Let’s not generalize things or exaggerate an unfortunate reality. Let’s not make up stereotypes and over-excessively use them to fight for a cause. Let’s not do all the things anti-feminists choose to do while pointing at us, huffing and puffing their way through their arguments of why feminism is just a load of unneeded you-know-what. Let’s instead take a chunk out of the everyday life of your average Egyptian woman and the sexism she faces. Here is a compilation of situations that some of my female acquaintances as well as myself have experienced, often more than once:
Dealing with the valet: (oh, who am I kidding? The ‘sayes,’ dealing with the ‘sayes’)
“Come here ya ‘mazmazelle,'” he says, as he enthusiastically waves the LED traffic wand towards a parking spot. Naturally, you attempt to park and press on your flasher button, but soon enough he’s waving for you to roll the window down. Feeling quite curious as to what he could possibly want, you do just that and he simply states “I’ll park it for you, ya fandem, just step out of the car.” Feeling quite wary, you swiftly reply: “thanks, I’ll park it myself” after which he replies “you won’t be able to, trust me.” At this point you are going ‘whaaaaat?’ in your head. “I’ll park it myself, please step aside,” you blurt out annoyed as you hurriedly slide into the parking spot. “You drive like a man, ‘wa7sh’ ya fandem,” he says with a toothy smile as you lock your car. “No, I park like a normal human being who can drive,” you state as you walk off.
The endless, and constantly evolving, catcalling:
Let’s talk for a second about the Ramadan-themed catcalling hat I’m pretty sure drove every woman who even attempted to step outside during the holy month insane. From “7aram keda e7na saymeen” to “e7na fh Ramadan tayeb” to “shaklek mesh sayma zayena,” all sorts of demeaning comments were thrown at myself, my friends, and other female pedestrians during Ramadan. Well, let me tell you something, fella, there’s no such thing as ‘Halal’ sexual harassment. What you need to do when you see a woman who’s appearance is not on par with your beliefs is silently avert your gaze.
Another thing I’ve noticed is becoming quite a staple in the streets is the whole random guys slowing their cars when they pass by a female pedestrian, pulling the window down, and slurring all kinds of offensive nonsense. Seriously man, do you expect her to just jump into your car? What exactly is the purpose of your ever-so-greasy suggestive look as you slur “Masla7a wala mrawa7a?”? All you end up doing is making her believe you’re obviously repulsive.
The kind of messed up ideologies and discrimination we deal with in the workplace:
You’re still new to the workplace and your boss decides to have a one-on-one meeting with you to give you a quick overview of the work. He talks and you listen intently, chiming in when needed. He then nonchalantly throws a sexist comment straight at your face. “You, being a woman, of course, need to find a balance between your responsibilities as a housewife and your job, and not let housework and children affect your work,” he advises your still-single self with confidence. Seriously, what are you even supposed to say to that? Um, the fact that I was born with the bodily organs that allow me to carry children within me and then nurse them does not in any way give you the right to covertly state that at some point that’ll affect my success in my career. I do not need to sit here and listen to you tell me how to be a ‘balanced’ woman when it comes to motherhood and career advancement. Especially since I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t ever tell a young, unmarried man to not let his future responsibilities as a husband and a father stand in the way of his career.
Marriage and women.. Women and marriage: A societal obsession:
I have nothing against marriage. I really do believe the idea of settling down with someone you love, promising your eternal loyalty and starting a family with them is truly beautiful. What I have a problem with, however, is the way society sort of imposes marriage as a prerequisite to being an accomplished woman. Why is it that all of us ‘girls of age’ get asked by relatives during every family gathering when we’ll finally find ‘ebn el 7alal,’ aka a spouse? Why is it that sometimes mothers, aunts and grandmothers decide to out of the blue remind you that you’re not getting any younger and that marriage is an integral part of any woman’s life? Why would you be told by your cousin that before you travel to finish your MBA, you need to at least get engaged and not let your career aspirations distract you from landing a husband? We no longer get married because we’ve found ‘the one’; We get get married to silence our inquisitive relatives and please a judgmental society.
To conclude, this wasn’t meant to be a rant, this was meant to be a wake up call to an otherwise ignorant, slumbering society. Women, namely Egyptian women, are put in all sorts of discriminatory situations on an everyday basis and it’s time you, me and everyone else recognized this as both unfair and unnecessary.