A story about forced marriage, of young women who grew up in the USA

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com, or follow me on Twitter.

Parts of this are outright illegal, and then other parts should be illegal but are frustratingly legal. Sad to think about these sisters (off-topic, but on the same theme, check out the Turkish film Mustang):

In 8th grade, our class took a field trip to tour the high school. No one wore uniforms, like we did in middle school! I could even wear my skinny jeans there. Yep, as strict as my mom was, she did buy me skinny jeans that were super popular then. I remember being in the store and pointing them out and being stunned when she nodded yes, then paid for three pairs at the register. They were the only things I owned that made me feel like a normal kid.

But right before middle school graduation, I came home from school one afternoon to find my mother and grandmother rummaging through my closet.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

My mother was holding a garbage bag and my grandmother had scissors. They were cutting my skinny jeans into pieces and throwing them away.

I was so confused — she’d bought them for me! When I asked my mom why, she said, “They’re inappropriate and revealing. You’re too old to dress like this now!”

I was furious. All I had left were one pair of baggy jeans, which I hated. For the first time in middle school, I was relieved to have a uniform.

As soon as I graduated 8th grade, I started pestering my mom about enrolling me in high school. Every time I asked if she’d done it, she’d say, “Not yet.” In July, she said, “I’m signing you up for an all girls’ school.” But there was a wait list, so then it was going to be online school. I even did my own research and had pamphlets sent to the house, but nothing happened.

By September, all of my friends had started school but me. I woke up every day at 10am and watched TV, cleaned the house, and helped make dinner. I was beyond bored. Meanwhile my mom loved having me around. She didn’t work, and always said that it was important for me to learn how to be a good housewife. I cringed every time she said that — that was the last thing I wanted to be.

In fact, I really wanted a job, even if it was just working at my step-dad’s gas station. Anything to get out of the house. I even asked my step-dad if I could get a workers’ permit, which you can get at 15 in Chicago, and he said, “Sure!” But just like with high school, nothing ever happened. It was another empty promise.

My laptop was my refuge.

Facebook was the only way for me to stay in touch with my friends. I made up a random name that my parents could never guess and chatted with friends throughout the day. If my mom walked into the room, I’d switch the screen to a video game. She had no idea. Earlier that year, when I told friends why I wasn’t in school, more than one told me, “That’s illegal!” I kind of knew I had the legal right to be in school, but wasn’t sure who to tell. My parents didn’t care — it’s what they wanted!

…I had to explain to a room full of strangers that I was faking that smile to survive and that my mom knew the entire time that I didn’t want to marry that man. On the stand, I said, “My mom is lying.” That was so painful to have to say — I wept in front of everyone. All the feelings I’d kept inside just poured out.

One really has to wonder how much freedom women could attain, if their mothers and grandmothers didn’t work to ensure that daughters are forced into marriages they do not want to be part of.

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