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Fe-mail – Sex and City, without the Sex and the Manolo’s?
By May Abdel Asim
Amy Mowafi’s Femail – trial and tribulations of a good Egyptian girl – has become my favorite column that I await monthly just to see if she would finally meet the infamous knight in shining armor. Yes, I think she is the Arabic answer to Carrie Bradshaw and yes I laugh out loud while reading it. Amy’s monthly column has worked itself into the lunch breaks, gym lockers and hairdresser’s waiting area giving us all a good laugh, some sincerely meant “ahs” and “ohs” as well as the constant urge to get next month’s Enigma just to find out if “he” called back of if “she” replied to that sms he had sent her the next day.
Witty and sassy combined with a well-dosed portion of sarcasm Amy tells it all. The dating, the heartbreak, the parties, the LVs, the IT girls and how it is to have brains in the world of glitz and glamour. Fe-mail will be out on bookshelves in any good bookshop near you.
Memoirs of a ‘She’ Girl
The trials and tribulations of an amorous life…
In the pageantry of Arab public life, every woman soon learns to create a suitable persona for every circumstance. And the question of ‘who am I?’ or more appropriately ‘who should I be?’ is never more important than when the Arab woman comes face to face with a potential mate. ‘Being true to yourself’ is entirely irrelevant.
Integrity? Sincerity? Candour? For wimps. This is a battle. You are a virgin until proven otherwise. Previous experience? Who me? Never! And the best bit is: your average Arab man is more than willing to feign ignorance as to the ways of the world. He has no desire to know the truth. He will eagerly swallow every feigned personality trait you throw at him. Of course this begs the question. If every Arab boy spends his youth proudly sowing his seed, and every Arab girl is fabulously virtuous, where exactly are these seeds being harvested? Details, details!
This is not a question of honesty, rather survival of the socially smartest; survival of the prettiest and more often than not, the fakest. Want to grab yourself a piece of the rapidly diminishing husband pie, then all notions of ‘take me as I am’ must be thrown out the window. Take me as I am? Which is what exactly? A slightly neurotic workaholic who needs little encouragement to let loose on the dance floor, laughs a little too loudly and makes up her ideals as she goes along. Take me as I am, my ass.
And so, in the spirit of never having the slightest clue what it is I’m doing, I recently agreed to a blind date. Well I say ‘blind date’ because I’m not really quite sure what to call it. Let me elaborate…I get a call from a lovely young lady telling me a nice young man has been reading my articles and is “personally interested”. I can only guess that he has failed to understand a single word of any my articles. He also wants to know if I do indeed look like my picture. What? Why would I possibly want to use a photo that actually looks like me? The photographer was kind enough to over-expose and air brush all traces of reality away.
So, would I agree to meet him? My immediate reaction? Absolutely not! But then, that slightly sick work obsessed gal in me kicks right in. Being set up? What a perfect story for my column. “Don’t be an idiot, you must refuse,” I think to myself…. “Yes, why not,” I actually say. And, once again, I failed spectacularly to make my words bare any resemblance to my thoughts.
“But, you have to be there too,” I suddenly say in a flash of inspiration. Yes, good, well done me. Having her there definitely gives the proper impression. I am a respectable young lady who can’t possibly meet a nice young man all on my own.
We meet, we talk…well I talk…far too much. I spend an hour telling him how I despise the vacuous shenanigans of high society (this is just what came out, and it sounded good at the time). And then I excuse myself, telling him I must go off to a party with Cairo’s premium ‘It Girl’. Yes, it makes no sense. And that’s just the point. I really did have every intention of creating the perfect persona. Besides, if I had won his affections, it would have made an even better article. But in spite of myself; the irrationalness came pouring forth.
Except (and I can only guess, like my articles, he failed to understand a single word I was actually saying) he sent me a text that night, and then another, and another. Had I managed to come across as vaguely normal? A second meeting was arranged (without our ‘matchmaker’) and then a third. And then the truth came out. He was after a ‘She Girl’. (His words, not mine.) ‘She Girl’? Well, apparently it’s the opposite of an ‘It Girl’. A sort of old-fashioned nice young lady, all softness, quietness, tenderness and stay at homeliness. This, had I been as smart as my Arab female comrades in arms, would have been my cue to give him ‘She Girl’ in all her glory. I have an ‘A’ level in Theatre Studies. I’m sure I could have pulled it off beautifully. Instead I gave him an impassioned speech on empowerment and ambition. And then I laughed a little too loudly.
At the time of writing, he was seemingly losing the will to live.
I shall never win the battle, this I know. But I have every intention of winning the war. And if worst comes to worst, I can always say I did it my way. Of course, I’ll probably be alone when I say it.
If every Arab boy spends his youth proudly sowing his seed, and every Arab girl is fabulously virtuous, where exactly are these seeds being harvested?
Amy Mowafi – a not-so-good Egyptian girl who was born and bred in England – is Senior Editor at Enigma, a leading glossy international Arab lifestyle magazine. Various magazines (in England and Egypt) have been publishing her self-indulgent writing since 1998. Currently based in Cairo she moved to Egypt (the motherland) after graduating from The University of Bath with a Bsc (Hons) in Business Administration. When she finally gets round to writing her thesis, she’ll also be the proud owner of an entirely pointless Masters in Journalism from the American University in Cairo. Despite a deep aversion to academia, she did manage to fool various respectable journals into publishing a few of her academic papers. Her monthly opinion column in Enigma ( Fe-Mail) tracks her ridiculous adventures as a single girl living in Cairo. In this column she shares her disastrous dating stories, pokes fun at high society and mentions the word ‘sex’ more often than strictly necessary. Which is why, according to her mother, she will never find ‘a Nice Egyptian Boy’ who is willing to marry her.