It's 2018 and the patriarchy seems to be alive and well globally, and the Arab world is no exception. Despite having achieved several milestones in the past couple of years, Arab women continue to face the struggles of living in a male-dominated society.
In the spirit of International Women's Day (March 8), we compiled a list of things young Arab women are sick and tired of hearing.
Ladies and gents, take note!
1. "When will you get married?"
People love to toss that question on every occasion, whether we're graduating, attending a wedding, or simply serving guests some coffee.
It usually comes in the form of "Emten 7a nefra7 mennek?" (When will you make us happy?) and "3a2balek."
Can't I "make you happy" with my academic success and sense of humor? No? Too bad.
2. Inquiries over our personal choices
It seems like we are constantly expected to not only announce our life decisions to the public but to also justify these choices. Yup, privacy is pretty much a foreign concept.
Whether it's our relationship status, the decision to postpone having kids, or even religious decisions such as wearing the Islamic veil, we are often interrogated and are expected to spill the tea, regardless of whether or not we feel comfortable discussing our private matters.
3. Unsolicited comments about our weight
Ah, the Arab "Weight Police"... They really will stop at nothing to enlighten us with their observations. They have the audacity to hit us with "Nas7ani/Da3fani" (You've gained weight/lost weight) even before saying hello!
Some even go the extra mile and suggest some unsolicited tips on how to lose weight. Auntie, I have a mirror, a scale, and access to the internet, so thanks but no thanks.
This is basically our parents' go-to argument while discussing things they don't approve of when it comes to their daughters - and it's safe to say there is an endless list of such things.
Society puts reputation at a high regard and seems to consider it as more significant than our comfort and personal interests, and we're sick of it. It's high time our parents stop judging our actions based on "what people would think" and instead use valid arguments as well as actual facts.
5. "You'll do that later when you're married"
We are constantly treated like we represent an extension of some man, be it a father, brother, or a husband. No matter how old we grow, society continues to view our actions as dependent on the approval of the men in our lives.
As a result, choices that are supposed to be matters of personal freedom, like moving out, partying, or traveling alone, are out of the question until they get that approval.
6. "Men don't like empowered women"
There is a social norm dictating that women should have a certain degree of shyness and modesty, known in Arabic as "حياء," which should remain intact at all times.
Well... I'm sorry, my intellect, confidence, and independence undermine your fragile masculinity!
7. "Women have already gotten all their rights"
Sadly enough, such a statement can be heard from both men and women who undermine the women's rights movement because of their privilege or lack of education and awareness.
8. "Would you accept it for your sister?"
As Palestinian feminist vlogger Laila Hazaine accurately put it, "A woman shouldn't simply be respected because she's someone's sister or daughter. She should be respected as her own individual - not in connection with another man."
9. "We're honoring you by refusing to let you work"
Yes, this is a thing. Some men claim they are doing their daughters or wives a favor by discouraging them from working. *Infinite eye-roll ensues*
Contrary to popular belief, women are not delicate creatures in need of protection. Plus, working is not all about the money, but also about the personal sense of achievement and the sweet taste of independence.
They say this is for our own good, but frankly, it seems to only serve their own overly-jealous and patriarchal egos.
10. Last but not least, anything pertaining to "our honor"
Many Arab men tend to obsess over the concept of "honor" ... or their oft-distorted concept of it.
They scream "our honor" to police our every move, from our clothes and actions to our love lives, and thus treating our bodies as their own property.