more from the Green Guides: a guide to the Lebanese woman
Posted by adiamondinsunlight on December 8, 2008
I can’t resist typing in this gem from Rouhi Jamil’s Green Guides: Beirut and the Republic of Lebanon, which I blogged about over the weekend. Here is his take on “The Lebanese Woman”:
She is no longer the ignorant being so despised formerly. She is as much advanced as the Western woman. On the whole, she is sufficiently educated to be able to shoulder, with the man, the responsibility of life.
Dignified, elegant (without exaggeration), conservative (without excess), she was able to adapt herself easily to modern Civilization. If she is so much interested in learning and to be active, it is because she wants to bring her individuality to yet a higher perfection. Man helps her in this respect by opening education to her. The Lebanese woman exerts a considerable social influence: she has founded many philanthropic and cultural societies, and made her voice heard anywhere. The Moslem as well as the Christian has rendered great services to her country and to its freedom.
And now a few comments – mostly on the first paragraph, which I like less than the second:
1) Please remember that this was written in 1948, when Western women in France and other European countries still lacked the right to vote. And who despised Lebanese women? Historical documents show them to have been active in family and business life, even if they were not the big names of politics and religion. As for shouldering the responsibility of life … I bet that Jamil’s mother, not to mention his grandmothers, would have raised their eyebrows at the suggestion that they played no role in ensuring that he was tended and fed, and that the family home and finances were kept well in order.
2) I’m going to ignore the “without exaggeration” clause, since I find my glitter and accessories tolerance a bit lower than most Lebanese, male and female. But I do agree that Lebanese men and women have each proven themselves highly adaptable – to the demands of modernity and to life generally. And I like that he mentions women’s desite for education and “active” engagement in life, as well as their very important role in volunteering and public service. The importance of women’s philanthropy is often under-estimated – but in terms of social benefit, not to mention the sums of money managed and spent, it has played a major role in many societies.
Finally, I like that he specifically includes Muslim and Christian women in this process, and includes them in the fight for independence – a contribution that people often miss, whether in Lebanon, the United States, or any other formerly colonized power.
So: for all my Lebanese woman friends, and for all my Lebanese guy friends who have Lebanese mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and cousins – in 2008 as in 1948, these ladies are all pretty special.