March is “Women’s” month; I know that because there was a big festive day on campus with stands and music and various activities that promote women’s rights. It was actually quite impressive to witness the youth of today discovering what my fellow XXs can endure in a lifetime, whether it’d be morally, physically or emotionally.
March is “Women’s” month; I know that because I got hammered with text messages from various local shops and restaurants. Apparently being a woman can get you free drinks during happy hour at The Village Dbayeh, extra points on your privilege card at ABC (why do we even have a privilege card at ABC, I’ll never know!) and a splendid 20% off at the Department store – how do you like them apples, boys?
March is “Women’s” month; I know that but I still got catcalled on the streets yesterday by a bunch of uncouth petty boys. A car still followed me home with a driver shouting obscene things, thinking I couldn’t hear him through my earphones. I even got a stink-eye from a friend of my parents because I dared say that I aspired to become a surgeon – apparently girls can’t handle blood and are too weak for the OR.
I used to think that I was part of the lucky ones in the Middle East; I had access to education, I could dress as I pleased and I could drive and commute without a male guardian. But amidst all the “festive” events honoring the struggle women have gone through over the years, I realized that my country - let alone my direct entourage - still lacks a proper understanding of women’s rights.
Whether we believe it or not, Lebanon still falls behind in terms of providing women a proper legal tool to pass on her Lebanese nationality onto her children, to defend herself against domestic violence or even to get the same professional treatment as her male colleagues. However, even beyond this legal barrier, I have also found that society is still impregnated by a heavy paternalistic mentality that pushes us to look at women as if they were weak creatures in need of saving and that our only strengths lay within our appearances and the men we choose.
March is “Women’s” month; I know that because Caitlyn Jenner was awarded “Woman of the year” award, the Kardashians are still a topic of discussion among people and Nadia Murad - an ex-ISIS sex slave who ran away - was nominated for a Nobel Prize for peace- there’s still a lure of hope guys, hold on! My point is that we may not be deputies or ministers, but whether you’re a doctor, a businessman/woman or even an artist, as Van Gogh once suggested, you should start with the little things.
Honestly, we should make a change in our everyday lives: we could stop attacking for example Karen Akl for being an “ugly w****” but rather criticize her for her unprofessionalism, we could stop harassing Ahlam with comments about her weight and focus more about her disrespect for our country, we could stop undermining aspiring career-driven women and most importantly we should stop crushing our little girls’ dream by uttering the terrible “nobody would marry you if…”- as if she could only be defined in our society by a marital agreement.
Iman Feghaly, FM