I was born in a country and a family where women were not treated the same as men. My father never let me do certain things simply because I was a girl. My brother got a car when he was a teenager and went to a private University. I used public transportation and went to public school. He said I was going to marry and have children soon, so why waste his money.
He always put my mother down. He gave nicknames to my boyfriends and was rude to them. After a few drinks, he would grab women’s behinds and breasts. He said women couldn’t drive or park, and he would “joke” about how women should always be pregnant, and in the kitchen. He also had a bad temper. He would yell and scream in public places if he didn’t get his way.
Painfully, I know now that my father was a misogynist, a bully, and a sexual predator. I felt relieved when he passed away. I would never have to be seen next to him with sorrow or horror, as he was having a temper tantrum or disrespecting someone.
When I came to this country, I realized I didn’t have to attach a picture to my job application, or to wear makeup and high heels to an interview. I didn’t have to give them a urine sample to prove that I wasn’t pregnant in case they considered me for the position.
I was now in a country where women can make their own decisions about their reproductive systems, where they can be independent and strong, where they can run to be the President of our nation.
I became a U.S. citizen in 2007 and voted for President Obama. I admired his prudence and tolerance, his calm when others were issuing threats and screaming. I’ll miss his voice and eloquence, which seemed so reassuring. But mostly, The way he treats his wife and daughters gave me hope and helped restore my view of men.
That’s his legacy to me.
That’s what I’m holding on to.
With a Perspective, this is Patricia Riestra.
Patricia Riestra is a medical interpreter. She lives in Berkeley.