I was having a conversation with my mother about the women in our family the other day.
And to my surprise, I found out that in a culture that didn’t give much freedom to women in the past, the women in my family were pretty damn independent and strong and assertive. That, of course, taking into consideration the circumstances that surrounded them.
The older generation of women in Lebanon did not possess the freedoms this current generation has. They were groomed for marriage at a young age, pressured to have babies, kept at home for fear of walking out alone on the streets and having men eyeing them inappropriately, and you know the drill.
And yet the women in my family found a way.
In the year of 1956, my grandmother lived in the mountains with her parents and met my grandfather through a mutual friend. They locked gazes, let their fingers allusively touch under the table, and met up in secret. Society was pretty condemning back then (it still pretty much is, but it wasn’t through the screens of their phones; they did it straight to your face), and it meddled in every single decision.
My grandma and grandpa couldn’t have a grand wedding because neither of them were rich. And so, they eloped.
Can you imagine my grandmother, in the 50s, in Lebanon, eloping with the man she loved? She did not care what her neighbors spoke about her, she did not care if her reputation was stained, and she definitely did not care about any other “suitable” suitor.
She chose the person she wanted to spend the rest of her life with, and all else did not matter.
God rest their souls, they are probably still holding hands in heaven now.
My aunts did not marry as early as it was expected of them “back in the days.” They went and got full-time jobs, lived their lives, were self-sufficient, and then married when they thought the time was right, not when society deemed it was proper for them to find a husband.
My mother, my aunts, my other grandmother, distant female relatives, they all had stories that were inspiring and that stuck in my mind, reminding me that being a woman is a blessing because we are strong. We had to withstand hardships and difficulties through history and fight for our rights and still stand until this day because, contrary to popular modern opinion, most women don’t have it easy.
Even in what is considered the most modern countries in the world, women still fear walking alone at night.
No, it isn’t completely easy being a woman.
So let’s celebrate being a woman because we are damn strong and resilient. We are fighters. We are survivors.
Here are seven Virginia Woolf (whom I love) quotes that help me celebrate being a woman:
1. “I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.”
2. “As a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world.”
3. “As long as she thinks of a man, nobody objects to a woman thinking.”
4. “Women have served all these centuries as looking glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.”
5. “The truth is, I often like women. I like their unconventionality. I like its completeness. I like their anonymity.”
6. “He thought her beautiful, believed her impeccably wise; dreamed of her, wrote poems to her, which, ignoring the subject, she corrected in red ink.”
7. “Anything may happen when womanhood has ceased to be a protected occupation.”
Virginia Woolf’s writing has always fascinated me. Her genius is something to be celebrated and admired. Being a feminist icon, I’ve always looked at her words as some sort of sword against injustices toward women.