Falafel in my head is the only english category on this blog. It´s a critical, yet love filled, feminine voice from a woman who has egyptian roots and is viennese by living.
There is this term in arabic I never liked or understood. "3anes" is the word and it is an insult to unmarried women over the age of 30. Once you have reached that age as a woman in an arabic country and still are single, you girl better go and burry yourself far away in a desert and pretend to be dead. That would be a nicer idea than the judgemental sorroundings which will be haunting you step by step- till you actually get married. Countless wishes and questions on events from elderly women 'When will Allah send you Mr. Right?' or people looking at you as if you were an injured dog on the street. Their suggestion is to 'take the first best man, before it is too late'. And the worst part about it is: It comes from your family before it comes from strangers.
This is where we stand now and have stood for a long time, but how did it start?
This is where we stand now and have stood for a long time, but how did it start? I think it started when we set huge differences in the way we raise girls and boys. It is okay for boys to try different stuff out in arabic countries, to 'make mistakes', chase after girls on the streets 'because they are dressed in a certain way' and facing no consequences for it, having several girlfriends at the same time and meanwhile watching their sisters being at home, sticking to certain rules, not allowed to do certain things, otherwise they would put a 'bad reputation' on the whole family. So somehow the whole honor of the complete family is on young girls´ shoulders, who have to help at home, go to school, be prepared to be a good future wife, beautiful, thin, amazing cook, smart and not doing any mistake, that can lead to dishonor to the family. My mom´s generation grew up like that and the generations before did as well.
But what happens when these kids grow up? We have the answers to that now:
Many educated, smart, well read, beautiful, ambitious young women (yea, you are hella young with 30) in Egypt are single. Why? Because the men who were supposed to grow up becoming their partners, are still children when it comes to actions and open minded thinking. They have weak personalities, let their moms decide pretty much everything in their lives, don´t know what they want yet, try to put you down, because you are a "too strong" woman. How can a woman be too strong? What made us "that strong" and since when is being strong something bad? What is it that bothers the haters of women being finally empowered that much? That we realized getting married is not the key to happiness and became independent?
That we realized how true happiness feels like, once you love and develop yourself and stay true to yourself and who you really are? Loving yourself and knowing what you want makes you strong, indeed. And staying strong it is, that will attract the right person to you. A person that is equally strong in his mind, so your strength can grow together and both of you can hold onto each other instead of the tired trial of changing a person. And if persons can´t deal with that, Habibty, then they are the weak, not you. We didn´t necessarily choose to be strong - we have to be honest on that - we had to be, because there was no one else who was, so we became the men we wanted to marry. Today almost no educated girl in egypt marrys because she needs money or wants to settle down before reaching a certain age. We have worked hard for our independency and we earned it so much! It is not our fault that the same generation of men are stuck in puberty till the mid thirties. Of course not all of them, but the majority has very weird ideas when it comes to "how their future wife" has to be. She has to dress in a certain way, talk, walk, think and completely be in a "certain" way, "because she is a woman". By that they mostly mean that he has more rights than you, "because he is a man". And they use this explaination for every crap they do and have no apology for: "I am a man."
"Iam a man, so I am allowed to cheat on you."
"Iam a man, so I am allowed to hit you."
"Iam a man, so I am allowed to comment the way you dress."
..and the list is endless...
"I am a Man and i will stick to the word i gave you."
"I am a man and my hands will only touch you, to let you know how much I love every inch of you."
"I am a man and i have to respect what you are wearing, WHATEVER IT IS."
What proves that is the very high divorce rate. Once an elderly woman asked me "What is wrong with your generation that all of you women are divorced? Women of my generation stayed at home no matter what." And i said to her:"Because the women of my generation don´t let a man hit them twice. Because the women of my generation have the balls to walk away once there is nothing left to stay for. A man who hits you today is a man who will hit your kids tomorrow and hit you again the day after. It is much easier to stay, than to leave as a woman, in an arabic country, with kids."
It is actually my generation who started talking about these problems in public without being ashamed of being insulted, sexually harrassed, unmarried, or female. We are breaking tabus, reading, studying our rights and fighting for the following generations of badass women. I know, not every man can hold track with that but the grown ones do.
Illusstraion: Kathrin Honesta