Unfortunately society is shaped significantly by stereotypes. It is clear that there are certain ideas of foreign girls, Westerners in particular, held by Egyptian men of all ages affecting their interactions. These ideas have shaped a vision of the foreign girl as a sexually-active, laid-back creature, to be pursued in the streets and fetishized in the minds. But what is less commonly realised is how this can then impact on how Egyptian men perceive Egyptian girls. The phrase so often uttered by Egyptian men of “urgh, Egyptian girls are so *insert negative adjective*”, is so often based on a false assumption that foreign girls are a species apart.
Foreign Girls are promiscuous:
This common idea that foreign are willing to sleep with anyone and everyone is hugely damaging. Jenny who lives in Gouna, expressed her frustration, “putting it politely, the reputation thing annoys me. Certain men treat us like sluts as if we want something!”
Whilst it is the case that many foreigners have grown up in countries that are more sexually liberal, that doesn’t mean anything about someone’s own personal sexual choices. Messages from Egyptian men stating “why won’t you sleep with me?” are fundamentally inappropriate, but stem from the idea that foreign girls are up for anything.
It also leads to the idea that Egyptian girls are ‘frigid’ and ‘sexually inactive’. Ahmed, aged 24 uses the phrase, “she’s an Egyptian,” to indicate a girl’s sexual habits as if somehow it explains everything. Depending on the situation this is used to shame and question the Egyptianess of sexually-active Egyptian girls, or alternatively ‘Egyptian’ is used negatively in comparison to fun foreign girls to insult the choice not to be sexually active.
Foreign Girls have more freedom:
When it comes to jobs and finances, there is an idea that foreign girls have much more freedom. They either have a never-ending inpouring of foreign currency from wealthy relatives, or they are able to pursue whatever career they want, unshackled from societal pressures. None of this appreciates that life for foreign girls isn’t necessarily an easy and unbridled ride, the circumstances depend on the individual.
This idea is also hinged on a view that contrastingly Egyptian girls are repressed and controlled. “With Egyptian girls, their father or husband is usually controlling things behind the scenes,” 29 year old Abdullah says. Whilst financial freedom is expected for foreign girls, for Egyptian girls it is still looked upon with suspicion, even when she has earned every single pound that she is spending.
Foreign Girls are Easy-going:
“Egyptian girls are so high-maintenance.” “Egyptian girls are so jealous.” These are direct quotations from normal Egyptian guys that are used on a daily basis.
“With Egyptian girls there is just so much drama, whereas foreign girls are laid-back and easier to be around,” 28 year old Omar suggests. This is a completely false dichotomy. In reality, we all range from dramatic to laid-back depending on the situation and our mood, no matter in what country we were birthed. This perception means that Egyptian girls are unfairly compared to an idea of the perfect chilled-out companion that doesn’t really exist. How are Egyptian girls supposed to come out swinging when judged against an unrealistic standard?
Foreign Girls are more attractive or desirable:
For foreign girls, the marriage proposals are unrelenting; and only sometimes framed as a joke. Amy on a trip to Aswan recalls “my tour guide persistently asked me to visit his children and become his new wife.” Egyptian women are some of the most beautiful in the world, but Egyptian men’s fantasising about fair skin and light hair plays into the global narrative of ‘white is right’ when it comes to appearance. This helps to perpetuate the unacheivable beauty standards that we are all subjected to.
“You’re not like Egyptian girls,” is not a compliment, it is a generalisation based on false assumptions. ‘Egyptian’ and ‘foreign’ should be removed as adjectives relevant to the character, personality or attractiveness of women. The double standards and expectations it breeds are toxic for all involved.