A Woman’s Place Is In the Kitchen

By: Farida ElShafie

Please do not take offense to anything that is being discussed in this article but I’ve been meaning to get these thoughts off my chest and onto paper (or screen) for a hot minute now. For some unapparent reason, I’ve found it nearly impossible to write this in a manner that is not going to offend anyone, because the bottom line is, this topic unraveled a plethora of deeply rooted cultural and societal dilemmas that are in dire need of being discussed.

I can speak for everyone when I say “domestication, is not a predetermined future, it is a choice”. I mean the word choice in literal terms. I need to know that as a woman, the ultimate decision of whether or not I care for my home is all mine. Not my family’s or husband’s, not even my know-it-all next door neighbour who’s ‘raised me in preparation’. But mine. Now that I’ve put that out there I need to get a few things straight. 

To better conceptualise how this whole concept came about, we must first examine how the idea in question came about in the first place. I want you to take a moment and recall your effervescent childhood… the simple days. The legos, teddy bears, the pint sized musical instruments, barbies, and who can forget…the doll-sized ovens, kitchens, irons and babies with diapers who need to be changed? Even your childhood toys have been force feeding you and preparing you for the inevitable because god forbid they leave that up to you to decide. This whole idea has been so deeply engraved into every female’s DNA since before they could even read which makes this increasingly difficult to overcome. I mean, we managed to overcome slavery, cure most diseases, clone animals…but surely this is much more of a complex tendancy to break. 

As soon as us women begin to show the slightest sign of maturity, we are immediately thrusted with all kinds of questions about marriage and future prospects. I was at a tender age of 12 when I received my first “3obalek” and I haven’t been able to live it down since. Gatherings turned into whole seminars about how to properly stuff a chicken and wrap a sambousa. Don’t get me wrong they were some pretty useful tips but it’s not the action that stands out, it’s the belief that that’s exactly how my life is going to be.

There were no lectures in becoming a leader, a power-house. Nothing on how to get my first job, how to graduate with honors or the ways I can break into an untapped sector of the economy. There were only talks about finding the perfect suitor to ‘take care of me’, one that was preferably tall enough to keep up with me, and before I knew it, I was all consumed by those standards as well. When the majority of the women around me were saying the same thing, and all the men nodding in agreement, who was I to dare and question their notions? 

Young me felt so pressured to keep all these aspects in mind when forming relationships and going about my day. I never thought less of anyone who chose that life because just as much as starting a business requires courage and splendour, choosing to take on a ‘woman’s role’ requires just as much, if not more, strength and flamboyance. It was just sad to see women feeling pressured to succumb to the patriarchy and not choose that path because they want to. All I hope is that people grasp the idea that just when a woman chooses to do ‘what is expected’, it is not coming from a place of fear and judgement, but excitement and passion, just like every path in life should be.

All I hope for, is a future where gatherings are filled with talks about all the different paths that await, all the things females are capable of besides molokhia and all the ways in which we can lift and brighten (excluding the cosmetic enhancements). This goes for all the men out there that are being pressured into ’practical’ corporate jobs and torn from creative fields because they’re not sustainable because you too deserve to shine and blossom. So, the overall consensus; let the people live! Sheesh.

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