Because of the nature of my work in the tourism sector, I am used to hearing that this or that country has issued a travel warning to its citizens who plan on traveling to Egypt, especially in the aftermath of an attack. Naturally, most warnings address safety and security issues, and some warnings dedicate a section or two to hygiene and harassment. Lately, and because of the increasing number of divorces, custody issues, and domestic violence cases, some countries warn their women from Egyptian men. Yes, they tell them clearly not to get emotionally involved or legally committed to an Egyptian man!
I did not just make that up. I got it first hand from a European woman who is living in Egypt, was married to an Egyptian man, has a son, and is currently divorced. “He swept me off my feet with his sweet words, compliments, attentive gestures, romance, and warmth; he was a god compared to European men, who are often distant, reserved, and not very emotional. I fell in love with him like never before. Bit by bit, I began opening up too and, against my better judgment, I gave up all my defenses. In three months, he asked me to marry him, and in my culture this is a very serious step. I translated his proposal as the epitome of love and I gladly accepted.”
I listened to Sandy and I knew exactly how she felt when she first met “her hero”. I know how it feels to jump in a jar of honey thinking of how sweet it would taste and how rich and overwhelming it would feel, only to get your hair tangled in its stickiness and eventually you drown in its suffocating viscosity. I asked Sandy to continue narrating her experience and she told me that his family was against the marriage; “they told him that I was loose and that he should get married to a virgin. They warned him that I would corrupt his children and reminded him that I was from a different religion. His mother hated how I dressed no matter how modest. All my attempts at communication failed but I was heads over heels in love with him to read the warning signs. He assured me that he loved me and that he was not willing to give up his soul mate.”
Her eyes welled as she told me her story. I tried to be as empathetic as possible but I was growing angrier by the minute. I naturally assumed that her guy was a lowlife Egyptian male parasite who wanted a way out of the country or easy sex. Because un-Egyptian women are not as class conscious, they miss out on all the “low-class” signals that his body language, address, grooming, verbiage, phonetics, and interests give away. I was wrong! “He is an AUC graduate and the descendant of one of the biggest families in Egypt. He had the looks, the manners, the class, the charm, and the money. He was so open-minded and understanding – I have never met anyone who was as perfect.” Sandy corrected me.
I was more than curious to know what could go wrong with such a compatible intercultural union. “We got married amongst his friends. His family did not attend but this was natural in my country; we were two responsible adults and we were in charge of our life-altering decisions. After marriage, he began changing; suddenly he had hurtful comments about my wardrobe, more hurtful comments about my public demeanor, and … he hit me! He told me that he loved me but suddenly his love began suffocating me. I realized that I got married to a very jealous possessive insecure spoilt violent person!”
Again I identified with every word she said. I KNOW our men! I asked Sandy about the frequency and the intensity of the jealousy fits and the violence attacks and she told me that it became on daily basis; “the tender loving caring man that I fell in love with disappeared. I was stuck with a person who mastered ignoring me, and when he looked at me, he told me that I was ugly and needed plastic surgery.” With her long golden locks tied back in a ponytail, Sandy was looking at me with deep blue eyes that rested on pink cheeks. She was flawless pretty! But I am fully aware of the self-esteem blows that our men know how to perfectly aim.
After a year of suffering and utter misery, Sandy got a divorce … and a son! A single foreign mother in Egypt could be quiet traumatizing. I asked her why she did not go back to her country; she told me that her Egyptian god threatened to take away her son. To add a more dramatic denouement to this repetitive farce, Sandy told me that after their divorce, he got married to a veiled Egyptian girl and that he stopped sending her alimony. This was when she went to the embassy and that was when they told her “we told you so!”
Just writing about this topic clogs my arteries; seriously, I cannot breathe! Sandy and her story is the trigger behind this article but I have witnessed many other stories that started with “he was so sweet” and ended in “he hit me” or “he walked out on me” or “I hate Egyptian men”. Even the girls who were spared the marriage disaster still enjoyed a rough ride on the dating arena. Sandy told me that her countrymen could still bully their women and that they were far from perfect, but at least they were honest, straightforward, and took marriage seriously. Like many Egyptian girls, she felt that he cheated his way into her heart and that he tricked her into loving him. It was ironic though, how Sandy thought that Egyptian women were best equipped to deal with their men.