Rights are not given, they are taken. As a Middle Eastern woman born in Jordan to a Persian mother and an Arab father, I know all too well how true that is. I’ve had to fight for every right I have as a woman. When you’re born in a conservative, patriarchal society, you either accept a life of convenient subservience, living in the shadow of men and creating no ripples, or you choose to swim against the current, fighting for your rights and facing the consequences. I chose the latter as a young girl, long before I came to Canada. It hasn’t been easy.
Of course, now that I’m in Canada, I can relax. I mean, I feel relieved, like an entire mountain has been lifted off my chest and I can finally breathe. I no longer have to fight to be who I am, I no longer have to explain my choices to anyone, I am no longer on guard all the time and I know that no one is out there questioning my integrity simply because I was seen having lunch with a male friend. My own father stopped asking questions a long time ago, and, as for my brother, my mother had raised him to never interfere in any of his sisters’ lives.