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19twentythree | December 9, 2017

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Unschakled

 We just had a revolution the whole region boasts about; the world looks at us and sees peaceful people fighting for democracy, for liberty and for human rights.

Now you would also think that those people who died to liberate themselves from an authoritarian regime might also want to liberate themselves from the shackles confining our brains to think and act in certain ways dictated by ancestors and traditions. You would think that, in the process of seeking democratization, the society would maybe seek liberation from within; liberation from a collectively submissive ideology.

Nothing could be further from the truth, sadly.

Instead, Egyptian women today find themselves squeezed between having to yield to patriarchal values all the while keeping up with the burdens of being a modern woman.

The regime may have arguably fallen, the world may have hailed us, but the patriarchal, sexist, chauvinistic culture that allows for no freedom of thought, let alone speech, is apparently here to stay.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my people, I love my country and I am the cheesiest, least logical and most fanatical patriot there is. But even I couldn’t turn a blind eye on the miserably patriarchal, sex-obsessed culture that dominates many of us. I couldn’t turn a blind eye to the culture that raises us to be Muslims and Christians without so much as allowing us to question why. I am notoriously argumentative — seriously, my husband could write books on my God-given talents of debating just about everything. It is not that I like to talk, although I do, but I find it excruciatingly painful to take anything as fact. Although I am not an anesthetist, to me, anything is negotiable and arguable, from the existence of God to whether oranges are really good for you. I cannot swallow deterministic views and I definitely find it annoyingly dull to put my mind in hibernation mode and seek answers to questions I should be busting my brains off researching and contemplating, from traditions, social norms or religious scholars.

I do not take anything for granted, starting with why I believe I shouldn’t have been involved in picking my engagement ring — even though every Egyptian mother will disagree with me — and all the way to my views on veil.

This isn’t a blog about religion or politics, but it is a blog about being a woman in a not so revolutionary-minded Egypt. It is about my oh-so-many predicaments when my mind is simply unable to take things as is and not question them. It is a blog about the daily hardships, trials and tribulations us, women, go through while trying to pull off a modern woman persona who still has to answer to traditions and norms of a largely patriarchal, very traditional society. It is a blog about all women who have to work from 9am to 5pm before hosting a fondue night for their friends and then take care of all the housework, simply because that’s what women in the Middle East do. It is about how extremely grateful I am to have a husband who helps with the dishes and the cooking although it should really be the norm. It is about how I happen to love everything that is Egyptian but still refuse to accept the relationship dynamics set out by society.

This is a blog about women who, like me, are juggling between a career, a husband, a PhD, a family, a social life and looking relatively good, all the while respecting some ridiculously outdated traditions and culture of ours. Did I mention I have a dog?

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