It can be difficult for an interested outsider to find a truly inside perspective on a country, especially one as controversial as the Arabic Republic of Egypt. Bloggers are on the forefront of change in that arena, however, writing honestly about what’s really happening in countries where traditional media may be carefully controlled by the government. The author of the blog “I Wanna Get Married,” now also a book and a TV series, is one such voice illustrating the everyday trials of an upper-middle class Egyptian woman in search of a husband.
A friend on Facebook recently put me onto this article, more on the academic side than my usual blogging style, that describes the so-called “marriage crisis” from the inside out.
“What distinguishes this latest round of marriage crisis debate is its coincidence with the popularity of ‘Ayiza Atgawwiz, a voice that claims to speak on behalf of single women. In her blog profile, Abdel Aal identified herself as one of Egypt’s 15 million single women between the ages of 25 to 35. Though she does not reveal how she obtained this improbable number, she does something far more powerful and provocative than add a statistic to the hubbub. She coopts the slur “spinster” and proclaims herself a spokesperson for this constituency. In doing so, Abdel Aal exposes the implicit threat concealed within the discussion of the marriage crisis affecting men: the fate of a nation full of unwed women in a society where marriage is the only legitimate outlet for sexual activity, particularly for women. As throughout the twentieth century, the press debates on the marriage crisis have focused overwhelmingly on bachelors and their reasons for not marrying. Rather than ask women why they are not marrying, analysts have assumed that they must be the main reason for men’s abstention from marriage and thus a persistent obstacle to the course of nature. These female thirty-somethings are said to be materialistic, and too career-oriented, educated or “liberated” to make proper wives, not because they wish it so, but because men could not possibly choose them as partners. A single woman like Abdel Aal, who has made a career of explaining why she is not married, reverses the gender roles that maintain the social order. If throngs of single and not-so-young women like her are actively resisting marriage, they may be more subversive to the nation than the bachelors and their supposedly inadequate pool of potential brides.”
It’s a bit long, but if you’re interested in what the feminist movement looks like in Egypt these days, not to mention the marriage crisis, this is a good place to start!