Sunday, July 27

The Egyptian Working Woman

A few weeks ago after a long busy day, I decided to sit down and watch a little TV. I was flipping through the channels when I came across an episode of "elbeyout asrar". I started watching in the middle of the episode, and figured out that the subject was women's work. There were two groups of people on the show... The invited guests, which were men and women in their late 40's and 50's, and the audience, which were mainly younger people... Some were college students and others looked like they were in their early 20's. I do not recall the exact words of every person on the show,however, The older people were all pro work. the women all talked about their experiences in life, how their careers helped them, and how their husbands supported them. They talked about their children. More than once they were asked if their careers compromised the care for their children, and they all answered that the children were not compromised. Until here, it all sounds fine and dandy..... you would think that since the older generations think this way, the younger generations will definitely be more open minded, and women will be more career oriented....

Sadly things were not at all this way. The moment the young audience members were given the chance to express their opinions is the moment that things began to go downhill..... A young man, possibly in his early 20's stated that he will not allow his wife to work.. no matter what. He believed a woman's place is her home and nothing more. Another young man said I will give my wife a chance to work and see if she can work, take care of the children alone, and take care of the house alone...( and get this)..... and take care of ME!!!! ( is he 2 or something?? does she need to change his diapers as well??) then he will "ALLOW" her to work, however if she defaults in any way, or if he feels that she is not up to par.... then he will "FORBID" her getting a job or having a career!!!! ( Ya LAHWY!!) Much to my dismay and utter disappointment his sentiments were echoed by several male audience members.. The Female audience members let me down even more.... ALL and I repeat... ALL the women in the audience ( whom I will add that judging from their appearance were in their early 20's) Stated that their "DREAM" was to get married and sit at home.... no one.. I repeat... NO ONE mentioned the desire for a career.... success was nothing they referred to or thought of in any way. They were all college graduates who "chose" to throw away their degree forever!! A couple mentioned they would like to work until they meet the right man.... so for them work was a way of "catching" a husband! When these girls were asked about their ambition, their comment was very similar to the young men... they all agreed that women have no ambition, that a woman's ambition should be to cook and clean and care for children... They agreed that a woman's career ambition is a "myth" that the western media tries to brainwash women into believing!!!

I cannot even begin to express my utter dismay at this picture, or my disappointment at the young women and men of Egypt... At a time when our country is falling deeper and deeper In debt, our educational system is corrupt, various groups are fighting over control of our government... poverty is rampant... health care is sub par to say the least, and inflation is tearing homes apart.... gas prices are rising, bread is scarce... our industries are practically non existent... there is absolutely no form of organized scientific research... no publications, and no funding or resources... at a time when all our young talents are leaving the country to look for a better life abroad.. thus costing us billions... unemployment rates are so high that the norm for young graduates is not being employed At time where our borders are being breached, fundamentalism is gaining new grounds every day, and our country needs a complete overhaul... These women are only thinking about sitting at home... and the men are thinking about how to keep them at home!!

The way I look at things is that our country needs every ounce of work and energy available to help us rise out of this economic and social depression. The concept of a woman working should be a no brainer... The subject has been discussed over and over for more than 120 years... and women have been working since our grandparents came of age in the 40's and the 50's. It is unusual for a society to fall back so much, and for women to lose so much in such a short time. What Egyptian women have worked so hard for is slowly being yanked out from under their feet... and they are totally oblivious. The amount of brainwashing that has happened in our culture over the past 20 years is astounding!! The mystery to me is how do you oppress people while at the same time convincing them that oppression was their idea in the first place... so they think that their oppression is liberation??? I know it sounds confusing but we are living examples of this twisted logic.

I am not against a woman deciding to be a "stay at home mom" . The concept itself is a noble one that involves hard work, selflessness and endless dedication to the growing children. But if all women suddenly decide to stay at home... It is no longer a selfless act... it is actually turned into a very selfish act... Let me explain why:

1- For starters... Children only need their mothers in the first few years of life..... After the age of 4, all kids go to school, so really a mother sitting at home isn't doing much for the child... the child is not getting any more attention, care or love than a child who has a working mother. So sitting at home at this point is selfish... The person is just being lazy and not contributing to society.

For working mothers in Egypt, The Egyptian government has done a lot. A very generous law that does not exist everywhere is the "child care leave". A working woman in Egypt by law can take up to 5 YEARS!!! off of work., and can go back to her job immediately in the same position she was in before she took her leave... so mothers have the option of keeping their jobs while caring for their families at the same time... so if you have 2 kids or less..... you have enough vacations and leaves to cover time off to care for your children... So why do Egyptian mothers want to leave the work force? Unfortunately I cannot answer this question, since everyone who leaves says the excuse is to "care for the family".. Which is a redundant argument....

2- Men argue that they need a wife to "take care" of them...

Unless the man is incapacitated or handicapped in some way, No adult responsible working man needs a woman to take care of him. Men can feed themselves, dress themselves and clean themselves after bowel movements just as well as women... so no, they do not need to be cared for. Men are taught from a young age that they should not lift a finger to care for their house... they should not clean, they should not cook..... all of this " dirty work" is beneath them.... leave it all to the woman... women should do these jobs... to men these jobs are insults.
My question is... why not share house work? share caring for the kids? this way spouses have more time together... women are happier and more rested, so can dedicate more quality time to their significant others and children.. And how exactly does this interfere with a woman's ability to have a career? The young man on TV who mentioned that he will "test" his future wife's ability to multitask without lifting a finger to help her really infuriated me... Is this how we are raising Egyptian men? to be selfish self-centered conceited judgemental spoiled brats? and at the same time we are teaching the young women that they are not worthy enough to complain?? Just be quiet and quit work and do what the almighty man dictates!!!he is superior so his opinion shall prevail no matter what?? Excuse me while I go barf at the mere thought !!
I would have been happier if the young man had said, I will see what my wife can do, and help out with the rest so we can both have careers, and we can both be happy!!! Why are they all oblivious to this concept??

3- Men argue that if a man can afford to care for the house financially, a woman doesn't HAVE to work....

This is actually one of the most annoying arguments. Women in Egypt cost the government thousands of pounds to get a college education.... so if a woman chooses not to work, she should pay back this money so another person can use it to be educated and benefit society. Sitting at home after costing hundreds of thousands of pounds to get an education is a waste of public resources that should not be allowed.... It is no wonder we are in debt... money is being thrown left and right to give "free" college education to people who do not need it and will not use it.

If this money is used by the ministry of education to fund research in labs wouldn't it be better spent? wouldn't it help Egyptians more than if the money is thrown away by women who would like to sit at home?? One of the major reasons of lack of scientific research in Egypt is the lack of Equipment and supplies that are needed to run the labs.... intelligent people who know science or medicine are not enough for conducting research..... equipment that no one can afford... which costs millions is needed before any research can be carried out. .. so this is my argument..... if you don't want to use it, then don't take it!!!

I believe in free college education only to those who will use it to benefit society... so no... there is no such thing as someone who doesn't "have" to work.

4- People argue that women are crowding men and pushing them out of work... They make this claim saying that women don't need the jobs and are doing it for "fun" so it is best that they just sit at home and clean and cook.....

To this claim, I would like to respond that not all women have someone who supports them. Some women are widows with children... some are single, some are married, but with the current level of income in Egypt, one salary is never enough!!! sometimes 2 salaries are not enough either, and one of the spouses ends up getting a second job. To men who feel that women are overcrowding them I say, please don't be short sighted.... do not underestimate the value of the woman who works in the neighboring office.... she may be doing more for her family than any man could. Women in the work place need to be acknowledged, respected and appreciated. They do not "overcrowd" and their value in the workplace is not any less than their male colleagues. I came across this very interesting documentary on youtube. If women are suddenly not allowed to work, or their presence is not tolerated in the workplace, what would the women in this video do??

5- People argue that there aren't enough jobs for everybody... so women need to sit at home, and let the men work, so every family will have at least one income!!

To this claim I would like to say that even though there aren't enough sources of income for work for everyone, however, there is so much work that needs to be done that no one is doing. The one concept that we rarely ever hear of in Egypt is volunteering.

I believe it is the duty of every capable Egyptian person whether male or female to volunteer in some way to help society. Public hospitals are a mess. Patients need assistance left and right. In most countries high school and college students volunteer in the summer to help in hospitals. they wheel patients to their rooms. They sit at information desks and give directions. They assist with placement of patients in rooms in the public clinics.... they even help clean the place. This practice is much needed in Egypt, it will give idle young people something to do,they will get experience and they will help others.

In rural areas illiteracy is rampant. We need volunteers to educate these people.
Our streets need cleaning. We need volunteers to help with that too.
We need money for education, health care, food for the poor...etc. we need volunteers to help.
We have millions of homeless children... we need volunteers to feed them and teach them and get them off of the streets.
We don't have enough blood in our blood banks, we need volunteers to help with the blood drives.
We have special needs children in schools, we need people to help with those children.
We have old people who are alone, or can't cook or are incapacitated, we need volunteers to help them.
We have public schools where there aren't enough teachers, and classes are overcrowded.. we need volunteers there too.

The examples are endless... I can go on forever. So to say there isn't enough to do is an understatement. There is plenty to do, but we choose not to do them. If people are complaining of unemployment, and can afford to live without a job at least temporarily, they should go volunteer. Women who are married to men that can afford to take care of the house financially should go volunteer. High schoolers and college students in their summer breaks should go volunteer. Being idle at home should not be an option. Progress is not easy and it comes with a price. If we don't pay this price, then who will?? Our strength as Egyptians comes in our numbers and in our intelligence. We need to not waste them, since they are our most precious assets. Women who sit at home waste valuable manpower, that we all need to move forward.

SO to say that women should stay at home is selfish, and is something that is said by people who only think of themselves. Our country needs us, we are the driving force behind the progress of our nation. We all need to work together,. Whining about corruption or where money went will not help us. Working together will. I am not saying that corruption is not a factor, but I am saying Corruption has become the excuse for everything wrong with our lives a " mosmar go7a" if you will, that we hang all of our problems on. There is so much more we can do to make Egypt better.... we just need to try!

Monday, July 14

Retards Make It to The Atlantic

The money quote:
"You won't be able to stop them (i.e. guys), but you can protect yourself. He who created you knows what's best for you!"

Hello all the lollipops out there.. and the flies too. Hope everybody's is doing great in Candyland!

Well, I've -unfortunately- seen this stupid ad in many places around the internet. I even received it in an email! (Some of my buddies have gone into the habit of spamming lately.) When I first laid eyes on it, the only thing that came to mind was.. WTF? I felt disgusted and offended beyond belief. And every time I saw it on a blog or a Facebook group the same lump found its way to my throat.

Until, one day, I saw it on The Atlantic! Even Andrew Sullivan seems to have been moved by it. Yeah.. Voila.. It's right there in my face.. But this time there was something new about it. I thought I saw a tongue sticking out from behind the lollipops! Most probably it was the working of my insulted brain which in turn intoxicated my imagination. I rubbed my eyes, looked back again.. still nothing changed.. There is the stupid ad, the lollipops, the flies and the tongue!

Sandmonkey has said enough about this, that I need say no more. Although in his post he has reached an awkward conclusion assuming that hijabi females themselves are the ones responsible for this stupid campaign! (Why?.. No clue.) Wish such a disgusting ad would have stayed at home.. but uhuh.. that's just one of the disadvantages of Globalization.. Things cannot be kept at home for too long! Now, the whole world can see the latest inventions of the Egyptian mind! That's how Egyptians use the evil West's modern technology.. precisely, as manifest in Photoshop! See? Who on earth could have thought of this but us? It still is creative, if you can somehow bring yourself to take out the "sick" aspect of it.

Let's cast all that aside now, and please bear to look at this thing (sorry) from a fresh angle.. an Egyptian one as well.

I don't believe hijab propagandists have grown that desperate while seeking to influence more girls to wear hijab, knowing that almost 80% of Egyptian females today are hijab-wearers. What's freaking me out about this ad, though, is its indirect encouragement to sexual harassers!

Seeing this ad from a boy's eyes, the message is totally reversed from a presumably "religious", "pious", or "moral" cause, to an implication that sexual harassment is the norm, and that whoever dislikes it should make this clear by dropping down a veil over her head.. so as to say, become marked. You guys are thus being encouraged to direct your sexual advancements towards those who do not hold this mark.. the X.

Mind you.. How come we see no ads, stickers, flyers, posters or the like, telling guys to back off? or reminding them of the punishment of a sexual harasser in the afterlife? The doors of hell seem to be wide open exclusively to females!.. and in today's Egypt those females are defined as those who do not cover their hair! On the other hand, though, nothing whatsoever is said about male sexual harassers. Sometimes I even imagine that they are ready to place a reward for those who harass females down the streets or means of public transportation! And the message that is being transmitted all the time sounds like "Girls are asking for it. Girls deserve it. Girls are the source of evil. Girls are temptation. Girls are the ones who push you to sin, and if you give in to their temptation you are just a poor fellow, and it is totally human, and God will forgive you for being weak. But she.. she will burn in eternal hell."

I can't believe I'm about to do this.. But let me play a devil's advocate for a while.

Suppose that girls are asking to be harassed.. Supposed that they enjoy your sneaky hand exploring their bodies.. Suppose they are just pretending to be offended while in secret that is what they are seeking after.. And suppose that you are merely answering their call. Why don't you count your sister among them? Why don't you count your wife among them? Why don't you count your daughter among them? Are they immune? Or.. the question I'd better ask is.. Are they marked as untouchables?

Here it is. In a man's world you can not place any restrictions on men. You can not ask them to be moral, religious, God-fearing.. or even human. Most of them will be delighted by the thought of being considered as insects, as long as they are allowed to roam freely and indulge in every low desire. "So what? Call me an insect.. Fine by me. But let those lollipops be prepared for my adventures. Let them know that they can never hope to get rid of my jaws and my stinky tongue. Let them surrender to my rules."

Islamist Fundamentalists exploit this patriarchal rot seeking their own advantages. They are other insects of another kind, feeding on social fungus. For them, reforming manners and calling people to abide by high morals means their distinction. What will they feed on when there is no more rot? While the status-quo is so full of advantages.. that's their ultimate playground. That's why they can exercise their influence at full length. Patriarchs will appreciate this license to sin, while in return they will offer huge support to those fundamentalists.. after all, they are the ones in power.. they control society.. and those fellow insects will help them to gain more control.

Girls in this position have no choice. They are not doers, and they are brought up to believe that they can never aspire to be doers. They are the done-by. You either accept the marking system (the veil) or you are exposed to waves of criticism and rebuke for being the primary source of evil on earth. You can not break this affiliation between patriarchy and islamic fundamentalism.. it is a match made in heaven!.. and you are too weak to dare question their values.

But wait a minute.. Your submission is not solving anything.. not even for you. On the contrary.. it is making things much worse. By accepting to play the role of the lollipop, you are in fact declaring the death of humanity. You are the one building Candyland with your own hands. And you're building it for insects to enjoy! In Candyland, there are only lollipops and flies.. Flies are the living organisms, they rule.. lollipops are merely inanimate objects. Wrapped or unwrapped, they still are the same. Insects will consume you one way or another.

Believe it or not.. you can stop all this! You have the power within you to decide and choose, because you are still a human being. So, you can either choose to stay as such and change your society to better, inspiring them to stick on to their humanity, and refusing to be exploited in such a way.. or.. you can go ahead and surrender.. go with the flow.. be the lollipop and lose any hope in becoming a human being once more. It all lies within your hands.
"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