We’ve heard it all on social media when it comes to comments about Lebanese Women, the good and the bad, the right and the false, and some even unduly offensive. Time has come for us to take a stand in that regard, and speak up on behalf of our women, and we’ll do so with unrefutable valid arguments to tell you who we really are.
Let’s clarify a point first. It’s 2019, the era of freedom to be who we are and who we seek to evolve into. In countries around the world, that freedom comes with its own terms and its own extent, some more, some less, and some barely there, depending on the country and its culture.
In the environment we live in, Lebanon has as well its own set of limitations, and our stance as local women has been set to break through these obstacles that have been impeding us to evolve to the best of who we can be. The way we do it, though, as Lebanese women, differentiates us from most countries, just because we stand in honoring our identity.
Because of our regional environment, the world has come to assume these past decades that Lebanese women are weak and submissive, just because our country is niched in the Middle-East and influenced by the surrounding culture. We, as well, have come to believe that very little -or nothing at all- has been done for our freedom and rights. Yet, a legacy has been transmitted to us by our mothers and grandmothers who weren’t as idle as generally assumed.
They did work to progress our society since the past century, and they did it with grace. They did pave the way for us while raising us to be our own women with our own uniqueness and cultural heritage.
The point here is not about bragging, far from it. It is about clearing off misconceptions and responding to offensive comments on social media that Lebanese women are all about “silicon and fakeness.”
Nothing can be more untrue, and we state it with all confidence. While we do appreciate beauty in all its forms and we do maintain certain aesthetic values, our uniqueness as Lebanese women is not set on that quest at all, and we have strong valid arguments to counter that assumption.
So, the question here is: How do we define that uniqueness? Let’s break it down in a few factual points:
Lebanon has a long history of survival throughout foreign dominations, famine, family displacements, and also wars and resistance. Homes and hearts lived their shares of destruction and losses, whether in recent history or throughout all of it.
Our women, these valiant Lebanese mothers, had to stand strong throughout, seeing their sons to wars, praying their nights away for their safety, dealing with the losses of those who never returned home, and keeping their household together whatever what.
These mothers of ours, the pillars of our society and the ensurers of the perpetuation of our nation, also carry the household on their back. Culturally and traditionally, the daily management and care of a Lebanese household is a woman’s responsibility. And Lebanese mothers do it so well while raising their children to be the best they could be in life. While we heartfully salute our fathers for their important family role, it is our mothers who keep the family together on a daily basis.
Being family-oriented is one of the strongest characteristics of Lebanese women, a value rooted in various entrenched factors that form who we are of a nation: culture, religions, and traditions. Our women live primarily for their family, whether mothers, sisters, and daughters, and whether professional women; family is always their priority.
Whether by genes or by the legacy of millennia of survival, Lebanese women are smart and maintain themselves well informed and up to date on pertinent and general knowledge. There is a sharpness in them in understanding life situations and interactions, and in having their own analysis on local and world’s topics. They can engage at length in all conversations and put forward their own mind.
Moreover, Lebanese women make their way through their life, education, work, and ambitions, fully aware that there are gender-discrimination barriers, relatively hard to break in their country. Yet that doesn’t deter them to stand up and keep moving towards their goals.
Despite what we have in Lebanon of biased laws and traditions when it comes to men versus women, all parents thrive to educate both genders equally. It is a strong cultural value in Lebanon that comes often with major parental sacrifices to ensure their children are well educated up to their university degree.
That has been in favor of our women since the last century, and furthermore in our era where our women seek passionately to allocate their education and skills in professional careers and even creating their own businesses.
Whether in social gatherings, at dinner tables, at work, or in the streets, Lebanese women are poised and graceful, valuing the respect of self, and expecting it from others. It is a fact that even in their fight for their rights and in any feminist movements they are enrolled, Lebanese women don’t let go of their good manners and decency. They value themselves as much in their femininity.
They are indeed, and always have been. At a time in our recent history, the attention of all the international media was on that aspect of our women, when they hit the streets by millions to demand, along with their fellow countrymen, the pulling out of the Syrian’s army from Lebanon once and for all. They were fearless and they were adamant for their country to recuperate its sovereignty, and that is not a first in the history of Lebanon.
While little is said about the Lebanese women’s contribution to Lebanon’s Independence in 1943, they did play an important role in making it happen, including organizing the protests against the ruling of the French Mandate. As per Anissa Najjar, a Lebanese pioneer in women’s rights and peace activism, who lived those times, “It was the women who demanded the release of the arrested members of the government,” the fathers of Lebanon Independence.
In 1983, it was also the Lebanese women who tried to stop the civil war. In a silent protest, 400 Lebanese women held a sit-in in front of the UNICEF in Beirut demanding an “immediate stop to the fighting, reconciliation, and the return of refugees to their homes.” (The Pioneer, Nov 1983)
#7 – Lebanese Women Are Beautiful and Fashion Trendy
Well, how can we not mention it? Lebanese women are beautiful, and that’s not a local statement but a worldwide one. Like their Phoenician foremothers who were known for their strong aesthetic sense (ref: Le Liban, son role civilisateur – Ildefonse Sarkis, 1994), Lebanese women are as conscious of their appearance. They are fashionable and they take pride in it. One has to just walk on the streets of Lebanon to agree with their fact.
However, our women’s beauty is not just external and physical. They radiate good spiritual and human values, and also friendliness, good humor, and grace.
#8 – Lebanese Women Are Determined to Break Barriers
The journey has been long since our foremothers initiated their movements for equal rights and social justice. There is no denying that our women are still struggling to break many related obstacles, and there is no denying that they are not giving up. They’ve been in fact more determined and active than ever before in our history to achieve social balance and instate a healthy level of human rights.
In recent times, we have been witnessing the outcome. Our women have been taken significant governmental positions and decision-making roles at the national level. While some cruel laws are still in force, some have been overthrown or adjusted. Many of our women have pushed beyond traditional barriers, proving to all that they can fly airplanes, serve in the army, create their own business ventures, and even invent new technologies.
#9 – Lebanese Women Are Well-Articulate and Interesting Communicators
Wrong it is of some to assume that Lebanese women are ‘superficial’ or have nothing of value to share in conservations. That can’t possibly and logically be true with all that they carry within of education, smartness, ambition, passion, culture, general knowledge, family values, spirituality, and patriotism.
In fact, Lebanese women are meaningful communicators, and they are also empathetic and kind enough to meet others to their level when these ones, mostly those who criticize women, have nothing of value to share when conversing with them.
Lebanese women are known to love unconditionally, whether their children or their husbands and that love is given generously, whatever the personal sacrifices involved. But that innate capacity to love, and love warmly, extends as well to their friends, their neighbors, and their surrounding. They care and have no problem expressing it and enacting it.
That attitude also extends towards the less fortunate. It is a fact that the majority of Lebanon’s NGOs is run and/or supported actively on the ground by our women. Unlike the humanitarian endeavors in most countries, engaging with NGOs in Lebanon is based on free volunteering. It is a dedication Lebanese women allocate from their compassionate hearts and consciousness.
This feature is probably by far the most evident. You can spot a Lebanese woman in any crowd just by the way she presents herself with confidence; that’s at least what foreigners have often shared with us. After all, that is only natural, considering all the features we just mentioned above.
It is an undeniable truth that whatever she is and whatever her challenges a Lebanese woman radiates self-confidence for being fully aware of who she really is. That, my friends, is inner strength.