What I Wish I Knew Before Being Born an Arab Girl

(Photo credit: Aphrodite/Flickr)

I am an Arab girl that has recently realized the privileges of being just that, an Arab. I have recently acknowledged that my fresh love for my heritage was perpetuated through this realization: If I was made ready for what my life would’ve inevitably become because of my gender and heritage, I would have managed to make a happier life out of the one I have now. There are certain things that I wish I knew long before I was born an Arab, things that would’ve prepared me for what I had coming.

By virtue of being a woman, I have been reduced into a weapon used against any man that is connected to me when someone wishes to insult him. I would’ve appreciated knowing that one day I would be a liability; I would be the weakness of any man that holds me dear.

You know what else I wish I knew?

I wish I knew that at times, I am nothing but a mere piece of flesh that is stared at relentlessly on the streets.

I wish I knew that even though my family loves me, I am to be a burden on my father’s shoulders the moment I make the reckless mistake of being an irresponsible teenager.

I wish I knew that I cannot pursue all my dreams because of what people might think.. we all know that my reputation is far more important than my goals and dreams.

I wish I knew that I would be tormented every day by the sight of my brother, the boy who lives in the room alongside me, being allowed by society to make all the mistakes that I once have and more without being scolded or judged.

sexismI wish I knew that even though everything I mentioned above is the universal language of sexism that is disgustingly used worldwide, I would still be the one to blame. That no matter how mundane it has now become for a woman to be harassed worldwide, I would be to blame for being objectified and harassed here because I am an Arab. I guess being a girl in a male-dominated society wasn’t enough; I also had to be tormented and blamed for the sickening behavior of some men.

If only I was warned that these things exist and that I’m not fighting this battle alone, I might have given myself the chance to see the brighter side of being an Arab. If I were prepared to go through the rough patches, maybe I would’ve embraced the good sides of my culture.

I would have appreciated our tight communities and rituals. I would have appreciated the way the stranger on the street reacted when he saw me being verbally harassed, how he defended me, a girl he’s never laid eyes on before.

I would have looked closely into my father’s eyes when he stared at me on graduation day with his eyes watering with pride. I would’ve realized that all that talk about how my reputation is more important than my dreams has planted strength and perseverance inside of me and made me all that more driven to reach my goals.

I would’ve appreciated the fact that after all those years of being judged for breathing while my brother got it all, I managed to create a life with a lot less regrets than I thought I would have.

I would’ve looked at the bright side; I would’ve embraced the fact that we Arabs probably eat the best food out there. I would’ve thanked all the noble Arab men for finding it their duty to stand up for me and many other girls. I would have realized sooner that living in an Arab country made me who I am today, stronger and more versatile than I could have ever been.

Pride is not a black and white concept; I do not find happiness in all the intolerable acts of sexism I mentioned above, but I am proud to say that I have come out stronger, that I have found the noble Arabs that have supported me and that if I was given a choice, I wouldn’t change a thing because I am proud of who I have come to be.



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