Monday, September 3

Desperate Housewives

Have you ever imagined yourself, after tying yourself up to your desk to study for long, endless hours to get a high score in thanawya ama; after all those sleepless nights when your nervous system is about to crash in order to pass your exams every years; after you finally secure a place in a decent college; after you spend the years struggling through the heat and the traffic to get to your class on time; after you put up with all the cruel professors and fight long battles with the fat textbooks; after you finally hold your university degree in your hand; have you ever imagined yourself to become a housewife?

Don't say something like, "Oh, no way. I'm not crazy to do that. I want to have a career and anyone who decides to marry me has to understand that." Because most of the women who ended up at home didn't have it as their childhood dream. And please don't say, "Well, I deserve some rest after this suffering." Because you weren't being tortured, you were being educated. And if you don't value your education, it means you learned nothing. I beg you don't say, "Why not? If my husband is rich and we can live comfortably on his salary. Why do I need a job?" Because people don't only work for money. It is society's right to benefit from your abilities, besides it being a basic psychological need for acquiring self-worth.

A question that has been recently asked a lot is: Where are all the female honor students? Where have all the female top scorers of thanawya ama gone? The fact that the majority of A+ students over the several past years were females, made many people wonder about the fate of those "geniuses". All those top students whose photographs were published in all newspapers, who were featured in TV shows, who filled the world with hopes and dreams for the future, have then disappeared.

A survey done recently by an independent newspaper has shown that 80% of those girls are now housewives, while the others are working routine jobs, that are devoid of any mental challenges and don't require any special talents, just cause their jobs' hours are suitable for them as "working mothers" (whatever that means). That's where the brilliant girls end up in this country. In a third world country that needs every possible mind to save it from the ditch it has sunk into. In a country where half the population is illiterate. In a country that is fighting for development to escape the jaws of poverty. In a country that doesn't manufacture any heavy material, or medicine, or high tech equipments. In a country that is being attacked by diseases. In a country that is falling into the darkness of religious extremism and ignorance.

Those girls are of two types, in my opinion. 1- They are quitters. They simply don't respect the knowledge they gained or the talent they possess. They don't care about the future of their country. They don't want to play any role in changing their society. They are not smart. They are girls with no character or aims, who happened to score high grades to please their family and to brag about it. Our country wastes its money in educating those quitters and giving them the best opportunities just so that after graduation they will stick out their tongues and say "Game over, we're done. We're staying home cause we found the perfect grooms who liked our high scores and think we are intelligent." 2- They are hypnotized. They were deceived by society and by their husbands to believe that their roles as wives and mothers are enough. They heard it over and over again, that a good mother serves society by taking care of the new generations. Yeah, looool.. The new generations indeed. Doesn't matter if those new generations find no decent education. Doesn't matter if those new generations suffer from poverty and diseases. Doesn't matter if those new generations have no jobs. Doesn't matter if they feel ashamed of their origins to be born in a weak country. Doesn't matter if they find it impossible to achieve any dreams. Doesn't matter at all. What is important is to have the new generations. Let them be whatever they want to be after that. Let them beg in the streets. Let them do drugs. Let them flee the country or sink in a ship trying to get to Europe. Let them commit suicide cause they got hopeless. Let them turn into terrorists to help Bin Laden. Let them hang out aimlessly in the streets to pass the time. Let them harass the girls in public transportation cause they have no hope of marrying one day. Let them have their turn in giving birth to a new more miserable generation. That's life, heh?

Either quitters or hypnotized, those girls, now women, turn into desperate housewives. They spent their whole lives trying to please their parents and then their husbands. Most of them are unaware of not having any life of their own. They are the ones who eat the burnt cookies; they always come last. They didn't learn to value themselves, or their minds, that's why they can't value positive social roles. They live in the tiny shell of their families, without caring to see what's beyond. They do as they are told, the obedient kittens in the house. They end up living like single moms, cause their husbands will never think about giving a hand with the home or with the kids. What's she doing sitting all day at home? It's her job. Let her handle everything, and if anything went wrong, it's only her to blame. She's there for the kids 24/7, so the kids should have the highest grades at school, they should be disciplined and quiet when dad's at home. If they ever misbehave, it's her fault. The father then becomes a bank. He's out there making money for the dependents at home. Being the bank, means that he has the right to have everything exactly the way he likes, he doesn't care how, it's not his job. He only finances the process, and he has absolutely no interests to learn about details. He doesn't care how many damn hours you spent in the kitchen to prepare his meal, he just cares that it doesn't taste good enough for him. It has to be perfect. You are there to make it perfect. He paid for all the grocery to eat a perfect meal. Damn you. You ruined it. And so those desperate housewives would grow exhausted and bitter. Their bitterness becomes reflected in everything, even if they do their best to satisfy everybody. Cause they forgot to satisfy the main person: themselves. As years pass, they become fat, ill-dressed, shallow, nervous, unable to feel happiness, unable to appreciate life, unable to communicate with their children, unable to please their husbands, unable to have sex, unable to practice a hobby or have serious interests. They get lost in the tiny details of daily life and their only quality time is watching TV. The weekend becomes a nightmare, cause the man is there to criticize all day and nag about everything. An outing at the club turns into her being a watch guard for the kids. She goes out for their sake, she doesn't have any fun. The summer vacation is even worse, she worries about packing, cleaning the chalet, taking kids toys and sandwiches to the beach, watching them play in the water with their dad (What? do you want her to wear a swimsuit to join them? Are you crazy? Let her just watch or read a tabloid magazine) , having them bathed after that, preparing a meal for the hungry swimmers, preparing snacks for the evening, washing the swimsuits and towels, and so on and so forth. She doesn't enjoy a single minute during this time. She is there to make their time enjoyable. She is there so that they can have pure fun, while she is sucked up in all those details that are consuming her life.

Look around you, you'll find those desperate housewives everywhere. They are the typical image of Egyptian women. They get all the criticism in spite of sacrificing everything for those they love. Your sister can be one of them, if you don't pay attention to her turning into a quitter or a hypnotized. Your mother can be one of them, and you blame her for everything, from being nosy to not having your favorite shirt clean on time. Your wife can be one of them, if you selfishly seek to make her another image of your mother. (Most men don't know the difference between the role of a mother and that of a wife, thus they are so naïve while starting their own families. They want a second mother to be dependant on, not a partner to share their lives with.) Your daughter can become one of them as well, if you are setting the wrong example for her and sacrificing what she can become for the sake of how society wants her to become.

Changing the picture is in our hands. Instead of packing our reality with all those desperate housewives, let's offer them something different. Let's teach the girls to love themselves and to realise their true potential. Let's build their self-esteem and encourage them to pursue their own goals. Let's teach them how to be useful citizens and to take part in developing their country. Let's talk to all the females we know about the value of work and how it secures a better future for them as individuals and as family members. Let's not tolerate a quitter among us and make her always feel that she's escaping her responsibilities. Let's not leave a hypnotized to dwell in her imagined world, but inspire her to lead a complete life. It all starts with you, right now.


e said...

The picture of the Desperate Housewives that you have under your title is misleading simply because the type of housewive that you detail in your article are in no way similar to the ones on the show. Not that this is the essence of your little essay here, but nevertheless worth pointing out.


بحب السيما said...

تابعت الجزء الاول من المسلسل واعجبت بيه جداودلوقتى بحمل فى باقى الاجزاء

Fantasia said...

Thanks for drawing my attention to this. Hope the new pic is more suitable.

Fantasia said...

ba7eb eseema,
Thanks for stopping by, although the post has nothing to do with the TV series. Yet, I do like the Desperate Housewives series.

The Alien said...

i did not watch this Tv series and i think i should.

as usual, wonderful post Fantasia. i finished its translation by the way.

we have a lot of those desperate housewives in Egypt, that what our mail society do to our girls. my mom is one of them even that she is working and i do blam her, but not for not having my shirt clean but for not having a life of her own.

the idea that the man work and the woman stay at home to rais the new generation is a stupid idea and it will not help any society to develop as u said.

i do talk to girls i know about this, but it is not that easy for them. everyhing is aginest them and i feel helpless all the time. i can not even help my own sister.

Fantasia said...


Thanks for the great translation. You're such a dear friend, and as much as I am concerned about you, I find myself concerned about your sister.
I know it's not easy to convince a person to pursue a different road than where everybody else is pushing her. Just talk to her as much as you can. We sometimes don't show how much we are really concerned about those dear to us. We keep our talk short, I don't know why. Giving advice alone won't do. Try to know her more, get into her brain and explore how she sees the world. The more you talk together, the better she will be in response to your ideas. Never give up on her, even if she has already given up on herself.
Wishing you all the best.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

so what do you do when you are not like that but your husband demands it and expects it? he will not help, he will not pick up, he will complain about you not doing everything after all, he makes the money.... why arent you doing your job, when he is clearly doing his and bringing home the bacon??? what do you do if he will not watch the kids for 1 second?? you can either chase the kids all over the place, or you can ignore them like he does, while one puts his fingers in the electric socket, and the other tries to test how sharp the scissors are when he pokes them into his open eyes! and accidents have happened before, so you know he will realy not look at them , and they will get hurt!!! so do you keep on doing what you have to do? do you leave him??? is it worth leaving him?? what if he is nice and loving and supportive, but just useless around the house and with the kids?? what do you do when you are overwhelmed and feel like there is no way out?? do you destroy your family go home and sit next to your parents if you dont work? do you destroy your family and live alone with the exact same responsibilities and less money if you do work? how do you change an egyptian husband? how do you throw all the garbage he learned from his mother out the window, and help him learn to be an equal partner?? do you let your kids get hurt because he is careless? do you live in filth because he doesnt pick up after himself? do you go hungry because no one will help in the kitchen? what are you supposed to do?? Do you just put up with him, and work realy hard night and day to go to work, clean the house,make dinner, feed the kids, pay the bills, do the laundry, while he sits on the couch and watches TV, or goes out to hang with a friend, or invite a friend over to watch a soccer match?? whats a girl to do??? i know i will teach my sons to be supportive husbands... but what about me?? fighting doesnt work, yelling and screaming dont work, asking nicely doesnt work!how do you cure years of wrong upbringing without wrecking your life in the process???

Fantasia said...

excellent question! that's the dilemma facing most wives, and unfotunately the majority of them give in after several failed attempts. this needs a very long comment. i prefer to write it in a seperate post. thanks for triggering it. come back soon to see my reply.

"When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid" - Audre Lorde