It’s hard to believe that the Egyptian Revolution occurred almost a year ago. The government, which has been “temporarily” run by Islamist Military Groups, is by no means pro-women’s rights, as has been noted here before. People all over the world saw “the blue bra girl” stripped and beaten on the street; and forcibly subjected to a “virginity test.” Though women’s groups were instrumental in ousting Mubarak a year ago, today they are virtually invisible in the new government, occupying only ten of five hundred seats in Parliament.
All this is not so different from the subjugated role women had under Mubarak – the difference is that now Egypt is on the international stage. For while Egyptian media tends to take the man’s side, international media has carried stories that depict the awful condition Egyptian women are in. Many victims of sexual abuse are counseled by their own mothers to keep quiet or they won’t get married. Some women, unable to stand the silence, commit suicide instead.
The international exposure has helped Egyptian women become braver about protesting. “Changing the patriarchal culture is not so easy, “ says young female activist Mozn Hassan. American women should understand that – especially when dealing with certain segments of the male population, like auto mechanics. Though I was not forced to submit to a virginity test yesterday when I was at the garage that fixes my car, I was treated to a host of sexist jokes and airbrushed nude pictures of women hanging on the wall of the bathroom. And when I asked questions about my car, it was made clear to me, through verbal abuse & shouting, that as a woman, I had no hope of understanding and should just shut up and pay the (inflated for females) bill.
Here’s an example:
Mechanic: why couldn’t you get it push started right away?
Me: because the first guy was scared to roll start the car.
Mechanic: he had no balls.
Me: he had no balls.
Mechanic: probably because his wife has them at home in a jar.
Mechanic: A couple lies sleeping in bed. The wife wakes up the man to have sex because it’s been a while. “We haven’t done it in so long.” The man replies, “Speak for yourself,” and rolls over.
It has become clear to me over the years that the guy has major issues with women, which makes him so keen to put them and me down at every chance possible. Yes, I should find someone new. But it got me to thinking – if even in America, we are still dealing with this kind of patriarchal bullshit, how long will it be for Egypt? Unless they get some momentum, it will be about a hundred years before they even get the privilege of being ripped off by a mechanic – most women in the Middle East aren’t even allowed to drive yet. Guess I should consider myself lucky.