Yes, 3mou, I live alone



I had lived in Lebanon for 10 years when I found myself looking for an apartment on my own. I knew that a woman living on her own wasn’t particularly accepted, but I had always assumed that, in a case like this, foreigner trumped female. However, as I found myself explaining highly personal life choices to utter – disapproving – strangers, patriarchy trumps everything.

- Excuse me, are there any apartments for rent? The sign says the fourth floor is empty? I would ask the natour, or the owner, or the nosey neighbor.
- Who wants its? He would reply.
- I do.
- Who do you live with?
- I live on my own.
- Ahh, sorry, this is a family building. We don’t want any, err, ‘students.’
- But I’m not a student. I have a job.
- What do you do?
- I work with NGOs.
- But this apartment is too big for you.
- But I work from home, I need the space.

Awkward silence.

- Sorry, but you’re not from here, are you?
- No, but I’ve lived here for a while.
- See, in Lebanon, we don’t have girls living by themselves. What are you doing by yourself?

And in the space of a five-minute conversation all the most significant decisions I had taken in the past 10 years – my relationships, my education, my career… hell, my choosing to stay in Lebanon – were all judged wrong by a stranger because the patriarchy says girls don’t live alone. WHAT’S IT TO YOU?!

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