‘Marriage is a corrupted social system’. This is one of many statements I used to hear in my community when I was a little girl. Same like ‘Men are selfish’, and ‘Boys shouldn’t cry’. Deciding to write my novel on the different sorts of oppression and gender inequality females face in Egypt, my husband asked me to consider writing another novel about men. “Men are oppressed too, believe it or not” he declared.
Never had I thought before this confession how the community, the culture, the beliefs and misconceptions all together oppress men too. Our conversation went on and he explained how men are not allowed to express their emotions because they are ‘men’ and how they would be considered weak if they cry. How they are forced to work from the moment they graduate or else they would be considered failures, unlike women who have the privilege to decide whether to work or stay at home. How they have to work all their lives to be considered successful, not being allowed to take career breaks at any given stage of their lives. How husbands in eastern communities are in charge of all familial expenses while women have the right to keep their money for themselves. How many women overcharge their husbands with materialistic requests and demands leaving them with little pennies for themselves. And how many working wives refuse to contribute and help at home believing that men should handle all expenses or else they won’t be real ‘men’.
My husband’s bitter voice filled me with compassion. For the next days I replayed his words and his complaints. I comprehended that not only women in my community are oppressed, men too. And to end this oppression, from my perspective, we need to reexamine our beliefs and replace our misconceptions with new thoughts relevant to this current era. I no longer wonder why divorce became so common, unlike the past decades. Life is tough and men need more empathy, more consideration and more appreciation.