Egyptian society is multilayered and diverse just like any other society in the world. Yet there are a lot of things I find hard to understand. I cannot understand how such a homophobic society can have such high numbers of men openly expressing their feelings towards each other?
While it is considered illegal to kiss in public, holding hands is fine. You cannot see that many couples holding hands, but you see a lot of young men holding hands.
Men walking hand in hand Cairo By Downtown Traveler
And here is another picture:
Two Egyptian men walk past a polling station in Cairo. The Hindu
My friend and I once went to a house party in Cairo. It was a hot evening on a balcony with a lot of tea, coffee and hash. People were relaxed and rather happy. Two guys were standing at a corner talking. One of them was sitting on top of the balcony’s railings with his legs spread, the other guy was standing in front of him touching his shoulders in a very intimate way. It was such an intimate moment for them that I thought they were lovers and everyone seemed fine with that. No one gave them angry or judgmental looks. So I thought “Wow those people are so accepting.” Later on I shared my observations with a friend who rejected my suspicion. Apparently this kind of behavior is common among the straight men here. Well, I still find it hard to believe…
Also men walk around wearing pink shiny glittery t-shirts. Imagine any, let’s say, American here: he would definitely think that all these men are gays. Unfortunately they are not …most likely they are homophobic. They probably have no clue how gay they might appear to some people …
Cairo street scenes, Dec 2008 - 43 by Ed Yourdon
I am clearly not burdened by any misconceptions about religion or social norms; therefore my view on relations between sexes is different from what I see here. My views on women clothing are also different.
Local men [or better put it: those men whom I meet on streets] seem like some sort of primitive sexual predators, who just got out of the jungle. It feels like walking through the streets occupied with wilderness, with animals pocking their fingers at you, smiling lasciviously and waving their palms at me.
Today’s example: this morning my colleague was riding a cab when she saw me walking down the street. She wanted to call me and give me a lift, but noticed a flock of wilderness males who were talking about me in Arabic. My colleague decided not to give these species some additional fun and pleasure and did not call me.
Yesterday we decided to go to the seaside. It was quite late for this move – around 2 pm. I have not had enough time to dry my hair so I decided to hide it under the scarf. I normally do that when I am lazy to wash my hair. So my orange scarf completely covered my hair. I also wore a light summery shirt with open shoulders and a long skirt. Summer, heat, sea – what could be better?
Before I got into the car, went to the store or simply sat in the car men eyes were following me everywhere.
And after all this, how these men can be treated seriously? Primitive animals who are convinced they are better than you. How did that happen? Some of them should be caged for serious animal-like behavior.
Of course men at work are completely different: they are nice, polite and we can have a good laugh. I just don’t understand why there is such a huge difference?
Some people would say: you knew where you were going, why are you so surprised? Get used to it? But I can’t. I would say: these things are universal for everyone and people should not be treated like sex objects no matter where you go. Cairo should not be an exception in this case either. Cultural relativism should not be applicable in such cases. IT is even more surprising since this country was exposed to the foreign presence for a very long time, and yet i observe this animal-like behavior.