Do you want some milk? No. Do you want to donate $3 for a charity? No. Do you want sausage instead of bacon? No. Do you want to take the Metro over Uber? No.
These are all very common things that I say no to daily in my life. No one has ever questioned me for these choices, I’ve never been reprimanded, and I’ve never felt like I didn’t have a choice.
I am going to Morocco in a month, something I am very excited to say yes to – I’m thinking full Sex and the City 2 vibes for the entire week. So, in preparation for this, I attended or attempted to attend a mosque. This visitation was the first time I felt like I couldn’t speak and that I couldn’t say no.
Out of a group of sixteen, I was the only one who said no.
A little background…
In an email describing the visit to the mosque, I was told we, as women, would not be forced to wear headdresses.
Now that you know that…
We arrived to the mosque and the women were immediately told to go cover their heads.
I told them I would not be going in. And let me explain why…I am 100% German. There is not an ounce of reasoning in me and I completely encompass the word stubborn. Here’s what I also encompass – my culture.
In Germany, it is illegal to wear hijabs (headdresses) because it is viewed as a suppression of women. I was brought up knowing that I am not submissive (not in the 50 shades meaning) and that I have a voice.
Secondly, I have a history with an Islamic country, Kuwait. I know firsthand how those women are treated there and it is not something that I can support while on American soil.
Then, I looked to my religion. I felt it was inappropriate for me to enter a place of worship that I have no intention of exposing myself to. In actuality, I found it disrespectful to the mosque for me to enter it without believing one area of its belief system. I also found it challenging to go in there when I know the conflicts between my religion and its.
Lastly, if I were in an Islamic country, and I will be when I go to Morocco, I will embrace and respect the culture. I love exploring new places and spent 6 months of my life this year craving for adventure and experiencing new things. But when in America, I have the First Amendment and as a woman, I have a voice and I said…
Apparently me saying no was an extreme issue to the members of the mosque and to my peers. I was yelled at after my group entered the mosque for being disrespectful…to the point that I exited the courtyard, sobbed for 15 minutes, and then sat in the heat not knowing what to do or where to go. The fact is, I never should’ve been put in that position.
Then, a week later, I find out that my peers were upset by my decision to not go in. To this I say why do you care? I am an adult, I have been for a while, and I make my own choices. I say no when I feel it is appropriate and I will not let anyone pressure me into saying yes. These peers, they do not know or understand my culture, my life history, or my religious beliefs. And it is not something that I have to justify because no, I don’t want to.
What’s the takeaway of this? We’re taught to say no in school – to sex, drugs, parties. Never to the idea that we might have to say no to something bigger; something that challenges us to the point of shaking and tears. It’s a life lesson that’s important. I always thought, wow, are there really moments when you’re the only one who says no? There are…and it’s always uncomfortable and it feels wrong. However, it’s right. The Constitution gives us the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech and that, for whatever it’s worth, made it legal and justified for me to say no.