Classism and Social Hierarchy: Will We Ever Break Free?

The greatest love stories most certainly don’t come easy, especially in drama. Struggle serves drama, it breaks your heart right before it puts the pieces back together. But our hearts have been broken hard in the past few days and we are awaiting holism any minute now.

“Television drama has never felt so real”

Two days ago, screenwriter Tamer Habib left us in tears when one of his main characters “Adam” on La totfea El Shams TV Series was forced into walking away from his lover “Habiba”, whom he learns later has committed suicide, and so he eventually ends up jumping off a bridge as well in a scene that could only be described as a masterpiece. And whilst we don’t know what future episodes hold for us, the 17th episode has revealed that Habiba and Adam indeed survived and that the sun might just not set on their romance.

The reason why such tragedy has deeply touched our hearts even though we are well aware that it is nothing more than well-performed drama and that Ahmed Malek who plays “Adam” and May ElGheity who plays “Habiba” are out there all good and alive, enjoying their less-complicated real lives is the fact that television drama has never felt so real. Because we know that when we turn off the television and go on with our lives, there will still be a million other “Adams” and “Habibas”, who are the best versions of themselves only together, and yet social classes, positions, bank statements, and prestige will always come in their way.

Terms like “Ndeef” (preppy) or “bent nas” (from a high class family) have emerged in our society describing people who shower in designer brands, occupy prestigious positions, live in fancy compounds and squeeze English words into every other sentence. And based on such criteria we refuse to see people who pronounce “P” as “B”, don’t know the difference between Gucci and Prada, or even live in Abdeen, as appropriate matches for us.

“But is it society that tells us how to live our lives or is this how we want it to be?”

We went out and asked people how they view relationships that bring together two people from different backgrounds and social classes, is it the end of a great dream or the start of something beautiful?, “It depends on who comes from a higher social class, the male or the female because for example Amina Khalil who plays “Engy” on La totfea ElShams couldn’t have ended up with “Mahmoud” who comes from a much lower social class simply because the fact that she is always going to be one step ahead of him will constantly humiliate his manhood especially in a male-dominated society like ours,” 28-year old Omar Torky says.

“Such love stories could have better luck outside Egypt”

“In Adam and Habiba’s case, I think marrying him would mean that she’ll feel unworthy for the rest of her life. She wouldn’t be able to be the mother he’d want for their kids because at the end of the day she’s going to be teaching them and influencing them with her own culture which might clash with his ideology as an open-minded man from an aristocratic family” 25-year old Marina Rizkallah tells.

And on a packed up metro ride we bumped into 22 year old Dina Hassan who had a lot to say, “The details will pose the biggest threat on their relationship. They are likely to love going out at very different places like “Anater” and “bars”. They won’t have the same type of friends, and they won’t share the same routines. Such differences can kill the spark of a brand new love and at some point, they won’t have much energy to sacrifice for one another,”.

On the other hand, we came across some other different opinions, “I would marry the person I am comfortable with, regardless of what my parents or her parents think because they won’t help me out if I choose to live with someone from my social class that I am not in love or happy with” 25 year-old Amr Yossry argues.

“Parents care way more about prestige than love”

“I think such love stories could have better luck outside Egypt because the real problem remains to be the parents who would want to take pride in who their son is marrying and care way more about prestige than love, and so they would most certainly be ashamed of a mechanic’s sister and would never want her to meet their friends or relatives,” 26-year old Youssef Mostafa explains.

Even those that support excluding classism from the criteria can see that it is easier to roam about your circle assuming that your duplicates are your comfort zone, that just like the pieces of a puzzle, they’d fit with no effort of pushing them. What is much harder to do is actually approach uniqueness with the will to understand, to comprehend the beauty of difference and to believe in complementarity.

Even after Tamer Habib wows us with a mind-blowing script to wrap up this epic work of drama, we must still remember that social classes are human-made, they don’t define us, they don’t determine our fates, and they are no criteria to measure the goodness of people or the strength of their love.


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