Egyptian -and Muslim- Girls between a Rock and a Hard Place
Date posted: March 6, 2009
Egyptian women are trapped between who they are and who they are expected to be; they are required to live up to the expectations of their parents, families, colleagues, and later on, their husbands and children. In their attempt to meet those expectations, some of them feel that they lose touch with who they really are and the great things they can really do. Scene and Heard asked Egyptian men why they prefer to get married to Non-Egyptian/Arab women:
One of our guy writers who's an Egyptian born and raised abroad and still living abroad said that while he tried dating an Arab girl, he found it was just too complicated. "They're just too feisty…I need someone cool, calm and collected". He also stated that with his Egyptian girlfriend, he always had to worry about drama and jealousy…but with a foreign girlfriend, he said "she's so easy going and not menafsena (spiteful)"
The issue of faking the good girl image came up and
Another guy said, "the girls have just become so say3een (loose) in Egypt and while foreign girls can be say3een (loose), they don't know any different…but OUR girls do, they were raised to know better. Plus they just over do everything, even the seya3a (liberal image)! and then they act all innocent and mo7tarameen (decent)"
Culture and traditions are also a turn off
Another one said, "There's just less pressure. We don't have to worry about her father or brother getting upset that we haven't proposed yet or that if we kiss her in public that her aunt's neighbor's daughter's schoolmate might see us and report back to the family."
The rest of the post discusses the issue further. The multi-cultural Muslimah's post titled Strike Two, You’re Out? discusses the number of times a girl could break off an engagement or a marriage!
For those of us who were western-born (or raised) this is absolutely not an issue, painful and heartbreaking yes, but nothing that would induce us to raise any eyebrows. I mean heck, who doesn’t know someone who is triply or even quadruply divorced? That's when things get a little hairy, you know what I mean. But in Egypt its a completely different story: two strikes and you’re out. Especially when it comes to women, upon whom the blame is laid in even the most sexist of situations. Hell, if your husband goes out and gets a second wife its YOUR fault because you didn’t give him enough sex/dress up enough/watch his favorite TV shows/insert some other really inane and bullshit reason here. I could rant, oh could I rant, on how women get the short end of the stick in pretty much every situation here but I will restrain myself to the topic at hand. Do you see how twisted the thinking is? Can any of us imagine this? I mean engagement is the closest thing practicing Muslims get to dating. What if we were stigmatized after our second boyfriend/girlfriend? Men get off a little bit easier, but it is noted when a man is a serial engager, if only by the girl he wants to get engaged to next.
After narrating the details of her two Egyptian friends, she concludes:
Even in baseball you at least get three tries.
Ethar El Katatney is more concerned with the image of the Muslim female; in her critique of the Moroccan movie Amours Voilee she wrote:
There’s a new Moroccan movie out that, on the surface, seems to tackle the issue of pre-marital sex in the country. They’re a dime a dozen these days, but this one is stirring up controversy like crazy. Why? I’ll give you a hint: The name of the movie is Amours Voilées, Hijab al-hob, which translates as Veiled Love in French, and The Veil of Love in Arabic. Ta da! Once more, we have proved what is now fact: plug in the world ‘veil’ to anything, and you will immediately gain an audience
She also added links to the trailer and the songs
Ethar clearly states that
It would be silly to say that this movie is about the role the veil plays in Moroccan society. True, the veil plays a role in the movie, but the story is more about the conflict Moroccan—and by extension Arab—women face in the world they live in today. It’s the struggle these women face in reconciling the principles they’ve been brought up to cherish with their subsequent behavior, and in a greater sense how they deal with the discrepancies between what their culture dictates versus their religion.
Sobia and Krista urge the media to cut Muslim women some slack when writing about them:
Rule #1: Don’t assume that Muslim women need to be saved, or that you know how to save them. Rule #2:Rather than assuming you know what Muslim women’s lives are like, try asking them. Rule #3: Be careful of who you talk to regarding Islam and/or Muslim women. Rule #4: Understand that Muslims are just like anyone else in terms of their belief systems. Not everything a Muslim does has to do with Islam. Rule #5: Understand that there is no such thing as a “Muslim culture.” Muslims come from a variety of cultures, and culture is dynamic – it’s constantly changing. Rule #6: Don’t create a dichotomy between “Muslim” and “Canadian” (or “American,” “British,” etc.), or between “Muslim” and “Western.” Rule #7: Tone it down! Be mindful of the language you use. Rule #8: Take responsibility for the consequences of your writing. Rule #9: Leave the headscarf alone.
To make the space between the rock and the hard place tighter, Wandering Scarab shed light on another aspect of the Arab culture:
Victims of sexual crimes are often shunned by their male family members. Many are told that it is “their fault for being in the wrong place at the wrong time” or “that they brought it on themselves by wearing inappropriate attire”.
In a society like ours, a mere virgin just isn't good enough.. every man's quest while mating is to find the absolute virgin. Well, I'd better clarify what that means. An AV is a never-been-touched, never-been-in-love, never-had-a-relationship, kind of girl. This is different from the simple "virgin".. Coz it is taken for granted that the girl must be a virgin in the biological sense! She has to bleed on her wedding night. That is out of question. The absolute virgin goes beyond her hymn.. Her husband has to be the first man in her life. It is even better if she told him he was her prince charming.. and she would really do the perfect job if she was able to convince him that his ghost used to visit her in her dreams.. a very common proto-image inspired by some Egyptian movie classics. Let's say our guy (thinks he has) succeeded in his mission, and he was able to find his half human, half angel AV. Is the nightmare finally over? Hehehe.. you wish!