Seeking permission to be happy: Itzel Camacho

“A woman should submit to her husband” was the advice my grandma was given by the priest who listened to her confession right after she was beaten by her husband for not giving him a son. A few years later, she gave her daughter that same advice on her wedding day.

My grandma was a pious woman. If something bad happened, she said it was God’s will. Sadly, her major goal in life was to die in order to go to heaven and stop her suffering. She never lived a fulfilling life because she was always waiting for the end of it to arrive and bring her happiness as her just reward. She took the role of a martyr, praising God for each painful event in her life and dedicating her suffering to him.

Religion fills our minds with guilt because everything that deviates from the sayings of a book written by some ancient culture must be punished. Usually the punishment is not just a slap on the wrist but an eternity spent in a place of fire and pain. It endeavors to make women look and act like weaklings in need of constant guidance and protection from themselves. The more that women suffer, the better they will be. It’s little wonder that my mother keeps looking for that elusive religion that will accept the fact that she is a happy woman, with lots of courage and a zest for life.

It should not matter to anyone if people like me don’t declare religious membership. I am a good person who makes positive contributions to my community and society. I am a good person who volunteers to help others, who gives her time to tutor younger kids and sings to the elderly. I am a healthy, compassionate, intelligent and courageous girl who someday will make a difference in the world.

My hope is that someday, women like my mother and grandmother will understand that religion should not dictate their lives or tell them to endure mistreatment or submit to anyone either to be happy or to enjoy life.  

Itzel Camacho graduated from Warren High School, Downey, Calif., and will major in chemical engineering at Cal State-Long Beach.

Freedom From Religion Foundation