By Abeer F Almarzouki, MD, PhD
I don’t want to label myself or any other Arabic women as victims, nor do I want to label any community as crippling – but the reality is that we face many more challenges than women in other communities. In a culture where women are raised to “pick” the “perfect” match – where women are trained to entertain, please and pleasure – it is challenging to be different or to want more than just to cater to her other half. That said, I have nothing against women who accept this life so long as they are happy and content with their choices; I am simply stating that it is quite daring to be a woman in this community who wants to be or do something else, without being judged or put in the corner, and without having her mistakes brandished and her success undermined.
I also look to Western media to learn about the latest trends on the ‘ideal woman,’ only to find a shallow, materialistic and disheartening view of women, in which everyday life is centered around makeup, fashion and following one diet after another, or around following the latest celebrity news and shopping for brand names.
There should be a voice out there for real women: women who struggle every day to think about more than just their looks and who, through determination, hard work and ambition, develop and progress in every aspect of life. There should be a voice for women who bring their values, their vision and true change not only to their own lives but to the communities surrounding them.
For Arab women especially, we need voices to enlighten, encourage and guide those who dare to be different and to effect change.