Written by Mariem ELTagoury
*Please note that names of places & people are kept discreet for privacy issues. Also any use of Franco Arab in this article is to deliver the detailed picture of incidents.
If you have recently tried starting a political conversion with about any average middle class educated middle aged woman, you would find two very prominent symptoms:
1- They all want to sleep with ELSisi (mashAllah 3leh amar ya5waty).
2- 99% of what they say can be traced back to the famous journalist and TV presenter Lamees ELHadidi who hosts the night show “Hona ElAssema” (but you already knew that).
I recall a ministry employee always complaining about his wife’s infatuation with the woman. If she (Lamees) claimed that all men who had beards were evil wrong doers from the MB, she would instantly avoid them in the streets. If she instructed her audience to boycott a certain line of stores, she’d do so obediently. And of course her show time is holy to the lady; in short, the wife was driving the poor man nuts by living by Madam Lamees’s words. And it’s not only this lady, try taking time out to pay a visit to the dreaded world of middle class housewives or perhaps you could have got stuck in a big huddle of them while trying to place your vote; you will find a delightful discussion about the TV figure and what she has to say. They quote her, live by her, and admire her. They even started to talk like her, dropping words of English anywhere in the speech where it’s needless.
It’s quite peculiar that a woman like Lamees should receive this much popularity. I’m not a huge fan of the lady myself. Personally, I don’t find her shifting sides during the political dance in the previous period quite charming, and her lack of any ethical stand strikes me with shock. But you have to hand it to her; she is successful at what she does. Out of all TV women anchors, she holds the highest status, biggest audience and looks quite good for her age – then again money pays for beauty, but that’s another topic we won’t talk about today. In spite of all the waves of accusations, gossip and anything else that have hit her and her image, she manages to make a stronger come back with a firm foot on the ground and laugh off all the jokes that smear her image –her reaction to the Bassem Youssef’s show was singular and unexpected – in the end she’s the last one standing. There’s no denying that in spite of any differences anyone has with her, she’s one of the smartest and strongest women in showbiz.
Recently, due to reasons which will add nothing to this story, we paid a visit to a family from the south that lives here in Cairo. After the warm welcomes and greetings, we got to know the family. The husband and head of the family had reached great heights in his career which meant he had a high paying job in the big city, yet he hadn’t lost his thick southern accent. The very pleasant wife showed no signs of the accent; but as the conversation began to froth and gradually make its typical way down the road of “the country, the politics, the elections…etc.”, I started to hear it; the Lamees Mania symptom! There were those drops of “even”, “alright”, “general”, and all the rest of the singular phrases that you wonder how they ever found their way into an Arabic sentence. As I looked at the lady, with a smile at the desperate display of knowledge and “language”, I noticed something; an admiring gaze eyeing my mother’s every move, a keen ear for her every word, followed by an awkward smile of awe. As we tried to excuse ourselves to leave later –several times – she would insist we should not leave until her daughter should come to greet us, and hurriedly head to her room to try to wake the sleepy teen up. When finally the young girl appeared, her curious eyes told me this was not an insistence for respect but rather for the young lady to come and have a good look at us.
Let me introduce to you my mother; a career woman to the core, who never shies away from expressing her opinion. She is strong, always thirsty for knowledge (sometimes I doubt that that she doesn’t know at least a little something about every topic), has her own sense of style which she cares for, and isn’t veiled. In short, she’s the kind of woman that is typically frowned upon from our current society – and she gets a good laugh out of it all the time.
As I sat there following the lady’s gaze, I started to wonder and it clicked. The reason behind the insistence of her bringing her daughter to see us, the speechlessness at the common talk my mother had to say; it wasn’t the brilliance of it (not that my mother isn’t brilliant in general, but then I’m her daughter, maybe I love her too much) but it was the Lamees Mania! I realized why every educated housewife adored the TV figure; it simply was because she had everything they didn’t have and could only dream of. She has the strength, the beauty, the bravery, she fears nothing as she rages her wrath through that camera lens, her words are heard by millions (including the inattentive husbands), she holds money, power and she holds their dreams. And as my mother sat there on that woman’s couch, she made it reality; I’m not saying that my mother and Lamees have anything in common, but with the lack of strong women’s’ voices in society, regardless what they say, they have become like rare specimens of beautiful creatures. I suppose she thought that strong women only exist inside her TV set but somehow a woman with a strong voice had come alive right in front of her. Maybe her insistence that her daughter should see this was hope for her little girl’s dreams, God knows.
All I know for now is that I finally know where the lady with no ethical, political stands and 50% trust for truth holds her power; her power lies in these women. She holds for them a sense of hope that someday somehow; they can have their own voice, their own listeners and their own strength. To be honest she’s not another pretty face on TV and I have to say hats off to her. She has managed to prove that the strength of one woman’s voice can move millions (hey! The woman bickered about too many cafes in Zamalek the next day; a police brigade was invading the small island shutting them all down! Give the woman a little credit will you?!) But the question is where will this mania take these women? Will their inner longings ever translate into actions? Or will it always be a dream in their little screens as they chop more onions to fatten men who have more interest in listening to politics than them? A couple of years back I’d say they’ll be still chopping onions, but after discovering the Lamees Mania; I’d say there’s still hope. Here’s to hope!
Do you believe in the Lamees Mania? Are you a fan? Do you think any of my blabbering makes sense? What do you think? Let me know what you think and what topic would you like us to discuss in the comments section or send me an email on email@example.com