Working at an Egyptian women’s magazine has many perks. The greatest of which is that we talk about all things related to Egyptian women. Even though our team is diverse in terms of age, background, and perspective, our conversations constantly lead us to one realization. That is, in spite of these differences, we’ve all been through the same situations as Egyptian women. If you’re like us, you’ve probably rolled your eyes at hearing one of these phrases at some point in your life.
“Enty ba2a men btou3 7o2ou2 al mar2a?”/ “heya el hoga dih hatekhlas emta?”/ “enty feminist wa kda?”
These lines have been especially popular with the recent wave of activism against sexual assault and violence against women. Whomever we’re having these uncomfortable but rewarding conversations with, it’s always annoying when the person disdainfully asks if you’re one of those crazy feminist types. They scrunch up their eyebrows and you can just tell they see you through a lens of banshee and witch stereotypes.
“Hanefra7 Biki Emta?” / “3ayzeen el nono ba2a”
The pressure society puts on Egyptian women to marry early and have children as soon as they do can sometimes be frustrating. We’ve been over this already, marriage and kids are not the ultimate mark of success for a woman. Don’t get me wrong, having a family is great. But, so is graduating, getting a new job or promotion, travelling, or doing anything you find worthwhile, they’re all endeavors just as worthy of your family’s pride. Check out how we counter-attacked this annoying question through our female entrepreneur campaign “Hanefra7 Biki Emta”.
“I’m for Gender Equality but I’m not a Feminist”
News flash! Believing in equality makes you a feminist because that’s all feminists want. Feminism is not about wanting women to be superior to men, it just calls for equal rights and opportunities for women. If you believe the word has been misused, the solution is not to discard or dismiss it, but to correct its false image by calling it what it really is, a movement for equality.
“But not all men…”
This sentence is often completed with “… are harassers”, “…mansplain”, “…. are misogynistic” and yes, we agree with all of the above! Whenever we’re having a serious conversation about the hardships women face, or the violence that they experience at the hands of some men, we are bombarded by this sentence defensively. Even though it’s true and we agree with it, it is most often used at the most inappropriate times. While this may not be the intention of its speaker, it makes it seem like sexual harassment cases are exceptions by a few bad seeds of men. In reality, it’s a generalized and holistic societal disease that 99% of Egyptian women face daily.
It also shifts the spotlight of the conversation from women’s experiences of violence to the idea that good men exist. This was never the issue! So, next time you think of saying “but not all men harass” know that it’s not the few “good” men we are speaking too. The conversation is about what is happening to women. It is not about you. Also the world doesn’t revolve around you, sorry not sorry. Check out our Rogoola Adab issue and Campaign and meet the great men, who are part of the equation.
“Enty “banouta”, mayenfa3sh….”
How often have you heard this from your mom or your aunt? Apparently according to society, there are some etiquette rules solely made for women. There is only one proper way of laughing, talking, dressing, and existing! This doesn’t just apply to our behaviors; Society’s perceptions of what is and isn’t appropriate for women is often the biggest factor affecting their decisions. How many women in your circles can you think of didn’t get to study engineering? Only because their families believed it wasn’t for women? How many had to quit their jobs when they got married? How many worried the bawab’s opinion of them might decrease their chances of finding a good husband? Check out how we “Decoded the Banouta Syndrome” in our May 2018 issue.
“Clothes are not the main reason but one of the factors that increase sexual harassment./ She asked for it./ “Eh el waddaha henak?”
If the recent activism wave has taught us anything, it’s that we still have a long way to go before we can say that everyone in society acknowledges how destructive sexual assault is. The belief that women are (even if partly) to blame for the crime committed against them is one of the multitudes of ways that rape culture rears its ugly head in Egypt. The only cause for sexual harassment is the harasser’s knowledge that he won’t be held accountable and the woman will be blamed instead. Oh and by the way, ana msh otta.
“Naksha sha3rek keda lih”
Despite the recent move towards embracing natural hair, some of our older family members haven’t fully welcomed the change. Curly hair is not ‘akrat’, it’s not “kheshen” and it’s not “mankoush”. It’s big, fierce, and flawless! Here are some stories of great women embracing their wild curls: Dina Ghalwash, Hala ElSayed (GoCurlzLouly), and others.
Do us all a favor, stop commenting about people’s weight (and their appearance generally). You never know if a person lost or gained weight intentionally and you never know how they feel about it. Women are under enormous pressure to look a certain way. We’ve all experienced this pressure differently, whether we’re too skinny or too curvy, society always finds something that’s just not right. So, celebrate all bodies! Unless you’re sure the other person will take it as a compliment, it’s best not to say anything about someone’s appearance. This is why we dedicated a whole issue to BeautiFULL women.
While it may seem slow, progress is happening. A comment about a woman’s clothes spoken about a harassment incident isn’t likely to pass unchallenged in the current climate. That’s the greatest thing about those conversations that aren’t had with any intentions but ultimately lead to positive change. The more women realize they face similar circumstances by virtue of their gender identity, the more fruitful these conversations will be, so get to chatting!