By: Nayra Ismail
As women fighting for physical and equal rights filled the streets of New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington DC, and even the streets of Paris, London and Melbourne last Saturday, they adopted #NastyWoman to express who they are and what they stand for.
Having been actively following the elections closely on social media, I was outraged when I heard that American President Trump took down the equal women’s rights page from the White House Website along with a number of other pages including the Abortion Laws page.
I guess it must have sparked something in me as well because I started to think about what it feels like to be a “Nasty” woman in Egypt; it is a tough job, a constant battle of fighting for equal rights, mutual respect, and similar opportunities as your male counterparts, every minute of every day.
I’m one of these women. I was born and spent half of my life here, and like many other Egyptians, I still learned how to stand up for myself and fight for everything I deserve, regardless of how others might view it.
I was brought up by my mother and grandmother, both strong, brave, independent “Nasty Women” who taught me to always speak out against any injustice; whether it’s the way a friend treats me or what I deserve to get in a relationship.
It is by their inspiration and that of a few of my amazing girlfriends that I continue to fight my way through the heartache of living in a misogynistic community, convinced that men are better and more efficient than women, for some reason.
The struggles us “Nasty women” face in Egypt are abundant and incessant.
While sexual harassment stands, and grows, as a social pandemic, women are still blamed for “dressing provocatively”. Another big struggle an Egyptian woman faces comes when choosing to get a divorce and dealing with how most people look down upon her. Same goes for prioritizing her career, not getting married before a certain age, and endless other decisions that don’t conform to “the conventional life”.
At an early age, our culture instills in us that boys are stronger, and more dominant than girls, that they get more rights than them. All the body shaming, discrimination, and stupid misogynistic jokes that have been passed on through generations have a huge impact on our everyday life. It teaches young boys that it’s okay to fool around because he’s the man and he gets the final say in everything.
These misogynistic views remain and affect women’s opportunities at the workplace where male prejudice prefers they stay at home and raise the kids, because “that’s what you’re created for!”
All I have tell you beautiful, “Nasty” women out there is to hold on, and keep fighting your battles every day no matter how small, because remember, you do it by yourself, for yourself!