Monday, September 15, 2014

From Left to Write: The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg

I feel lucky to have grown up in this country, in this time period, with my mom. I never felt pressured to act like my gender or give it up completely. I could play with my tonka trucks and ninja turtles in a frilly Easter dress, or ride my bike in heels. I could play with barbies and my toy kitchen wearing pants and a plaid shirt. I could cut my hair or leave it long, whichever I preferred.

I spent a lot of my teenage years with teenage boys and felt like "one of the guys" without having to discard my gender and literally become one of the guys. I spent countless days alone with one or more boys, often in their bedrooms, without it impacting my reputation. And I didn't need to pretend I was also a boy to do so! When I started dating my husband he could ask me about my sexual history (or lack thereof) directly and believe me even if there had been gossip saying otherwise.

One woman in the book states that it is the wish of ever Afghan woman to have been born a man. When the biggest difference between men and women is freedom who can blame them? I too have often wished I had been born a man but for completely different reasons. So many of my health problems throughout the years have been female exclusive. If I was a man I would not have PCOS or endometriosis. I wouldn't menstruate at all, let alone as heavily and painfully as I do. My weight probably wouldn't have shot up as soon as I hit puberty and it would be easier to maintain or lose whatever weight I did gain. I wouldn't have a dildocam shoved up one of my orifices several times a year or need multiple surgeries to burn and cut off the tissue that causes terrible pain more days than not.

If becoming a bacha posh could have saved me from this I would have done it in a heartbeat, and in that way I can understand why these girls do it. Really I think, more than wanting to have been born a man, we wish being born a woman would not be so disadvantageous. More than once Afghanistan has been ruled by groups wanting to bring feminism to the middle east, and yet so little has changed. If you think about it not much time has passed since our own country has become more female friendly. I must have hope that one day things will change for them, and for me.

This post was inspired by The Underground Girls of Kabul by journalist Jenny Nordberg, who discovers a secret Afghani practice where girls are dressed and raised as boys. Join From Left to Write on September 16th as we discuss The Underground Girls of Kabul. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

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