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Seven Bizarre Phrases Used to Harass Women in Egypt

Seven Bizarre Phrases Used to Harass Women in Egypt
A protestor holding a sign that reads "We want men from China" from an anti-sexual harassment protest last year.
A protestor holding a sign that reads “We want men from China” from an anti-sexual harassment protest last year.

No woman in Cairo is invulnerable to sexual harassment—it is, unfortunately, an inescapable part of daily life in the city. Each woman must develop her own coping mechanisms in order to keep sane, and I happened to stumble on a very therapeutic one—exposing how ridiculous the things men say to us on the streets really are.

I’ve compiled a list of the seven most bizarre things that have been said to me while walking Cairo’s streets. Drawing out just how delusional these men are to think that they are the epitome of smooth never fails to deliver an overwhelming sense of satisfaction.

1- يا ابيض

“Hey whitey!”

Oh, is it because I’m really white? HAHA. GOOD ONE.

2- يا لبن!

“Hey gurl with skin that is white, which is incidentally the same color as milk, I am verbally harassing you in a lamentable attempt to assert my masculinity. Please look over this way and react in some form so I can impress my friends and random passerby by humiliating you!”

Or alternatively, “Hey milky. Milk. MILK MILK. Miiiiiiiiiiiiiilk.”

3- يخرب بيت حلاوتك!

“God break the house of your sweetness!”

I don’t…what.

4- حلو قوي زي العسل. يا قشطة انت!

“VERY SWEET, LIKE THE HONEY. OH CREAM, YOU!”

…………………………………..

5- يا وززززةةةة

“Hey GOOOOOOOOSE.”

Ever since this phrase was first directed at me I’ve always wanted to hunt down the first person to decide that geese were hot. Both because they are a weirdo and also because they have created a monster.

6- يا بطة!

“Hey ducky!

We are now faced with the question: why are select types of waterfowl deemed sexually attractive in this country? WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS?

7- القمر دا بياكل كشري؟؟؟

“This moon eats koshari???”

There is only one time I have ever laughed after someone verbally harassed me and it was when a man sitting in this car said the above as I was leaving a koshari restaurant. He legitimately looked FLABBERGASTED that I walked out the door with a bag of takeaway in hand because apparently koshari is peasant food and moon-level ladies aren’t supposed to go anywhere near it.

I know there are many more examples out there of the comedy that ensues when men say things at women without giving much thought to the matter. What would you add to this list?

This post is thanks to Team MahaThe goal of #TeamMaha is to make the process of learning and speaking Arabic a bit less maddening for you all, whether that be through offering language study advice, detailed vocabulary and grammar notes, or a bit of much-needed comic relief.

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@CaitlynAED

Caitlyn Doucette is a freelance Arabic-English translator and creator of teammaha.com. She moved to Cairo in June 2013 to participate in the 2013-2014 CASA fellowship after graduating from Tufts University with a degree in Arabic and International Relations.

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