How Strict Religious Upbringing Turns Women into Perfect Liars

Friday, 24 November 2017 - 09:06:26 WIB
By : Mayramasinna | Category: Family & Relationship - 4362 hits
Oh, to be born and raised in a religious family!

Let’s start with this: I think there is a particular skill that almost ALL Indonesian women, at least those raised in religious families, possess naturally because of their upbringing.

Lying. Admit it, we are a bunch of skillful liars.

Coming of age in the second millennium, we grew up with MTV, watching Britney Spears evolve from a dancing preppy high school chick in “Baby One More Time” to a half-naked and gyrating diva in “I’m a Slave 4 U”. If you think that’s quite an influence for teenagers with raging hormones, picture the other side of the coin: the daily religion classes in school, holy scripture study groups, religious retreats, and, of course; our parents.

From my experience, the dynamic with our parents growing up is as intense as the classes, study groups, and retreats combined, if not more. We may be adept at suppressing our true self in school and society in general, but dealing with parents is a whole other ball game. Parents are a 24-hour love machine with a faulty default mode, the latter thanks to a setting ruled by religion.

Here are some of the outputs of that setting:

“It doesn’t matter how smart or successful you are, if you are not faithful to God.”

“You will make your dad and me responsible in the afterlife if you don’t pray five times a day.”

And my favorite: “No one will want you if you lose your virginity before marriage, not the man who could be your future husband, not us, and certainly not God”.

If this is how your parents think of us, what chance do we have in the real world? And what would happen if we do not conform to the stereotype of a woman who grew up obedient to her parents and praying five times a day for a doctor/banker husband from the sky to save her from this biological jail?

We rebel, of course, like those brave souls who came before us, but we also develop the ability to be pathological liars. Case in point: have you ever wondered how you could effortlessly tell your parents that you’d just been hanging out at Erika’s place, when, in reality, you were shagging your high school boyfriend in the back of his dirty Honda?

Living in this extreme juxtaposition, bingeing on over-sexed pop culture before praying together with your mother, provides a perfect environment for the making of a liar. Your hormones scream for sex, but because your parents forbid you to get it in any straight and honest way, you lie. So there: you get your carnal release and your parents’ approval.

The problem is your conscience could only get so far with all the lies, especially when you know you’re too old to be doing it.

I am Indonesian, a woman, 27, and born to and raised in a Muslim family. I also live abroad and am shacking up with my Caucasian boyfriend. And, yet, I still lie to my parents that I’m a virgin (27 years old) who manages to this day to sleep separately from her boyfriend.

And I know that a lie is never only a lie. It’s a gate to another lie and it becomes a part of your behavior before it becomes your character. But for a person in a situation where they must contradict themselves constantly in order to live in peace, lying is a survival mechanism.

Can you blame me, then, for feeling a little heartbroken whenever I lie to my parents, because to them what makes me happy and complete as a person is sinful?

I  believe that for most people having a religious faith means having a sense of community, heightened spirituality, and life purposes. I also believe that this world is progressing rapidly, and whatever we believe in must be in accordance with the global progress of humanity. To raise your children and to view and treat women around you using literal interpretation of thousands-year-old manuscripts go against this progress.

By denying what is natural, you are condoning the lying, therefore causing broken relationships, damaged reputations and many regrets in those women’s lives. What I wrote is only a simplified version and a fraction of this problem, and this problem may manifest differently in society. But whatever society we are in, can we at least agree that we do not need another generation of liars molded by their parent’s bad judgement?
 
Mayramasinna lives to combine her passion for wild ranting with insights she usually gets from the wiser voice in books, talks, documentaries and movies. She believes that intelligence goes hand in hand with conscience – her ultimate guide in resisting/writing against oppression, bigotry, inequality, stupidity and douchebaggery.

Got an opinion on this issue? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below.

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COMMENTS
Desi N. | 24 November 2017 | 12:21:13 WIB
Wow, a brave, fantastic piece that reflects the 'dual-life' reality for so many of us young women here in Indonesia. Beautifully written and argued. I hope others can relate too.
Yuri Nasution | 24 November 2017 | 13:23:30 WIB
I find this piece very beautiful and thought-provoking. And it is also funny at the same time. Esp the "tell your parents that you’d just been hanging out at Erika’s place, when, in reality, you shagging your high school boyfriend in the back of his dirty Honda" part. It is so funny I instantly laughed. It reminds me of high school memories :D But it also made me realize me of how hypocrite the lives that we have to live sometimes. But we survive anyway; I agree, this is our survival mechanism as women. I feel related to this article so much. Thanks!
Cenil | 24 November 2017 | 16:13:26 WIB
Related to this article :)
RMS | 24 November 2017 | 21:56:32 WIB
Thank you for making me feel like I’m not alone in this. I’ve been feeling guilty especially since moving back with them, and I’ve tolerated so much of those prude talks about women being unwanted when they are no longer virgins. Would love to hear more about how you personally deal with it!

Sending you lots of love and patience,
RMS
Loglady | 25 November 2017 | 01:25:48 WIB
Love this piece and love...love the honesty put into this so much. The line "24hour love machine with a faulty default mode" couldn't be well put more than this. Its sickening to think that how little of autonomy we have to be fully honest and be honest even for ourselves because of this kind of religious parents. To this day, I always dreaded and feeling so unwilling to go stay at my parents' place because I know as soon as I am there, It is so wrong for me to even be myself.
Tina S. | 26 November 2017 | 11:53:15 WIB
Great article! Love the honesty and humor.
Rama | 27 November 2017 | 12:23:37 WIB
Part I :
So, IMHO, the nature of human being is having a phase of that puberty life. But it doesn't mean that we should follow our desire that leads to negative things. I could refer that your point of releasing your high desire for sex before marriage is negative cause it doesn't follow the rules, be it governmental rules or religion rules. We all know, that rules are created for the commonweal, the public good. And why don't you try to change your perspective?
Rama | 27 November 2017 | 12:24:40 WIB
Part II :
I see you are facing self-conflict of two roles, one is being a girlfriend and the other is being a daughter. Those are your high priorities, so you tend to blame your another role, as a follower of a religion, which is not quite important as those previous two roles. That can happen cause of your belief and thoughts that shaped by your environment, experience, etc. Try to change your perspective by being in the role of a daughter and a follower of a religion, then you will blame your boyfriend cause of his flirting actions or his "attractiveness". So, it depends on your priorities. Priorities that are shaped by your beliefs and thoughts. Beliefs that are shaped by your environment, experience, etc. So be wise to choose your environment and experience.
Mayramasinna | 27 November 2017 | 13:34:36 WIB
Dear Rama, Thank you for your humble opinion towards my little piece here, nicely crafted into two parts, therefore I will try my best to respond to both parts;
Part I:
To quote you directly, "we should not follow our desire that leads to negative things" and then you refer to my "high desire for sex before marriage" as an example of "negative things". Which I strongly disagree, because:
a.) I am Indonesian, who currently live abroad. Both governments that are relevant to my identity and occupation, fortunately, are not enabling any criminal law against consensual sex. If you are Indonesian, please kindly check (http://www.hukumonline.com/klinik/detail/lt5018012dba3d7/ bisakah-dipenjara-karena-berhubungan-seks-dengan-pacar) or if you have more time
(https://sdm.ugm.ac.id/web/sk/1974_UU-1-TAHUN-1974_PER KAWINAN.pdf).
Mayramasinna | 27 November 2017 | 13:40:22 WIB
(continued)
Therefore, either my high desire for sex before marriage, or my private consensual sexual activities as an adult Indonesian woman are not and will never be counted (as far as the current law doesn't change) as a criminal act in both countries I live in, nor it will offense any public good or commonwealth as far as I know.
b.) I know I did not put this fact in my piece, because I think it is quite obvious for the readers: but I am an atheist. A choice that I made consciously; to liberate myself from any notion of religion and any conception of god or deity. That's why personally, I don't have anything against any kind of private consensual sex between adults.That's too bad if my healthy appetite for sex and passionate relationship with my partner are against your religion's rule, but frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.
Mayramasinna | 27 November 2017 | 13:58:21 WIB
I hope all that above summarizes my respond for Part I: according to point a.) and b.) I don't see any reason relevant to myself, or any woman in similar position as mine, to try and change our perspective. The perspective is absolutely fine as it is, thank you for your concern.
PART II.
You are right for a bit of this part, I am in a constant self-conflict between two extreme roles, the first role is as a daughter of a devout religious parents, (this is where you're mistaken) and a role as a highly functioning adult. I lied constantly (believe it or not I feel bad about lying, hence this article) because as a daughter, I love my parents and I don't want my reality to hurt them - because they believe that it's an dishonor to have a daughter who's sexually active before marriage (again, THEIR belief, not MINE).
Mayramasinna | 27 November 2017 | 14:12:40 WIB
As an adult, I don't feel bad at all that I am sexually active, to be honest I am quite happy about it - what I feel bad about, is having to lie to my parents about it because their religion fundamentally forbids them to accept it. I obviously didn't blame my partner, or myself, or even my parents or any religion in particular - what I blame is the social conditioning where most religious parents are put in position to fundamentally interpret religious laws into how they treat, educate and value their daughters in this high rapid progressing world. Again, thank you for your concern about my priorities and experiences - so far, they are absolutely in the right place, even striving to get to a better place. What about yours? I hope yours lead you to a progressive and open-minded place, where both women and men can actualize themselves to their fullest, without falling victim to any bad judgements from themselves or others. Have a nice day.
Mayramasinna | 27 November 2017 | 14:23:38 WIB
Dear Desi N, Yuri Nasution, Cenil, RMS, Loglady and Tina S.

Thank you so much for acknowledging and responding (especially with your own stories!) this little piece of mine. I hope our awareness will take us to a more honest and happy version of ourselves, not because we are not good people right now-but because we realize that part of being a good person is to constantly developing and harmonizing our character, behavior and values with likeminded others.
Rama | 27 November 2017 | 16:04:32 WIB
Thank you for your response. I am sorry for mistakenly assuming that you're living in Indonesia, and you still hold your parents' religion. Then you had clarified about that, and I think if we continue this, it would be a long discussion or even a debate cause our beliefs are so different. So, I just want to tell a bit of myself, as you asked before. Yes I am Indonesin but currently living overseas as an intern. I also have that friend who do sex with many girls. And in other case that still related to "negative thing", they even told me to drink. But for me, being an open minded person doesn't mean to always follow all of those things that majority do as an act of conformity. I do open to their opinions and behavior, but just to accept that as a reality of multicultural living, because I have my own beliefs. Thank you for your kind response :))
anonim | 27 November 2017 | 23:18:17 WIB
ahh you right.... and dont forget the guilty pleasure from doing sins :(
Mayramasinna | 28 November 2017 | 10:22:16 WIB
Dear Rama,
You're welcome, and let me assure everyone that even if we still live in Indonesia and/or hold any religion, it doesn't change the fact that adult consensual sex is not a crime in our country - by putting a fallacious argument to prove your point, you won't do anyone good - so I suggest you don't do that anymore. Also, to quote you that you are accepting other's behavioral and mindset differences as a reality of multicultural living, you should restrain yourself to put a negative label on things you and your religion do not approve of - you can do it in the comfort of your own private mind, just don't say it out loud/online; it is socially incorrect, if not highly (inappropriate) judgmental.
Mayramasinna | 28 November 2017 | 10:28:13 WIB
Dear anonim,
Well yes, the freudian guilty pleasure when we still divide our world into sins and merits - it was edgy for a while. But it does get old quite quickly, and I found the idea of sins and merits is seriously obsolete.
ruthayue | 29 November 2017 | 22:41:44 WIB
As a fellow woman who can 100% relate to your story, I want to state of how much I am proud of you to finally muster the guts to write this article, basically to be completely honest to the world for some time and question the circumstances most Indonesian women are trapped in.
Tbh I always have these ideas of writing articles or stories about the paradoxical life we're living in to escape the guilt but the fact that my parents might actually find it online terrifies me because of course, I have been lying to them in my entire adult life. (I can't even think of sharing this on my Facebook page) So this article doesn't only inspire but motivate me too. Thank you and I wish you good luck!
Mayramasinna | 30 November 2017 | 11:08:16 WIB
Dear ruthayue,

Thank you so much for your encouraging comment, I am so happy that this little piece inspires and motivates you to do something about your own 'trap'. I know how hard it is, I also can totally relate (as you can see, I still use an alias to all my writings for reasons I bet you're too familiar with). I wish to see you on the other side of our stories - the side with nothing but the truth.
Shinta | 02 Desember 2017 | 02:13:35 WIB
It is unfortunate that some had to lie to parents for not having been conforming to the ideals parents want for their kids. Having to lie is bad for our soul. As per parents, I guess their ideals will not change, whether or not we conform or not. They will not stop telling what they think is right and what they think is wrong, for they want only the best for their kids, for here and the hereafter. That is their duties as parents, or should I say the nature of being parents, and it is not easy. I only found out after I have a child myself. It is not easy to be a daughter that loves their parents either. They might want their parents to know only what they want them to know. But believe me, parents are not as oblivious of what have been going on, as they may seem to be. As whether or not you will resort to endless lies it is something that you will decide for yourselves, has nothing to do with values your parents chose to instill in you.
Mayramasinna | 02 Desember 2017 | 16:41:08 WIB
Dear Shinta,
I agree, unfortunate indeed, ditto on lie is bad for our soul. Although, I have to disagree on your point that parent's ideals cannot be change, their ideals are compositions of idea (of what's right and what's wrong) that will always have 'cause and effect' relationship with the people, environment, politic, economic, etc related to that ideals. I know that this little article lack of the parent's perspective (because I'm not a parent, and this is a personal narrative), nor that I blame my parents or belittling parent's role and nature here - I'm questioning the social conditioning that uses religion as a strict and only moral compass. From my experience, there's a juxtaposition where parent's think using religion as a rule will implement obedience, but it clashes with secular, liberal and democratic values that shaped our will and desire (and realizing having different values, doesn't mean we're wrong).
Mayramasinna | 02 Desember 2017 | 16:53:02 WIB
(continued)
So we lied, because we don't want to disrupt our parent's reality and view on us, also lying is easier than having conflicts of moral and faith (if you're Indonesian, you must know how that particular kind of conflict mostly elevates to crazy sinetron level). So thank you for your insight that today's parent are not as oblivious as the older generation's (because believe me, my parents chose to be oblivious because they are in denial).
Mayramasinna | 02 Desember 2017 | 16:54:39 WIB
(continued)
I did, and am trying to liberate myself from the whirlpool of lies, by realizing that I am not a liar in my relationship with my friends and my partner - it's just logic that not only I need to contemplate on myself but also on my relationship with my parents (hence, this article). From your insight, it gives me hope that if today's parents are more conscious, they will opt to change their parenting ideals, from religio-centric into a more progressive and relatable ideals, ideals that are in harmony with this vastly progressing world. And therefore, honest relationships between parents and children, and therefore, future generation that is more honest and trustworthy.
Aprilianna | 02 Desember 2017 | 18:10:06 WIB
I can totally relate to this story. Thank you for writing. I have some cases when i had to lie to my parents. For example, i never tell them that i drink alcoholic beverage. If they knew it, they would be very angry (especially my mom). I stay at my male friend's house when i visited a city for vacation. I told them that i stay at my female friend's house. This male friend is just a good friend, not my boyfriend. But then again, they would not allow me to stay at his house if they knew it. And i almost never pray recently. Imagine if they knew it.
Mayramasinna | 03 Desember 2017 | 12:28:58 WIB
Dear Aprilianna,
Thank you, as you can imagine I felt encouraged with comments such as yours showed me that I am not alone in this particular situation. You and I both know that it is confusing, we know wholeheartedly that lying is bad, and it did and still troubles us because we're good people. But then again, is it wrong to drink alcoholic beverage moderately and appropriately? I s it wrong to stay overnight or more in a place that belongs to a man whom you felt safe and comfortable with? Is it wrong that you chose not to pray, an activity that is got nothing to do with anyone but yourself?
Mayramasinna | 03 Desember 2017 | 12:36:47 WIB
(continued)
I believe that there's nothing wrong with all of that mentioned above. What's wrong then? the social conditioning and pressure to see our actions from our parent's perspective (therefore, their religious perspective) without putting our own values and perspective into the equation. Talking from my own experiences, that's why I lie - I rarely (if never) lied in my other relationships, therefore it's the relationship between me and my parents that triggers me to lie. Now, Imagine if they knew? I actually started to open up to them, slowly, and I can tell you - so far so good, slow but improving, one at a time. I hope you'll find courage to do the same, I hope you and your parent's will find acceptance that all of you deserved.
Bunny of Hell | 09 Desember 2017 | 16:22:25 WIB
Yea, you are not alone. I was so timid back then, trying agreed too much for what my parents want, what our people want. I was stressed out, and began my lies just for what I think is quite right. As long I grew, I feel like our environment, especially at small town or kampong is very judgemental and uneducated. Lol. Yes there are so many things need to be fixed, but people were thinking nothing is needed to be fixed! I hate this kind of culture.













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