With the curent trends and attitudes in modern day Egypt, a very important problem has surfaced that I feel is unacceptable, and attention needs to be brought to that matter.
I am talking of course about violence against women in general, or spouse abuse in particular.
Abuse can be one of 2 types: either emotional or physical. Many factors have promoted this abuse, including te media, misinterpretation of religion, and our mysogynist culture. In older movies, it was not uncommon to see a woman being beaten by a man, and it always shown in a positive light, and the man was always the good guy, because the woman of course deserved it. This led to the acceptance of the concept of domestic violence and abuse, making it appear as a normal every day event, and encouraging people to follow the footsteps of the star in the movie... slowly it became widely acceptable, and mainstream.
Abuse can be one of 2 types, either emotional or physical. Emotional abuse is the least evident form of abuse, yet has the most damaging concequences on the victim. The problem with our society is that it advocates the emotional abuse of women... Girls are taught that they are inferior to boys in childhood. Boys run around as they please, while girls are told, "you are a girl, so you should be quiet".. it is not "natural" for girls to be active or to run around freely or misbehave like boys. As they get older, things only get more difficult and more complicated. Brothers are given control over their sisters, simply because they are males, and therefore should be dominant. They are encouraged to order them around and to monitor their every move... some families go as far as allowing their son to beat their daughter if he feels that she is doing something he does not approve of, or something that may threaten the "family honor". This scenario sets the stage for what is to come later as boys and girls grow to be men and women. In a household, men begin their marriage by trying to establish the fact that they are dominant, every decision that is taken is the man's.. everything the woman does, has to be pre- approved by the man. Family and society encourage him to do that, and tell him he is not a man if he doesnt do that. Some men will force their wives to stay at home. So they are 100% financially dependant on the husband. In return, the wife is expected to attend to her husband's every need. If she doesnt, she is not good enough and needs to be "disciplined" according to the man's standards. And of course according to the way he was raised, "beating" his wife is justified... after all, isn't she the one who didn't have dinner ready on time, or didn't clean the house efficiently enough, or didn't perform a task he asked for in a timely manner? Women are taught that they are nothing without a man.
She does not even have the option of leaving him, which is a right God gave her, but which society has taken away from her. Fanta discussed how women are prevented from seeking a divorce by society here. Some men will even forbid their wives from communicating with their families, and make sure they are totally cut off from all of their friends.... and when these poor women complain, they are told, "you have to obey your husband...it is his right to 'protect' you, and women can spoil (yefsedo) each other, so your husband is only protecting you by cutting you off from your life as you have known it before he married you". Now this may look like a fact of life for some people, or a husband being over protective compared to others, but the truth is: this is a very systematic approach to deprive women of everything they have and to gurantee their total submission and dependance on their partners, so they are unable to function in society... which gives people a reason to forbid them from holding positions or being figures of authority...etc.
This scenario is in fact a direct application of the steps of Psycological abuse!!! Here is how:
Based on an adaptation of work from Alice Miller's For Your Own Good and John Bradshaw's Healing the Shame That Binds You
Authority figures (AF)
1. AF's are the masters of dependants.
2. AF's alone decide what is right and wrong
3. They alone make up the definitions, the rules, and the "consequences" (i.e. punishment)
4. Dependants are held responsible for the AF's feelings (anger, disappointment, embarrassment, humiliation, happiness and unhappiness)
5. The AF is only responsible and accountable for good things that happen, never the bad ones. Thus the AF appears to always be right, and when things go wrong the dependant is always blamed and feels responsible and guilty.
6. The AF tries to exercise total control of the dependant by controlling his thoughts, feelings and behavior. Whenever this control is not absolute, the AF feels threatened.
7. The dependant's individuality is minimized as much as possible by the AF.
8. The AF creates an intricate system of punishments and rewards which rob the dependant of any sense of inner direction or esteem.
9. The following freedoms listed by Virginia Satire are denied to the dependant as much as possible:
a) The freedom to perceive b) To think and interpret c) To feel To want, need, and chose
10. The AF never (or rarely) admits mistakes or apologizes.
11. All of the above take place in a way which does not expose the AF's true motives, and none of this is openly talked about. No "back talk" is allowed
Some of the Consequences:
-Mistakes are concealed
-People are under constant stress
-Needs are frustrated, denied
-Power is based on fear, not respect
-Information is withheld and distorted
-Information flow is primarily from top down
-Behavior is forced; does not come naturally
-Behavior is not consistent with true feelings, which adds to the stress
-Conflicts and problems are blamed on the dependent's "poor attitudes" and "character flaws."
-All of this tears the dependant person apart, causing self-alienation and even self-loathing. The dependant person loses faith in his/her own mind and feelings with devastating self-esteem consequences.
-Depression, rage, mood swings, co-dependency, self-injury and self-destruction are typical outcomes.
-If the authority figure is a parent, this person will likely develop symptoms of various "disorders" such as the so-called Borderline Personality disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Anoexia, Bulemia etc.
The previous box explains emotional abuse and how it is accomplished, and how it affects the abused person. I copied it from this link
If you read through the points, you will see that we can all agree that points #1,2, and 3 are all systematically carried out in most Egyptian households, and are considered to be traditional values that people should not question. Emotional abuse is mainly having someone depend on you emotionally , financially, socially.. You threaten to leave them or marry someone else if they disobey you.. You cut off ties between them and their friends and family.. You control them financially, then you make them feel that they cannot function in life without you!!!
Point #4 may not be as evident, but it is the one argument used by most Egyptians when they talk to women to see why a husband has cheated on his wife.... For example, if a man cheats, the woman is always told "you are responsible for his bad behaviour... you must have done something wrong, so you were unable to contain him... maybe you are not enough for him... see where you are deficient, and try to fix your flaws, then beg him to come back to you.. maybe if he sees your sincere efforts to correct your faults he will have pitty on you and be yours exclusively"!!! A woman is never encouraged to leave a cheating husband, and of course the welfare of the children is always mentioned as a reason she should tolerate abuse.
On the other hand, if a woman cheats on her husband, then she is a slut and a whore, who does not deserve her husband .. she does not deserve to live .. he is encouraged to throw her out, and never look back.. what she has done is inconceivable and unforgivable. The husband is discouraged from ever forgiving his wife, and to society, she deserves every bad thing that comes her way. The children's welfare in this case is not an issue, since they claim children dont need a mother who cheats on her spouse!! Notice how the man is never at fault.... if he cheats, she is wrong.. If she cheats, she is wrong!!! Men are never wrong in society's twisted logic.