Single and not looking!

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I am single, happy and satisfied; this statement represents a source of great amazement in our very diverse and contradictory Egyptian society (it seems impossible that single can be equated with happy or satisfied, that is simply given or is it?!). Being single in a multifaceted Egyptian society (with lots of ugly facets I must say) is a nerve-wracking, mind-boggling everyday burden for a lot of women. Single, outspoken, outgoing independent women are often frowned upon and treated as poor unfortunate souls who are in deep need of being rescued by a strong handsome male. I am not preaching against any woman’s desire, including me, to find her knight in shining armour, but that does not mean that a woman’s choice to be single is illogical; in fact such a choice can represent a period of personal growth and self discovery. Yet, a single woman is constantly put under an examining microscope to be subjected to the harsh and badgering scrutiny of an extremely judgemental society where the social of not being single is hailed and praised above all other considerations.


Egyptian society has always labelled single women as being spinsters with all negative connotations associated with this word present. People usually throw words and comments around regardless of any damaging effects upon single women who are harassed through snide remarks, unsettling stares and unfair judgements. I do not see a significant cultural acceptance of single career women. Think about how every time you attend a wedding as a single woman and how you get asked about the reason for not yet getting married with the drill questioning going on and on. Maybe it is sometimes not said outright to your face; but it is always assumed that you are suffering in your lonely world.


Honestly, why does having a successful career, an active social life, a strong network of relationships seem to magically slip off people’s minds when thinking about single women? Though we have witnessed a lot of apparent changes in certain concepts related to the way single women are perceived; these changes are not groundbreaking or in Egypt the girl either immediately gets married or she becomes the talk of the town. Certainly, not all people think like this, but a large percentage do even if they claim otherwise. The conventional traditional line of thinking that a woman can not be truly happy and satisfied is not exclusive to the Egyptian mentality. American media and magazines tend to focus on providing you with ways to keep your man, as if this is a woman’s sole worthy mission. In reality, society is more comfortable and at ease with the idea of couples (people do not know what to do with women who do not instantaneously follow the traditional married with children pattern), which creates a tremendous sense of pressure for single women who fret over not being able to live up to traditional societal expectations which is a troubling burden. Women in their late 20s and early 30s face a hard time in being single because they stand against a large encumbering wall of societal and marriage pressures as opposed to older single women who have already created viable lives for themselves. Our local culture is biased against single people due to the fact that Islamic societies largely agree that marriage is the only religiously acceptable blessed social institution.


Not only does society pressure single women who have not found a suitable partner yet, but it also judges aggressively and harshly single women who become so as a result of divorce. The reasons for choosing to stay single vary from a woman who will not settle for accepting second best when it comes to choosing a life partner or it could be a failed marriage experience that ended with divorce or becoming a widow. However, all the aforementioned reasons represent no significant power in changing people’s minds when it comes to the way they suspiciously perceive single women. Every modern single woman has to face the trappings and trimmings of societal pressure, and that is in addition to maintaining a successful career if she is an aspiring career woman, raising children on her own if she is a divorcee. I can go on and on and forever about this, but at some point I will have to stop and this concept of judging single women based solely on their ability and willingness to travel the hunting down a husband road. Media portrayals of the urgency of finding your prince charming have been bombarding us for ages. Even cartoons and fairytales where it all boils down to prince charming and the quest to find him reinforce this idea, starting from snow white and Cinderella to Belle and Jasmine and Pocahontas and even Nala in the Lion King. This is not about advocating any hard tough attitudes on the part of single women in dealing with men and society in general. It is about trying to hope for a change of heart and mind on part of an entire society. It is about more empowerment and support and understanding to single women, and understanding that single independent women are simply that in essence women who are not different from any other individuals in society.

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