30 July 2005

Chauvenism in America

I hear a lot on television how the United States is the best place in the world for women. As an American who has lived in different countries (2 years in Italy, 8 months in Greece), I disagree.

My life growing up American meant I had to stay in bed quietly while my dad got ready for work. Then once I heard his car leave, it was safe to get up, but as the oldest, it was my duty to get my brother and sister up and ready for school. It was always my turn last at the bathroom. My mom would either go back to bed or sit in the kitchen smoking a cigarette finding something else for me to do before I could leave for school. In my mom's eyes, school was not important for me because I was a girl. She was training me to be a good wife and mother. So, I would end up late for school several days a week, where I would be scolded for being late by my homeroom teacher and made to write sentences that I was a failure with no future for being late.

When I got home from school, chores always came first. When my chores were done, I would have to hide in my closet to read. If my mom found me, I got into trouble. I shared a room with my little sister, and she would tell on me also for having the closet light on. My mom would complain that I would read so much that I made myself stupid. So she would hide my school books. I would have to use my babysitting money to buy new books. One year, when I was taking Advanced Pre-Trig., I had to buy the same book 3 times because my book would disappear when I brought it home. Plus, my dad forbid me to use a calculator, which was manditor for the class. So I ended up failing the class. School was a nightmare for me. Teachers did not understand what was wrong. My mom tried very hard to make sure I was headed down the path she wanted, which did not include an education. So I graduated high school with a D average, though my PSAT scores, which I took my PSAT with my own money against my mom's wishes, and was punished by her for wasting my own money on it and taking the test when I could have been home helping her clean.

As for a drivers license, my mom would not let me get one. She did not believe women should drive. She drove because of my dad, but that did not last long. And I could not get my drivers license until I was 19.

My mom would not let me go to Prom.

Yet, she made sure I got married when I was 19 years old. I was engaged to be married, but I broke it off with Richard. I had a bad feeling about the wedding. I tried to get an apartment of my own, but my mom said that I was getting married soon, and she wanted me home. I tried so hard to be an obedient daughter. Yet, my mom would say one thing in front of my dad, and something different to me when my dad was not around.

My brother used to just sit and watch tv all day. And that was ok because he was a boy. I was a girl, so it was my job to do lawn work, take out the trash, clean the house, take care of my siblings.

Chauvenism does exist in America, but the television tells us other countries are worse.

I am still angry over my family's lies and deceit.