Let me, first of all, recall a quote that aspires me to keep exploring the transformation of gender roles in Egypt: “If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.” – Margaret Thatcher
One may assume that this article is hoping to offer a hasty generalized critique of Egyptian men. Yet, this commentary is only hopeful to portray some societal dynamics transforming gender roles in Egypt, demonstrating the crisis of masculinity in our beloved country.
No one can deny our ascribed status: sex affects our access to life chances due to clear and net biological differences between men and women. Nevertheless, one shall contrast these differences while examining deeply the discrepancy between strength and endurance. On one hand, strength can be attributed to physical and muscular assets, while endurance, on the other hand, is linked to one’s ability to endure an unpleasant stimuli without giving way. It is in other words, the ability to maximize power time regardless of the complexity of a situation. This is the difference, in my very humble point of view, between males and females. Eve has a great level of endurance, while Adam has a significant extent of strength.
Egypt illustrates features of a patriarchal system, whereby there is fundamental division between men and women in terms of access to life chances such as education and employment. In that sense, men are considered to be primary breadwinners while women are primarily housewives and secondarily breadwinners, regardless of one’s abilities and competencies.
This is why, literature, namely, Naguib Mahfouz’s Cairo Triology, presented the Patriarch Sayed Ahmed AbdelGawad, aka as “Si Sayed”. A life of double standards: Sayed Ahmed AbdelGawad, being blissful and amusing with his mistresses, while being unpleasant and tyrannical with his own family. Nevertheless, Amina, his wife, serves him, with extreme gratitude and sincerity. It is this point in time, where a process of differential socialization occurred. In other words, the patriarchal Egypt mothered and pampered men metamorphosing them into lazy, idle and un-ambitious creatures. This is the beginning of the crisis of masculinity. This is why, a woman transformed into being passionate, ambitious and power-hungry person.
This led to the formation of a new culture of femininity called assertive. In that sense, women decided to break free from conventional gender females’ roles utterly setting themselves apart for their males counterparts. Here we see a decline in the hyper-masculine figure. Instead, he becomes rather a subordinate male figure; whereby he exhibits qualities of weakness vis-à-vis the assertive female.
In that sense, one could notice a trend of matrifocal families in Egypt. It is a family orienting around the mother and her children, and the father is a marginalized male figure, as children became dependents on their hardworking mother.
Saying so, one could await the end of the Egyptian patriarchy. May we live until we see that day, so here is to all strong women, may we meet them, may we be them and may we raise them.