Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Oh Daughters of Fundamentalism, Take Upon Yourselves the Cloak of Self-deception

I recently witnessed a young girl who is struggling a bit who expressed that she was a bit unhappy with her life, being told that she just needs to take it one day at a time, and be happy with it. To me it is shameful to express to a child or a teenager that their discomfort or unhappiness with a difficult situation stems from their own inability to cope. What message is being given to girls when they are told that although they are not the creators of the bad situation, they must be the authors of the solution, but the solution must only be to swallow their feelings and smile.

This is a relatively common comment made to daughters in conservative families. The basic idea stems from the idea if you are unhappy with your life, it is important to change your attitude about your life. Girls are not taught that they can cause change in their own lives. Of course this serves the purpose of preventing girls from making plans to get out. If they are responsible for their own happiness, and they do not get to make their own choices, fundamentalism is able to produce a new generation of women who not only do not fight back and fall in line with whatever rules and tasks are assigned to them, in the ideal scenario they will actually start to enjoy the fact that they are fulfilling their purpose, and own their own oppression.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The deliberate spread of misinformation

When my siblings and I were children, my parents deliberately misinformed us about the world. I am still not sure what the overall goal was. Some of it makes sense. The ideological nonsense that contributed to psychological control makes sense, such as the misinformation about lust, reproduction, and consequences, but some of it really doesn't make sense. 

Why were we misinformed about the healthiness of foods? Why were we misinformed about women's periods? Why were we misinformed about the lactose content of butter? My parents also gave us this information in a way that made us afraid to double check, and there was certainly no ability to find out correct information and take it back to our parents. As isolated as we already were, there was always the fear that we could be isolated further if our lifestyle allowed for too much knowledge seeking. 

My parents taught us some strange theories about food, which I believe contributed to a lot of food and weight issues in our family. They told us that calories were a lie, and that potatoes and rice were vegetables. They didn't teach us to have a treat or two and then healthy food, to make choices. They didn't teach us that you could have a certain amount and maintain, lose or gain weight. They taught us that when food was available to eat it. There was always food, but sometimes it was just rice, for breakfast lunch and supper. So when there was tasty food available, we really wanted it. We weren't taught moderation and we were taught that there was only ever starvation or overindulgence. 

Sunday, 11 August 2013

My Actual Life Path vs. Life Planned by my Parents

I've been thinking about how my life would be different if I followed the path set out for me by my parents, an alternate reality if you will. My parents had plans for us to emulate them with the second generation. The idea was that we would remain under my father's ultimate authority forever, but also for the daughters to come under the secondary authority of husbands, and for the sons to bring wives into the family who would also be under the authority of my father and my brothers.

If I had followed this plan, my life would be very different. Right now, I am married to a man who practices equality, we own a house and two cars, I have two university degrees and a great job. I am not well known in the community, but I am mostly respected by people who do know me. We have two cats. We visit friends and have a few drinks sometimes on weekends. We go on great vacations together. We own lots of nice things, I have enough clothes to go about a week without doing laundry. I enjoy cooking and baking, so I do these activities for enjoyment, but I cook gourmet meals and experiment with international cuisine because I can and we have the money.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

My Parents' Belief System

These are my parents' beliefs, as I was taught as a child.

My parents believed in the bible. They believed it was the divine word of god, and that it was infallible. They believed that bible verses should be taken literally. 

They believed in six days of creation and that god created Eve for Adam. They believed that Eve caused the Fall. They believed in the flood and that god chose one special family to be saved, because that family followed god more closely than other people and this exposed the other people as the wicked beings they were. 

They embraced the stories of Abraham and Isaac - he was willing to stab his son, Jephthah and his daughter - he sacrificed her to thank god for a battle victory, and the Deuteronomy instructions for the procedure to stone your rebellious children, which demonstrate the power a parent has over the lives of their children. 

They took a literal lesson from Leviticus 27, which values adult men at 50 shekels of silver, but women at 30 shekels. Boys are worth 5, and girls 3. They believed in the added value of not only a son, but a first born son, and spent a great deal of effort on building up my older brother's pride in being the first born, which led to a bit of a disappointment when he learned that not only was he getting a double inheritance of nothing, my father had a secret illegitimate son from a previous relationship. 

Monday, 5 August 2013

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child - Do children have rights?

I have become very interested in what rights children have. Here is the link to the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child:

The CRC says that: 
  • Childhood is entitled to special care and assistance
  • Convinced that the family, as the fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members and particularly children, should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities within the community - the family, the natural environment for the growth and well-being of children, should be afforded the protection and assistance to assume its responsibilities (emphasis mine)
  • Recognizing that the child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding
  • Considering that the child should be fully prepared to live an individual life in society, and brought up in the spirit of the ideals proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, and in particular in the spirit of peace, dignity, tolerance, freedom, equality and solidarity
  • the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth