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When speaking about living as a single, independent woman in the U. S. I come from a totally different place than most people.
I spent most of my life under someone else’s control; it was part of my family’s culture.
My father is from Iran. It’s a country where women are considered property of their father at birth and continue to be his property until marriage, when they become their husband’s property.
Iranian people are called Persians; you probably have heard of Persian rugs or cats.
I am a U.S. citizen. I was born in Texas. I graduated from the University of Oklahoma. College is where I first really noticed how little ability I had to live independently without my father’s control and how different my life was from most young adults.
Even in college I was expected to check in multiple times a day with detailed information on where I was, had been and would be, with whom, doing what activities, and for how long.
Any time I got caught acting out by going out to clubs, dating or being intimate with anyone I would be punished. Punishment included things such as being left in the street after all my possessions, car, residence, identification and employment were taken from me.
This happened several times.
I got new stuff. I moved and got a dog. I kept demanding independence. I wanted the right to control my finances.
I applied for student loans to pay for school by myself so that money couldn’t be taken from me as punishment. I wanted the right to not be told what I could and couldn’t wear and do.
In Iran, women must cover their hair and be clothed from wrist to ankles in public. My clothes were given away to domestic violence charities after I was beaten so badly and for so long I fled the state to get away. My dog survived being poisoned to live all over the western half of the U.S. with me.
I’ve driven across the country several times; it’s incredibly freeing. Women aren’t allowed to drive in Iran. I’ve always wanted to live by my own rules without any oppression in any form, including financial, emotional, physical, sexual or psychological. All of these desires are dishonorable to my father’s culture.
A woman who does not want someone else to control her is a disgrace. Perhaps because I’m rebellious, or I’m an American, or I believe in basic human rights, whatever the reason, I refuse to live any other way but autonomously. I don’t want someone telling me when to cook or clean. I don’t want a “honey do” list. I don’t want any help paying rent or bills; my dog is almost 15 now and I work full time to provide for us.
I don’t ask for permission from people. I don’t care about what most people think. My freedom is priceless. I don’t have much, but what I do have is mine. No one can take it from me. My education was the best investment I ever made in myself. No one can take what I’ve learned from me either.
As Mark Twain said, “I’ve never let my schooling interfere with my education.” I had to unlearn many things so I could learn to live independently. I learned to rely on myself and trust my judgment. I unlearned assessing my value based on my procreation, maid and hospitality skills or what other people think.
It’s so incredible to live independently here in the U.S. Being able to choose for yourself is something no American should ever take for granted. If your relationship ever becomes unbearable, you have the right to choose to leave. You are no one’s property but your own here and no one can deprive you of that unless you allow them.
I allow no one to deprive me of life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness anymore. I live independently because I can here in America. Here I don’t ever have to promise my hand, myself or any other part of me to anyone else unless I choose. And I’ve chosen to live independently until someone I choose knocks me off my feet and understands how important my independence is to me. Until then, I’m going to live alone, and be damn happy by myself!
Author: Sarah Molina
Editor: Travis May