It is not often that I get political in this blog, in fact I tend to steer away from it purely because I don’t think I have enough knowledge, but also this is a fun outlet and my readers are mainly tapping into my posts for an insight into my fun expat adventures and not to engage in deep debates. However, whilst my social media feeds are filled daily with protests, speeches and social comment, it seems that there is something I am compelled to address, especially as a woman.
Now don’t switch off, this isn’t going to be me preaching from a suffrage soap box, but the world has been flooded with powerful images of women standing up, for a basic right to be treated with respect and dignity and it made me think about the women who have touched my life in my past, present and no doubt my future. I have noticed whilst embarking on this expat journey, that expat women aren’t the cliched, gin swilling, twin set and pearl wearing, shopaholic, trailing spouces the outside world perceive. Expat women are amongst some of the strongest women I have ever come across.
I know that many people will think that there is nothing special about this life, no challenges or hardships. The perception of the expat wife I have discussed before in We’re more than sun, sand and selfies . From the outside looking in, we really don’t have it that tough. I mean how hard can it be lying by the pool, juggling yoga and Starbucks? I know, I get that, and don’t get me wrong there are days where I and my desert girls do exactly that, but what you don’t see from my endless Insta snaps is that this can be hard, it can be tough and it takes a special kind of woman to handle it.
To most we are simply fulfilling the words of Tammy Whynette to “stand by your man” following our spouces on their next career step. How often I hear the phrase the trailing spouse banded around amongst expat communities and I hate it, as one expat blogger recently put it
I’ve never trailed darling!
This is something I have to agree with, whilst many of my desert girls, myself included are here predominantly to support our husbands, I have never followed like some subservient puppy. We are not trailing behind our men, we are standing beside them and making them stronger for it. It’s such an archaic image that as house wives we are less important and I’m sure isn’t something exclusively felt by expat women, but that most women and stay at home men for that matter, have all felt judged.
When I look at the women that I have come across on my expat journey, I don’t think there are any that have not had some kind of challenge to overcome. The stength and adversity some have had to face is empowering and inspiring. They have come from a magnitude of backgrounds, successful careers and countries but they have all made the transition into this life look an easy one. As you know I don’t have kids, so I admire my friends that have made moves around the world with their families. These women are not only supporting their husbands but they are keeping the home life stable, during what can be a really hard adjustment for the little people. They are mum, regardless of where home is located, they make sure the kids are settled, happy and maintaining some normality, even in the desert sun. I don’t know how they do it. They stay so strong, often making their transition to their new surroundings the last priority, holding it all together for their loved ones.
There is nothing weak or trivial about that in my book.
It isn’t just the mother tribe that I have huge respect for. There are plenty of young single women out here who have thrown caution to wind, found their inner wanderluster and packed up for a chance at desert life. I am not going to lie and 23 or 24 would I have come to Kuwait? Not a chance, I just about cope leaving my comfort zone of Jersey to move to London, let alone moving to the Middle East. All these women have come here for jobs opportunities and are grabbing the independence by the scruff of the neck. They don’t care that they are giving up the clubbing Friday night drinking lifestyle back home, they are here to learn, explore and secure their financial future. Don’t get me wrong they arent living the life of nuns but they are having a great time, building social groups and jetting off once a month to see what the Gulf has to offer. They could have stayed at home, done the norm, played it safe but they want more and these 20 somethings have pushed their boundaries and will return home safe in the knowledge that they did something brave, unique and defied convention.
One thing I have often pondered, when researching our new locations, is would I give birth there. Whilst this is something I have yet to deal with, that is not to say this wouldn’t be something that would matter in the future. Now many of my female readers will agree that child birth is one of the great unknown anxieties for any first time mother. Imagine putting yourself in a situation, where that first time experience is somewhere they don’t even speak English! So many of my friends and seasoned expats have had their children wherever they happen to be at that moment. I can’t even fathom this. I visited one close friends hours after she gave birth in Prague and I was in shock. Not only was the hospital like stepping back in time to an episode of Call The Midwife but their lack of English speaking staff was scary. How she even knew what was going on I have no idea, but she sat there cradling her beautiful daughter and I thought she doesn’t care. She had pushed through the experience, found an inner peace and like most things expat, had coped, survived and come out the other side laughing about the experience.
I guess that women everywhere have daily challenges and continuously dispel the myth that women are the weaker sex.
Just the handful of women that I come across in my desert life are proof that we just get on with it, even when we wish we could crumble. I have watched them get news of a loved ones passing and know they have to be strong for their children explaining why they are too far away to say goodbye, even though they are breaking inside. I have heard them converse with their daughters, giving them encouragement to be themselves and being a role model to look up to. I see them reaching for new goals, exploring new opportunities, that may not be easy to achieve, but they want to dream big no matter how old they are. The pregnant lady, who has suffered multiple loses in a strange country and yet pushed through the emotional pain and was handed her rainbow baby by someone who couldn’t tell her how strong she had been. To the Kuwaiti women who showed solidarity with millions of others around the world, and to those who are fighting to prove that a Muslim women doesn’t automatically mean an oppressed women. I salute you.
Some will say because I love my husband, love making a home, cooking him dinner, supporting his journey and enjoy taking the “female role” that doesn’t make me a feminist. I don’t know if I am a feminist or not but I will keep showing strength, keep fighting for my family , keep being independent, keep showing beauty is in all of us, keeping lifting you up when one of you is down and I’ll dig out my Union Jack dress and listen to the Spice Girls, because they had a point, Girl Power needs to exist, now more than ever.