The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan is about the only small-c conservative blogging (that I’ve been able to find, at least) who hasn’t gone over the John Gormley/Glenn Beck edge. He keeps a mind open enough to look at bloggers that he doesn’t always agree with every time … and one of the benefits of that is, in this case, a very insightful look at one of the underlying reasons why Egypt went into revolt last month. Apparently, the guys are love sick. (The New Yorker):
Valentine’s Day—Eid El-Hob or “Love Day”—is normally big enough in Cairo, celebrated in a way that American couples would recognize: red roses, plush hearts in gift stores, specials at romantic restaurants. This year, though, the revolution has overshadowed everything. As a friend put it to me, “I feel bad for the stores that stocked up on teddy bears. Everyone’s buying Egyptian flags instead.”
But love and revolution are not unrelated. There is much talk about a “marriage crisis” in Egypt—low employment rates lead to low matrimonial rates—and the protesters in Tahrir Square were, indirectly at least, marching against it. Lack of jobs was high on their list of grievances. Many of those I interviewed said that getting married and having a family were things they dreamed of most in a post-Mubarak Egypt. One twenty-eight-year-old man I spoke to, on a relatively quiet day in Tahrir last week, illustrated his frustration by thrusting his hips back and forth, explaining, “No money, no sex.”
Money doesn’t buy you happiness, but in the courtship world it does help to improve your bargaining position.
The story made me think back to what I had written about eight or 10 months ago, regarding the On To Ottawa trek and Regina Riot. (prairie dog). Bill Waiser told me that, far from wild eyed zealots looking to bring home the Communist Revolution, the participants were angry that they were forced into an economic system that not just let them down, but whose existence depended on keeping them down. And if you don’t have money, being able to cherchez la femme isn’t possible (as me, who was laid off from several small-town newspaper jobs in the 1990s, and that did to my dating possibilities what the threat of STDs and pregnancies couldn’t do — shut it down to absolute zero).
In the West, there are a few other outlets — porn maybe, a fantasy world — for those who are lonely and frustrated. And maybe that gives men more of an illusion that they can succeed in life at a time when not only the odds but the Powers That Be are arrayed against them. It’s a safety valve that states and business leaders shut off at their peril … which explains why most states that allow for the overt or covert commercial exploitation of sex seem to be immune to the power of a revolution in the streets. I’m not saying that Hosni Mubarak would have remained in power if there were strip joints in Cairo, but I could see how it could have helped.