A Throw Back: This Egyptian Short Movie Proves That Women Can Be Unmarried and Happy
The short movie titled ‘Al – Sanyora’ (a term which in Egyptian dialectic connotes a young woman) begins with a shot of a woman, speaking directly to the camera, and saying “I am still very young, or I am still relatively young. I was very shocked, however, when I saw the first white hair appear, I wished that I were dreaming, I wished that it was a black hair, not a white one. I did not leave it, I pulled it out, right from its roots.”
After this woman’s monologue ends, she is followed by three other women who say that they haven’t lost hope in finding the right person, and that it is never too late to find love and get married, even after reaching a certain age. The movie goes on to uncover Egyptian society’s true perception of unmarried women. It is a 14-minute movie; yet, it is very interesting, intense, and it reveals a face of Egyptian society that is not addressed often, if at all.
Indeed, as the movie’s narrative pushes forwards, these women come to express their feelings and thoughts about the constant societal criticism that they face, and they have chosen to remain unmarried. The movie also highlights the extent to which the Egyptian societal pressure placed on unmarried women, can lead to severe psychological consequences; the movie shows how these women feel like they cannot fully trust themselves as a direct result of the constant harsh criticism they face.
“I am normal, I do not have a problem. Maybe the only problem I have is that people are convinced that there is something wrong with me,” one woman explained. “My problem is that I often find my mum crying her eyes out alone in her room, because she is afraid that she might pass away and leave me alone. This hurts and saddens me, and makes me want to run away,” another woman said.
“I do not have a problem, I just do not want to get married because I feel that it is a life full of restrictions,” the third woman said. Each one of the female protagonists expressed how they felt about marriage. Moreover, each of the women tried to deliver strong messages, in response to all their critics.
The last portion of the movie focuses on the stereotypical sentences that all unmarried Egyptian women often hear from their aunts, neighbors, or any other older female acquaintance, in family gathering, weddings, or even over the phone: “3o2balek ya habebty, sheddy 7elek b2a, mafish 3arees wala eh” (We hope your turn to get married comes soon darling, hurry up, have you not found a husband yet, or what?).
Some may find the movie a bit too depressing to watch, while others might think that it is offensive and disrespectful towards Egyptian women, and Egyptian society. Well, guess what? It’s neither disrespectful nor offensive. In fact, it actually shows a side to our society it refuses to see; discusses a problem that our society refuses to admit; and, finally, it highlights the narratives of the women who face these kinds of accusations and judgement, on a daily basis, from the perspective of these very women.