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| by Farida Abdel Malek

Fustany Talks: Believing in Equality Within a Sexist Society... Luck or Hard Work?

New to 'Fustany Talks'? This is our latest series of articles where we have real conversations about topics that people are yet to open up about and discuss freely. Each of the Fustany Team members discusses it from their own personal experiences. Follow our #FustanyTalks for the latest content and join the conversation. You can also suggest our next topic here.


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I pride myself these days in being able to say loud and clear that I believe gender is just something you put on your ID. It doesn't define who you are or put any restrictions on how your personality should be. I see people as humans and try as hard as I can to not categorize them under labels, including men and women. So It's hard for me to say that men are this way and women are that way, because just like any human being, some people are this way and some are that way and that's just human nature. However, society has a different view on things which has left me conflicted, confused and in heated arguments with multiple family members who find comfort in society's sad beliefs and standards. 

I believe men and women are the same, as minds, hearts and souls. And so I made it one of my life's missions to resist inside me those societal beliefs that were integrated into our culture. On my first date, I didn't let him pay and I would sometimes pay for dinner, just to pamper my fiancé. I believe he has the right to be a stay at home dad, if he needs a break for a while, and I also believe that just because we're getting married, he and his family shouldn't have to pay for everything, but split things fairly in half...shocker!

I also believe that I should raise my son and daughter equally, with the same curfew, same allowance, same freedom, without compromising any of their safety, and the same rights to pursue whatever career they wish to partake in. Does that mean it's going to be easy? Most definitely not, especially in our society, but I promise myself everyday to try.

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So where does that leave our society? How am I seen as a woman with these beliefs or thoughts, which you'd think would be a given and common sense, but unfortunately tend to shock many people? Surprisingly, I know a lot of men who respect these beliefs, because they realize that I see men as humans too, while others tend to throw all the responsibilities and baggage on their backs the second they hit puberty. 

Of course I find resistance with countless men but I often, also, find opposing views with a few women, who like things traditionally and the way they were brought up. They find comfort in how things are "supposed to be", but they fail to see that things were never and should never have been this way. I also was lucky enough to have seen and grown up around women that showed me at a young age an incredible amount of strength and despite being seen as just a 'woman' by their sick society, have proven that they are capable of so much more than is expected of them. So did I get lucky? Would my beliefs have been completely different if that wasn't the case?

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I think not, because I worked really hard on educating myself and learning about equality and what I believe to be right and fair, despite also having many close examples that showed otherwise. But I still also believe that It was easier for me to fester these thoughts and beliefs and have the chance to practice them as a woman in my circle of family and friends. 

What I mean to say is that it's hard growing up and being fed ideals and beliefs that later you grow up to find sick and ridiculous. And for some people it will come easy to them that it is ridiculously sexist and just doesn't make sense. While for others it will take them more hard work and time to be able to detox their minds from these unfortunate standards and patriarchal thoughts. And despite it being unacceptable, I think we also need to be patient, understanding and forgiving, because not all of us got the opportunity to be exposed to anything different and change can be scary, especially if it's strongly resisted by those around you. So be patient with others, kind with your debates and work hard on yourself before you work hard on others. 

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Tags: Arab women  Women  Women rights  Women empowerment  Fustany talks  Egypt