Thursday, November 8

Weddings: The Facts behind the Biggest Conspiracy

How many weddings have you attended during your lifetime? How many of those whose wedding you attended ended up in divorce? Does it make you wonder?

When I was a child, the thought of attending a wedding was so exciting. From the moment I learn from my parents that we are invited to a wedding party, I kept counting the days. I always loved to keep wedding invitations. They looked so elegant and beautiful. To a child, a wedding party is a huge event. You get to see lots of people, who are wearing their best clothes. The whole atmosphere is filled with happiness and joy. The wedding march (zaffah) with the loud drums, singers dressed in uniform, the bride and groom who have an exceptional glow, the typical two rows of guests surrounding the march with clapping and zaghreet (a special cheering sound by which women salute the newly weds), the dazzling light in front of the march which is held by a man walking backwards for video recording, the organized drum beat which is played whenever the couple are to take a few steps forward, all this creates a magical atmosphere that is sure to stick to the memory of children in particular. The married couples themselves need the video tape to remind them of the details of their party. But it is all printed in the memory of the very young guests.

It is a whole other experience for the children, especially girls. I remember waking up on those days feeling the thrill of the big event yet to come. At school, I told all my friends that I'm attending a wedding. I would describe my dress and what I intend to do with my hair. I may be even lucky enough to convince my mother to lend me some blush or lipstick. I would tell them which famous singers or belly-dancers I expect to see (it was common at that time that parents who sent out invitations would let the guests know about the entertainment program). I would even tell them everything I know about the bride and groom whose wedding was to take place that evening. Classes felt a lot longer than usual. They were keeping me back from getting ready for the big event. I still had to go with my mom to the hairdresser, which is usually so crowded on those days (almost all weddings used to be on Thursday night). I would dress up like Cinderella and wear the pair of sparkling shoes which are carefully kept in their box for such events. The party itself was just a fairy tale, and like Cinderella I danced till it was time to go. I couldn't sleep at night without revising every single detail that had happened at the party. I remember (what I thought then to be) nice women wishing me the same luck of the bride (the usual "3o2bal elbanoota" felt so good back then). If the bride was one of my relatives, I keep thinking why she looked so different. I barely knew her in this new hair color and heavy make-up. Why didn't she ever try this make-over before? She looked amazing that night, like a star.

I find it very hard now to evaluate my childish thoughts. Was it good for me back then to live in Wonderland? Could it have been better if things were put in their right perspective? Is it good for a child to live in an ideal world, even if it doesn't really exist? Or is it better for her/him to know the facts from the start? Would I have been that happy back then if I had been realistic? Or it would have been better to save me the shock of discovery later on? No one can tell.

But what I am sure of now, is that it is a crime to be left to maintain this childish view while growing up. The way I see it, leading a girl to keep her idealistic imaginary view of marriage falls under the domain of conspiracy. It is nothing less than that. And should never be taken less seriously.

Yes, parents have the right to be concerned about the future of their daughter/s. Yes, they have the right to dream of her wedding day. Yes, they do have the right to want her to start a family which will grant her social and psychological (sometimes financial) security long after they are gone. It is so understandable. Nobody can argue against that. You always want what is best for your children. But many crimes are committed under this banner, from authoritative upbringing to telling lies to deciding what is right for them.

When you watch TV shows which claim to be searching for answers concerning the reasons behind high divorce rates in Egypt, they just keep bluffing about married couples who are not ready to make compromises. (Of course there are rare exceptions to this rule, but the majority sticks to deciding what is right for you, just like your parents.) They will talk about ambitious girls, whose financial independence may tempt them to risk the stability of their marriages. They will tell you that we lack old social values and family ties. They will do whatever it takes to convince you that a marriage is a sacred union which deserves sacrifice. They can't bring themselves to see the roots of the problem. If the roots are rotten, you can never save the plant. You may prolong the life of the leaves on the surface, but not for so long. Unless you dig your hands into the mud to see what's down there, you are risking massive infection in the whole soil. I find this to be particularly true when it comes to the institution of marriage.

Why do people get married? The answer may be obvious to you. And no matter which words we choose to rephrase our answers, they will all eventually evolve around something like "because it is a human and a social need for mating and forming a socially accepted structure where partners and their offspring are able to exist harmoniously in the wider network of social relationships." This is my own definition, and you may disagree with it. If you find it good enough, then let's examine whether this is what really takes place in reality.

It is clear that we have deviated from the core philosophy behind marriage. When you come down to Egyptian marriages and the way they are managed, you will find that it has absolutely nothing to do with that. In our society, there is a culture which promotes external appearance at the expense of essence and meaning. To explain further, society pushes its members into the direction of adopting an image which satisfies the demands of the bigger picture that society wants to reflect about itself. It is the appearance that matters. You have to mainly photocopy the pattern followed so that you earn a place for yourself among the socially accepted group. There are lots of rewards for those who follow the pattern, while there are severe punishments for those who don't. Even if you agree and believe in the same values, you are no good as long as you don't fit into the frame they decided for you.

As a girl living in the Egyptian society you have a list of requirements that you should follow in case you want to join the club of the "respected norm". Memberships are automatically granted if you are:
Educated but not over ambitious
Obedient to men and elders
Shy and timid
Appear to be religious
Marry young

Why did they include marriage in those requirements? Well, because that's what men want. Men always go for young women, and if you happen to break the rules previously mentioned you are decreasing their choices. If you are not under the pressure of having to get married at a certain age, you probably will postpone that until you reach a certain degree of career stability and financial independence. By then, you will be past the preferred age, and threatening to ruin the marriage market for men. What if many girls were inspired by your achievements? Then girls can easily take the decision to turn down marriage offers at a young age. There can be a time when all brides will be mature women, who have already shaped their beliefs, built a career, and are financially secure and independent. Now, I can assure you that men would rather drop dead before they see such a day. How can a man marry an equal? That's a crisis!

Here comes the biggest cover up in history.. (Believe me this is way beyond The Da Vinci Code.) They have to get you into this white dress before you can think of any better alternatives. Brainwash is a very powerful tool that has proven extremely effective. But in this case, it won't be enough. There has to be real temptation.. Something to get your mouth running.. You guessed it right baby.. It's the wedding. Marriage is all about signing a contract, so why do people spend all this money on extravagant weddings? Have you ever thought of that? Why don't we just sign this contract and go home? What's a honeymoon for God's sake? Why do married couples have to take a vacation and travel? They are married for a lifetime. For sure they will get many chances to travel on official and summer vacations. What makes them run away once they seal the knot?

This entire circus was carefully designed to dazzle pretty young girls. Just like luring a kid with candy, you are being lured by the party, the wedding dress, the new home, the exotic honeymoon, and the respected title of Mrs.("madam" is a very prestigious title in our society). Have you ever thought why only women receive their titles according to their social status? It doesn't make a difference whether a man is married or not. He receives his title according to his profession (doctor, bashmohandes, ostaz,). "Mr." remains unaffected, even if this man married 10 times. He is who he is. Why do you have to change your title because you got married? Why does everybody have to know whether you are married or not? And why do you keep the title even if you are no longer married or widowed? In these cases, "madam" does not reflect the reality. Yet, it is a must that you remain labeled as such. The law states that shops displaying "used goods" must put a label which indicates that, otherwise they will be in serious trouble.

So, what happens is that while a bride's mind is so distracted by so many details, she does not pay enough attention to the man who will fill the place of the groom. It is like a fill-in-the-blanks kind of situation. There is a wedding, which means that there must be a cake, a dress, a guest list, floral arrangements, DJ, and of course a groom wearing a tux.. Oh, Wait!.. I don't want him to wear a bowtie. If he shows up in a bowtie, tell him to forget it.

The period of engagement is supposed to be your final chance to make up your mind about this huge life decision. However, you find that it is all about shopping and reviewing catalogs. I believe it would be more practical if they included a Groom Catalog, cause in such a case the catalog will be responsible for the accuracy of the description written under each groom. A bride-to-be gets completely absorbed into designing the final look for her marriage, who has time to spend with a future husband? She is told that this is a huge advantage. You get to choose everything according to your own taste, that's perfect! But later on, she discovers that the only thing which she didn't really choose according to her taste was the groom himself; the man with whom she should be spending the rest of her life. While engaged, she became an expert in wedding gowns. She can tell you the difference between real and artificial marble. She formed an interesting theory about furniture fabrics. Yet, try to ask her about the groom. You will find very vague adjectives being said, like "He's kind. He's good. He comes from a good family."

We have to admit that the social restrictions which avoid the healthy formation of relationships between different genders has caused many to resort to arranged marriages (gawaz elsalonat), especially with the increasing pressure imposed on girls at a certain age. Eligible bachelors are aided by family and friends in the search for a suitable bride. While on the other hand, parents are doing their best to find a suitable groom before their daughter ends her third decade. There is not much room left for choice here. You never know.. Maybe this groom is your last chance of jumping into the marriage train. Are you willing to take that risk? Can you guarantee that you won't regret turning this guy down? How can you be sure that a better one will find his way to you in the right time? At that point, "a bird in hand" seems to be the wisest idea. Now, let's move into serious details: the apartment, the dowry, the furnishing, the party…etc. And the bride has lots of serious business ahead. Her mother suggests that they start visiting jewelers before the groom surprises them with a certain choice. Of course he will want to save money, but don't worry.. your mother will take care of that. She has a great experience with jewelry that she has been waiting for so long to deliver to you. With her help, you will be able to get the best of the best. Just choose whatever you want. The choice is all yours now. You will make a lot of important decisions. Remember that you only marry once (or so it is supposed to be) so you must pay lots of attention to the dress.. the white dress.. your lifelong dream.. you are getting very close to wearing it at last.

I don't think I have to say more about how the process goes on after that. I've made my point. Marriage has been reduced into a wedding. You buy one night with all the rest of your life. This cultural structure has turned an institution which constructs the building units of society (marriage) into a quest for the white dress. How can a girl survive without the dream of the white dress? What if she never gets to wear the big white dress? Is any girl ready to imagine that? Can she really resist the temptation? Will she be able to realize that this dress can not buy her happiness? Could she truly believe that not wearing it doesn't make her any less than those who do? Bring me a girl who can do this. I want to meet a girl who has a realistic idea about what marriage is. I want to see a girl who can challenge this romantic illusionary tale where everything is white.

The conspiracy targetting girls has served its aim. There are girls who are ready to give up anything in return for the big white dress. Many girls take it for granted that they must get married at a certain age. Many girls follow all social requirements so willingly in order to become the one-night-stars. What if you become Cinderella for one night? Better than never. Even if the fairytale sways its way to Beauty and the Beast later on, they don't seem to care. They know that everything is gonna be alright. "Marriage changes everything," mothers keep saying. "When you live together, many things will improve. Don't worry." So, why bother about getting to know the person? You have a long time ahead of you to do so. Just give yourself a chance. Love comes with time and shared memories. Don't waste your only chance to live your dream of the wedding. Imagine yourself sparkling and receiving greetings from everybody. You will be above the stars. You will never see pity in the eyes of women. You will gain the power and authority of a Married Woman. You will have your own home. You will join the club of the respected ladies who used to be your superiors. You will be one of them. You will get the chance to judge others, just as they used to judge you. You will have the wisdom that only married women get to have. You will be the inspector instead of the inspected. Who can resist that?

I have exposed the full chapters of the conspiracy, and I hence put all the facts in front of you all. In doing so, I am not expecting any girl to change her view of marriage. I understand that the appeal of this fantastic image is much more powerful than any facts related to it. By reading those lines, I am holding you responsible for your fate. It is an innocent trick. Now that you have the knowledge of what lies beneath all those fabulous arrangements and celebrations, you can not return to your ignorant state. You will have to act more responsible towards yourself. Nobody knows what's best for you better than yourself. You know that, and you trust that. So don't deceive yourself into thinking anything else, no matter what. Don't search for a husband to fill the gap in your fairytale. Being a good person does not mean that he is the right one for you. Marriage is not a matter of fact. It is not a bridge that you have to cross at a certain point in your lifetime.

I will now attempt to answer the question I raised in the very beginning. I believe that couples get divorced because our social view of marriage is up-side-down. We want marriage and then we search for the one who will play the role of the partner in this marriage. This is the exact opposite of what our human nature dictates. You have to meet someone who convinces you with the idea of marriage. You have to reach the point when you feel that you want to grow old with this person. You need to feel the emotional and mental bond that is strong enough to suggest the possibility of turning this bond into a marriage. Without that, you will be deceiving yourself. Things can never work the other way round, even if the whole world made this claim. Those who tell you that they loved their husbands after marriage didn't actually have any choice, and can never bring this love to the test. Marriage is not a must in itself. It only becomes a must when you decide that. That is, when you have absolute faith in someone, and you feel ready to take your relationship with him to the next level. When you genuinely believe that you can never go through life without this person, only then can you decide that it is time for marriage. You will then find that everything falls into its right place. You won't need a big white dress. You won't care for jewelry. Furniture and electric appliances will go to hell. The happiness in your heart comes from the thought of sharing your life with this person and experiencing everything together. You will find out that a small wedding with family and close friends makes more sense. Those are the people who really care for you and with whom you can share your happiness. You are ready to start your married life at once to experience what it feels like to live together in your own home. Instead of a honeymoon for once, you will plan all your vacations to be romantic and special. You will then discover that marriage is actually the means serving an end.

Here you have it! You are ready now to be in charge. I exposed all the hidden cards in front of you. Take your pick!


Amre El-Abyad said...

I congratulate you on this spectacular post. Marriage culture in the Arab world which leads to sexual repression is the root cause of many social and politcal problems in Egypt

"Educated but not over ambitious
Obedient to men and elders
Shy and timid
Appear to be religious
Marry young"

That is excatly what I hate ,most about women

اجندا حمرا said...

dearest fantasia


what an impressive post:-)

u r right about that question,how many weddings we have attended and how many ended in divorce

nowadays my dear marriages sometimes doesnt last for few days,sometimes more to few weeks
whereas in the past we hear about marriages for 25 years for example
see how different marriage now from how it's been in the past

in the past i think both couples were more willing to do everything to save their marriage whereas nowadays they start their life by pointing out to each other their faults,they dont have enough patience,they think marriage is only about going out ,enjoying their times and that's it so when they r faced with life ups and downs they r not prepared and by then they start fighting
being stubborn is marriages first enemy

nobody wants to admit he is wrong
everyone sticks to his own opinion

marriages should be about being flexible and not thinking that by acting like this im weak

life has got its own problems and if we r not prepared for it together with our partner so better delay the marriage till we feel we r fit enough

thankx fantasia for your previous comment on the previous post and sure i like to hear your opinion about everything i write about and im glad u liked my story
thank u for always supporting me fantasia

u r such a great example to your fellow women and im glad i came across your blog and since then i became addicted to your writings

keep the good work my dear and we r all with u
my best regards to you my dear friend

egyptian feminist chic said...

I love this article!!! I never realy thought about it this way, but now that you mention it... you are soooo right. Society and family DO try to brainwash all girls into getting married!!! I have seen so many friends just going around happily shopping for the apartment, the furniture, the clothes, the wedding dress.... not realy giving much thought to the groom other than .... howa kowayes...ebn nas.... mama bet2ool akeed hanheb ba3d lama netgawez!!! I have personally gone through a similar experience...i was 19 at the time, in college, and i got 3arees.... a doctor, i was beautiful, and young, and from a good family, and drove a nice car, and lived in a nice place, and very very very naiive... just the right age to have an older person come in and take over your life!! I did not know this person, but he saw me in college, i caught him following me around several times, and finally he came and talked to me and "khabt laz2" asked to meet my parents becaue he wanted to marry me!! at the age, i was impressed that someone was interested in me, and i realy wasnt in any relationship, so it looked good... but i didnt know him., so i was hesitant about the whole thing... i went home and talked to my mom, told her i dont know him, but this is the story!!! she was happy, told my dad... they both said well, invite him over to talk to us, and we'll see if he is a good guy, if he isnt we'll send him away, and you dont have to worry about him, if he is, you can get engaged, and then take your time deciding how you feel, and if you choose to, you can marry him..... sounds great right???? WRONG!!

why??? lots of reasons...1- I didnt find him physically atractive... at all... he looked fine, but just not my type... i mentioned this to my parents they said... "elragel mesh beshaklo" so i thought okay we'll see where this goes!!
the very next day, he came and met my parents and they loved him, and they "2aro elfatha"
next day i see him in college.... and he starts crticizing the way i dress!!!
he hated my jeans, my shirt, my hair!!!! so that gave me reason number 2!!!! he doesnt like how i dress...
third day, he criticizes my clothes some more.. i said i like them, they are hip.... and i look fine... so he started going on and on about why women shouldnt wear pants but only dresses and " tayeurat" !!!! i was like... holy moly this guy is a nutjob!
Day 4.... he asks when i intend to cover my hair.... i was like NEVER!! he didnt like that too much and started YELLING and saying i have to and it is very important ... and how could i not do that!!! he expects that i will do it as soon as we are married! i said you came into our house, saw my mom, and grandmom... no one covers their hair!!! if you want a girl who covers her hair... there's plenty!!! why are you talking to me?
Day 5.... he waits for me in college at 7 am... with a huge book... i said what's that?? he says " saheeh albokhary" !!! and he proceeds trying to convince me of why i should put on old people clothes, cover my hair, quit sports, not talk to guys... and sit at home after graduation.....

and that was the end of the road for me!! i continued to hate the way he looked, which is what i thought about whenever i talked to him, i hated the way he dressed, i hated the way he talked, i disagreed with 100% of his ideas... and to top it all of, he wanted me to be someone else!! i dreaded the day i would actually live withthis person... and kept thinking, maybe he will die yourng and i will be free again.... maybe if i give him enough strss, he can have a heart attack!!! and die!! then i would stop day dreaming and realize that i cant go through marriage feeling this way! so someone please remind me of why i was going through all of this??? my friends tried talking me into staying... he has a great job, and a great future.... i went home to my parents, and said i am breaking this whole thing off... it is soooo over.... they were shocked ... why??? i tried to explain... my mom tied to convince me that i can change him after we get married... i can change how he dressed, convince him to change his hair, maybe even get a nose job.... convince him of all of my ideas.... it will just need some effort... then i will love him!!! i looked at her with disbelief.... what was she talking about!! did she just hear what she said... soi went to my dad.. he got very mad... he said i like this guy!!! he is very smart, we have very interesting conversations.... so i suggested he can be his friend, but please keep me out of it. dad was upset, he said " dah mesh le3b 3eyal" you agreed to this and you are going to go through with it!!! I said I agreed to see if i like him, and if i dont like him, we will each go our separate ways... i never agreed to be pressured into marrying someone i cant tolerate! more yelling and screaming ensued.... and everyone was mad at me for not wanting them to have a beautiful wedding and be happy their only daughter is getting married!!!my mom pretended to be my friend later... and started asking me if there was someone else, because if there was, then HE can come propose... and if he doesnt want to propose,then he is just fooling around and i have to break it up this very second, because i have a perfectly good person right here asking me to marry im, so why say no??? i repeated my reasons again.... and still the same response!!! finally they started accusing me of not wanting to get married... so i must have done something wrong!!! why dont you want to get married?? have you slept with someone before and you dont want anyone to find out?? you can tell me i am your mom!!!and i was like OH MY GOD.... who ARE these people and why am i living with them!!! i want my parents back pleeeease!! so anyway this was followed by a lot of threats that if i break it off behind their backs, they will take away my car, my phone, my allowance, i will never be allowed to go out with friends, and i will not even be allowed to go to college!!! i suffered silently through the whole mess.... my parents continued to invite him over for dinner and lunch, and family outings, and whenever we go to the club... and his parents came to visit... with his sister... turned out his mom and sister were "monaqabeen", and his mom was giving me dirty looks the whole time! I thought that this is it!!! my parents will definitly say no now!... but i guess i could dream away as much as i wanted.... after they left dad asked... so are you okay with him now?? they want to set the wedding date!!! sometime within the next couple of months!! so you can your mom should start shopping, we dont have much time!!!! i nearly passed out at that comment, and by now i was WAILING!!! realy loud... mom's comment??? dont worry you will love him AFTER you are married!!! so i asked... i hate him when things are fine, and we arent fighting.... what will make me love him after all the stress of marriage, and money problems, and kids and inlaws?? mom said el3eshra!!! i spent the next week thinking deeply... i did not have support from family or friends... every one just wanted me to run off and get married.... and oh... he will help me study for college!!! after all he is smart!

finally i decided to stand up for myself!!! i cant be the nice good girl forever, especialy when i see my life being thrown away right before my very eyes, with everyone happily cheering for me to GO GO GO GO GO !!! I waited till my parents had gone to bed, and at 2 am... i called him, he was asleep, i woke him up, i said this is very important... you are a good guy, but just not the right one for me... i am sure you will find another girl who has more in common with you, but you and i are complete opposites, and i dont think we will be compatible, and we will fight, and we will not be happy. he started crying... actual crying, you could hear his voice oevr the phone.... and said he loved me.... the only thing ging through my head was.... oh my god, he is lying!!! how can anyone love me in 4 weeks of fighting and disagreement??? we have never had a decent conversation, we never agreed on anything!!! we never even held hands.... what was he crying about??? all the fights??? why?i hung up after that, and i didnt want to hear his argument... i felt an immense sense of relief!! i couldnt sleep all night because i was so happy... in the morning i told my parents what happened.... dad was shocked... why!!! how could you!!! and he actually called him, apologized and invited him over to our house! i said no dad... it is over.... the guy came anyway, and i sat infront of my parents... politly, not saying a word... and the next day i saw him in college, and i said listen,i warned you before, i will not marry you, dont come to our house, if dad invites you excuse yourself... i was nice yesterday, but i will never be nice again... this is truly over!!! he called my dad and complained... i fought with dad, mom, and anyone who tried to talk to me about this...never again will i allow anyone to take over my life and try to control me.... when i get married it will be for love, and it will be to someone who makes me happy...

This story was 10 years ago... i have never regreted my decision, not even once!!! a short time after that, i met my future husband, we fell in love, and we eventually ( 4 years later) got married... every day i am with him, i thank god that i took a stand and fought for my right to choose my life... It is this experience that taught me what i have to do to live according to my decisions, rather than someone elses... i have seen so many girls just cave in to what they are told.... parental pressure is the worst thing parents in egypt do.... after all you trust them, you love them, you believe they know what is best or you!!! so how can you , being a young person with very little experience, stand up to them, and fight them for what you believe is right??? most people dont... and spend the rest of their lives regretting it..... i tell this story, so that if someone ever faces a similar situation, i just want you to know... stand up for yourself, you will survive this, dont be afraid, and know that your parents will love you no matter what... even if they threaten... they will not carry out their hreats believe me!!! been there , done that!, so dont push yoursef into a marriage you dont want, just to make them happy, the right person will eventually come along, and you will be happy!!! you'll see! and know that when it comes to a girl's marriage, her parents are never reasonable, or rational as they should be... so in just this decision, dont count on them to make the decision for you!!! stand up for yourself!

I think in the long run, most girls learn the hard way how to stand up for themselves..... i think if someone goes through a similar situation, and ends up hatinging the day they ever laid their eyes on the person they married, and if they are educated, and work.... they will eventually get a divorce after it is too late, but they will finally stand up for them selves! maybe this is why divorce is more common now... more women work, can be independant, and so they stand up for themselves.... in our grandparents times, women didnt work, and the social stigma of a divorcee was just unbearable, with our parents, they worked, but social stigma was still there... in our generation, the social stigma of a divorced woman is not as bad as it once was so more women are refusing to suffer silently to make society happy!!! does society want less rates of divorce??? then give women the freedom to choose!!!! dont pressure them into marriage.... then after marriage when they complain tell them you made the choice, it is your problem!! I know how well meaning parents are, but for heaven's sake, dont be afraind of what will happen to your daughter if she never gets married!!!! most women will marry.... most women will be happy.... just give them a chance and dont pressure them into a "gawaz salonat"!! I also think that a lot of men try to take our society back a hundred years so they would have more control over women, and " nyebee3o we yeshtero feehom berahethom". hence the sit at home when i marry you, and cover you hair when i marry you mentality of so many men nowadays!!!

Fantasia said...

amre el-abyad,
hey, thanks.. "spectacular" sounded really good :) I thought men would tell me that i'm paranoid or something. you renewed my hope in life ya amre.
what you hate most about women is what i hate most about them too. yet i have to add at the top of this list "absolutely incapable of independent thinking". most girls wait for others to tell them what to think. they are rarely motivated to go and search for the truth on their own. that's what i hate most really. it's damn frustrating when a girl comes to me and recites what others told her, just like a parrot. and when she gets totally lost once i pose my first question, she never cares to search for a proper answer. those girls reject any knowledge that comes from outside their sources (which are only people).
ughhhhhhhh, what's to be done?

Fantasia said...

dear agenda,
your words make me soar so high, seriously. i respect your opinions a great deal, and they always reflect what a good person you are. thanks for everything you said. no matter what i say, you will never imagine what your continuous support means to me. if i was able to get someone as smart and talented as you to become addicted to my blog, then i have all the right to lay my head back and feel all the satisfaction in the world.
i never believed in the value of writing my thoughts as much as i do now. the first wave of bloggers who welcomed me in and supported me all the way are my success partners. so you are my partner. i owe you a lot. your blog had been very well-established before i wrote a single word here. you are in no need for support, but you cared enough to reach out for a starter like me. your friendship and trust are so precious to me, i am so keen on having them forever.

i liked what you said about married life in our society and how couples lack flexibility. but i am glad that women are not as "flexible" as they used to be in the past. i believe women in the past had to agree to whatever came their way. it is always good when you have a choice in your marriage, either to go on or quit. husbands have to know that you own this choice. it is not a threat, just a reminder that a wife doesn't have to endure anything all the time. there have to be limits, red lines that a husband is not allowed to cross, just like there are those red lines for wives.
of course marriage requires much patience and understanding in order to have a solid foundation. both partners should care to do that with the same enthusiasm. but when the wife is the only one working on holding her marriage together, she gets tired at some point and loses her grip. the last things she expects is to find this selfish man accusing her of not doing enough to save their marriage. some women are so fragile that they feel guilty in some way, so they prolong the life of their failed marriage until there are kids and things just get too complicated. so, i say, when indications are clear that there is something really wrong, a woman should walk out while she can.

always happy to exchange views with you, agenda. wish to read more of your stories. you have an extraordinary imagination. way to go dear.

"denial" not just a river in egypt said...

thank u for tackling this issue fantasia, great post i agree! and BRAVO egyptian feminist chick, well said! it is never easy going against family. when everyone is pressuring u, we feel cornered and then we ask ourselves "am i doing the right thing or am i being selfish?" and when we do give in, we end up as a martyr in a sham of a marriage. this can be our downfall! following this mentality will have a domino effect on everything we do in our lives. pleasing everyone else, no matter if it is right or wrong, can only lead to more stupid choices. i wish more women will realize this and break out of this habit.

Fantasia said...

egyptian feminist chic,
i can never thank you enough for sharing your personal experience with us here. what you wrote really reflected what i had in mind while writing this post. i was so stressed while reading on, and just kept on saying "please, don't marry him." thank God you didn't. your strength and solid determination to stand up for yourself has earned you the happiness that you enjoy now.

i am soooo happy for you dear. you deserve the marriage that you dreamt of, because you fought for it and was not willing to settle for anything less. i wish that your wonderful story will inspire more girls to stand up for themselves in the same way you did. no one has the right to tell a person to change what he likes about himself and what he feels comfortable doing. if girls agree to do this to themselves then they are admiting to be 2nd class people, inferiors who allow their superiors to shape them the way they please. any girl who believes that she is a full human won't do anything different than what you did. you stood against your parents to protect your right in a happy future. that is not disobedience or rudeness. when your parents form a wrong idea about what makes you secure, then this is when you should be brave enough to interrupt their plans. they will always see you as the little baby who can't decide for herself, and if you don't show them the opposite, they will never change their mind, regardless of your age.
parents need to see you have seriously grown up in action. accepting everything they choose for you is fine as long as this is what you also want. but how can they know better about you than yourself? yes, they have more experience, but it is related to their own time and their own environment. experience is not shaped in the void, it is the history of a person. you can't read history in isolation from its time and place. the world changes, societies change, and our experiences are so different than those of our parents.
my parents never experienced what i am doing now, for example (replying to a comment which i recieved on my blog on the world wide web). they don't know what a blog is, and they certainly never had one. how can their experience help me with what i am doing now?
likewise, our children will live a totally different world than ours. how can we make them follow our experience, which in most cases is the experience of our parents? you are giving them outdated information that goes 2 generations back. that's the whole problem with out society. we live today with the minds of the past, and when we fail we go back more instead of trying to move forward, even for once!
those girls you mentioned in the beginning think that they can never do anything better for themselves than what their experienced parents believe should be done. there is no right and wrong in social relationships. there are agreements and disagreements. like computer systems, you can't install a software for Mac. on a PC. it doesn't mean that one of them is bad and the other is good, they are just 2 different systems.

i wish you all success with your life. it was a pleasure to get to know more about you. i appreciate the time you took to write the full story. the details you included were very essential in showing the amount of pressure you were under. those who can't imagine how girls are forced to take certain decisions (claiming that nobody can force you to do something against your will) can learn a lot from you. thanks again. and wish you would always keep interacting with us.

Fantasia said...

thanks a lot for your comment. you said it beautifully. i can't agree more. it is true that bad choices keep pulling one another until everything is just so wrong. most people hate to admit that they've made a mistake, prefering to make up for it by yet another mistake. keeping in mind that a number of people pay for the wrong choices of a single person, we can imagine the impact of the egyptian marriage system on all society. we just complain and point at each other, wandering what has happened? we want democracy in politics while it doesn't exist inside our homes. that's nuts!
i join you in cheering for egyptian feminist chic who was kind enough to share her personal experience with us here and allow many people to learn from what she did.
welcome, denial. keep telling us what you think.

شريف أبو زاد said...

يا فنانة. ايه دا انتى طلعتي كمان خطيرة في الاجتماع وتحليل نشأة المجتمعات وثقافتها. لا لا ده حقيقي شئ جديد اقراه على النت.
قلب كلامك صح. يعنى فعلا كل ال social customs اللي ماليه الدنيا حوالينا اتعملت عشان تقابل احتياج ما لطبقة ما هي الطبقة الاقوى والمسيطرة على المجتمع في وقت ما. المشكلة ان مع الوقت المجتمع بيتغير واحتياجاته بتختلف لكن النظم والعادات والثقافة دي بتفضل من غير تغيير. بييجي بقى ناس زي الفنانة كده يحاولوا يقولوا يا جماعة انتوا عاملين زي اللي لابس سواريه في باربيكيو غدا على البحر. مش مشكلة ان شكلكم بس اللي يضحك. الكارثة انكم مش عارفين تتحركوا وتشاركوا في النشاطات اللي حواليكم!! وبدل ما تعترفوا ان المشكلة في اللبس غير المناسب لظروف الدنيا من حواليكم، تألفوا قصص خيالية عن ان اللبس ده هو اللي بيحميكم من مخاطر السباحة في البحر، وهو اللي بيديكم الامان والسعادة الحقيقية، لمجرد انكم مش قادرين تفوقوا من تأثير حلاوته وشياكته وجاذبيته وخصوصا ان كل اللي حواليكم او معظمهم قاعدين على اسطوانة واحدة ليل نهار تتعاد في الجرايد والمسلسلات والافلام وحكاوي الامهات والجدات وتمنيات ودعوات الاباء والاجداد وخيالات واوهام الجيران .

لكن تاني - اسمحيلي برضه اختلف! معلهش انا اصلي مش بعرف اوافق 100%

يعني انا موافقك تماما على ان الالحاح المستفز على الفستان والفرح هو الجزرة اللي بتترمي قدام البنوتة ، وان المبالغة في تفاصيل ليلة الزفاف هي من قبيل الإلهاء المتعمد والتعمية عن عريس الغفلة اللي غالبا بيكون ((كامل كمال الكامل)) من وجهة النظر المجتمعية.

لكن ..

من خلال خبراتي بثقافات أجنبية مختلفة، اكتشفت ان دي مشاكل وظواهر كونية مرت أو بتمر بيها الانسانية كلها حسب مراحل تطورها وظروفها من جوه ومن بره. واكتشفت كمان حاجة انا متأكد انها تهمك بما ان هدفك هو الاصلاح وتحسين الدنيا: ان اكتر ثقافات اتطورت ووصلت لدرجات هايلة من المساواة والتقدم في كل المجالات هي الثقافات اللي حافظت على شكلها التقليدي المحافظ بحيث متعملش صدمة ورعب للناس وفي نفس الوقت قامت بحشو الصندوق التقليدي المحافظ ده بأفكار جديدة عصرية متحررة عادلة.

أوضح أكتر؟

يعني اليابان مثلا فيها افكار يمكن اكتر حداثة وحرية من امريكا لكن ملفوفة بقماش ياباني جميل من القدام بتوع الساموراي وعليه اقوال الحكمة اليابانية الاصيلة عشان توجه وترشد وتحمي الاجيال الشابة وتبارك خطاهم وتدفي قلوبهم اللي بترقص فرحانة فرح طفولي بلا سبب لما بتسمع اساطير الطفولة بصوت الام او الجدة!

الهند فيها الجواز حاجة فوق الخيال ميتخيل! تفاصيل ايه واعداد ايه وشغل ايه وعادات قديمة ايه وحاجات مالهاش لازمة ايه. قولي زي مانتي عايزة يا فنانة. انما مقولكيش بقى على المساواة في مدن الهند الجديدة المتوهجة اقتصاديا وثقافيا وعلى البنات اللي زي الفل اللي بيتجوزوا بحريتهم زي الامريكان والانجليز لكن بطريقة ترضي تراثهم الهندي الاصيل العريق وتحسس عائلاتهم ومجتمعهم ان ظروف الدنيا الجديدة مغيرتش الولاد الصغيرين وانهم لسه مرتبطين ببلدهم وجذورهم وماراحوش مع اللي راحوا (وضاعوا وتلاشوا في اوربا وامريكا).

أصل انتي عارفة طبعا اكتر مني ان اخواننا في الغرب، مع حماسي الدائم لكل انتاج حضارتهم اللي هيا الاعظم ماديا وسياسيا وعلميا واقتصاديا وتنظيميا وعسكريا، انهم من غير تراث قديم ضارب في اعماق تراب كوكبنا الأم. وده مش عيب فيهم ولا تقليل منهم. انما اقصد انه خلى كل بنياتهم المجتمعية غير متقيدة بشكل واحد قديم حواليه اجماع عام واتفاق عقيدي ان ده الشكل اللي بيرضي الله/أو اي نظير له في الديانات غير السماوية، وبالتالي فهو بيساهم في حفظ امن المجتمع وامانه واستمراره. فعشان بقى هما مش متقيدين ولا متحددين باي قيود ماضوية تاريخية (يعني ببساطة لقوا نفسهم على البحر اياه بتاع السواريه ده شبه مش لابسين حاجة واي حاجة جديدة مهما كانت هتبقى زي الفل عليهم من غير مايغيروا اي حاجة لانهم اصلا معندهمش تقريبا حاجة) فكانت النتيجة انهم شيدوا ابنية ونظم ثقافية ومجتمعية شديدة العملية وبتلبي حاجة الزمن المعاصر بشكل مباشر وتقريبا كامل مع اقل قدر من الجماليات التراثية القادمة من عصور مضت.

يمكن هما اكثر سعادة على المستوى الفردي؟ يمكن. ماهو مفيش قيود مجتمعية على تصرفات اي فرد وبالتالي فاغراء التغيير والسعي للافضل مطروح بقوة دائما. لكن اكيد هما اقل استقرارا اولا كمجتمع، وأكيد اقل تجانسا وأكثر تفرقا، وكمان اقل قدرة على تكوين حضارة اخلاقية (اخلاقية بمعنى انها تمتلك حس انساني عالمي يضع رقي كل البشر وسلامهم وسعادتهم كهدف اعلى واسمى – يعني زي حضارة مصر ايام اجدادنا من 7000 سنة أو حضارات الصين والعراق – وعلى العكس من الحضارات اللي جالها شعور غبي بالتفوق والرغبة في ممارسة التفوق ده على غلابة العالم ومسالمينه).
انا شايف ان التطرف في التخلص من الاشكال القديمة والقوالب القديمة في سبيل التخلص من الافكار القديمة والمستغلة هوه اللي بيوصل لحضارة تقدم فعلا اقصى تفوق علمي وتكنلوجي ممكن الوصول اليه لكن كمان تقدم مع الاسف اقسى تجارب استعبادية استغلالية استعمارية توحشية همجية.

أنا طولت اوي كالمعتاد. حضرتك جنيتي على نفسك – بافكارك اللامعة وغناءك لها بصوت حلو آسر - مثلما فعلت براقش!

آخر حاجة احبها تكون واضحة: انا فاهم تماما ان الحفاظ على الاشكال الثقافية القديمة سواء في الجواز او غيره ليها اهداف بتتم احيانا بوعي وقصد مدبر ومخطط او احيانا اكثر بدون وعي وبروتينية، وان المطلوب في كل الحالات هو الحفاظ على الفكر القديم داخل الإطارالقديم، وان الإطار القديم ده اللي محدش بيقبل يسمع كلمة عن اهمية تغييره هوه في الواقع مجرد وسيلة اغراء بتضمن الوقوع بمحض الارادة وفائق الترحيب في المصيدة الاكبر جواه. لكني مقتنع ان بعض هذه الإطارات القديمة يجب فقط تغيير ما بداخلها والحفاظ عليها كرمز لعراقة وتراكم حضارة ومنبع سعادة ورضا شعب عظيم زي مثلا الشعب المصري اللي من اول وجوده في الدنيا وهوه بيحب يحيط كل مظاهر نشاطه الاجتماعي بأطر مزخرفة براقة باعترف انها بتتحول في عصور التدهور مع اسفي لذلك الى معبودات مقدسة لذاتها وشكلها وجمالها وابهارها وبدون ادنى اعتبار لما بداخلها وبحيث ان قادة المجتمع وكباره يقدروا يحطوا أي حاجة جوه الاطار ده وحضرتك – العروسة في مثالنا – تشرب بألف هنا ومليون صحة!

كل ما اقول هختم الاقيني باكتب تاني. لا كفاية كده فعلا استغلال لذوقك وتحملك للقراءة. بشكرك جدا على دعوتك ليا لكتابة تعليقات اكتر. واضح اني قبلت دعوتك بقوة!

تحية شريفة الى قلمك الجرئ الحر المغموس بامتداد طوله في نبع ماء صاف تسبح في جوانبه روح مصرية خلدها الزمان وخاصمها زماننا الجاحد.

شريف أبو زاد

Fantasia said...

mr. sherif,
so gald to hear again from you. and i am so grateful for your sweet praise of my writings. da ana tele3t gamda awi wana mesh 3arfa :) my excitement whenever i am invited into mental interaction is beyond description. so thanks for allowing me to write the unwritten parts in my posts. the association of ideas is endless and each topic i tackle on this blog deserves a whole book. i try to be as brief as possible while giving a complete image of the idea i am arguing for. i have to leave many things out in the hope that i will get the chance to discuss them here. so as i told you before, by inviting me to talk more about my subject, you are actually doing me (and readers of this blog) a huge favor. please fell free to write as much as you want. there is nothing i prefer to writing than reading. it gives me mental oxygen that i can never survive without.
i totally agree with the point you raised here. it is true that societies which have a clear cultural structure that lives through their traditions and customs are stronger and more intact in general. i am not against such a frame which aims to contain individual freedom and diversity within an organized body. right. let's agree on the frame, without putting it ahead of the essence it embraces. the big white dress is not a problem in itself as long as it is seen in its exact perspective. yet, when it becomes an aim in itself, this means that we are moving away from the original values which frames were created to serve in first place. guess we agree on that so far.

now, allow me to talk about minor points of difference. the social crisis experienced in the west was not due to absence of uniformed framed, but because of the materialistic values which control those societies. they are the other side of the coin. i can assure you that humans are all basically the same. in the west, material objects tend to replace the purposes for which they were invented. just like we replaced social values with traditions and appearances. if i was writing this post having the western woman in mind, i would replace weddings with the commercial image of what is sexy. western women don't have to get married in order to win social approval, but they are victims of a materialistic society which forces a certain image on women, making them believe that this is the only way they can be attractive and have successful relationships. the american people were the ones who created hollywood, and now hollywood is deciding their lives for them. a woman should be meet hollywood's definition of "sexy" or else she can never be happy. diseases like anorexia and anorexia nervosa are unheard of in the middle east, while they are very common among american women. because they are under the continuous pressure of having to be slim (not just fit) to meet the commerical definition of "sexy". the american society is also encouraging appearances at the expense of meaning, there is no difference. and women believe this is the only way to date nice men.
the typical american family works for the big house, the SUV, the best home theatre system...etc. western traditions have turned into shopping seasons. christmas, new year, thanksgiving, valentine, mother's day...etc used to be holiday seasons when families gather and share memories. now, it's all like a shopping spree.
western social values are driven from european values, which were so well defined and keenly followed. they didn't just jump into existence. european women had their hard times too, as well as women who lived in puritan early america (new england then). there choice to break away from the practices which hindered their progress was totally right. yet, as time went by they failed to do enough for perserving core values which are dangerously threatened by the materialistic race, an expected side effect for their industrial and technological development.
in this respect, i have to say that serious efforts are being made nowadays in the west in order to face this problems. lots of concerned thinkers, university professors, social analysts and citizens are calling for a massive revision of the american way of life. they now have a clear image of what went wrong, and they are the only ones who can come up with proper solutions.

i wanted to talk about japan and india as well, but there isn't much room for that now.

i can't end my reply without expressing my sincere gratitude for your support and the wonderful words you chose to describe my humble attempt here. your encouragement means a lot to a blogger in the beginning of her journey. i thank you whole heartedly and wish to be always up to your expectations. best regards.

Dr. Eyad Harfoush said...

Wow Fantasia, you really reached the core of the problem, marriage is a way to residue with the woman/man we loved for the rest of life, so the person is the target, and the system is the way, we turned it the other way, we seek the status and the person is the way. Blessing to you Fantasia, not everyday person can jump into right conclusions. Today I am even more impressed with this article like never before

denial said...

thank u fantasia, there's no doubt that i will!

just an aside, i've read an article a few years back on the decline of marriage in japan. and clearly it has to do with more women joining the workforce and being more independent. you'd think this is cause for celebration, but as a result, the japanese government is trying to revitalize marriage by offering all sorts of incentives. mainly, their concern is with the declining birthrates associated with marriage. although i tend to believe that most patriarchal societies just want to maintain the status quo. i could be wrong. but in any case, there shall always be consequences when such social changes occur. traditionally, japanese women were expected to be full-time housewives after they get married. the modern-day, educated woman no longer puts up with that. also, more women now would rather marry out of love than participate in "arranged marriages." whether adapting to western ideals (in this case) can be detrimental or not to their society, IMHO, is sometimes worth forsaking (some) traditional values for progress.

Fantasia said...

what can i say? thanks a lot for all this praise and encouragement. i reached this analysis after a long time of searching for answers. many of my relatives, friends, neighbors, and colleagues failed in their marriages. some of them had very painful stories, i have to say. the common factor that relates all stories was the egyptian traditional understanding of marriage. they all married the suitable or "the best man found" at the time. i tried explaining everything i said here to girls who are still receiving marriage offers, but it seemed that whatever i say won't make a difference. they were so determined to reap misery. hope my attempt here would move anybody to think better.

Fantasia said...

thanks for sharing this info. if women's work means lower birthrates, then i think the egyptian government should encourage all women to work :)) you know we have a problem with over-popluation here. we try birth control, but it doesn't seem to be working (at least not as expected). but even if this is the best way to reduce birthrates, they will never consider such a thing, i'm afraid.
you're right. progress is worth that and more.

Anonymous said...

Dear Fantasia,

I am agree with naal you said biut the idea of marriege in teh egyptian soceity, specialy the way both parents are talking about financiel issues, i hate it reay, it is all about money, and the aapatement must looks, aal such a stuiped material things, so madona has right when she said i am a matrial girl in a matrial world. Als the idea of married a young women, it is not only in egypt but almost in teh whole world, if the men 20 or 30 years older than the women it is aaceptable but if the women a few years older than the man , people said how it possible, i think that men stil have the idea that a young women beter for their sexuaal needs which is a stuiped way of thinking of course, marriege is about loving somebody, listen i stil remember my girl friend in Al Alsun where i studied, she was a great girl, kind, polite and respectabel, she was not that kind of girls who take care of what teh other people said a bout her, she was sometimes crzy and it makes her wonderful, anyway her parents were alsthinking about marriege like a lot of gyptian parents, finally we left each other, i do not saw her for a years i hope she is oke and happy. Anyway keep writing my dear it is a great post. Ahve a nice day



The Alien said...

marriage is the only formal way which humanity got for the relation between a woman and a man. marriage is a result of love. marriage is good choice but not in Egypt. here it is all about money and how much u will pay to get a bride.

i want to love and have a relationship, but the only way here in Egypt is marriage, and to get marry, i have to do all this stupid stuff they want. so i won't.

i never understod why women have to change their names after marriage.

all what parents say to young girls is about marriage and how it is her only goal of life. all girls dream and wait for the wedding day and the white dress.

yes, it is a big conspiracy

egyptian feminist chic said...

i think part of the reason all of society pushes girls to get married is the view that a girl is big shame and a huge burden the parents have until they marry her off to someone who will take the burden off of their hands.... I was watching TV the other day, and they were speaking to an egyptian man (probably a simple farmer, judging by the wa he dressed and talked)who was accused of killing his son in law... the tv guy was asking him if he had done it... his response was ( wana a3mel keda leeh ya beeh... da goz benty, shayel 3arry) i heard this sentence, and had no idea what he was talking about.... so i asked my husband what does he mean by that?? and you know what he said??? he is referring to his daughter as a shameful thing!!! she is "3ar" and his son in law took it off of his hands, so he is eternally grateful and would never imagine hurting him, because if the son in law dies, the father gets the shame all over again!!!!! OMG! I cannot believe some could say something so hurtful about his own child!

I realy dont think this was originally egyptian mentality.... I mean look at ancient Egypt... women were queens and godesses... there is nothing there about a woman being inferior, or shameful, or a burden... now fast forward several thousand years.... Arab beduins have always felt that women are inferior, and unwanted.. they even killed their newborn daughters by burying them alive... never feeling remorse, or hurt, or love for the poor helpless little infant... then islam came, and forbid such a barbaric practice.... I suppose women where a little bit better off after islam... but were never treated as equals.... since the whole concept of a woman being equal was never completely accepted by arabs.... no matter what religion said!! then with " elfotouhat eleslameya" islam finally reached egypt.... together with arabs... and their culture mixed in..... so gradually egyptians adopted the whole arab ideology... both the good parts, and the bad... and for the first time in egyptian history... women became unequal... downright inferior, and shameful... they lost the equal rights the used to have... egyptian did not differentiate between what was islamic and what was arab tribal culture...which is very unfortunate, because we are still living with these consequences until now!! after hundreds of years, egyptian women stood up for themselvs... especialy after mixing with the british and the french, who had taken over egypt at the time....women regained their strength and momentum, but did not support the british or the french... they started showing patriotism, and stoop up with the men... remember 1919??? women were there.... possibly for the first time in a very very long time!!men began to accept that women are just as strong, and supportive, and patriotic... the women's rights movement with mostafa ameen, hoda sha3rawy,seeza nabarawy, an manymany many others started, and women gradually beganintegrating again, and fitting into society... and the men were supportive.. and happy.. and things looked good, and promising!!! the only downside,is that movement was mainly in the cities, especialy cairo and alexandria.... i suppose the villages which had a huge portion of egyptians also had a women's rights revolution... but not as big as it was in the cities... which was okay... education was spreading, and a gradual changed may have been more appropriate and aceptable to them... but as a whole, society was doing so much better...even girls from smaller towns and villages were being sent to live in Cairo in dorms to attend college...girls were no longer a burden.. they were a productive part of society..... our grandmothers were educated but didnt work... our parents were educated, many got masters degrees and PHD's, and they worked..... then an unexpected thing happened.... they discovered oil in arab countries..suddenly there were jobs available there, where they needed educated people... like the ones egypt... so they offered huge amounts of money, and egyptians took the jobs.... after all, they worked hard to get their education, and by that time egytp my have been a free country, but the wars had taken their toll on the why not use their education to get jobs that pay more money, and live a better life when they get back home?? even the government supported them.. after all they will bring in "petro dollars" that will help the economy!! so egyptians went abroad in the 70's and 80's to make better lives for themselves..... or so they thought..... they made money, and after living abroad for so many years, many began to adapt the arab ideology... all over again!! the women covered their hair, and the men adapted the opressive attitudes... in the late 80's and 90's... these egyptians had had enough and came back to egypt.... hundreds of thousands of them.... i remember in 1991.... for the first time in my life i actually saw a student in my high school cover her hair!! a couple of years before that, i began seeing a few women walking down the streets covering their hair... i never gave it a second thought,since it never impacted my life directly, and i was too young at that time to care about what women in the street wore.... now i look back and i realize these were signs of the changes about to come.... gradually over the 90's you began seeing more and more women covering their hair.... and more and more younger girls especialy... first it was old people, then it was older mothers in their 50's. then middle aged women, then people in their 20's... then it was others in my university... finally in the late 90's and early 2000'si went the club once... and i saw something i had never seen before... most of the high school girls here covered their hair!!! and sometimes,i even saw little 6 and 7 year old girls in elementary school with hair covered!! they all said it is religious.... but where was religion in the past 80 years?? did the azhar scholars forget to mention that women have to cover their hair?? did it just slip their minds, and with saudi mone... they all "remembered" ?? there were sheikhs wose families didnt cover their hair in the old days... so did they just no know??? after 50 years studying religion, they had no idea that women's hair was sexualy provocative and needed to be covered because women are bad and if not covered people will be having mas orgies in the streets like they now believe??? highly unlikely!!! there is only 1 hadeeth which is "da3eef" that mentions hair cover....a very unbelievable story about... i cant remember whom eactly but i think it was about one of the prophets wives walking out to see guests while she was wearing a transparent dress.... ( so people could see everything, chest, buttocks, thighs... all??) so the prophet said the only thing a moslem woman can show is her face and palms!!! so apparenlty her hair was a bigger problem than her breasts!!! does this realy sound plausible?? if you have enough respect for the prophet and his house hold, why would you believe that his wives thought it was okay to show their almost naked bodies to strangers???the koran only mentions modesty, cover legs, cover chest... nothing about dressing like tents!! anyway, i have deviated from my original subject....
i was just shocked the first time i saw a monaqaba walking down the streets..... i couldnt believe someone would willingly erase her entire identity... now it is more commonthan ever before.... what a sas state we are in when this is the mentality that has developed in recent years!!!

the problem wth all of this is not the fact that people who were never beduins decided that the beduin dress was "religious" and began to forcibley impose it on others.... this was all accompanied by speaches at mosques promoting these ideas.... and suddenly koras from certain countries and money would be given to these mosques.... and alazhar eventually joined in.... and god knows where al the funding for this was coming from...... the speaches in mosques started revolving about the evil of having women in society who wer outspoken, or who dressed normally they even made up a name for a woman who didnt dress like a beduin... women were either "mohagabat" or "saferat" which was a new word for me, but made it sound like the "saferat" were runnung around the streets naked!! of course with all of these new changes.... the lesser educated folks in smaller villages blindly obliged..... and eventually even the richer, highly educated and more influentiol people were brainwashed too..... everyone suddenly believed a woman's place is at home... any woman who left home deserved harrassment.... women became shameful... a burden, we need to hide them and cover them up... parents felt the need to get rid of this burden.... marriage is an acceptable way to get rid of the burden... people prayed that they wouldn't die before this burden was given to someone else who will take this awful resposibility, because anything deemed shameful, which is done by this ignorant week feeble creature, who is lacking in brains and religion will directly affect the entire family's " honor" ... so honor killings began to surface... to clear the family'sname and so called honor!

this maybe found to lesser degrees in the form of parents treating their kids differently.... boys are allowed to do certain things that girls are not..... boys have more freedom.... things changed... before we had wrong and right.... everyone tried to do the right, and not do the wrong. now we have the right which all girls HAVE to do, and the wrong, that boys can do if they want.... after all they are young and can make mistakes if they want to, they will eventually grow out of it and marry and settle down.... and girls can be killed if they even think about doing the same things..... there are double standards all over the place... from the smallest to the largest things!!

I believe that all of this is the reason the guy on tv said what he said about his son in law and his daughter...... it is the reason parents left and right are pushing their daughters into loveless marriages.... what a sad sad sad thing!!! such a shame we need to start from scratch one more time.... what our great grand mothers fought for so long ago, is now gone, replaced by ignorance and opression.... and it isnt looking any better.... most people are now officialy brainwashed.. even the girls believe that this is what they deserve... after all they are " naqesat 3aql wa deen" and men are superior.... and they believe opression is ordained by god....and who are they to argue against what god asked them to do??? people realy need to wake up, and learn their real religion... and understand that EQUALITY is ordained by god, and not opression.... that they are smart and have unlimited potential that they will never realize if they dont stand up for their rights and try to live like equal partners in society..... Do you think we will live long enough to see that day??? or is our generation so far gone, this is not likely to happen any time soon??? maybe at least we can start ... maybe this will catch on... if not soon, maybe with our daughters.... and maybe one day egypt will go back to what it used to be, and live up to its full potential!!!

Fantasia said...

sherif (holland),
glad you liked the post. and sorry if it brought back painful memories or anything. parents do have a tight grip on their daughters, especially when it comes to marriage. but girls shouldn't just give in and leave their fate to be totally controlled by their parents. yet, in our society, girls who practice absolute obedience are generally considered to be polite and well deciplined. while those who stand up against their parents' wishes, even if they were right in doing so, are viewed as careless and rude. some parents use this to the extreme, thinking that their daughters will never make better plans than the ones they have for them.
i wish you would read the comment written by egyptian feminist chic, where she talks about her real-life experience with marriage. her story is so inspiring, but it will give you an idea about the amount of pressure that some parents impose on their daughters.
always happy to hear from you.

Fantasia said...

you can now imagine how girls are being brainwashed in a way that makes it so hard for them to escape common beliefs. the material demands that are related to our marriage system have so much to do with the social values adopted by the majority. money became the best way by which parents can guarantee a happy marriage for their daughters. the sharp change in economical conditions after Nasser, has caused many middle class families to suffer from poverty and descend to a lower class. this created many problems for parents who witnessed this shift. those problems for sure had a very negative effect on their marriage, and caused them to put the material factor as top priority when choosing a husband for their daughter. most young men, like you, freak out when they meet such parents and see them focusing on material issues. you may think that those people want to rob you, or that they are selling their daughter to the one who will offer the highest bid. most of grooms-to-be run away from those families. but what if you really love the girl? will you let her parents ruin everything? i say no. you can simply show those parents that security lies in other things. you can convince them with your future prospects. self-confidence when helped by some negotiation skills can do the trick.
wishing you best luck when the time comes for this big decision.

Fantasia said...

egyptian feminist chic,
i'm delighted to receive such an excellent comment. you rock baby! what you said explains the whole cultural chaos that we witness nowadays in egypt, the country which witnessed the birth of civilization. yes dear, our borders are wide open to beduin invasion. we were forcibly pushed backwards, after a time when a great generation was able to carry egypt into the modern age. just as we were put on the right and getting ready for our first step, we received this backlash coming from the gulf. what can i say? civilizations rise and fall and rise again. and i believe in that. yes, there will be a time when we shall rise again, but when? and how far will we go into the darkness before a certian generation becomes strong enough to pull us out of it? sigh..
waiting is our worst vice, feminist chic. we just keep waiting and waiting. egyptians love to waste their lives in waiting. how can you get them to realize the urgency of a situation?
the man you heard on TV was not only talking about himself, he is expressing a whole culture which exists in the countryside, where illiteracy may reach 60-70% (some villages in upper egypt recorded 82%). for those, the word 3ar, does not only mean shame or burden, it also means disgrace and divine punishment. it is a common belief there that the birth of a baby girl indicates a punishment from God (ebtela2). the best way to deal with this girl is to make sure that she will marry peacefully. she will then be of use to her husband. but if she returns back to her home she is once more 3ar, a social stigma.
do you know that little boys in upper egypt curse each other during fights by mentioning names of female relatives? for example, saying to a boy "ya ibn 3atyat" is a very bad curse. or they can ask "o7'tak salwa ezayaha?" imagine a culture which considers a female name to be an insult! that's why boys never mention the names of their mothers or sisters in front of anyone. if you ask any of them "what is your mother's name?" he will most probably hit you before asking for the reason behind your question very nervously, just as if you had asked him to walk naked in the street.
now, in you estimation, how long will it take those people to change? keeping in my that the idea of educating their daughters is considered to be radical. i don't mean to depress you, but we have to be realistic.
the cities are one thing, while the countryside is a totally other stories. some districts in cairo are a huge challange in themselves. the low standard of education which the majority of egyptians receive not only increases poverty, but also threatens our cultural and social structures. wahhabi thoughts are expected to spread even more with the crazy rise in oil prices (prices double almost annually since war on iraq). so our economical progress at its best will never meet up to the huge surplus flowing into the pockets of wahhabists. the following waves of beduin invasion will be even worse, powered by all those dollars. they're coming with their horses and swords. and people here are in a deep sleep. they will be so happy to welcome anything which comes easily to them without disturbing their sleep. they will stick to their favorite hobby of waiting and passively receiving any ideas which can help them to sleep deeper.
i don't want to watch that happen. but you and i can't stop it alone. i believe the best thing that can take place is to stay where we are, then we can talk about change. but things are deteriorating so fast. i was in total shock seeing the nurses covering their faces in black! have you seen that? a whole team of nurses wearing black niqab at work! this can never be a hospital, it is like a horrible halloween. what can come next?
i am dying to find a solution. so you're not the only one wondering my dear.
God bless you for this wonderful briefing of the egyptian situation. i shall consider you my partner from now on. your contributions to this blog are so valuable. thank you feminist chic. it is so soothing to communicate with someone as smart and as concerned as you are. keep exchanging thoughts and hope will never be lost.

Miss Egyptiana "Trapped Soul" said...

قال الله
( ومن آياته أن خلق لكم من أنفسكم أزواجاً لتسكنوا إليها وجعل بينكم مودة ورحمة إن في ذلك لأيات لقوم يتفكرون )

this is marriage for me... marriage is about the partner, about respect, about unconditional love, about seek to be with this person in specific and no other

if you wanna meet a girl who has a realistic idea about what marriage is ? just tell me when and where :)

marriage is a huge responsibility... that has to be shared and maintained by both partners ... marriage aint a white dress or a party ... it is about being naked to each other ... body, soul, and mind

what men want?
-Educated but not over ambitious
mmm what's wrong with ambition ... if he cant stand my carrier ambition ... he is the wrong one for me

-Obedient to men and elders
as long as it suit my principals :)

-Shy and timid
:) shy ... ok ... timid ... ok ... but not the foul, not the weak, not the submissive

-Appear to be religious
that is something between me and god... as if they are that religious

-Marry young
hehehe marry when i find the one, young , old, doesnt matter ...

i love this post ... especially the last paragraph, where you analyzed the right marriage

my warmest regards fantasia ... great post as usual

Miss Egyptiana "Trapped Soul" said...

one more thing
i dont think it is a conspiracy

it is more like an inherited misconception ... a misconception that was developed to keep women eyes focused on one thing ...

mmmm i guess it means a conspiracy against women after all :))

Fantasia said...

egyptiana my sister in arms,

guess you're up the challange dear :) but how many girls are there like you? it is no wonder that an intelligent person like you is not willing to compromise for a dress or the title of Mrs.
i was so amused by your second comment :D yeah, for the first while you may think that what takes place does not deserve to be called a conspiracy, but when you try to explain it, you'd hardly be able to give it another definition. it's cause you don't want to deceive yourself. you care to see things as they really are.
however, of course you know that the majority of people like to fool themselves by creating others scenarios and false definitions to make things look acceptable and fine! why can't they see that they will be the only losers? then when they regret it, they don't dare to face the true reasons for their failure. the word "naseeb" just drives me crazy! people use it to justify everything, as if they didn't do any wrong. Ughhhh! that's why i wrote this post.. i want to tell every girl that naseeb won't be responsible for her misery when she makes the wrong choices.
always delighted to read your wonderful comments egyptiana. your latest post was v. strong. looking forward to your next one.

K.C. said...

Great comments all around!

Allow me to get personal as well. My parents have been married for 25+ years now. In this time and age were divorce is common, people from the outside view their union as a "happy," successful marriage. Nowadays, it seems like marriage is viewed as a dying institution, thus my parents were considered "role models." But as one who witnessed what was really going on in the inside, I beg to differ. No, there is no cheating, no physical abuse or anything traumatic like that involved, but it is as damaging; it is how marriage can make you lose your own identity.

Growing up, I have always viewed my mother as exactly that, a "mother" in the most traditional sense. Someone who prepares our meals, encourages us in our studies, makes the house nice and comfy, etc. It was until my late teens that I began to get curious about my mom's previous life before marriage. Turns out she graduated at the top of her class and had many friends. She also had a handful of suitors back then, but it was my dad's "perseverance" that won her. Admittingly, my dad's family background and the fact that he was a lawyer helped seal the deal. Once they were married, my dad forced my mom to quit her job, burned all her pictures of the guys she dated (even those considered as just friends) and expected her to raise their future children since he doesn't want his kids to be raised by the help.

When I asked my mom recently if she loved my dad, her reply was evasive, saying that 'she had us,' and for that she is very proud and happy. Her answer worried me. I began asking myself, "is that what marriage is all about?" Meeting the "right" man, having kids and raising them to be the best they can be, only for them to repeat the same cycle all over again? I know my mother isn't just one dimensional as I'm sure many would think. She was, after all, college-educated. I'm sure she had her own opinions, goals, aspirations, etc. But now she doesn't even have any friends she can call her own, only mutual friends. Sometimes I wonder if her former friends suffered the same fate.

I've gotten to know more of my mother as a person since then. She confessed she thought about divorcing my father in the earlier years, but worried about us, so she didn't. Now that my siblings and I are grown, I told my mom that she should if she's not happy, and not to worry about what other people think. Sadly, she would never do it since she fears she wouldn't be able to support herself financially. It's heartbreaking to hear this as somehow marriage reduced her to an inferior, less-confident person.

By all accounts, my father was not a bad man. He was the sole provider in our family that allowed us to have a decent life. For that, I am thankful as I've seen poverty around me and know how lucky I am. But I'll be damned if I followed my mom's footsteps. I refuse to compromise my own ideals, my own dreams, in an essence my very own being, in exchange for what is perceived to be a long-lasting "successful" marriage. NO! I will not be that person.

So yes, it is very fitting to describe marriage as a conspiracy. After all, conspiracy is shrouded with secrecy and silence. Marriage is like that too, the secrets, the lies, the silence, it's all a front! Wives should not be silent anymore, they should speak up! Otherwise, they lose their own pride, their own morale, and their own self-identity...

Fantasia said...

Thanks a lot for sharing your parents' story with us here. I believe things aren't much different in all our homes. My own parents have got big issues that they both got tired of trying to work out long ago. My mother, who is the no.1 advocator of marriage in our family, also refused to open up about how satisfied she is with her marriage. it seems that my dad got worried that i might develop a psychological complex against marriage or something, so he tried to convince me that the misunderstanding between him and mom is just a result of daily stress. unfortunately when he told me that i was over 20, not 5 years old, so i didn't buy it. but i appreciated his good wills and told him to take it easy. "all parents are the same,"I said, "don't think yours is the worst one I know of. believe me, dad, when i find the right one, nothing will come between us. so relax and think about yourself more."
Not so long after, my mom had some confessions to make. she loved dad, but then discovered that they were so different in many things. what made things worse was that each one of them tried to change the other in a very forceful manner. this drove them more apart, but they managed to keep mutual respect. mom also views her marriage as successful. it's all about maintaining your image in society, never allowing anyone to find faults in your life and keeping the appearance of a stable marriage with successful children. the only thing i said was "mom, you remind me of the photographer who asks me to smile while taking his shot. people who only see the photo, they will think i am a happy person, but it's only a photo. i can't fool myself into thinking that it reflects reality."
they also told me that divorce was unthought of because a family is more important than the couple who form it.
what was i supposed to say? was i supposed to tell them that they sacrificed their happiness because of an illusion? who am i to criticize their choices after all? but i learned a lot and i believe that if i ever repeat their mistake, then it means that my parents wasted their lives for nothing. and that's why i am so happy with your decision. please stick to your beliefs and dreams. there is nothing worth compromising your identity for.
as for more wives to speak up, i don't think they will, especially those who have children. in my opinion, the best time to speak up is before marriage. the second choice is before having children. but after that, speaking up becomes so risky and very few women will have the courage to even confront themselves with failure.
timing is not less important than making the right decisions. that's why i say that prolonging the life of a failed marriage is much worse than ending it. a wife must be brave enough to face the reality of her marriage and decide early enough if it is unrepairable.
wishing you best luck with your future life. keep your mother's confessions fresh in your memory to remind you that marriage is not about a good person, but about the best one for you. hope to hear more from you, k.c.

Layal said...

Fanta i have to say that sometimes when i read the things u write betb2a zai kanabel betfar2a3 fe weshi!!
I always had this feeling that i didn't HAVE to get married 2 b happy and everytime i say that out loud people think i'm insaine. Le daragat enni ebtadeet ad7ak 3ala nafsi.
The things u write give me motivation to search within myself and see who it is i really am.
Also what u wrote about medusa made me cry! i'm too scared that i could suffer the same fate. Isn't it just easier to fit the social molde? Neway i'm still in shock. I mean what a wake up call. The truth really does hurt!

Layal said...

i'm actually very curious to know how you feel about the new tv series "ana 3ayza atgawez" ya Fantasia?

"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