For too long it has been the case that regardless of a woman’s career or commitments, when a baby joins the family, it will be she who has to put everything else aside and single-handedly raise the children. When it comes to child-rearing, marriage seems less like a partnership and more like a one-woman show. The problem is bigger than just within the couple, a dad not contributing enough to their child’s upbringing is something perpetuated across all of society, and that is something that needs to change!
I read a beautiful story in an Egyptian Facebook experience-sharing group in which the mother was talking about how she and her husband have agreed to take turns in spending time off work to take care of their newborn. I was really happy and felt that the male ego system is finally crashing and we – as women – are no longer required to babysit men’s insecurities of not feeling so much of a macho man when they do their part with their children. She took unpaid leave to care of the baby for the first 6 months and her deal with her husband was that he takes the next 6 months off as she returns to work. A brilliant collaborative couple and it seems that we are evolving into more mature people … But alas! He, being the gentleman that he is, is fully committed to his part of the deal but knock! Knock! Who is it? I am the messed up Egyptian man-driven peer pressure!
The sarcastic part is that we don’t even get to enjoy our own decisions that we make just because of the social labels: his family and friends started making fun of him. Because of course, taking care of the children is a yucky woman’s job! She should get 100% of the puke, vomit, saliva, nagging, sleepless nights and the whole nine yards because that is what she has been made for, no?
Dear oppressing family and friends,
What’s up guys? Are you enjoying your little discriminating cocoon? Is it fun to sit there and make fun of someone because you are an old-fashioned boring excuse for a human being? You get to be so fashion-forwards and westernized with your ripped jeans and English accent but you want to stick to the discriminatory basics when it comes to roles concerning men and women? You want to wear what you want, eat what you want and say what you want but you don’t want other to want altogether! How about going through the many MANY families in which the wife left her job to “take care of the kids” even when she made more money than the husband. Because societal norms are way more important than sustaining household income. How about all the families in which the wife is the breadwinner of the house now after her husband has been released from work? Why can he not take care of the kids although he is not working? Because God created him for greater things like fighting plagues and initiating wars on communism? What is he doing sitting on the couch watching free cable then?
Dear Egyptian government,
What’s up guys? Still re-inventing the wheel and pretending that real stuff is going on? How about a new law? How about ONE law that actually stands beside the Egyptian woman who has gone through A LOT because of all the weaknesses in the laws that are neither protecting her nor granting her any rights. I would like to ask for the following – and I am honestly being extra kind:
2 weeks of paid paternity leave when a child is born. You see, the woman does not need to go and stay with her mom just because she had a baby! I really hate that part! The husband stays at the house, goes to work and sleeps like an angel then comes round after work for an hour or two to merely take a look at the child and the wife. How useless and how degrading! The husband needs to see that this is a real fight for the mother, how much she stays up, how breastfeeding may hurt at the start and how her whole body is sore from lack of sleep. I thought that’s the whole point of being married: for better and WORSE!
Next, the husband should get to take 6 months of unpaid leave at any point of his career twice to take care of his children. Why is it the wife who can put her whole career on hold for 2 whole years till the child is ready to go to a nursery but it is business as usual for the husband? Is the woman’s career less important? And even if she does not work, why is it that she is the one who gets to do all the child-rearing?
The saddest part is that despite the strong female-oppression mechanisms that are initiated by men, stronger oppression is coming from fellow women! You know why? Because in a society in which men never take time off to spend it with their children, women do all the upbringing. And these are the women who raise men like they are masters and joke about “he can’t boil an egg” or “he cannot make himself a cup of tea” like it is funny. I find this disgusting and horrible, I find it degrading and I just want this nightmare to end!
If you can’t change the grown ass men around you, please alter the way you raise your children. Do not make them copies of the ugly generations that raise men like they are kings of this earth because they are not! Just like the woman plays multiple roles, a man should too. The society needs to remind him that he is a father and a husband before being a dentist/businessman/corporate posterchild! May God resurrect us from this reality and may we as women remember that we should be there for each other!