From the Diary of a Sinister Egyptian Spinster

Back in March 2008, Eman Hashim wrote a post [Ar] questioning why do Muslim Egyptian women need a “wakeel” – a man who has to sign her off to her husband. Let me give you a bit more insight here: unlike western cultures where the father gives away the bride as a jest of his approval and blessing, in Islam the marriage is “flawed” if the father, or the uncle if the father is deceased, has to speak on the bride's behalf through out all the paperwork and marriage procedures. Many sheikhs frown upon the thought of a girl – especially one who has never been married before and who is supposedly a virgin – marrying herself away.

In her not-so-conventional post, Eman wonders:

“Why does a woman in Egypt need to assign a man to give her away? Why do women have to go from one man's to another man's custody? I want to face my future husband as we exchange vows … I need to look into his eyes and listen to him … I want him to listen to me promise to care for him like a good Muslim wife … why do I need anyone on my behalf?

In May 2008, another daring post hit another deeply rooted tradition:

“I want to – God willing – move out … yes I want to leave my parents and live on my own … alone.”

Eman lists the contradictory – mainly opposing and discouraging responses – from people saying:

“What do you mean? Why leave your mom? How could a girl live alone? How could a girl live without a man? One day you will regret leaving your family; you would want to turn back time to spend just one day with them. Yeah .. this is what we learnt from the West! Why don't you become independent in your room? What about suitors and potential husbands?”

Of course, most people failed to understand Eman's logic about maturity, independence, and leaving the nest.

On May 24, 2008 Eman wrote about a bundle of female ailments in Egypt:

“Do you remember the issues of assigning a man to marry you away? Do you remember the living independently issue? Ok .. have you heard of a woman's right to have the power of divorcing herself? Her right to end her marriage in court by giving her husband back anything he gave her and waiving her right for alimony? Does anyone know that there is a law that allows the woman to get a divorce and retain all her financial rights in case her husband gets a second wife? There is also another law that allows the wife to travel without getting the consent of he husband. Do you recall women demanding for their right to key and effective positions as ministers, judges, and other key positions in the state?”

Eman wished to live to see the day when women understood those rights, used them, and made the rest of their rights a reality.

“Of course such demands and the likes infuriate many men and women; those who see them against the nature of women or the nature of the relationship between men and women. Others denied them on the account of religion and healthy family ties. They all say that those are not the real issues of women in Egypt but when you ask them to phrase “the real issues”, they tell you that a woman's challenging role lies in raising a generation of good Muslim boys and girls – as though it does not need a free mature mind and spirit to fulfill that role.”

Eman calls their bluff :

“They object only because of the strength and determination behind my words. The thought of a woman who has a choice and who knows it drives them crazy …. what really matters to me as a person and what I will defend ferociously is “my belief in the right to choose” and the ability to “examine your choices”. I do not care whether you give yourself away, move out, divorce a miserable man, stay in a miserable marriage, travel against your husband's will, stay at home, or get a life … as long as you thought about your options and made your choice … I besiege you … think and choose what you truly want … you do not owe anyone anything.”

Eman then quoted some of proverbs and legacy of quotes and sayings to support how unfair our mothers and our society has been to us:

“Do not open the girls’ eyes” – This is a saying the denotes preserving a girl's innocence as if knowledge and experience will corrupt her!

“Men and women were made for one another … you are a sinister spinster” – Meaning get married to any man as long as he could provide for you or else you will bear the stigma of being a spinster.

“All men are kids” – This particular line is the ideal hanger for any mistake or offense.

“You will not change them” – Referring to men as though your only option is accepting your fate as an Egyptian girl in a backward society.

“Divorce is not an option” – Says who?

“Court divorce is for those women … you know who!” – Bad girls!

“Better a man's shadow than that of a wall.” – Just grab any man!

“Those are just a few examples of how girls are mentally oppressed and denied their basic right to choose,” concluded Eman.


  • Dina

    ya 7asra 3aleina!

    Unfortunately, in Egypt we are a few light years away from appreciating female independence. I’ve wanted to move out since I graduated from university, but I knew that if I did, my parents would literally disown me, and they would be humiliated forever, especially since we live in a fairly populated area where our neighbours are already watching my every move and commenting on everything. My mother is awfully (and narow-mindedly) religious, and my father is obsessed with getting me married, regardless of “love” which he evidently does not believe in.

    But I’ve finally managed to break free, by travelling. Building my very own life now, and can’t say that I regret it. Sure, I miss my parents, my friends, my country… but it is well worth it, in my opinion.

  • Good luck Dina .. independence is a great experience and I am sure you will manage well x

  • Samer ***** Muhsen

    You seem to have a very negative outlook on Egyptian men. Some indeed are childish jerks and selfish egotistical fools, but not all. The extended adolescence, the societal emasculation and helplessness that the Egyptian economy and political system enforces do have devastating effects on men’s maturity, self-worth and their ability to relate to women. I guarantee you that this world is much harsher on Egyptian young men whose youth is wasted in utter frustration and despair. Perhaps, you are more acquainted with certain types because they are the ones that women tend to notice. Nonetheless, men tend to have more delicate psyches and they also tend to internalize their pains and frustrations.

    Also, your western-feminist-soaked rhetoric reeks of contempt for Islamic holy law which enshrines male primacy. Incidentally, every culture that has adopted feminism in full force such as Scandinavia, Spain and the Netherlands is collapsing demographically, religiously and morally. In the end Islam will be the sole unchallenged power. To adopt what have brought others to such lows is sheer madness. If those sensitive understanding men are what European women wanted, you would not see those women marrying Arab and Muslim men in such great numbers, leaving their effete countrymen in the dust. A real woman needs a man, and she will take a flawed one who has a sense of his manhood, even a vain one with an ego the size of the Pyramids who will “put her in her place” and make her feel secure and feminine. It is evolutionally Psychology at play which supersedes all the gender-studies’ indoctrination by Jewish and Lesbian radical feminists.

    I am sorry, but English is not my forte!

  • CarpetCaptain

    “Also, your western-feminist-soaked rhetoric reeks of contempt for Islamic holy law which enshrines male primacy”

    If it wasn’t for her lack of acceptance of that “primacy” she would;ve acceped being bare footed ad pregnant in some cairo kitchen.

    You seem to mix wanting to be with a man with needing one to control her. Noone needs anyone for anything but I think its fair to say that we all want someone who adds or complements what we already have or are willing to offer the world.

    I’m not sure what brought the Jew and Lesbians into this discussion but I can state for fact that you’ve affirmed why she doesn’t want to gt traded for 3 goats and a cow (or vice versa if she was hot)

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