I was born in a country where race, gender and class inequalities are glaringly a part of ‘normal’ life. I was raised in two countries that made me feel like I belonged to both and neither at the same time. In my short 20 years of my existence, I had never realized how the world is being devoured by a sickness called Inequality. Inequality makes people fragile to the point where if you are not a white rich male, you are institutionally oppressed. Freedom, agency, and diversity (or better multiculturalism so that some cultures can be excluded from the ‘multi’ classification) are myths or of this world.
I came to the United States because I hoped to find a ‘dream’ life, equality of access, safety, freedom and mobility. I am disappointed, not because of anything I personally experienced, but because of actions I witness every day. I am female, white and European, at least I got that going for me. But I am still a female, who no matter how much she works will always earn less than a man in her position because biologically, I MIGHT have a baby someday. Oppressive ideologies are devouring the entirety of the world, of course, not just the United States. However, where I was born, we look up to the United States. Sure people respect and help each other and the nature is taken care of and the air is cleaner and all… But systematized oppression is something people protest against every day. I guess what I want to say is that until I got here, and got to talk to some many bright growing minds, I never realized how much I should be grateful to my parents. So for that, here is a letter to all of those who have impacted my life:
Dear Mom and Dad,
I had never realized that it was a sacrifice for the both of you to decide to raise a girl in this unfair world and how difficult it is to be a woman. I realized that I never thanked you for never enforcing gender restrictions on me or letting me feel less valuable or struggle for being a female. I never thanked you for reminding me that everyone is unique and my genitals cannot classify nor define who I am as a person. Dad, I never realized I had to be grateful to you for teaching me how to use tools and wash a car and change lightbulbs and that apparently ‘girls’ don’t do those things. Mom, I never realized I had to thank you for teaching me that I do not have to wear heels, make up, or skinny pants to look be noticed, but that my brain is my biggest asset in this world. Mom and Dad, I never thanked you for reminding me on a daily basis that no matter how I look or feel, I am beautiful anyway because beauty is not on the face but in the soul.
In this world of binary democracies where we have to tick one of the two boxes about whether we are female/male, white/other, blond/brunette and we only count if we manage to make ourselves belong to such ‘classifications’, thank you for teaching me that nature is more satisfying than consumerism. Mom I never knew I had to thank you for never making me feel like I did not have the right to lead, speak my mind (not in one but two languages) or take risks. Dad, I never realized I had to thank you for never introducing me to violence or danger.
I had never realized that the experiences I have had so far are some that not only not many females but not many males even have had. All the traveling which allows me each time to see more about borders and people. I had never realized that mobility, which has always been a choice for me is actually a very rare privilege. You both raised me free and I never knew this wasn’t the norm. I have never realized that freedom of choice is not a real freedom.
Mom and Dad, I never realized I had to thank you for never telling me what to do with my body besides always keeping my head held high; and for teaching me that as long as I love myself, I will not have time to hate and judge others.
Mom and Dad, I never ever realized I had to thank you for ‘allowing’ me to go to school, that school was an ‘allowance’ and not a right. I never thanked you for teaching me the difference between empowering and weaponized education. And lastly, I never thanked you for always believing that I can do whatever I put my mind to; not in a “You will be president one day, my dear” kind of way but in a “Do not let anyone tell you that you cannot do something” kind of way.
In this world full of colonial privilege and exceptionalism; where even people who make the rules do not respect them and the only people who go to jail are ones who cannot afford a criminal defense attorney; I never realized I had to thank you for giving me a voice.
Dear Mom and Dad, thank you for raising me and making me take all these ‘privileges’ for granted.
No matter how hard I worked I would still not get paid as much as a man because biologically, I might have a baby someday. It was an actual sacrifice for the both of you to want to raise a girl in this world.
I never realized that being a human striped away of class, race and gender is a state to be thankful for and not normality.
You are protective, dependable.
Dear Mom and Dad, I know you know that I was born a female. I was born a female in Turkey. I am now far away but every time I turn on the news there is so other chaotic explosion that scares the hell out of me.
I am scared for you, both of you, because I cannot protect you the way you both protected me. Maybe you never had to protect me from an actual physical violence but I never experienced mental harassment and I think that is even better. I was born in a country where females get raped because they are on the street after 7pm and it is their fault because why weren’t they cooking in their own home?
I never thanked you for not making me feel like I ever had to worry about being a female. I never thanked you for not making me feel like I was any less valuable than any other person in the world. I never thanked you for allowing to have experiences that not only many females but many males do not even have in their lives. I only now realized, after coming to this forward-thinking, just and free country that some females have actually never been free.
Of course I wasn’t oblivious to this, it would be shameful if two university professors never made me realize such truth. But… you never made me feel it. You never made me feel that I had to work ten times harder than a man to get the same job position and still would get paid 30 percent less because, well... I might have a baby some day.
I think you are the people who made me strong, athletic, and free.
Mom and Dad, I never thanked for raising me free. Free to make my own choices, free to know when to stop being a child, free to know when it is time to have fun and free to be able to take the responsibility for all my actions but not the actions of others.
I never thanked you for raising as the strong woman I grew up to be, no matter what your differences were, to agree upon one simple thing, give me confidence. The confidence you still both have in me that I will one day become something great and the confidence that no matter what I do you are both still proud of me.
It is not that you had excessive money or resources but you loved me. You both wanted a daughter and you both loved me with all yours hearts.
I know we are dar As a female in Turkey. Turkey, a country which doesn’t necessarily stand out in terms of countries where females are treated fairly. I am half Italian and maybe this has a lot to do with the way I was raised but until I was 18, I was never made aware of the fact that females are not treated fairly.
Funny thing is, until I came to the forward looking, just and ‘free’ United States, I was never made feel like I was not free.