March 10, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 9819

Egyptian Columnist Slams Egyptian Men For Sexist Attitudes Toward Russian And Ukrainian Women Soldiers And Contempt For Egyptian Women

March 10, 2022
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 9819

Media reports about women serving in the Ukrainian and Russian armed forces sparked a flurry of responses in the Egyptian press and social media. The reactions focused on the servicewomen's appearance, and some included sexist remarks, as well as contemptuous references to Egyptian women, who were compared unfavorably to the Russian and Ukrainian women soldiers.[1] For example, an item published in the paper of the Al-Wafd party triggered harsh criticism for its sexist innuendo and was later removed from the daily's website and Twitter account. The item featured a photo of Ukrainian women refugees, with the text, "We welcome you into our homes. The Egyptian sense of humor challenges the war. We're waiting for the young Ukrainian women." It added, "Some advice [for Egyptian men]: Don't rush to marry. Displaced and refugee Ukrainian women will arrive soon."[2]

The item removed from the Al-Wafd daily and from its Twitter account

An article in the Egyptian daily Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' that featured photos of Russian and Ukrainian women soldiers captioned "Russian beauties" and "Ukrainian beauties" likewise sparked criticism on social media.[3]

Photo of "Ukrainian beauties" in the Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' article

These expressions of sexism evoked criticism from Egyptian journalists. Among them was Ahmad 'Abd Al-Tawwab, a columnist for the state daily Al-Ahram, who called on Egyptian men to stop disparaging Egyptian women, and to acknowledge their role, as Egyptian men, in creating the situation of these women, many of whom are raised to be housewives and  serve the males in their family, while sacrificing their own selfhood.

The following are excerpts from his column: [4]

"Look at the reactions of these self-styled wits to the pictures being published these days of Russian and Ukrainian women [who fight in their countries'] armies. [These men] compare them sarcastically to Egyptian women, and then describe this vulgarity as joking and banter. They do not consider that they are debasing the honor of Egyptian women. Besides, they are wrong! Not to mention that they do not compare themselves to the Russian and Ukrainian men.

"They also ignore their heavy responsibility as men for the wretched circumstances of Egyptian women's lives, circumstances with which the women they admire [on social media] are not acquainted with. Those women were raised since early childhood to believe in themselves, to [develop] an independent personality, to dare and to show their beauty. They are not beaten by their fathers, brothers and husbands. They do not feel inferior, aren't embarrassed in the presence of the opposite sex, and are not scolded when they make mistakes, but rather learn from their experience for the sake of the future.

"Most Egyptian women bear tremendous responsibility. They are undergo female genital mutilation in childhood, and are restricted in play, sports and hobbies, and in establishing friendships. They are denied [the right to] make choices, travel and engage in culture or the arts… Moreover, from a young age they bear the burden of helping their mothers in their exhausting work and in serving their brothers, and so on. They are not allowed to experience or express human emotions, [but] after they marry they are expected to be joyful and energetic with their husbands, yet stern and forbidding with other [men]. [They are required] to serve their husbands and  sons and to be responsible for the home and for the children's schooling, [but] are exposed to humiliation on the minibus or the tuktuk [i.e., on public transportation]. They remain in the shadows, sacrificing and denying their selfhood. They find joy [only] in the professional successes of their husbands and in their sons' progress through life. Farmer's wives work in the fields from first light, and carry loads that only champion weightlifters can carry. They milk cows, store food, carry gas canisters on their heads and deal with shortage in a way that should inspire the admiration of economic experts. [Yet] amazingly, from these conditions spring women doctors, nurses, engineers, teachers, and other [professionals].

"Oh women of Egypt, our daughters, sisters, wives and mothers, victims of exploitation and oppression, who bear a heavy burden in the best possible manner and are subject to mockery by men who think themselves clever and witty – glory to you!"


[1] Al-Arabi Al-Jadid (London), February 25, 2022;, February 25, 2022; Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), February 24, 2022.

[2], February 24, 2022.

[3] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), February 24, 2022;, February 25, 2022.

[4] Al-Ahram (Egypt), March 2, 2022.

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