Dominance of Arab masculinity must be challenged
Masculinity in the Arab world is a dominant phenomenon that is falsely overrated in society. We tend to associate power with masculinity; unnecessarily strengthening and privileging males at the expense of females. Power today no longer comes in the shape of a hardcore masculine machine that requires considerable physical effort — it has emerged as a software application driven by innovation and technology, in which physical masculine power is superfluous.
Beyond its gender definition, masculinity is an Arab cultural phenomenon created and advocated for by Arab males in order to acquire substantial privileges. For centuries, Arab males have been working on optimizing their natural masculinity, leaving our females to submit to the role of being an inferior gender in our society. Moreover, females eventually tend to adhere to this cultural trait and raise their children with the same understanding.
Many feminists are willing to comply with the concept of masculine superiority as long as it includes an element of decency in dealing with women. However, our reality shows that, when females over-empower their male partners and are forced into the role of followers, the situation can easily and unconsciously evolve into one that involves harsh male attitudes and distressed females. The role of family caretaker that many Arab women find comfortable may eventually turn into a heavy burden that places them squarely in a position as a blind follower.
Many successful Arab marriages are built upon a clear division of family responsibilities: Husbands are responsible for meeting their families’ financial needs and wives are the caretakers of homes and children
Many Arab females tend to rely on their male spouses, believing that their partners are better able to handle most of life’s challenges. However, the only element of truth in this proposition is that we males have designed our work dynamics to accommodate us better than they do our female partners. This situation could be easily altered and made more suitable to both genders by offering women a decent method to commute, work and socialize — without being exposed to any male pressure or abuse.
Many successful Arab marriages are built upon a clear division of family responsibilities: Husbands are responsible for meeting their families’ financial needs and wives are the caretakers of homes and children. However, dividing marital responsibilities means that we are not capitalizing on both partners’ utmost competences, either in bringing up children or in securing earnings. In fact, alternating between female and male duties will certainly give children a better childhood, as well as offer the family more financial security.
In my country, Egypt, women who work outside of the home have to live with the natural challenges of their work, along with confronting many indecent attitudes in the workplace and, eventually, be fully responsible for running their households and raising their children. In many poor neighborhoods, the men tend to rely on their wives’ incomes, spending their days and nights at coffee shops. Nonetheless, the men in these neighborhoods still enjoy a clearly superior status over their female spouses, who value their “masculine” protection against wide exposure to male harassment.
God created Adam and Eve, who shared equal life responsibilities — what has happened since then is the evolution of diversified cultures that have empowered the male over the female due to the need for physical power, which was required centuries ago. Nowadays we refuse to recognize the obvious possibility of alternating “male” and “female” duties, i.e., career women and husbands who take care of the house and children.
The over-empowerment of men and the undermining of women’s role in our society is a clear defect that negatively affects both genders and hinders social progress. Many females around the world have fought for their rights, not only by advocating but also, more prominently, by proving themselves in various places of work, demonstrating that they can do the same jobs as men and even do them better. Men will not give up their cultural superiority voluntarily; Arab women must gently challenge them in order to live more fruitful and meaningful lives.
- Mohammed Nosseir, a liberal politician from Egypt, is a strong advocate of political participation and economic freedom. Twitter: @MohammedNosseir