My Not Dear Father: Arabic Essay Contest Winner

By Evan Darraji

I’m calling you ‘my not dear father’ because, to me, you are nothing more than the biological causation of my existence in this world. Your efforts to program me and train me for many years, like an ideological machine that was programmed to do this work, was not out of love from me; you did it to get personal pleasure, as your religion dictates. You liked using this tool in order to be the head of the family, where there are few females, in order to prove your male tribal existence, and to fulfil your duty in training the women to be obedient.

I didn’t become an Member of Parliament in Iraq, as you teased me about becoming, when you were trying to break my morale. I didn’t want to steal from a people that only cares about negating everything about me that’s different. All they care about is binding women to a slave role; a cook, a laundry-woman, a maid – she belongs to the man, as his wife. I didn’t want to represent a society that doesn’t respect my identity, and wouldn’t hesitate for a minute to kill me, if it had the chance. It was a society that looked at me like a sick person, a lowly being, a whore, an infidel, that must be severely punished.

And why?

Merely for going against the grain of society, and living my life as I wished.

Father, I am now living life as I please. I didn’t get morally and sexually degraded, as you and the rest of society thought I would when I took off my hijab and wore short skirts, or when I stayed up late drinking alcohol at bars – which you think will send me to hell, and make us act like animals.

I am now living alone, despite being a woman. My house hasn’t become a house of harlotry, of men that just want to sleep with me, as you and your friends think. I can go anywhere I want by myself, I can take a taxi by myself, I visit my friends (men and women) and we stay up late and have fun without needing to worry about getting home for bedtime. Don’t worry – none of them have tried to sleep with me or harass me, even though I live without a guardian. I know how to protect myself from your type of people, who try to harass me and, believe me, if I liked one of them, I would choose myself to spend time with him alone. I don’t have a need to expose my female body parts just to make up for things I don’t have.

I didn’t turn into what you thought I would become, and what you were afraid I would turn into, because I don’t care about what you said, and I’m not an example of the stereotype you thought I would be. You use that claim against every girl that wants to escape from your mental prisons.

All I care about is that I left your prisons, to live a simple life, as I please. I wear what I want, I go out when I want, and with whom I want. I do whatever I feel like doing, with my free choice and my ambitions, and I plan my future by myself. I choose a life-partner according to what makes me happy, and not just to make children. My happiness and ability to live according to my own free will are a great achievement, and are much greater than becoming a Member of Parliament or Minister. I don’t care if you, and others like you, are proud of me for being part of the family and carrying your name. You should know that I won’t give you the privilege to be proud of me. You use the lure of ‘pride’ as an ideological tool to deceive children, and their families, to get their loyalty.

Do you understand now, ‘my not dear father’?