Opinion Poll: What is it Like to be a Cypriot Woman?

Nowadays women are expected to satisfy different roles to adapt to their community. What is it like to be a woman can be a common denominator to many people who identify as women; however, that experience can differentiate when you add ethnicity to the question because the pillars of what establishes the role of the woman can be different. Therefore, I decided to post an opinion poll by asking Cypriot women “What is it Like to be a Cypriot Woman?” I defined Cypriot as someone who was born and raised in Cyprus. The background and age group of each participant is different and I did not modify any of their answers.

“Being a Cypriot woman can be both rewarding and challenging at the same time. For one, the value of family is extremely important, it is something I have always been able to count on. It has allowed me to become the educated and independent woman I am today. However, it makes my focus on my career and lack of desire to have a family of my own quite a difficult thing to explain to my family members, especially my grandparents. There is, in my experience, a ‘pressure’ when you distance yourself from more traditional, Cypriot values, which only gets worse as you grow older.”O.G.

“Identifying as a Cypriot woman definitely elicited various feelings throughout the years depending on my priorities and ambitions at the time, as well as how receptive I was to the Cypriot societal norms. It’s a bittersweet and dynamic experience of appreciating my upbringing and values, feeling extremely proud of the Cypriot culture and cultural and natural heritage, but at the same time my ambitions and character are clashing with the expectations of my community who applauds me only if I put my life in boxes and seal them, never to be opened again.”A.C.

“I think that to be a Cypriot woman is to be in constant conflict between two worlds. I find myself struggling with heavily culturally embedded gender stereotypes and what I think of them. Do I want to become a wife and a mother, or is this so hardwired in me because of the way I was raised? Do I want to be a career woman or is this what 21st century western feminism wants me to do? Am I European as my passport dictates, or am I something else, perhaps something more Eastern, as my culture and color may dictate? I think to be a Cypriot woman means to constantly try and find balance between all those things, and that’s perhaps why I feel we are uniquely, a bit of everything.”V.C.

“It’s complicated. It means growing up in a family effortlessly tightly-knit. It means growing up with your grandmother’s food and thinking that good food, nice weather and beautiful beaches are the norm. It also means living in a country where sexism, racism and religious conservatism run rampant, allowing for corruption, immorality and all-round wickedness to fester. In 2020 recycling is thought to be hippie, women are still judged on their marital status, and the Archbishop has enough influence to have a European passport issued for an international criminal wanted for stealing billions. Tragically, these pale in comparison to sexual crimes and murders of immigrant women remaining undetected for years or Nazis embarrassingly entering Parliament. It’s complicated.”M.X.

“Being a Cypriot woman, who lives in CY has both its pros and cons. In Cyprus, women are seen as equals and have similar opportunities to men. To my personal experience sexism and discrimination are at a minimum level. However, this depends on the mindset of each generation as the elderly usually consider women as the only ones responsible for housework. This however is much more rare amongst younger generations. On another note, Cyprus is one of the safest countries to live in which provides comfort for women in Cyprus, especially given the high rape rates around the world. Lastly, as it is the case for most women of the world, stereotypes and certain behaviours related to being a woman are evident in Cyprus as well.”M.K.

“Η απάντηση στο ερώτημα « πως είναι να είσαι γυναίκα στην Κύπρο του τώρα» δεν είναι καθόλου εύκολη. Για τον απλό λόγο, ότι εν έτη 2020 τα πράγματα θα έπρεπε να είναι ξεκάθαρα και, το πιο σημαντικό, ίσα.  Όμως δεν είναι. Γιατί ακόμα υπάρχουν οι ατάκες «αντί να δεις το μέλλον σου, θέλεις να κάνεις καριέρα», «μπράβο σου τα κατάφερες, παντρεύτηκες, έκανες οικογένεια» και «διορίστηκε υπουργός η τάδε και φορούσε ένα μπεζ ταγιέρ». Γιατί ως γυναίκες στην Κύπρο, μεγαλώνουμε με την ενοχή πως αν δεν κάνουμε αυτό που αναμένεται από εμάς, αλλά κάνουμε – αν είναι δυνατόν – τη ζωή μας όπως ξέρουμε εμείς καλύτερα και όχι οι άλλοι, θα κριθούμε και σίγουρα θα κριθούμε περισσότερο από το αν ήμαστε άντρες. Ακόμα και το 2020. “M.M.

“As a woman, I had the opportunity to become a wife, a mother, and a grandmother which are the greatest gifts I ever had. I like being a Cypriot woman because I grew up learning how to appreciate the familial bonding and showing my love through my food.”M.G.

*Special thanks to all the women who spared some of their free time to complete this opinion poll.