Freedom of movement is a topic that has been on my mind for a while, especially when put in the context of checkpoints, borders, airports, security checks, bouncers and doormen even. . But a conversation with a friend put it in a slightly different light. We were talking about walking and how I take late night walks here in Amman, Jordan , whereas in her neighborhood in the U.S. that is impossible.
We always think of our freedoms on a large scale and where and how we can exercise them. Passports, identity, self expression, representation, politics, religion and so many other grander things we want freedom in. But this conversation brought to head the simple freedom of walking in the street, late at night, with a sense of security and safety. Being able to make that decision and executing it is not something I think twice about. Nobody stops me, nobody bothers me, I fear no one in doing this. On the other side of the globe in the “free” world my friend can’t walk out on her own at night without risking bodily harm. No one will stop her from going out but the uncertainty of what happens after dark does.
Our perceived freedoms are so different. Our social fabrics and constructs mean that we have different ways that our freedom of movement is impeded or facilitated. I don’t think one of us has more freedom than the other, just different expressions of freedoms.
Living here I have seen, and experienced discrimination, especially along lines of gender, that took away some of my freedoms. I fought them slowly but surely. I worked the system to my advantage and made it happen for me. I believe in being here and slowly gaining ground. Being a part of the change and the solution. I don’t want to, or feel the need to, move to another country to gain freedoms. I should be able to live, to be in my own country.
Going back to the freedom of movement issue, I thought about trading places with my friend. I quickly came to the conclusion that I would much rather be rejected for a visa than be held hostage in my own home at night unable to walk in my neighborhood freely.