Seventy years of life is cause for a celebration. Yet, many women my age are finding it to be a very daunting threshold. In fact, I am discovering that it is a very liberating time of life. Being an Arab woman living in the United States, I am realizing even more the exhilarating effects of that freedom. No doubt women of my era and all across this world have faced numerous challenges. We have surmounted many of those, and much more remain to be overcome. However, being an Arab woman has made my ground-breaking existence on so many different levels all the more challenging. In retrospect, and notwithstanding the heartaches, it makes it very worthwhile. Recently, Gloria Steinem when asked about feminism, and whether the women’s movement had succeeded or failed, responded that it will take a century for the effects of that revolution to be incorporated into all levels of society. A Century! That makes me even prouder to have been part of that revolution and to have played my very small role in effecting change. As I look around at my daughters and their contemporaries I am delighted to see what they have achieved, and I know that without my efforts and the efforts of Arab women like me, they would have been left behind as so many of their sisters in the Arab world are!
Living in the United States has had its many challenges. This country is immense and its population is very diverse. It has fantastic aspects and it can also drive a person nuts! It can be charming, amusing, bewildering and maddening. It is, at the end of the day, the New World: young, inexperienced, rich, arrogant, exuberant, innovative and malleable. The rest of the world by comparison seems to be old, grumpy, bored and set in its ways – no wonder that the young across the globe look to America!
At seventy, I realize that I did not see all the changes that I had hoped for come to fruition. Some did, of course. I also realize that I cannot change this chaotic world we all live in as much as I would like to, and that whilst sometimes I am so pessimistic about the future, at others I seem to be quite hopeful. However, I have always been an opinionated woman and maybe it’s just time for me, before I gracefully – and I do hope to do it gracefully! – exit the stage, to simply air out my opinions and share some of my experiences. Maybe one person, or two, or maybe more, will find an idea in there that they might relate to and know that they are not alone; or be inspired to do something that might bring on a positive change and, perhaps, in the fast-paced world of the younger generation, they can effect some of those changes more rapidly and more effectively! Perhaps!
Updated in December of 2020:
Nota Bene: If Gloria Steinem is right – and I believe that she is – then 50 years have passed, and there’s fifty more to go! I will definitely not be around, but for those who will be: Hang In There!