I remember coming home, when I was in Primary 4, with my face drenched in tears and my uniform torn all over.
I was angry, bitter and felt cheated. My mom ran to me from the door and began to create a fuss. She knelt down, touched my chest, touched my head, pulled my limbs, all the while asking me what was wrong and who had done this to me. I sobbed and thick mucus kept me from speaking.
When I could finally speak, I told my mom what happened: During the break time, I had wanted to be the goalkeeper at the class match between boys and girls. The girls would not let me be their goalkeeper and they went ahead to beg a boy from the opposing team to help. Standing on that football pitch, I yelled and cried and pitched to them, giving them the best manifesto I could come up with. But they ignored me and lost their match. After the match, I ran to the pitch and jumped on the fake goalkeeper. I clawed at him and kicked him. I spat on him and called him a born-fool. God punish you for making my team lose. He beat me up.
My mom rubbed my back and took me into the bathtub.
As she bathed for me she said, ‘Dara, you are not too old to hear this, so I’ll just tell you. You are strong and brave and no one can take that from you. But you have to understand the ways of the world. It’s a man’s world and men rule. There are some things that you just have to let go, because you’re a woman. Men, they are weaker than you in emotions but stronger than you in power. So when emotions rise, you must be the stronger and more mature one and dominate them with your strength. That is, you must let it go because that’s the stronger thing to do. And when physical power is what is at play, you must realize that you’re not stronger, and you must let the stronger dictate’
I love my mom. But now that I’m older I realize that there are a lot of loopholes in her theory, the summary of which is: Emotional and physical strength are relative. Notional and physical strength even when relative, should not be used for oppression.
I do not contest for the position of a man and I do not want any man to contest for my position as a woman. We were created uniquely and for different purposes. However, I would just advocate for everyone to see everyone first, as a human being, before they see them as male or female. I believe that would help us treat others as we would truly want to be treated.
Recognize similarities first, before accepting differences.