Gender equality, misunderstood

I’m living in a country at the far north-eastern corner of Africa, called Egypt. we are a mix of cultures. we’re Pharaohs, Africans, Arabs, Christians and Muslims; all in one.

One of the hot topics you would see Egyptians talking about a lot recently on Facebook and twitter is sexual harassment.

Like 30 years ago, sexual harassment wasn’t something with any real existence in the Egyptian community. the problem started to develop during the last 30 years for some reason, but since the revolution in the country in 2011, people started to talk openly about this issue.

Women who get sexually harassed verbally or physically are posting their stories online daily and each post gets shared thousands of times, but a common thing between all these stories is that these women were blaming men who were walking around for not helping them while they were getting sexually harassed.

In their stories, these women don’t usually blame other women walking around for not helping them, but they always blame men. this was an interesting observation found by another Egyptian woman called Menna (Arabic).

Menna in her Facebook post blames women who claim to be independent and equal to men, for being so dependent on men when they were getting harassed. Menna says, this contradicts with what these women claim, and they should depend only on themselves and expect no help from society, and specially men.

I like Menna’s observation still I see there’s something wrong with her conclusion. the fact that a woman is independent and as equal to men shouldn’t conflict with the basic idea that we’re as humans are not perfect. sometimes we need help from others. and as humans we should always do our best to help those who are in urgent need for help.

These women who asked for help while they were getting harassed shouldn’t think what they did was wrong. asking for help doesn’t mean that they’re weak or not equal to men. it’s their right to ask for help.

I would blame some of the Egyptian feminists who try to always demonize men by their misunderstanding of the real meaning of gender equality, for delivering that message to men (who just chose to watch while those women were getting harassed) and to women (who just become confused about their relation with men).

Gender equality isn’t about men vs women as some men and women think. it’s about giving men and women the same rights, same opportunities and same responsibilities, to be able to collaborate in a healthy environment that recognize great work more than gender.

Let’s try not to build walls and unnecessary tension depending on our misunderstanding, and let’s just focus on building on the real meaning of the word “equality”.

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