The personal is political. Dima Ghawi’s deeply personal memoir proves this point even though her courageous journey happened decades after that phrase was first uttered. Breaking Vases is a book that can change how you view the world and how you view yourself. It is a woman’s story of breaking out of a repressive culture and living a life that was once unimaginable. But it is more than one woman’s story.
Dima was born into a somewhat typical Middle Eastern family in Amman, Jordon. As a young girl, her beloved grandmother told her a woman was like a glass vase, beautiful and fragile. A woman must stay perfect; everyone would see any scratches or flaws in the vase…forever. Those flaws would bring shame on herself and her family. It was only after Dima shattered that vase that she discovered it was a glass prison. Her journey of how she broke free is one of true courage and transformation.
This is a book whose words have stayed with me. While her personal story of breaking out of a violent, patriarchal family is Dima’s unique story; the book’s takeaway is one that is enlightening to us as individuals and to our current geo-political landscape.
Breaking Vases brought insight to a different culture. It allowed me to see the Middle East with new vision. Not only are women trapped in the perfect vase illusion, so are the men. The need for everyone in the culture to appear perfect and not authentic to who they truly are, is keeping an entire culture trapped in a glass prison. What is keeping the culture trapped is the fear of the unknown. The simple key to releasing themselves from this trap lies within their imagination to just see past the illusion and truly see the individual.
Dima’s book made me look at my own culture. The book does not mention the #MeToo movement that is transforming this country. But the parallels are easy to see; an abusive patriarchal system that stays in place because those trapped by it are scared to speak out. The fear is real. The repercussions can shatter your life. Like Dima, it takes tremendous courage to break your own culture’s glass prison. Yet, the shattered prison is what will free us to live our true destiny.
Time’s 2017 Person of the Year features the Silence Breakers. The cover shows six women. One woman is cropped out of the cover with only has her elbow showing. Time said, “the anonymous woman’s arm represent the many women who are afraid to come forward with their own stories.”
Dima is also a silence breaker. We all must continue to break vases until all our voices are heard and we all have equality; until we can all live an authentic life, with all it’s flaws and cracks. And amid the broken shards of the past we will have changed the world.
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