Sunday October 15, 2017
Written By: Farah Desouki
The problem with gender inequality is once you understand and notice it, it becomes impossible to ignore. This realization leaves you angry at society. As you hear it in everyday conversations with your parents, relatives, and friends, your anger escalates. You realize that the inequality and stereotypes were drilled into your head as well, since you were a little girl wearing pink clothes and playing with Barbie dolls. My anger at society led me to this conclusion; If all women were feminists and if all feminists were taking actions, fighting for women’s basic rights, and educating people about the importance of gender equality, we’ll achieve it, and won’t need to be fighting anymore.
However, we should not always blame society or men for gender inequality. Women are to blame too. Here are 3 reasons why I believe women are also contributing to the problem:
1 – We Put Ourselves Second (Way Too Much):
Being considerate to the others’ interests and needs is very thoughtful, but that doesn’t mean that in caring for others, people should neglect their own interests and needs. A typical Egyptian grandma lesson is that a girl needs to accept her situation, deal with it, and be tough for her family and husband and work the relationship. Otherwise, she’s blamed for wrecking the house, even if that house is already wrecked.
A woman needs to know her limit and when to say enough is enough. She needs to recognize the border between compromising in a healthy relationship and being controlled in an abusive one. Some women were taught that there is no limit for their compromises, and I’m torn between blaming them and feeling sorry for them. I’ve come across a conversation on Instagram, credits to @activismwithgrace, which both saddened and astonished me.
In the conversation, a woman was criticizing Angelina Jolie’s decision to get a double mastectomy to prevent the onset of breast cancer because. According to the woman, pleasing her husband was more important than saving her life. I couldn’t rationalize the logic behind these comments that degraded half of the population and prioritized women’s beauty and their desirability to men at the expense of their own lives! Unfortunately, that’s how marriage is viewed by some people; not as a loving partnership and companionship, but by giving up one’s life for the sake of the other. I can even relate to my very own mother when she, without much thought, eats leftovers, and cooks fresh food for us. And I find myself thinking that even if I’m going to be called selfish for putting myself first, I want to be my own priority.
2 – Stereotypical Expectations:
Countless times we’ve expected the guy to pay on a date. Countless times we’ve said, “Ladies first.” Countless times we stood first in line at Starbucks because a man had those so-called ‘manners’ to allow us to. Well, I’m sorry to spoil it for you ladies, but you have to let go of this way of thinking if you believe you’re a man’s equal, and want to be treated as such. Otherwise, be that girl who’s too delicate to open doors for herself. Enjoy a man who treats you on dates because you probably earn less, or because after years of watching fairytales, where the prince saves the princess and they live happily ever after, you want a man to look after you.
These behaviors feed men’s egos. They make them believe they’re superior to women, and give them the impression that women need to be looked after and taken care of. This simply translates in their minds to: “Women are weaker than us.”! At first, the man takes care of you and “keeps you safe”. But sometimes too much caring develops into an unhealthy controlling relationship, and by default you’re having someone else making the decisions for you.
3 – The Marriage Norms:
When a man proposes, he has to buy the engagement ring, provides the house and pays the dowry. He buys gifts and is expected to pay for whatever his future father in-law demands of him, while using the famous Arabic movie quote, “That’s my daughter’s worth.” Well, I hope I’m not the only one mentally translating this statement to “that’s my daughter’s price.” There is a clear message sent to the prospective suitors, “You guys can pay all that and the prize is YOU CAN CONTROL HER FOR LIFE!!!”
I personally know girls who won’t give up any of that for the sake of equality they’re expecting. And I know a lot other girls who don’t even care to achieve it. Not to mention that many wives prefer not to work as long as their husbands provide them with food, clothes and vacations. Some even think that this is part of what being a man is. I really don’t understand how these women think. But if someone is paying for my entire expenses, why should I be sad that I have no freedom, or that my life decisions aren’t done by me when I’m not even paying for that life.
Gender equality should work both ways, and feminism is about meeting halfway. So, let’s pay for our own expenses. Let’s make the ring a gift not an obligation. Let’s wait for our turn at Starbucks (tough I know). Let’s be our very first priority and then expect to be of equal importance and treated as such.
Farah Desouky is a 17 years old student. The 12th grader studies at Maadi Narmar School in Cairo. A feminist at heart, Farah combines her passion in writing and women’s issues to advocate for her cause.
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