STORY: Struggles of a twentysomething woman who drives

This post isn't about driving, well, technically. But the story does start with driving.

I was going through my social feeds this morning, just before I got up to start the day when my mom barged into my room. She started ranting about the car getting bumped this morning and how it's a sign we shouldn't sell it (we've been trying to get the car off our hands for months... although not aggressively, which is sort of an unconscious way of saying we don't really want to sell it). She then followed up and said that it's actually a good thing that we keep the car. I asked why. She said that she's going to enrol my brother in driving school this summer and it's better he practice on a worn out car than a new one.

This is our usual morning routine. Mom would share whatever news she has to me while I get ready in the morning, which I actually welcome since it is my version of the morning news which I hardly get to watch these days. Everything was fine until she added that my brother should've learned to drive years ago. My brother is 20 and I learned to drive at 21. I told her that and asked her what the issue was. She said it's "different" with boys. She said that they should learn earlier on and, in an implied way, that girls don't really need to.


You can tell that this is where the problem starts. Let me just add that I paid for my own driving lessons and demanded that I take those lessons. I pushed and actually contributed to buy a car I can drive so I can learn and master my driving. I nagged everyone I could to stomach my driving until I could do it on my own. I nagged my mom to help me get my license. I had to actually "fight" to experience the privelege of driving which I felt was also long overdue. I was 21 when all these happened when it should have been when I was 18. But that never bothered anyone, did it? It was perfectly okay that I relied on other people, particularly men, to help me get to where I have to go. But for my brother, getting a license at 20 was just not right. It was something he SHOULD do... I just CHOSE to do it, too. It was like driving for me was an option, for my brother it was a right of passage of some sort.

Of course, my concerns went way beyond driving. I tried to explain to her that that kind of thinking, that there are certain things expected of a boy and a girl, isn't quite right. For our particular case this morning, I told her that it was like telling my sisters that it is okay to depend on someone else to go where they needed to... but it is unacceptable for my brother be a passenger to someone else. Of course, she didn't say it that way but that was the message that came through to me. And with that, I snapped.

I tried to calmly talk to her but I couldn't get through her... but I can't really blame her. I don't expect her to drop a lifetime of values she's been taught because her daughter tries to tell her all these things that contradict those values. I guess it is too late for some people. Unfortunately, that doesn't make me any less frustrated, angry, hurt and disrespected. It's a very difficult position to be in because there isn't really anyone or anything you can blame but hundreds of years of patriarchy. And what power do I have to let those generations before me pay for what they did? There is no justice! (Okay, I'm getting melodramatic. I'll stop now)

Anyway, I couldn't talk to anyone about it. After mom had left the room, I called Jose. Jose wasn't much help in the someone-to-talk-to department regarding this situation. Jose isn't a misogynist but he isn't one to embrace my ideals about the world either. He tolerates it most of the time but every time we discuss it, in the few times he indulges me, I just end up feeling more frustrated. He would let me do my thing because he knows we will just fight if he doesn't, but I could feel that he doesn't believe in it. For example, when I say I will go to one place, he always assumes he will drive for me. When I tell him that I will drive myself, he gives me all sorts of reasons why it's better if he drives for me. I would eventually scream that he is making me feel like I'm paralyzed, that I can't do anything for myself. He would claim that he didn't intend for me to feel that way, he just wants to "protect" me. And that's the problem. I don't need to be protected, I don't want to be protected! I am not a fragile piece of flower that can be squished any moment! I am a person, who happens to have different reproductive organ from him,  and is as capable as him or anyone else to bring myself to where I need to go. The next time I would tell him I would drive myself, he would say "Take care. I don't want to treat you like you are a paralyzed person." And though I can feel he is trying to be as sincere as he possibly can, and it is kind of nice that he is repressing his real thoughts on the situation for me, I can still feel that he doesn't believe in what he's saying.

I am not saying I can do everything myself because I can't, no one can. What I'm saying is that it is belittling to assume that I can't do something when I clearly said that I can or even before I ask for help or even before I try. It saddens me, and sometimes angers, that I can't fully convince the man I want to spend my life with to see me the way I see myself. Actually, I just hate that the world can't see me, and other women, the way I see myself. I know it sounds selfish but I'm selfish and controlling about a number of things and this particular issue is just something I can't let go of. 

Being that Jose wasn't any help (of course, I can't blame him for that since he was raised with more conventional values -  guy is the protector and the girl must be protected... I'm really hopeful though that it isn't too late for him), I ended up talking to myself as I showered. I ended up crying. As in ugly crying. I didn't understand it myself. I have been very vocal about my views on girl-boy equality for a few years now but I've never cried about it. Most times, I would actually laugh at how overly passionate, bordering ridiculous, I am when it comes to these things. The most would be that my eyes would heat up in the corners and almost bulge out with frustration.

But today was different.

It is only now that it finally hit me - I am dead serious about this. This isn't a phase or a fad or a rebellious act, this is me and I will live with this forever. And it finally hit me that I will feel frustrated, hurt and disrespected forever whether I speak up or not. Of course speaking up takes more effort and makes me more frustrated but either way, I get hurt. And what made me cry even more, was that it felt like I was going to be hurting alone. 

I had no one to talk to about this. I know there are women (and men) all over the world like me. I am not the first one nor am I the last. I have these people to thank for what progress in equality I am experiencing now. But to have someone I can really talk to, there is none! 

Like I always do, I try to find a metaphor for what I'm feeling to make some sense of all the ideas coming in and out of my head. I thought of bungee jumpers. People would praise them, watch them, and even admire them. They would call them brave and daring and would even go as far as say, "I wish I could be as daring as you!" or "I always wanted to bungee jump just like you!" But of course, most people don't become as daring. Most people don't eventually try to bungee jump. They remain watching from afar. To a bungee jumper, all the praises and recognition are welcome and appreciated but at the end of the day, these are just all noise. People would listen to her stories, of course, but none of these people will truly understand what it feels like to bungee jump, to be her, until they take the jump with her. And that's when the bungee jumper will realize she's alone. And not the independent, freeing kind of alone... it's the lonely, sucky kind of alone. And well, it sucks.

I don't bungee jump so everything above is just theory based on how I see bungee jumpers. I am amazed by their thirst for adrenaline and their courage to actually go through a scary activity such as bungee jumping, but I can't really say I understand what it feels to be one. Try as I may, I can never understand it until I take the jump... which I don't plan to... which is the problem.

People aren't willing to jump. People aren't willing to change their views. People aren't willing to believe that men and women are equal. And I have to live with that. And though I will complain about my frustrations and pain about people who just can't seem to see it the way I do (again, selfish sounding), what I am more sad and frustrated about is that I am in this thing alone.

I will drive and I will continue to until everybody around me takes me seriously as a driver. Since I started driving, people would treat my driving skill as a bonus, not a requirement or an expectation. When they let me drive, they treat it like an amusement. "Ooooh, look she can drive. Go on, show everyone you can drive little girl" like when they see a child learn how to clap. It isn't uplifting, not even funny. It's belittling and disrespectful. I know I think about things too much and I know people will tell me they don't think of me that way. But the fact that my mom and my dad and everyone else thought of my brother driving for the family, and not me who already can drive, means that they think I'm just playing. That driving is like a little hobby or game. That they let me go around the baby loops and give the real stuff to the boy. They're wrong. I am serious about my driving... and about every single thing I have to prove and struggle to do just to show everyone that men and women are equal.

It's a very heavy burden which I placed upon myself. I can't seem to let go of it so all I can do is kneel down, cry about it for a while, and thread on. I'm just hoping that before my shoulders give way, I find another person to carry the burden with me.

I need to stop now. I can't afford another crying session in a day. One session in the bathroom is my cap. Bye. 

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