It’s been a while, admittedly, a while which was spent mulling over the ever-present question, conservative societies, what’s your game plan? Clearly, those who believe that individuals are capable of making choices will let those individuals be. Trial and error is something most of us have been taught from an early age on. I remember my dad telling me, “you’re an intelligent girl, you’ll figure it out,” when I asked him for directions on which metro to take when I was going to an area in Paris I had never been to before. Of course, he was masking the fact that he himself didn’t know, but his answer was telling. See what you can do on your own, figure it out, you’ll get it. My father was not a typical Hungarian, in that he believed in personal freedom, and in giving his children free will. To some extent at least, in other words within reasonable limits. And there was a lot of support when I wanted to study that was arts-based (which may or may not have to do with the fact that it became extremely clear from the start, that when it çame to Matn and the Sciences I would just dig my heels in and simply not do it). The only question I got from him was, “so how exactly do I describe what you’re studying?” Because his friends sure as anything had never heard of Cultural Studies. He was also one of the least racist people I’ve ever known. Quite a contrast then to the Hungarians who demanded full and utter control of their children’s lives.
And that’s the part I don’t get. I get wanting to follow rules and adhering to a somewhat stricter lifestyle, but to the point of giving yourself up so completely? Of blindly following and adhering to anything the males around you say a d decree, following their demands blindly, if not to say religiously. Don’t get me wrong, I hate the other side, too, when people say only women are right / smart / whatever you want. The person best suited for the job should be picked, end of.
Not so in Hungary. If your man (and you’ll need one to be seen as someone, for without one you are nothing to any and everyone around you) says jump, your only question is how high? You just have to look around at the women and how they relate to their men / the men in their lives to see how deeply this goes. Where up north girls dress skimpily to attract the attention of the men they hope to attract, Hungarian girls and women will do the same, it’s an international rule anyhow. Again, this isn’t to say that everyone does this. But it happens enough for people to take notice. But coming back to the Hungarian women, they do it in part because it’s expected of them. If she’s not dressed right, which means to the nines, people will destroy her through gossip. Dress in rags in Finland, and people’s first thought is, aha summer cabin. Not so in Hungary, where people’s first thought is, too poor to afford anything decent. The pressure of this is equally intense and immense. For she must dress just sexy enough to attract the attention of a male, but not so sexy so as to evoke whispers and comments. And if she is harassed or even raped, well tough luck. It was clearly her fault. Why did she have to go and dress that way in the first place. No compassion, not even the slightest trace of empathy.
The man in her life also serves another purpose, other than to provide and keep people from gossiping. He is there to tell her what she can and can’t do. And she’ll listen, to the point of defying her faith. Faith, and especially Christianity is of utmost importance in Hungary, for without it there is no existence. I realized the full extent of this a few weeks ago when I was in the hospital for three days. I was at a friend’s house. We had to wait for her partner to come home before she could take me to the hospital, because he would have thrown a fit otherwise (Hungarian males tend to lean towards the volatile anyway, that’s just the way they are, no alcohol required, and grass won’t help them either). I gave her my key so she could get some stuff from my apartment, and she went there, even packed everything up. But she never made it back to the hospital. My bag was right there in the trunk of her car, but she never came to visit, until the day I went home, and even then she had to wait for her man to be at work.
This was someone who was nice enough to me so as to never raise his voice at me, the man I mean. And she was a Christian through and through, probably still is. The reason I can’t say for sure is because when I was supposed to come around as we’d arranged, she told me not to. She didn’t want to tire me out, was her excuse. When I explained that I was perfectly alright, that it was much better for me to stay active, she told me I needed to get my act together and sort something out which I’d been trying to sort out before (an administrative issue, which was totally out of my control, and which both she and her man knew about). A few days later I was blocked by her on social media. She did try and help me sort it out but sent someone in her stead when it came to meeting up. Not a word was spoken between us ever again, and most likely won’t be.
She’s not the only person I know who’s in an abusive relationship. And I’m not saying they’re exclusive to Hungary, because they’re not. But they do seem to occur more among the people I know in Hungary. Let me be perfectly clear, abuse happens everywhere, and it’s not as easy as one might think to just up and walk away. There are plenty of factors involved that make you stay, factors which merit a post of their own. But what’s shocking is that a society which claims to want to hold on so tightly to Christian values is showing anything but those values they claim to fight over, and for the preservation of which they claim the need to exclude others.