A lyric that resonates with me is from a J cole song “ No role models to speak of/ searchin' through my memory, my memory/I couldn't find one.” When it comes to the world there are so many inspirational women to look up to, but when it comes to my beloved country Saudi Arabia, the stage was always empty; or so I thought.
I came across Loujain’s Alhouthoul story during the summer of 2019. Alhathloul is one of the most prominent and outspoken women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia. She is well known for her campaign against Saudi Arabia’s driving ban, which ultimately worked as the ban was officially lifted on 24 June 2018. However, Alhathloul was detained in 2018, a month before the ban was lifted. Alhouthoul, along with other activists, were branded off as traitors in a desperate attempt to hide the change they created. It’s because of her activism my mom drives to work every morning and why my friends are learning how to drive and why soon I will have a driver’s license in my wallet.
Her story changed the course of my life. She is my first role model and she taught me how to view freedom. Up until recently the world had convinced me that women are birds with clipped wings, butterflies that never get to leave the cocoon, lighthouses that didn’t blink and victims that had no power. But the world couldn't be more wrong.
Alhouthoul may be in prison, but no one can ever capture her spirit. No one can lay a hand on her bravery. No one can trap her strength. No one can change the way she shifted and progressed Saudi Arabia’s history for the better. She is the bird that dared to fly to a higher skyline. She is the flick of the butterfly’s wings that caused a hurricane. She is the flashing light of hope for my generation. She isn’t a victim but a warrior, who is a role model to many young girls; girls like me.
I am not free. I am not free in the sense that there are laws and systems that hold me hostage. I am tethered and handcuffed to restrictions and stereotypes because I am simply a girl. But I am free in the sense that no one can ever take my voice away. I am free in what I believe in. I am free in the way I choose what makes me smile. I am free in the colors I choose to like. I am free in the words I choose to speak and I am free in a million more ways.
Thank you Loujain Alhouthoul for changing the course of my life. For showing me the power that Saudi women, and women in general possess. Thank you for showing me that the man-made world can take my freedom. But in the natural one, I was born free, and will always be free.
Petitions for Loujain Alhouthoul & Further Reading: