Your Choice Matters

When I was still living as a vegetarian I attended a family gathering where food was served as a large buffet. 99% of the dishes included meat. Essentially, the only vegetarian dish were some fried bananas. I was not thrilled.

While I stood in line. I saw a lot of the family members taking from the fried bananas. Including some cousins who clearly knew that I was vegetarian as we just 30min prior said how difficult it was for me to eat at these gatherings. Then, the last cousin in front of me approached the dishes and… took the last banana. And with that … I exploded.

“What the f*k is wrong with all of you. Why do you all have to choose from the one dish that I can eat. Now I have nothing left…”

Well, the discussion did not end well. But this is not the point of the story. I did not have the right to determine who was eating what and I definitely did not have the right to restrict what everyone else was eating. My cousins clearly had all the right in the world to eat whatever they wanted. I was wrong, they were not. No matter how often I had told them before, I chose to become vegetarian and I should have better prepared for the event and brought my own food. It would have just been nice if they had considered my lack of dinner choices when they made theirs.

The point I am trying to make is that all choices have consequences. Even if you have the right to any choice. Nevertheless, with every right you also have a responsibility. And every choice has consequences, maybe not for you, but for everyone around you.

Let’s think about the mother who decides to stay home and engage in child care full time. It is her choice. A choice she can clearly make. And it is her right to do so. However, what are the consequences of her choice? Is the choice she made the responsible one? What if her husband gets sick and will no longer be able to work? What if the kids are bigger and do not need her? What kind of role model will she be for her daughter? Kids tend to somewhat follow into the footsteps of their parents. Most of the women that I know whose mother worked are working today, too. Women whose mothers stayed home I find increasingly choosing to become a stay-at-home mom. As a mother you are essentially setting a standard for your kids… Do you really want to set this standard, this expectation for your daughter?

It is even worse reading about Muslim women choosing to cover their faces with a niqab or wearing a burqa. Just to get this straight out there.. I do not believe in legally banning both like France has done. I think that is wrong.  I believe it is in the responsibility of the woman to make the choice. In some countries like Saudi Arabia women are forced to cover up. Wearing a niqab or a burqa is clearly not a choice for everyone and more a sign of gender segregation and female being second class citizens. Gender segregation violates the laws of equality in the western society.

While it is clearly everyone’s right to wear what they want, I think when it comes to symbolism we as women need to be careful. We should not endorse wearing the symbol of female secondclassness even if it is also an important symbol of our culture, religion, or heritage. The unintended consequences of putting one assigned meaning above another meaning are enormous.

For every woman who is suffering, beaten into submission, and given no choice, we are telling her “Wow, I do not get you, this is great….I even choose to do so out of my own free will.” With that we give everyone justification to continue doing what they are doing to those women that are not allowed to choose.

With your choice you are voluntarily but probably unknowingly a direct roadblock in he walk to freedom for others. With your speaking up about your right to wear a symbol of segregation, you are making it okay to segregate. You are setting a tone that makes it harder for others to fight for their own rights.

If you actually think it is okay to be second class and inferior to men, please keep in mind for others it is not. They would like the right to their own pursuit of happiness.

I agree. Your are free to choose and your choice matters.

But so does everyone else’s freedom and choice! Be responsible!

 

 

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