Equality and the Modern Woman

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I do not believe women and men are equal, I also do not believe they are the same, and I certainly do not believe there is no difference between man and woman! What are you, nuts?!

There, I said it!

By now, a lot of male chauvinists are probably enjoying what I, a female, am saying, and a lot of unyielding feminists cannot believe what they are reading, and written by a modern-day female! I have also probably managed to turn off a whole bunch of other people by now with my apparent gibberish; but, if there is anyone still reading, this is what I mean…

Anatomically we are not equal, physically we are not equal, emotionally we are not equal, so how, in God’s name, can we be considered equal? It is like comparing apples and oranges just because they are both from the fruit family and happens to be round-shaped; apples and oranges are not equal, the comparison just would not make any sense. But… in no way does that automatically make one superior to, or better than the other, that also would not make sense. Each one had its own purpose and its uniqueness.

Men and women are peers though, and they are on an even keel as a species. There is no unspoken, but well-known organizational hierarchy, or anything like that, other than what we enforce on each other, or allow to be set for us. Although each one of them does need to take the lead ever so often for certain issues that they are better equipped to handle. That is not derogatory to either one of them, of course, that becomes a factor depending on how the parties involved deal.

For example, and I know there will be attempts on my life after this, housework. There is nothing wrong with a woman running a house and actually excelling at it, be known for her domestic prowess, or actually enjoying being a house wife. Just like there is nothing wrong with a man doing the same. Come on people, get real, what is the problem with being in charge of changing the bed sheets and scrubbing the kitchen floor? I do not see where the degradation or insult is. I mean really, somebody has to do it, and just because the female of the house does it does not make it her God-assigned job, it also does not make her inferior, and if it is the guy’s designated job he is not a sissy for it. Seriously, some people need to stop thinking out of their nostrils, and actually use their brains.

So that is one stereotype flushed down he toilet, what other snot-sill ideas have we begun to foster in the global quest to equality of boys and girls, oh yeah, etiquette or lack there of. What is up with the no holding the door open or crowding women into, or out of passage ways? It is bad enough that men no longer stand up when women walk into a place, but equality has nothing to do with being rude. It is like some guys are thinking “you want us to be equal toots, OK then, get out of my way or I will elbow you out of my way. Tit for tat, doll face.

All stereotypes and sarcasm aside let us try to set this equality thing straight, shall we? It has gotten so distorted from what I like to call “Eftekasat Syndrome” that is Arabic slang for the foreigners out there. For me it represents two shots sophistry, one shot splitting hairs, a healthy dose of nitpicking and a dollop of silliness, all shaken in a scrambled brain that cannot be bothered to think straight, resulting in a cocktail of ludicrous ideas and notions that let go of the core and pick holes at the insignificant strands. The problem is that we have lost sight of what really matters, what is really important, and that is mutual respect and appreciation, not who does what, who has the bigger paycheck and who is the “leader”, the status is not what identifies you, you identify the status. The human is what matters, regardless of the gender, you do not get a Medal of Honor or ranking just because you are one gender or the other, and it is silly that a lot of us implicitly believe that.

The problem does not lie in actions like cooking, cleaning or providing for the family, the problem is way beyond that, those are just outcomes, the inputs are the real pickle; inputs like what we really think in the deep recesses of our minds, what we actually believe deep down inside, what has been ingrained in our psyches ever since we were kids. Do we really believe we are peers, or are we just paying lip service? Do we actually understand what it really means? A lot of us do not, a lot of us, from both genders. If we did, we would not do things like enforce different curfews in the same household for two kids, just because one of them has the X chromosome –and of course everyone knows she would be the one with the earlier curfew. We would not agree to silliness such as a guy can date and be “experienced” and be considered “me2atta3 el samaka we delha” with a congratulatory smirk, while if a girl does the same society at large still would consider a slut! Come on, pause and think about it for a second, unless the guy is batting for the other team (which is a whole other story, for an entirely different day), who is he “dating”, and becoming a world-class connoisseur with? You guessed it: girls! So how does that work exactly? As long as it is not the girl of this family going out with guys, the males of the same family can go out with the girls of other families? Now this is double standard par excellence! Hypocrisy on a lot of different levels it is funny in an idiotic way. It is as if those families have their heads buried so deep in the sand and for so long, that the excess blood flow shooting to their heads has permanently affected their grey matter!

Growing up, one of the things I had always admired about my parents, even before realizing I did, was their total and complete equality rule; they had always worked very hard and at being impartial and unbiased with my siblings and my self. Two girls with a middle boy, we had the same curfew that was pushed back for each one according to their age, which meant I could stay out later than my brother because I was older. We also had the zero-tolerance rule for going out on New Year’s Eve: NO ONE went out on New Year’s Eve. My father would say “None of my kids will go out on that day with all the crazy riffraff out there, coming out of the woodwork –it’s too dangerous.” Now, I used to huff and puff in disagreement, but once I began to realize that discrimination thing, I could not help but respect the man. Another thing that was a really big, color feather in my cap was the fact that my parents would allow my sister to stay out late with me up to my curfew because she was with me, her older sister. Do you realize how big that is for a teenager? Your parents are subliminally embedding in the minds of your younger siblings that you are their older, go-to sibling, you are their rock, you are their salvation when the going gets tough, even from their parents if need be. Sure it ups the ante for you later on, but it is totally worth it. of course at the time I had no idea the full extent of their practical versus academic education, then I was just interested in showing off my “older sister” power to my friends, and the smugness of bestowing the great privilege of hanging out with me on my kid sister; but you know what, this is an honest to God real-life example of what gender-blind respect really is.

I think this is probably where the problem lies: a lack of a clear understanding of gender-blind respect. For the most part, we do not really practice person-entitlement, versus guy-entitlement. Meaning, if my father and mother had no true respect for the man and women my siblings and my self were to become later on, they would not have given each one of us our privileges and responsibilities based on our actions and place in the sibling hierarchy, and instead stuck with the generally-enforced, discriminatory guy versus girl thing, hence guy entitlement and not the enlightened person entitlement. Sure my father instilled in my brother the notion that he is the man, but a responsible, take care of your sisters, protect, love, and pamper them man. He always used to tell him, in a man-to-man kind of voice: “If you and I don’t protect and nurture your sisters and mother, then who will?” I am not laying it on thick, I swear to you, but my father and brother made us feel like their precious jewels -true to form princesses, I swear.

Just so that you do not think that we are the perfect family you anything, my parents did over indulge us as well, they pampered us sill a lot of the time; we grew up kids who did not pick up after themselves, we had housekeepers who did that. I was 16 I think when my mother realized that this attitude will not do us any good and began re-educating us on keeping house. At first, she focused on us girls, and my brother was mostly left to his messy ways. In her defense, she did catch on and worked on him eventually, and as much as she adores each and everyone of us, she was touch with him until she broke him in. now, I have one of my favorite cups of coffee from my dear brother.

So why is it that we still do not fully comprehend gender-blind respect? A friend of mine has the theory that it is because of us females. She says that we are at the root of it, we are the educators, and if the outcome is a society of gender-biased, discriminatory people, then the problem lies in the primary conditioning and education, which is ultimately brought forward by the women –the mothers.

I have to agree with her.

Female oppression has come a long way since the days of “Si El Sayed”, but it does not seem that the Egyptian woman psyche has fully taken the ride. We need to stop whining and blaming oppression and take some action. If we really want this so-called equality, we need to walk the walk as well, not just talk the talk. We have to teach our kids the true meaning of gender-blind respect, we have to throw out gender biases and stereotypes and kill off all kinds of hypocrisy. We have to cast out once and for all, the prejudicial cobwebs plaguing our minds and maybe then they will be open to the true meaning of being peers: it is not about whose “job” it is to cook and clean, or do this and that –nothing is set in stone. Sure men’s God-given role is to lead, but He also said that they have to earn that privilege: how can a man who beats his wife and forces her to work, while he purposefully remains unemployed, be considered a leader? And, women have to shoulder part of the problem as well: if a woman backs down every time and allows people to walk all over her, how can she expect to be respected for the human being that she is? There is definitely room for improvement all around.

So in the end, we are not equal because we are definitely not the same. We are peers and we should treat each other with educated respect, and not blind bias. Status is a hard-earned privilege not a birth right.

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