Marriage is a very big deal in this country and across the Middle East. Many a single woman in her late 20’s will experience increasing pressure to fulfil what for many is the reason why she has been put on this planet: being a wife and mother. And although marriage is considered such a milestone these people can make it very difficult for themselves to reach it. Firstly, a man has to be able to provide for his wife and future family. That means that a potential partner for a woman needs to have a decent job, enough (read: plenty) of money and -moHim gedan, gedan, very very important- a residence of his own or at least to be very able to afford one. This, you can imagine, forms a problem for the vast majority of Egyptians even if they have a decent job and a bit of spare cash. In the event of a wedding the man, his family, is obliged to pay for everything. The custom is that the woman is offered a lot of gold jewellery, which functions as a sort of bond in the case of a divorce. Women are expected to marry relatively young -early to mid 20’s- in order to leave plenty of time to create some offspring. Men are often forced to marry at a later age to allow plenty of time to beg, borrow or steal plenty of fluus for a decent wedding celebration, a decent house and lots of shiny, shiny gold. I have heard of a few occasions where a guy, educated and with a decent job was not allowed to marry the partner of his choice because of a so-called lack of funds (no own flat).
Another issue is that the Middle East doesn’t do dating so it often happens that couples don’t really know each other when they engage themselves to get married. Now, I have to tell you about my new best friend The Helms, who I randomly met like you only randomly meet people in Egypt. He is highly entertaining and has been incredibly kind and helpful. He has moved heaven and earth to get me some kif in a time of great scarcity – the whole country has been complaining for months- and tighter controls while he has given up on the beloved leaf quite some time ago. I am well impressed. Now, The Helms has an old friend in his late twenties, who just got divorced. He met his ex-wife at college, exchanged pleasantries for a few weeks and gave up on it as for many a rich kid there are loads of other flowers to smell. Years later he felt the need to settle down and thought of her as ‘she’d always seemed decent’. He got highly disappointed. A big reason was that they actually didn’t know each other.
A(n Egyptian) friend of a sister Dutchie friend is in her late 20’s, single and gay. She’s been able to keep it off from quite some time but there might come a time when she has to give in to the pressure, marry and live a life with someone who she’s unlikely to love with all her heart. O, what a joy…
Love and marriage is considered important and complicated all over the world. The pressure and obstacles in Masr however seem unbearable. Across the world people dream about and pay tribute to true love, the romantic union, while the truth in most cases is much more sobering. In Egypt marriage seems more like a business transaction rather then a union in love. A woman is not truly respected or even safe if she can’t rely on the financial and social protection of a husband. It is not a man’s character, his good heart or his hot looks that makes him a suitable partner. His status and how he can provide is considered far more important
Why not make the union worth all that effort, blood, sweat, tears and gold and get to know your future bride properly. Why not abolish all the social and financial obligations around it all together. Let people date before they get married. If you want to preserve yourself for ‘the one’ that’s fine. But if there wasn’t such a stigma on it if people (read women) don’t do so and one were actually allowed to fool around a bit it would make a world of difference to the sexual repressive state of this country and Egyptian men would behave less like horny f*ckwits harassing everything that hasn’t got a dick. The women of Egypt and foreigners alike would be o so grateful.