my name is rouaa, i am 19 years old from Benghazi libya. i have been reading and learning more and more about feminism and sexism and the more I do, the clearer it is to me how unfair i have been treated in the past, because it was just what everyone thought was normal and okay. when i first started experiencing men catcalling me in the streets (i was probably 13) my mother told me i should never look at the man or respond or even defend myself if he tried to touch me because he might get angry and hurt me, i listened to her for years. another time i was in a crowded store with my mom and dad standing in line, i felt a hand brushing against my ass, i figured it was by accident because the store was crowded, but the second time i felt uncomfortable and told my mother, she told me to “be quiet” because she doesn’t want my dad to hear me and then start trouble with that man. Early on i was taught to always cover up, my dad would send me back to my room to change because my pants were “too tight” and i hated my body because i didn’t wanna be a sex object. i was furious with questions and i was always shut down from people who said it was our religion or our culture. my cousin once told me that my house would be “dirty” if i worked because i wouldn’t have time to clean. my uncle told me it was my job to sacrifice and compromise because that’s what a good mother does for her family. I saw my aunt thanking her husband for holding the baby like he was doing her a favor by taking care of his own child. in libya we have tribes and these “important” tribe meetings which women are obviously not invited to because, well, because they’re women. i have a cousin who would ignore me every time we met, he would shake hands with everyone in the room but me, i never knew why but i figured if i was a man it surely wouldn’t have happened. when you’re a girl you’re automatically less important, easy to ignore. in family dinners we have to make sure the men’s plates have more food and look more presentable because they’re more worthy of that for some reason. when my cousin was 16, she was forced to marry a man she didn’t want, and the same had happened to her sister. when anything bad happens to you youre automaticly blamed for it because men have needs, men cant control themselves, “its okay for men to catcall and hit on you because its a “phase” that they go through” a crush i had (believe it or not) once said to me, but why should i be the subject of your phase? why do you feel entiltled to my body and to talk to me or even get my number? why is all this bullshit okay and normal?. in libya youre not really suppossed to dye your hair or wear makeup until you get married. i of course didnt care for that and wore makeup to events and occasions anyway and people always judged me for it. i wasnt allowed to wear makep going out (still not allowed actually) and one time i got in trouble for wearing makeup to uni. its like everything we do is for men or for their attention. and so many more things that are happeningto me and girls in this society. but im so grateful im unlearning everything i was taught growing up. i wont be a victim of internalized misogyny anymore.