Reflections on the logic of things, Lebanese style.

I always wonder how it was decided that women were lesser citizens than men. Did men think that women were doing most of the job in procreation so they decided to be part of the process by making the child their own, legally and socially, as a way to create more balance? And how were women convinced by it? And what about this conflicting idea that sex is taboo and sexual drive is a vulgar instinct but everything in human society is basically decided based on sex, procreation and gender, even things that have nothing to do with genitalia? The good thing about this is that most of the world seems to have noticed that the laws were too misogynistic, and attempted to change them, at least the laws that blatantly deprive women of their basic human rights.


Unfortunately, that’s not the case in Lebanon. Adding insult to injury is the fact that women themselves don’t see anything wrong with our laws! To them, “It’s the law” or “It is how it is” are far more logical replies than my crazy, illogical “Why do I have my father’s name? Why do I have to give up my roots to get married? Why do I hardly have any rights over my own children?” So, it’s more logical that whenever a woman gets married, she has to be deleted from her family’s records and be registered with her husband’s family, in a place she might have never heard of, has never belonged to…


Why is it more complicated to keep her original family records unchanged? Why is it more confusing if the child was registered in either or both his/her parents’ name? Why is it more difficult to give the child either or both of his/her parents’ nationalities?

As for the ridiculous reply of “It’s the law of nature,” or “God’s will,” am I biologically more my father’s than my mother’s? How is that calculated? If it was God’s design to give women less rights over their offspring, then why do they do most of the job, physically and socially, during pregnancy and throughout the child’s life?

How can a married Lebanese woman consider herself free and independent if the laws stipulate that she give up all her history and past and follow her husband’s?


What frustrates me even more is how women can study those outrageous misogynistic laws and still have any respect for themselves. Simply put, it’s beyond me how we have women lawyers and judges in Lebanon. How did they succeed academically and how did they advance in their careers, knowing full well that the laws they accept, abide by and apply consider them a lesser species, just because they were born with vaginas and not for any other reason whatsoever?!


Of all the Lebanese self-loathing women, I despise these self-proclaimed free, career women; those lawyers, judges, politicians who never even saw anything wrong with those outdated, defunct laws which are still applied in this day and age. I despise all those “independent, strong” women who claim to have gained freedom because they now get to be “productive” by working outside the house on top of their usual household slavery and they pride themselves on managing to strike a balance between being a good housewife and a successful businesswoman. Did family men ever have to strike any such balance?


To be honest, I also despise any woman who actually gets married under these current Lebanese laws. However, I can understand, up to a point, how people can sometimes be blinded by their society’s normalization of abnormal situations, not know their rights, and not understand what they’re getting themselves into. What I can’t accept and respect are those submissive, spineless women in power who know full well what the Lebanese laws say and not only do they accept them and apply them, they keep reinforcing them!


When I read the ruling in Samira Soueidan’s case, I felt as if my own hopes in Lebanon were shattered. I can only imagine how that persistent, strong woman must have felt after all that effort and pain just to demand a very simple, logical human right that she shouldn’t be struggling for in the first place!


When I read that the ruling judge was a woman, I thought it was a joke. How was a woman capable of pronouncing such a verdict? I wonder what she was thinking delivering it. I can’t give her any excuse whatsoever.


If she said, “It’s the law, there’s nothing I can do about it,” I’d have said: “Bull! Either change it or resign – that would be more decent, actually, and far more effective.” If she was one of those women who believe the ridiculous sectarian argument, which is brandished whenever they have no logical explanation to their absurd restrictions and rules, then I wonder how she became a judge in the first place.


So, a woman giving her Lebanese nationality to her kids from a foreign husband would disrupt the “impeccable” balance between the different religious sects. But a Lebanese man giving his Lebanese nationality to his kids from a foreign wife is OK? Why wouldn’t he cause imbalance? Who’s to say that I’d follow or believe in my father’s religion or sect anyway? And what does religion have to do with women’s equality, with a mother’s basic rights? Who’s the mathematical genius who made all those calculations to decide that Lebanese women marry more men from the X unwanted sect while Lebanese men marry more women of the Y wanted sect? What imbalance are women creating but not men and based on what scientific proof or study?


The truly logical step would be for both men and women to have the legal capacity to decide which religion, family and nationality their children would inherit. Nobody should be forcibly uprooted from their family’s registry and nobody should have to struggle to give their children what ought to be theirs legally. But then again, if this very simple logic were applied, that sectarian delusion would be completely exposed as the bizarre Lebanese oddity that it is, one which makes no sense at all. It would probably be the end of the world as we know it. God forbid Lebanon becomes a secular State, where the legal system guarantees equal human rights for all its citizens of whatever gender, color, religion, sect, orientation…


It’s such an ideal dream to many, but one which would upset the tribal, sectarian, patriarchal “harmony,” thanks to which the Lebanese people have been basking in a “heavenly peace” and “stability” ever since the country’s independence.


Sawt al' Niswa




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