In his bestseller, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus Dr. John Gray tackled how men and women handle a problem; men solve their problems by going into their "cave" and women solve thier problems by talking. Dr. Gray made it crystal-clear that a woman should not follow her man into his "cave"; the more she disapproves of the time her man is in the "cave", the more he will be reluctant in coming out! When I first read that book every thought came as a revelation and I knew exactly how Sir Isaac Newton felt when he understood gravity.
I will resist the urge to write about how men see us – women – as the reincarnation of the Macbeth witches when we are blue with sadness or red with anger; how we are expected to be ever-so-cheerful, problem-free, and crisis-proof; how we are supposed to give the benefit of the doubt, put our best foot forward, be flexible, open-minded, and tolerant. Otherwise, I will be just another "Egyptian girl", which in this context is synonymous with party-pooper, killjoy, flat beer, and wet blanket on a cold winter night.
In my younger years, I used to take the "DO NOT DISTURB" sign quite well but by time, that went hand in hand with heartache, I developed an allergy to caves, cavemen, and do not disturb signs. Experience taught me that men abuse Dr. Gray's "cave" theory; they use it as an excuse every time they want to end an existing relation, start a new relation, or have overlapping relations. A man in need of space means a man in need of a new hunt; a man on his way to the cave equals a man on his way out of the relation; a man who wants to think is a man who wants to weigh the "new cow" versus the "old cow".
So after years of abstinence, I packed my suit of armor, nails, claws, hooks, and daggers, took a lifetime supply of chocolate, and my favorite relationship survival tactics books, and I hopped on his boat. Prince-charming entertained me with stories, jokes, deep conversations that I never thought men are capable of. He opened up to me and communicated with frankness and transparency. Every now and then I would look at my stack of self defense mechanisms and laugh … "I really will not need any of my weapons this time … lucky me! I finally found "the different man"!" I thought.
One happy morning I found the famous "Do not Disturb" sign sealing his mind, heart, and tongue. He wanted his space, asked for some time to think, then he wanted to be free again, and finally he wanted to go in his cave! The symptoms of my chronic allergy showed on my face, on my body, on my words, on my SMSes, and on my emails … I geared up for war! After exchanging a few angry looks and a handful of accusations, my newly found man went into his cave and I waited outside praying for the best yet expecting the worst.
Dr. Gray asked women to do something fun and enjoyable while the man is brooding in his cave. So, while my caveman was doing what he needed to do, I fantasized about having a shaved head instead of my curly locks, adopting a new cat, selling my dining table, turning the dining room into a walk-in closet, going to a tanning saloon, starting a match-making service, and other crazy things that will be censored! I avoided any thoughts that led me to ask "What is he doing in his cave?" I did not want to think, did not care to ask, and was not prepared to know.
My caveman is not as bad as the other cavemen out there; we were not totally disconnected … there was network coverage in the cave and, to me, the phone represented the whole relationship. I got used to the new form of communication, adjusted my expectations of him, kept him archived in that gray zone between a friend and a special friend, and took extra dozes of chocolate to alleviate the symptoms of my allergy to cavemen. Finally he poked his head out of his cave, told me that he hated women, and then went back in hibernation. I stood there wondering if I was cursed or if a wicked fairy put a spell on me when I was born to get back at my parents!
The caveman handed me a piece of paper that symbolizes his new calling in life; he will lead a "men's liberation movement". He will spend what is left of his life advocating male rights in a female-governed community. He will free men from their oppressors …… women! The wicked witches – us – will be tied to a stake and burned to death. Women now have well-paying jobs, leading positions, have no time for being mothers, know nothing about being wives, and are materialistic, demanding, and manipulative. They are compulsive liars, ugly double-faced creatures, and they nag, nag again, and nag more.
The list of demands is not long but it is extremely creative and original. The caveman wants to switch places with women; he will stay home and take care of the kids while she has to work, make money, get him a maid, pay the bills, take him to nice places, spend regular vacations, and get him anything he points a finger at. On behalf of men, he is pleading for equality; a man usually gets the woman a ring upon engagement or "shabka", why doesn't she get him something, within the same price range, as well? He is asked to pay money in advance before the marriage like a dowry or "mahr" and he writes another sum that he has to pay if he divorces her. My ingenious caveman wants men to stop paying the "mahr" or else, women have to pay an equal amount. He also wants the "in-case-of-divorce" money to be a debt on whoever asks for a divorce. If he divorces her he pays and if she divorces him, as per the new law, then she pays.
The caveman is urging men to give women what they have always asked for – their liberation; hence, no man should pick up a check, open a door, or carry a heavy bag on behalf of a woman. There were some miscellaneous items on the list; women are fake, full of pretence, and have petty minds and little brains. Once their biological clock starts ticking, women go on a relentless man-chase trying to get a package that looks and feels good, pays and lives well, and wants to settle down. They want a big wedding to show off, a honeymoon to get her girlfriends envious, and a man pour la forme … women look better and are more socially accepted when they are dangling from a man's arm!
I looked at the list long enough to memorize it and every time I read his demands I felt my arms and legs being stretched out into a variety of contradicting directions. At first I was angry and the feminist in me wanted to smash his head – and his cave. Then I felt a lot of sympathy gushing through my heart; many Janes stepped over the heart of my poor Tarzan. Then I decided to write back a plea in defense of women and condemning men, as I always do. I started with the history of the women's liberation movement and what evoked it – namely men abusing women on the grounds of having to provide for them. In plain English: I shelter you, feed you, clothe you, protect you, and get you pregnant before it is too late for you to have kids, then I am a man and you, as a woman, should be silently grateful to have me in your life, even if I beat you up, don't give you enough money, have affairs, get a second wife, or just act like a complete jerk.
But when I came to the actual demands; his demands that reflect how women act nowadays and how the Egyptian society became a foster home for the seven deadly sins including greed, gluttony, lust, and sloth, I had nothing to say in our defense. He was right! We made men view us as bloodthirsty hounds aiming at their lives! Then I realized why Egyptian men prefer dating or marrying foreign ladies. Those blonds do not just have the looks; they have what it takes to bring out the best in our men. They believe in them and in their innate qualities; unlike us, they give them names not labels; they want to share and give; they want to build a life based on honesty, trust, and respect, while we tend to put the cash, the car, the wedding, the villa, the honeymoon, the ring, and all the other stuff on the one hand, and on the other sits the caveman … alone … thinking of going back into his cave for shelter.