Losing My Feminity

BASMA ELGABRY

Worldwide, every young girl dreams of someday having everything that will bring happiness and satisfaction to her life. In my (Egyptian) society, this is considered only a wish. Even a myth, as an Egyptian girl, my community fights and kills anyone who advocates for femininity or feminism. In other words sometimes I feel like I can’t be a woman. My society pushes every girl to lose herself, her dreams, her point of view, and her femininity.

For example, a married woman here in Egypt has a great deal of responsibilities. She must raise her children, take care of her husband, clean and maintain the home, and remain closely connected with their relatives. It’s a lot to handle alone, but at the end of the day no one is there to take care of this woman. Who will take care of her and assist her with her needs? Not a single soul. Even she neglects to care about herself. Women here tend to neglect their own needs and rights in order to satisfy everyone else’s when it comes to family. These women tend to neglect their femininity, appearances, and their health. In doing so, they spend the majority of their time and energy catering to the needs of her family. It’s not uncommon to see a thirty-year-old woman who physically appears as if she is in her fifties due to stress and hard work. I was raised in a single parent home. My mother was divorced. I remember watching my mother’s role shift as a result of the divorce. All of a sudden she was the head of the household. Some might say that she became the man of the house, as she soon became the father and mother for me and my two older sisters, which was a very hard thing to be. My mother ignored her health and neglected herself as a result of trying to get over the problems that our family faced.

In my society, people tend to blame women for just about everything that goes wrong. Women are blamed for being single, barren, not giving a birth to males, and for failed marriages. When women become widows, they are taunted and often referred to as jinxes. Even when women are harassed, they are blamed for causing the harassment. A woman who neglects her femininity is often criticized by everyone who knows her. The public belittles her, and even her husband takes her through various types of abuse (verbal, mental, emotional), threatening to leave her for another woman if she doesn’t take better care of her overall appearance. The pressure of society tends to encourage husbands to react in such a manner towards their wives.

It is unfair for society to expect women here to handle so much responsibility and take care of themselves, especially when these women dealing with such limited resources. Women should not be expected to keep it all together, remain in a good mood, and smile every day, all while overworking themselves. These women rarely have enough time to devote to themselves over the course of a day. We are not machines, but we are human beings. Society has got to stop placing these types of demands on women because it brings about a great deal of stress in addition to the stress that they already have to deal with.

A simple reminder… Women do not mind giving, but at time, they too need a break, love, and care. Maybe you feel that I’m being biased because I’m a woman, but that’s not the case. It doesn’t matter if a woman is single or married, in her twenties or sixties, employed or unemployed. The only thing that matters is if she is happy. A happy Egyptian woman can perform miracles, I guarantee that.

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