Monday, October 25, 2010

What is so good about this “Good Wife”?

For over a year now, I have been watching the TV show “The Good Wife” starring Julianna Margulies as a mother and a wife to a state's attorney who was arrested in a corruption case and who was cheating on her over and over. In the first few episodes we watched her struggle. She got herself a job after staying home for years to take care of her children –of course in Hollywood not having any experience for years can never make you behind at work and you can easily win a job at the most prestigious law firms- she rented a place for herself and her kids, and she managed to “handle the situation wisely”

Why is she good?
1-    Because she didn’t rush into - or even consider- asking for a divorce after she discovered her husband repeatedly cheated on her with call girls.
2-    Because she moved on with her life in career and housing but never in love.
3-    Because she didn’t allow herself to be in a relationship with a man who loves her and she obviously likes him.
4-    Because she doesn’t put her happiness into the calculation at all!
5-    Because even after her husband was out of jail on something like a probation, and even though she can’t stand touching him, she didn’t have it with other men.
6-    Because she is a super-hero who takes care of work, children, house, food, her husband’s election campaign and herself
7-    Because she doesn’t look her age, she looks much younger, she is thin and she wears very sexy clothes – like any normal lawyer does of course!-
8-    Because she always has a masked face and rarely smiles, she barely has emotions because if she had any, she would not dare think of expressing them like a normal human being!
9-    Because she puts almost everyone on the planet before her sake even if that means she’ll live miserable … forever!
Because she is not happy … and she’s OK with it!

Man ! We really live in a patriarchate world!
You know I’m pro-choice, any choice. And if a woman chooses such a life for herself with her own will, I see no place for me to comment or judge. But it’s the stereotype that pisses me off!
This is the “good” wife? This is how a woman is supposed to live in order to be good in our society’s eye? Unhappy? Miserable? Always doesn’t consider herself?
What’s even worse is when a woman chooses not live such a live! She’ll be judged as selfish, self-centered and doesn’t deserve the blessings she has!

I thought this is only here in the Middle East, but it turned out that any society that comes anywhere close to family values tends to put most –if not all- the burden on the woman. She is supposed to keep her husband, she is asked to always keep him interested, she is expected to ignore his infidelity if it happens because at the end of the day “this is how men are like!”, she is the one who should live with the motto “family comes first”, and she is the one to be blamed if anything happened to the family.
Family comes first? Of course it does! But it takes two people to start a family, it takes two fully committed parents to bring up a stable child, and it takes two dedicated and mature persons to maintain that. Single parents are everywhere and I am not saying that they are necessarily doing a bad job of course, but we know that’s not the rule.
All what I am saying is that the responsibility is on both. And a woman should not be asked to take all of it alone. A woman should not neglect herself and her feelings all the time for the rest of her life to be a good wife.
You know I wouldn’t have written all that if it had been called “The Good Mother”? Because I believe this is what a mother is. But it’s the focus on her being a good wife that provokes me. It’s about the man and for the man. 
She should not allow herself thinking of being happy as long as she once got married!
In Egypt we have a saying “Better get a shadow of a man rather than that of a wall” which proves that a woman needs a shadow to live under and that a man is her way to get that, otherwise she won’t be “good”!

You are good, ladies! You are. Don’t allow someone who knows nothing about your life to decide for you your choices in order to call you good. Because you are as good as you make your life!


annina said...

Thanks for this article! I will feature it on tomorrow! Greetings from Berlin :)

phil_style said...

I think you'll find that the title "good wife" is ironic.

The series is trying to make exactly the point that you are making.

annina said...

Well, I thought it was very interesting to see how irony is lost in translation sometimes. I myself have never seen an episode of the series, but I think it was great how Eman put Julianna's character in the co...ntext of societal questions raised in Egypt at the moment. I don't necessarily agree with Eman saying that a child needs two partens at all times to develop well, but I do agree that the behaviour she has listed is that expected of a "good wife" even these days. So I suppose that even in a Western context, the irony entailed in the title isn't visible to everyone - and I found it important to sum up like Eman did, that putting yourself in the shadow of a man is NOT what makes you a good wife and/ or mother.

Eman Hashim said...

Thanks Annina for the link :)
I appreciate it

Eman Hashim said...

As much as I would love to believe you, but as someone who hasn't missed one episode, I can tell you this is unlikely to be true.
I didn't get any hint of this being sarcastic, or it even being at least questioned.
The way I see it is that are portraying her as a hero!
May be I got it wrong after all

Eman Hashim said...

Annina, the challenges seem to be the same everywhere.
remember when I told you in the summit, that even though the details are not identical, I was shocked to hear the kind of challenges German women face.

As for your point about single parents, I didn't mean that any single parent is worse that any couple. I just believe if someone thinks about having a baby, s/he should be ready to out the baby;s interest as number one.