I was invited recently to speak about why I feel women, as a group, should be thinking bigger.
At the moment, I froze and drew a blank. I could not come up with any accessible answer. So, I looked to the easiest source of inspiration, Google, and typed in “Women Think Bigger.” Guess what the very first hit on Youtube was? “How women can trick men into thinking they have bigger boobs!”
And I found my answer !!!!
All of our value, society tells us, comes from the size of our boobs and the usefulness of our bodies as sexual objects, beholden to men.
I started my journey to empower women five years ago when I decided not to go through with an arranged marriage in a very conservative society in my home in Tunisia. I realized that I deserve better than to be considered an extra piece of furniture in a fancy house or an accessory for a man to use as another piece of bling.
Believe it or not, out of everyone I know, my mother was the most disappointed and frustrated with me. She told me I will end up regretting it. Everyone I know seems to think, “What’s wrong with you, girl?” My answer is,” I have no intention to spend my whole life living and never really live a single day for myself, as I wish to, and as I deserve to”.
We, the women, are educated and raised with the values of our mothers. We are expected to accept low positions in the workplace—higher than we used to—but we give all of ourselves to our profession and our families, our parents, our husbands, our children … It’s expected, it’s required, and despite all of our struggles and the awareness we have been able to raise, even men still cannot understand why we keep accepting this and how hard to handle it.
We need to change that. And, where does change come from? From thinking bigger, thinking out of the box.
During the revolution in Tunisia, I, along with my sisters and cousins, wanted to go to the streets and protest with my peers. I wanted to be one of the voices demanding the change I know my country needed. My dad came to us and said, “No, girls, you are not going out.” “Why?” I asked. Why should we not go out and speak up for ourselves, just because we were girls? My father was the one who raised us to stand for truth and loyalty to our country, and now he was demanding the opposite. Once I faced him with my answer, he realized it. So, please stop blaming men. It’s your choice, women, to accept it or change it. You can’t get what you don’t demand or work for.
I don’t believe in the double standard. I don’t believe that just because I am a girl, I should be locked away inside and hidden. I don’t want to be protected from the world, I want to be a part of it, and lead the change that makes it a safer place to be female both inside and outside the walls of our homes. I want the world to be different for my daughter. The more we simply sit by and follow the old rules, and tell the world that it’s okay to treat us like this: like we are only as valuable as our bra size, that our mothers are only proud of us if we land the right marriage, and that we should be hidden away from danger, the more difficult it will be for our daughters to live free, happy lives, and break out of that box. We have a responsibility to our children, as much as to ourselves, to think bigger and strive for more than we ever have before. In breaking down barriers and creating new opportunities, we are investing in the betterment of future generations.
Women make up more than half the population of the world, and we raise the other half. If the attitude of the world is going to change, it’s going to start with us.