superficial issues like looks. I’m not saying this is a good call, but that’s how it is: You cannot chose whether you like an opinion or not, you’ll have to live with others having them.

It means also that I can own things, buy things, make contracts and be a liable person by law. I do not disappear in the existence of my husband once I say “I do”. I am still allowed to exist as a person of my own. This is why I despise people who say things like “Mr and Mrs John Smith”. There is no Mrs John Smith. There might be Mrs Jane Smith.

Feminism means that my body is mine and nobody else’s. Not my husband’s. Not my child’s. MINE. I can do with it as I please. I can pierce it, draw on it, take it where ever I want. I can sleep with whom I want, at any time, or not. It protects me from being raped by my husband without appropriate punishment. It protects me from being forced to do things I do not want to do.

Feminism in its core gives me individuality at the core. It makes me a person with dreams, rights and a future. Feminism makes me human. It makes me – me, just as I want myself to be.

When the patriarchs express that feminism is evil, it is not the feminism they hate. It’s not the pants and the rights they hate. It is precisely the individuality.

Fundamentalist christianity cannot survive in an environment where there is individuality. Everybody must conform to rules and values for it to work. Everybody must submit, men and women alike. Those who do not submit are those who risk the system. Kids who talk back. Women who work. Men who have feelings. Individuals outside that perfect, Pearl-esque set of rules. Conform or be damned. Conform or suffer. Conform or die. Individuality? Uncheck that box as soon as possible. Die to yourself and move the remaining empty shell by the rules of the great puppet-master. Get on the stage and play your role, and by all means, hope it’s over soon.

I am here, reading, writing, thinking. Not because of anything the patriarchs did but because of something the feminists did. They made me what I am today. Thank you for that.


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It’s time for us to be Hobbits

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

Once upon a time there were two little hobbit girls, a blonde and a red-haired one, living next door. Their land was beautiful and every day was filled with joy.

Then, one day, their hobbit parents met evil Lord G, who gave them the order to give each girl The Ring. The parents did as told. They said to the girls: “You must guard this Ring with all your being. This will give you power. This will make you special. Without it, you are nothing.” And, despite the fact that the girls didn’t really know what the fuzz was about, they accepted the Rings and proudly wore them.

They grew older together, and their friendship was still strong. And finally, one day, a handsome young man hobbit asked for the blonde hobbit girl’s hand in marriage, and for her Ring. At first the hobbit girls were excited, but it didn’t last long.

As they sat together, one day at the lake, the blonde hobbit girl expressed her grief to her friend: “I do not want to give this Ring away. It makes me strong and powerful. It makes me special. It makes me …. better than everybody else.” The red-haired hobbit girl was shocked. What was her friend saying?

You see, the blonde hobbit girl was blinded by the power the Ring gave her. She enjoyed walking around with it, people staring at her hand, people telling her how strong she was for taking the burden to wear that Ring. The red-haired hobbit girl felt the burden constantly. She did not like that people stared at her Ring, knew what it implied. She liked what it stood for, but she could not understand why she would need a Ring to be the person she wanted to be.

The closer the wedding day came, the worse the blonde hobbit girl acted. She was angry and mean, and she started to despite her hobbit fiance, who would soon take her Ring away. “My precious” she started to hiss, “it’s mine. Nobody can take it from me!” Oh yes, the hobbit girl was acting real strange.

The red-haired hobbit girl realized that she did not want to be this way. She decided to run away at night to destroy her Ring, so she could be free again. Free to do what felt right, without needing a Ring to signify it. So she packed her bags and left.

Soon after leaving her family, she came into deserted land, burned soil and a raging war and, far away from a high mountain, a looming eye watching her each and every step. And she knew the eye would soon send troops after her, to bring her back, to make her keep the Ring.

“I need a sword”, she realized. Lucky enough, she found a group of Elfs who were willing to help her. And even though she was imitated by their beauty and strength, she decided to follow them. And she realized that hobbit girls who had gone before her probably had not had the Elfs to help them. Yes, she was very lucky to have found a new group of friends.

Their travels were long and exhausting. Through deserts and over mountains they travelled, until they finally reached the volcano were she could destroy her Ring. And as she stepped into it, the flames bursting next to her, she realized that this was it.

The second the dropped the Ring into the fire, she finally felt its spell lift off her. She finally felt free. And even though she knew she could never return home, she was eager to see the new life waiting for her.

The blonde hobbit, meanwhile, got married and never forgave her husband for stealing her Ring. From time to time, on those lonely evenings, she sits and stares at the Ring in her hand, angry at the world and herself for not being honorable enough anymore to wear it. “My precious”, she hisses then, “you will be worn again – soon.”

________________________________________

I think it’s time for all of us to be little red-haired hobbits. It’s not about abandoning values, it’s about abandoning structures used to rule over you, used to control you, used to make you feel bad. It’s not easy to just let go and give up things that are important to you in order to live a self-governed life.

If you are a young woman still struggling, I highly encourage you to reevaluate the tools used to keep you in control. If you already threw your ring into the fire, don’t tire of being an Elf – aka helping the other hobbits along the way.

Yes, I have a great passion for Lord of the Rings. Watch it! If you haven’t seen it yet, watch it asap! If you already have, watch it again asap!


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The internet and me.

I have never been good at the internet. Really. I constantly forget to check the comments on my blog, or the messages on my Facebook, and reaching me via email is about as likely as meeting the pope.

People make fun of me. “Did you see the link I sent you on Facebook?” – “No. I didn’t check my Facebook in… 4 weeks.”. Or “Are you coming??” – “Coming where???” – “OMG did you not see it on Facebook???”

And on top of all that, I’m not quite sure why I own a cell in the first place. I use it as an alarm clock in the morning. That’s about it. Sometimes people call me, sometimes I even pick up – if I don’t have it set on silent, and the battery is recharged, and I actually carry it around with me and didn’t leave it on the nightstand where a normal alarm clock would spend all day, typically.

Texts are even worse. I read them all. But I never reply. Not because I’m a bad person or I don’t like you, I simply forget! A while ago my boss texted me (on Tuesday) to ask if I would come in on Sat to cover for someone who called in sick. I went there on Friday for a coffee with my friend. My boss came running at me asking if I didn’t get his text.

“Oh, yeah, I got it!”

“Then why didn’t you reply??”

“Well, I forgot. But I’ll come in tomorrow.”

“Why couldn’t you just tell me on Tuesday???”

“Well, (giggling) I thought thinking that I’ll come will do it.”

 

Yes, people get frustrated with me, but I also get frustrated with people.

I don’t understand why you would need your phone at all times unless you’re essential for the survival of the human race in case of an alien invasion! I hate when people keep texting/what’s apping/emailing while talking to me. I hate that everybody has to check everything on the internet. I hate when people sit with me, drinking coffee, interrupt me to tell me “I have to update my Facebook so people know where I am”. People most likely do NOT want to know where you are at all times. I hate when people keep downloading useless apps just to show me what they can do with it.

I generally hate when people can’t concentrate on what’s really going on because they’re so caught up typing crap into their phones that won’t change ANYTHING about reality for ANYBODY.

I think it’s rude, it’s inappropriate, it’s bad manners.

And most of all: I hate when people freak out because they don’t have their phone for, like, an hour. Most can’t imagine being without their phones for a week.

Here’s an update: You do not die if you don’t play around on your smart phone for a day. Nobody will miss you. The internet will keep existing even without your constant input of information nobody asked for (and cares for, for that matter).

Can you tell how much I hate phones?


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I’m not special!

The last weeks have been filled with positive experiences, especially when it comes to my high school degree.

When I started school I was very afraid I’d be a “weirdo”, I’d be labeled stupid and lazy because I didn’t have a high school degree in my early 20s. I wrote a post about how I found out that I wasn’t an “exception” and how great it was to go back to school – to be accepted as one of many going this way later in life.

The school system is simply different here, allowing people to leave school at the age of 16 (called a “mid degree”) if they wanted to do jobs you don’t go to university for. A carpenter for example, sales people, office jobs, lower career bank and lower career police jobs and so on. So not everyone has a high school degree – basically only people who want to go to university get it. Of course, it is possible for everyone to get a high school degree and go to university still. There are many who got their mid degrees, went through 3 year training to be, say, a lower police officer, and then want to go back to school for a higher police officer career. Hence it’s not looked down upon at all – it’s very normal for a 30-year-old to go back to school to improve his/her career!

And exactly this thinking people have here made me feel like I achieved something great. When people ask me what I do these days, I’m able to proudly say “I just got my high school degree so I can go to university!”. NOBODY, literally nobody!, looks at you funny. People nod and say “Oh great!”.

The main reason why I love this so much is because now, nobody asks me why I didn’t have any training. Everything I did in my life career wise becomes unimportant, because people think it’s great to learn something new. They don’t wonder, they don’t ask why I was a “stay at home daughter”. It’s all unimportant now. I’m not the “weird American fundamentalist girl” anymore. I’m the girl who went back to school in her 20s.

A few days ago Daniel’s Mom invited us over for afternoon coffee and cake in her garden. It’s actually a very common thing to go for coffee and cake at 4 PM. Many do it every day. Mrs Daniel’s neighbor was working in her garden and came over for a quick chat. Daniel’s Mom introduced me and the neighbor asked me what I did for a living. When I told her that I just finished high school, she looked at me, nodded and said “Oh my, you went back to school? That’s great!” Then she told us the story of her nephew who did the same at 26 and is now an engineer. She finished by padding Daniel on the back and saying “Smart one you got yourself there!”. I smiled, simply happy that she didn’t know, didn’t ask about the past.

Finally, finally I’m not so strange any more. Yes, life is so good when you can make your own choices!