Unlike most women here, my problem is not about being covered or uncovered.
I grew up in a seemingly civilized, non-conservative environment with strong social relations when looking from outside. My mother doesn’t wear a headscarf, but she does her prayers, as she always used to do. But my father is overprotective. Even so, our clothes were never a problem for neither of them. Their problem was the boys around us, and I feel like that is still a problem with my mother.
When I was a child, my mother caught me masturbating. Every day since then, every time I went out, I heard: “Come back, decently.” Unspoken bans and endless interventions that force people to obey, leave people more helpless. If they told me, “You can’t have a boyfriend until this age,” I could comply. But that warning about decency… Feeling that you will make a wrong move all the time… It was unbearable. Especially for a child like me, whose instincts were to preserve the love of her parents by making no mistakes, it was no different than feeling a hand around my neck. I’ve waited for a slap whole of my life at my first mistake.
When I had a boyfriend for the first time, and I had done some things with him, I started having terrible nightmares, where I found myself in hell to atone for what I did, then I woke up sweating and shouting. My mom slept with me for months, but I couldn’t even tell her why I had nightmares. Nightmares kept going on until I left my boyfriend.
I got married 7 years later. Unlike many of my friends, I felt lucky that I didn’t have a wedding night fear. There were still warnings about decency, though. I hated visiting my mother because I kept hearing the same thing every time I leave the house. Every time I talked about a man, my mother listened carefully. She questioned me about him, whoever this person is, and even though I’m married. Even in the littlest joke, she condemned me.
Now I’m 31, and I’ve been married for 6 years. (I wrote 32 here before, just because that number has certain connotations*. I even tend to censor myself in an anonymous article.) If I can’t make a man see me as a sister, or if he’s not older than me, or if I can’t call him brother, I can’t even talk comfortably. I’m embarrassed continuously, and the worst thing is, I can’t hide it. They also get uncomfortable and feel like they are doing something wrong. Even that embarrassment scares me because I become afraid that they’ll think I have a feeling to be ashamed of. I still do that… Even very simple things, take your free will away when applied systematically.
By the way, the only thing I could independently decide was my husband until my current age. For the rest, I had to act according to my family’s wishes and conditions in every matter. Now I can’t even use my free will at my own home. Even though my husband isn’t the kind of person who would put pressure on me. This damn thing called pressure is not limited to the veil. There are a million ways to manipulate children and destroy their personality.
* Number 31 is a Turkish slang for masturbation
**We were not able to find the owner of the image we shared. If you know, you can comment on its source.