Tag Archives: Egypt

Confessions

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For a while, I’ve been lurking through this Facebook page where married women post anonymously and ask the members of that group for advices.

Different women, same dramas, same problems. So, I decided to write my 428 cents in the hopes to enlighten, empower, and maybe, just maybe, put a little bit of direction to those who are lost.

Disclaimer: I am not Egyptian, and I know there is a massive cultural difference, but I still believe that love is universal, so, here we are.

This started out as a response to Confession No. 1661, but halfway through, I started writing about the common, recurring sentiments that most women in this group share. So, I thought I’ll post it here instead.

My problem with Egyptian standards is that a lot of people are blinded by noise and clutter. (Sex isn’t good, he’s not financially stable, I’m afraid his mum will make my life miserable, I don’t like his sisters, he had past relationships. I had past relationships. Blah, blah, blah.)

Ok, I’ve lived in Cairo for 5 years and I understand the culture, and how people think, and I respect it. But IT DOESN’T MEAN THAT I AGREE WITH IT.

Financial status is not an issue. Educational background and social class is not an issue. The issue here is how well you know each other, and whether or not you know him enough to actually say ‘yes, I love him and can accept him for who he is–both his good and his bad.’ Because that is what love is. Finding a partner is not about how big the stone on your finger is. It’s about accepting each other’s past, living together in the present, and working together to build a future.

I’m writing this in the context that we are all women in this group, and I can go on and on about how I think relationships work/fail. And honestly, ladies, WE TAKE THE LOVE WE THINK WE DESERVE.

Of course we shouldn’t settle for anything less, (we heard this so many times because if it was that easy, no one would have to repeatedly remind you.) But the problem that I see in most of the confessions is that it’s coming from women who are lost, broken, scared, insecure, and unhappy.

So, how about we start by finding ourselves and understanding who we really are? (In this case who YOU are.) Be the person you want to be (it’s never too late, I promise you. Even if you’re single, engaged, married, divorced, young, old, it’s never too late. You can still work on a goal and achieve that goal. Start over if you have to.)

Then, mature a little bit–meaning, understand what it is that you want for yourself, what kind of partner are you looking for? But most importantly, what kind of partner are you? Relationships will not take off if it’s one sided. Both people involved have to put effort and time to cultivate it. But before you jump to a relationship, ask yourself: if you strip this man off his educational background, social class, financial status–WHAT WILL BE LEFT OF HIM? Does he have values? Does he have respect? Does he have integrity? Because a good man is not defined by his family or his background, or the noise that surrounds him. A good man is defined by his actions, motivations, and intentions.

And for those women whose problems are about their husbands wanting them to strip tease or lap dance for them, or to those women who think they have a problem because their husbands don’t enjoy sleeping with them, or their husbands tell them that they’re boring, and not good and blah blah blah… First of all, I commend you, because you show dedication in your marriage and how you ladies are willing to move mountains for your husbands. But the same dedication is also breaking my heart because you are even considering that something is wrong with you. Let me ask you this, will your husband move mountains for you too? Will he go through that length to satisfy you? Will he put you on his priority list? Will he give you time and attention and dedication? Everything takes practice, sex even more. But it will not improve on its own. Just like everything else.

I’ve also read confessions about women in dilemmas, asking the community if they should be honest about their past. I’ve read comments saying, no don’t tell your boyfriend/fiancé/husband this or that because it will cause problems. I’m not perfect and I don’t tell my partner everything, but I make sure that when I’m with someone, my conscience is clear and that he is with me because of who I am and not because of who he thinks I am. I will always choose to be liked for who I am than be adored for who I am not. Stay true to yourself, woman. And if your bf/fiancé/husband can’t handle the truth, then he doesn’t deserve all the good that comes with you. Another way to go about this is making sure that you are honest with the other person before the relationship even starts. Like, SERIOUSLY, NEVER (and I say never ever) START ANYTHING UNLESS YOU REALLY REALLY KNOW THE PERSON, AND THAT PERSON REALLY REALLY KNOWS YOU. If you were both honest before the relationship starts, then you wouldn’t be in this predicament in the first place. We expect men to accept our past–to accept us for who we are, right? Let me tell you this, YOU will also have to make peace with your past.

Your past makes you who you are today. And I know women shouldn’t be sleeping with men unless they’re married (in Egypt.) But if you had, (first of all, always practice safe sex) let me tell you this, the only thing that went wrong was you fell in love with the wrong person. And there is nothing wrong with that. Recognising that you loved the wrong person is not a sin, or a mistake, or a weakness, but rather a STRENGTH and a sign of MATURITY that you are taking responsibility of your actions, that you have learned from it, and that you are so much WISER now.

I can only hope that everyone here will be in relationships that are meaningful, and genuine, and devoid of noise and clutter.

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Shall we go get coffee?

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Having coffee with you is even more fun than going back to Sydney
Or feeling tipsy and looking silly after a few sips of white wine
Or watching Pride and Prejudice
Maybe because in your red shirt, you look way more handsome and happier than Mr. Darcy
Maybe because of how I feel for you
Maybe because of your love for greek salad, and pistachios, and marshmallows, and yoghurt
Maybe because of your aleshes and tickles to no end
Maybe because you think you’re funny
Maybe because of the reflection of the moon over the sea when we are crossing Ain Sokhna
Maybe because the clouds above our heads take the shape of popcorn which remind me of how you try to pop the un-popped corn heads left sitting at the bottom of the popcorn box
Maybe because of the meanings behind our smiles
Maybe because you understand my obsession with ashtrays
Maybe because you got me an ashtray
Maybe because you know what I’m talking about when I say free shipping costs and installments

It is hard to believe that there can be anything as quiet and still when I’m with you
Especially at 3 o’clock in the morning when we are drifting back and forth
Between each other
Breathing heavily, breathing lightly
Slow then fast
Fast then slow
Like the trees swaying to the direction of the wind
Like the waves crashing on the shore
Like the dusts swirling and surrendering to gust
We are a violent vortex
Sandstorm in the middle of the desert
A broken pipe on the open highway
Tornado on a calm evening
And I can imagine our neighbors wanting to knock on our door

I look at you and I would rather look at you than the prettiest horizon
Or sunrise
Or sunset
Or windmills
Or mountains
All the landscapes in Egypt seem to fade away when you are beside me
And the focus of the lenses just zooms in on you
On the lines that appear around your lips
On the weight of your stare each time our eyes meet
The fact that you move so swiftly and your boyish charm more or less takes care of everything
When eating with your left hand
When driving
When wakeboarding
When dancing

Thank heavens I have the right person to dance with
To travel with
To watch the stars with
To appreciate the simplicity and complexity of the sky
To laugh with on the littlest and biggest of things
To kiss in the morning
In the afternoon
And even more at night
To be innocent with
To be not innocent with
Even if it’s only for now
Skimmed milk, no foam, two sugars
That’s us
That’s you and I in a cup

A call for critical thinking

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Yesterday, I posted a status on Facebook that started a whole saga between two people I know. It became a medium for arguments and counter arguments. And just like a grapevine, it branched out to sensitive issues that we usually veer away from out of fear of direct confrontation.

My status reads:

“If every veiled woman will take her veil off in protest to what is happening in Cairo, it might not make a difference, but it will be a great statement to women all around the world, veiled or not veiled, that we will not be silenced, that we will act based on our own free will, and that we will not allow a dictator to control even the tip of our finger. But then again, that’s only me shooting for the moon.”

After Morsy announced his presidential decree that gives him both executive and legislative powers, I was enraged. I could not believe that this is happening to the country that I now call home. But what surprises me even more is how I am affected more than some Egyptians I know who just don’t care anymore.

I find it disgustingly revolting how the president, who is supposedly elected by way of democracy, has the guts to impose dictatorship. This is a direct murder of the January 25 revolution. And it nullifies democracy in this country (the democracy that I thought everyone was aiming for.)

All these resulted to an idea so concrete, that it requires a specific action (in this case, the actual removal of one’s veil) yet so ambitious considering that I am only one voice amongst all women across the world.

When I wrote this status, my intention was to see how it will be received. I wanted to see if this idea can materialize into solid action that will exhibit change.

Women, for the longest time, have been struggling because of patriarchy, we have, again and again been subjugated.

I remember asking someone during the presidential campaigns if there was any woman running for presidency. It was a serious question that required a serious answer, yet what I got was a look as if I have grown two heads, followed by a laugh as though I just delivered the perfect knock knock joke.

Again, how revolting.

That status I posted last night was an accumulation of everything I went through as a woman in Egypt. It was the sum of being harassed on the streets, of being laughed at because I spoke about women running for presidency, of being objectified and considered inferior because of my gender.

I was calling for women action. More specifically, I was calling for veiled women to unveil themselves. Why? Because when you think about it, a piece of clothing does not and should not define who you are. It should not be a requisite to whether or not you will be harassed on the streets, neither should it be a standard to whether or not that woman is a “good woman.”

When I posted that status, I didn’t want people to agree or disagree to my idea. What I wanted was for that idea to be heard. Obviously, if I was a tv tycoon or media mogul (which I am clearly not,) I would have stepped forward light years ago if only to push social change. However, I am only one voice, one idea among many others. The least I can do is say that idea out loud in the hopes that it will reach every single person out of the 892 friends I have on Facebook.

If we can go back to the January 25 revolution, we will find a lot of photographs of people with placards thanking Facebook for the materialization of the revolution. Facebook was one of the mediums through which news and events about the revolution spread like a plague. One cannot simply say or conclude that Facebook is not the place to exhibit such thoughts. For someone like me, a foreign woman in an Arabic country, where else can I run to to voice my opinion? If my idea will fail to reach the friends I have on Facebook, the more important question is who else will listen?

When I posted that status, I did not want to create a disparity between men and women. My status was a call for every one of my friends (especially the ones who live/lived in Egypt) to be conscious, to awaken, to be aware of what is happening politically and socially in Egypt. It was a call for people to act based on his/her own choice, to come up with decisions after careful thinking, to not climb the bandwagon, to resist puppet strings, to seek what is right, and to confront the wrong.