Love him or hate him, but you must agree that Sherif Madkour is a very interesting man. He has been incessantly teased for years. Even his peers in the media made fun of his interests and demeanor. However, he’s been extremely successful ever since he started out. His family-oriented TV show continues to be one of the most popular of its kind. We sat down with him to chat about his work, life and how society treats him.
When you chose a career in television, was the type of show you are doing – that is said to be directed towards women – the first thing you decided to do?
My show is for the entire family. There’s a cooking segment, fashion segment and a children segment. There are also times when health is discussed. People say it’s directed towards women. Not even because of the content of the show, but because of me. There are some people who cannot accept me as a person.
Were you ever discouraged by family or friends because of the nature of your show?
I come from an open-minded family and they love what I do. They believe it is good for our society.
Have you ever received advice to do your show differently by targeting a different audience?
I target everyone in my show. I even talk about politics and religion. And when I talk about religion, I do it so simply to the extent that some people don’t even know my religion.
What interested you in starting a television show that involves a lot of cooking and fashion?
I wanted my show to be about things that I had enough knowledge about. I don’t know how to cook, but I know a lot about cooking and different cuisines. I also have a good understanding of fashion because my mother worked in it. I work in furniture and antiques and so I know about that, too. And as for religion and politics, I read a lot about both. I saw that many television hosts do political talk shows or artistic shows, but no one was doing family-oriented shows. I always like being different. So I said that if I’ll be in this career, I’ll do something that’s different. And that’s the kind of show that was missing.
Why do you think our society immediately ridicules men who are in touch with their feminine side?
We are people that love to joke around. Back in the day, it was funny and endearing, but now it’s become tasteless and ill-mannered. There are people out there who encourage that, unfortunately.
Many say that men who make fun of others for taking interest in things that usually interest women are in fact insecure about their own masculinity. Do you think this is true?
Definitely. I spoke to a psychiatrist before and asked him why some people hate me with such a passion. He said that plenty of those men wish they could do what I do or dress like I dress. They feel like they can’t do that, though, because they live in a mold made for them by society.
Some people in the media have taken the opportunity to tease you. Do you just brush it off and continue with what you’re doing or does it bother you?
Not at all. At first, it bothered me, but I got used to it. It even happens on the street now. The best thing to do about it is to ignore them, this bothers them the most.
How do you think we can change our society’s perspective on what is manly and what isn’t?
It won’t change. I tried. It’ll take at least 20-30 years to change things like that. Men still won’t wear the colors red or pink because they’re “women’s colors”! We live in a society where some guys wish they could hug their mothers and fathers but don’t because they’re embarrassed.
How does a male dominated society affect you personally?
We say it’s a male dominated society, but being a man is more than looks, body or sexual organs. So it really isn’t a male-dominated society. 35% of Egyptian families are being supported financially by women. Women voters outnumber male voters, too.
We’re a male-dominated society because women are letting it be that way. If they could go into all fields, show themselves and not get intimidated, they’ll be much stronger.
What do you think of the dating scene in Egypt?
I encourage that. I don’t understand how some men and women never interact with the opposite sex. Then all of a sudden, they get married. They know nothing about one another. A girl who dates is usually stronger. This might bother some, but a girl who is allowed to date is less likely to do certain things than a girl who lives in a very conservative family.
Any advice for young men who are teased about their interests?
That’s for young men and women, actually. Never mind anyone. Leave the mold society has put you in behind. When people make fun of you, they really wish they could be like you. As long as you’re not hurting anyone, do whatever you want. As long as it’s not immoral or illegal, take any job you want no matter how strange it may seem.