As women in AUB, we are perceived to have broken away from the societal prisons that Arab social structures have decided to shove us into, based on the arbitrary systems of power that dominate our world.
We do this simply by attending a university, they say, something that was once forbidden and was integral to the progression of women’s rights movements around the world.
Uneducated women were less likely to identify and act upon that which causes them the most dissatisfaction in their lives, things that sometimes end up being more due to the aforementioned systems of power than their own life choices.
This concept was introduced by the American feminist Carol Hanisch in an essay, published in 1969.
She details the series of thoughts she had and the reactions she received during and after attending certain “personal therapy” group sessions, that she thought were mostly political.
Hanisch draws relations between the systems that oppressed American woman at the time to the unhappiness they felt in their roles as wives, mothers, and homemakers, about the imposed beauty standards, the strictness of the rules they had to follow.
She began to see a pattern which made these women dissatisfied, and this pattern was nowhere near purely personal. She saw that these “decisions” were not really the decisions of the women themselves, but the predetermined course of life that the male dominated power structures had chosen for them.
They are physically manifested in well-meaning friends, fathers, cousins, and brothers, and even their female counterparts trying to give advice.
They advise you against going to med school so that you don’t marry too late, against baggy clothes because they aren’t flattering, against being argumentative because they perceive that as aggression.
There is a long way to go, and there should be a lot more fighting in the future. Until my community’s social structures no longer interfere in the inner-workings of my mind and the details of my daily life, I will never be satisfied and the personal will always be political.